Berkeley Officials and Police Immune in Lawsuit by Protesters

June 1, 2018

A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned a judge's 2014 ruling that administrators at the University of California, Berkeley, should be held responsible for police officers' use of force to disperse protesters in a 2011 Occupy rally.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that Berkeley's former chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, other administrators and the officers themselves who used batons against students all were entitled to qualified immunity against the civil rights claims brought by a group of protesters. The judges ruled that the force used was not excessive, and that there was no clear law in force at the time of the incident that the officers' use of batons could be constitutional violations.

The lawsuit was brought in 2011 by By Any Means Necessary, a group that advocates for affirmative action. The lawsuit followed protests at Berkeley on a "day of action" sponsored by the Occupy movement.

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