2012-03-16 "Protesters object to injury reports going to cops" by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Distraught and in pain, Alex Barnard was one of many UC Berkeley students who visited the campus' Tang Health Center after a violent Occupy Cal protest last Nov. 9.
He arrived at Tang with contusions and broken ribs caused when an officer rammed him with her baton as hundreds of students linked arms to protect tents they had erected on campus. As with all violent injuries, from black eye to murder, state law requires medical centers to tell police.
"The doctor said, 'You know I have to report this to the UC police,' " said Bernard, a graduate student in sociology. "I just started crying at that point, realizing that the people who hurt me are supposed to investigate the beating and make it right. It's Orwellian."
He's not the only one to say so. Several student protesters and the American Civil Liberties Union say it may be necessary to change Penal Code 11160 so an agency responsible for violence is not the same one to receive the report and investigate.
"There has to be some mechanism for reassuring the victim that the information won't be used against them," said Linda Lye, an attorney with the ACLU.
Students have rarely been more suspicious of police motives, largely because police have responded so aggressively to protesters not only at Berkeley, but also at UC Davis, where officers used pepper spray on seated students last fall.
Also, the Alameda County District Attorney is prosecuting 13 Berkeley protesters. While not unusual for students to be charged after campus protests, the prevalence of videos showing police violence against nonviolent protesters has led many to question the fairness of it all.
After the Berkeley protest, the Tang Center gave police limited information as required: names of victims, a description of injuries, where they occurred, and who inflicted them.
Tang gave police more than a dozen reports of injuries from Nov. 9, police said. It's what happened afterward that compounded the mistrust, students say.
Several of the injured, including Barnard, were contacted by police and asked to answer questions about what had happened. Two also received letters from the District Attorney's office that they were being charged with "resisting" and "obstructing."
That's when the rumors began that police were raiding medical records to help with the prosecution of the 13 protesters.
UC police insist they did not use the Tang information to identify students for prosecution.
"We didn't look at the Tang Center information and go after that person," said Lt. Eric Tejada. "But we did follow up as part of our internal investigation" to determine if police violated policies.
Police contacted Shane Boyle, a graduate student in theater, who visited Tang with rib pain.
"I refused," he said. "It wasn't clear how our statements would be used. We were scared about repercussions."
He and Josh Anderson, a graduate student in English, are among the 13 being prosecuted.
"I had the snot kicked out of me" on Nov. 9, said Anderson, seen in videos being pummeled by police. He visited Tang with broken ribs and injuries to his head, eye, hand and foot. He said he filled out a violent injury report because he wanted there to be an official record of his injuries in case of a lawsuit. But he didn't want that report going to police.
"They had just beaten me up," he said. "I think that's a conflict of interest that I would go to them."
Besides, he said, if the idea of the state's mandatory reporting law is that police will bring the perpetrators to justice, it didn't work in this case.
"I was never contacted by police following that," he said.
-- Video of Josh Anderson at the Nov. 9, 2011, protest at UC Berkeley (He is seen at lower left in black sweatshirt, with long sideburns):