SAN FRANCISCO -- A University of California, Berkeley report released Wednesday criticizes campus police for jabbing and clubbing student protesters with batons during Occupy demonstrations last fall.
In its report, the campus Police Review Board committee said its members were disturbed by the repeated striking of demonstrators who tried to stop officers last Nov. 9 from removing tents they had pitched near Berkeley's Sproul Plaza.
"The vigor of these baton thrusts is most distressing," the report said. "The police hit some students while they seemed bent over in pain from prior strikes to the gut."
Online video of the confrontation prompted widespread criticism and a lawsuit alleging police brutality against two dozen students and community members who participated in Berkeley protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In the week before the crackdown, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau notified the campus of Berkeley's no-camping policy, but there were no specific instructions on how the ban would be enforced, according to the report. Birgeneau was traveling in Asia when the clashes occurred.
The five-member panel called on the school administration and police department to improve planning and procedures for handling future demonstrations. It urges them to clearly communicate school policies on campus protests and engage in constructive dialogue with protesters before resorting to police action.
"One thing is most clear: Strictly confined limits, as precise as possible, should be articulated regarding the use of force by law enforcement during any protest events," the report said.
In an addendum to the main report, committee member Eve Weissman was more critical of the administration. She said school officials were heavily influenced by an unfounded belief that outside elements were behind the day's actions and questioned the legal basis for removing the tents.
"Campus leadership's preparations for and response to the day's action was unjustified, inadequate and irresponsible," wrote Weissman, the board's graduate school representative.
Attorney Ronald Cruz, who represents the protesters suing UC Berkeley, said his clients still plan to pursue the lawsuit and "make sure public education and free speech are alive and well at these campuses."
"The Board's report does not constitute justice and does not prevent UC Berkeley from attacking student protest again in the future," said Cruz, an attorney with the advocacy group By Any Means Necessary.
The five-member Police Review Board committee, led by Berkeley law professor Jesse Choper, investigated the incident at the chancellor's request. The panel reviewed hours of online videos and held two public forums to hear testimony about that day.
"We truly regret that our processes were not adequate for handling the particular challenges of that day," Birgeneau said in a statement Wednesday responding to the report.
In the months since the crackdown, the campus has established new guidelines for responding to campus demonstrations that are consistent with the committee's recommendations, Birgeneau said.
In April, a UC Davis task force released a report on widely condemned pepper-spraying of student protesters who tried to set up an Occupy encampment on that campus last Nov. 19. That report concluded the use of pepper spray was unreasonable and blamed the incident on poor communication and planning throughout the campus chain of command.
Last month, a separate UC committee issued a report that lists 50 policy recommendations to better handle future protests throughout the 10-campus system. It calls for more measured responses that rely more on discussion and mediation to avoid the need for police force.
2005 - UCLA campus police tase student in a library -- protests and demonstrations follow
Students and others march across campus to protest outside the University of California, Los Angeles police department after a rally on the Westwood campus Friday, Nov. 17, 2006 to protest police use of a taser on UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad in a campus library Tuesday, Nov. 14.
2007 - UC Berkeley students occupy trees
Authorities negotiate with two tree-sitters at a tree on the campus of the University of California in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008. UC Berkeley officials are preparing to remove the last remaining tree-sitters protesting a planned sports center next to Memorial Stadium, where the football team plays. The university has refused to meet the protesters' demand that it donate $6 million to environmental and Native American groups as part of an agreement for the tree-sitters to come down voluntarily.
2009 - UCLA cops taser student protesters, protesting tuition hikes.
A student protester is tazered by a police officer during a protest against an increase in student fees at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2009. The University of California Board of Regents approved a 32 percent tuition increase during a meeting which at the campus today.
2009 - November incident at Wheeler hall, students clash with police outside of Wheeler while students barricaded themselves in the building.
Demonstrators protest in front of a closed off University of California, Berkeley building on the Berkeley, Calif., campus, Friday,. Nov. 20, 2009, during a demonstration against university fee hikes and layoffs.
2009-2010 - student protesters start using "Occupy Everything" tag
Students occupy the hallway outside the office of the university chancellor at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to protest education funding cuts and rising tuition on March 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Thousands of students and educators from elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges and universities are holding marches, rallies and class walkouts across California today as part of a nationwide effort calling for no more cuts to education. University of California system student fees have increased 61 percent over the past five years and costs have gone up for students of California community colleges which, until the property tax rollback of 1978, provided tuition-free to all high school graduates.
March 2010 - at least one student tased when students "occupy" a portion of interstate 80/880
Oakland police officers take down a splinter group of protestors who attempted to block Interstate 880 following a rally for the national day of action against school funding cuts and tuition increases March 4, 2010 in Oakland, Calif. Dozens of protestors were arrested after they stormed the 880 freeway as students across the country were walking out of classes and holding demonstrations against massive tuition increases and funding cuts to college universities.
2011 - students beat with batons at UC Berkeley
2011 - UC Davis students pepper sprayed
In this image made from video, a police officer uses pepper spray as he walks down a line of Occupy demonstrators sitting on the ground at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The video - posted on YouTube - was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students.