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Berkeley Police Arrests Students for Jaywalking, Assaults Copwatcher

Analysis of the BPD “Jaywalking” Video

Context: Did the group of students commit a traffic infraction?

This is possible. It is also VERY common in Berkeley. However, was this was a case of selective enforcement? How often can one see white students and others crossing against the light without fear of consequence? Would it be reasonable for the students to wonder if their race had something to do with why they were stopped? The white woman in the video explains that she was walking behind the students and saw them do nothing wrong, so why were they stopped?

Handcuffs for jaywalking?

The concern of racial profiling could reasonably increase with the handcuffing of a person on suspicion of jaywalking. Handcuffs should only be used if officers had a reason to believe that the detained person was potentially violent. In this case, they had no such basis. Once it was made clear to the students that the officer was not making a request but was in fact detaining one of them, they stopped and interacted with the cop. Clearly, they did not pose a flight risk.

Right to Observe Police: Are citizens required to respond to every command by an officer, even if it has no legal basis?

Many Berkeley Police officers seem to have forgotten Training Bulletin #91 first issued in 1985 and later re-issued by Chief Meehan. It established that it is the policy of BPD to put the “least amount of restriction on civilian observation of the police”. So long as someone is not interfering with an officer, they have the constitutionally protected right to video and to observe. The aggressive actions of the officers to prevent the women from filming is clear evidence that officers have violated this policy and they do so with the blessing of the chief.

Four times in this video, officers antagonize the women who are simply recording from what looks to be a distance of 10 or more feet away from where the young man is supposedly getting his ticket. Even after the incident is over and the young man is in the police car, police continue to menace to videographers. At one point, the cop tells the woman to “put the beer down” which is an effort to create a charge against her. He continues to advance on her while saying that she should get the camera “out of my face” or else face arrest. FOR NOTHING!

Physical Take Down: The violence with which the officer took the young woman to the ground and the violation of her right to observe is obvious in this footage. This woman was attacked by police for speaking her mind and daring to film what police were doing.

Right to Swear at or Near police: This issue was taken up by the US Supreme court and it was held that regardless of how officers personally feel about profanity, it is within our first amendment rights to express ourselves with profanity, even to a cop.

If Berkeley Police had had Tasers, could they have used them in this situation?

Yes. According to the continuum of force most widely accepted for departments using Tasers, they are allowed to be used to overcome “active resistance”. This includes overcoming resistance to an arrest in situations that do not pose a direct threat to officer safety. The officers could have calmed this situation by limiting their physical contact with the students. They could have explained the situation. They could have explained to the others what was happening and what they could expect. Are they required to do this? Not by law. However, by the laws of common sense and public service, it would be logical to attempt to let the frightened students know what was happening. Instead, the officers chose several times to use force and intimidation to quiet the protests of the students. If the chief finds nothing wrong in the behavior of these officers, then we should all be very concerned about equipping these officers with tasers. With tasers, this would have been much worse!


Mayor Tom Bates (510) 981-7100

District 1 Linda Maio (510) 981-7110 District 2 Darryl Moore (510) 981-7120 District 3 Max Anderson (510) 981-7130 District 4 Jesse Arreguin (510) 981-7140 District 5 Laurie Capitelli (510) 981-7150 District 6 Susan Wengraf (510) 981-7160 District 7 Kriss Worthington (510) 981-7170 District 8 Gordon Wozniak (510) 981-7180




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