ACLU Criticizes UC Berkeley's Arrest of Protesters

BERKELEY, Calif.

In a nine-page letter to the University of California, Berkeley chancellor, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the university abused its authority by severely punishing two student protesters with little evidence of misconduct. The ACLU called for the university to change its policies before violating the rights of other protesters facing discipline.

The letter was a result of the suspension of two students – junior Zach Bowin and sophomore Angela Miller – who were in attendance at the Dec. 11 protest where protesters smashed windows, lamps and planters at Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s campus residence, reports the San Francisco Gate. The protests were a result of budget cuts.

As many as 63 students have been accused of violating the Code of Student Conduct; however, only Bowin and Miller were disciplined. Both were arrested and released along with the other protesters as they fled the vicinity of the chancellor’s home. Despite no charges being filed against them, the pair was barred from the campus and was told not to speak with anyone associated with the university, which prevented them from taking final exams and submitting papers.

The ACLU has accused the disciplinary panel of showing bias by eventually clearing Bowin because he had good grades. On the other hand, Miller’s punishment stood in part because of poor grades. Eventually, Miller was allowed to return to class, but she remains under restrictions. Her next hearing is scheduled for next month.

Other protesters have been offered suspensions, varying in length, in exchange for avoiding a more severe punishment.

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