Libertad Ayala, lead organizer for AFSCME Local 3299, delivers an emotional speech at a protest on UC Berkeley’s campus on Tuesday, February 6. Ayala joined with the Black Staff and Faculty Organization in front of the UC Police Department to protest the excessive use of force on David Cole, a Black UC Berkeley staff member, during a rally for better wages. Photo by Sarah Carpenter.
On the first day of Black History Month, a Black UC Berkeley staff member was assaulted and detained by officers from University of California, Berkeley’s Police Department. David Cole, a long time employee at UC Berkeley, was one of many staff members participating in an AFSCME/UPTE rally at which the university’s professional and technical employees were protesting against pay inequities, unfair treatment, and other workplace issues. In the midst of the rally, chaos emerged as UCPD officers proceeded to detain Cole for alleged vandalism, subsequently and forcibly taking him into custody. An injured Cole was booked into Berkeley city jail and later released with charges of vandalism and obstruction of justice.
In support of Cole and to demand all charges be dropped against him, UC Berkeley’s Black Staff and Faculty Organization and allies gathered on Tuesday, February 5, 2018 at 12:15PM in front of UCPD, on the south side of Sproul Hall.
In a statement from UC Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Administration, Marc Fisher, noted “UCPD and the campus administration always see the use of force as a last resort and it is used only when a person is not cooperating or complying with the instructions of officers involved in carrying out their duties.” Throughout this communication, Cole was depicted as an aggressor. Despite eye-witness accounts that say otherwise and video showing Cole slammed to the ground after asking why he was being detained, UCPD maintains the position of just doing their job.
Cole was suspected of throwing his protest sign at a passing car, although the video of his detainment show him still holding his protest sign.
The Black Staff and Faculty Organiztion at UC Berkeley maintain that the use of force and the charges Cole faces are unwarranted and reflect continued racial bias and mistreatment of Black people on UC Berkeley’s campus and reflect a larger issue in America.