UC Berkeley Police Leadership Failed in Its Duty to 'Serve and Protect' by Holding Cops Back
After a violent, rampaging mob shut down a scheduled speaking event featuring Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley last week, people naturally wondered why the police didn't do more to help.
Agitators hurled fireworks and smoke bombs, smashed windows, set fires, destroyed property, and assaulted Trump supporters during the hours-long riot. Nine people were treated for injuries at the local medical center, according to KQED News.
If the police had been doing their jobs, their paddy wagons would have been full. Instead, only three people were arrested in connection with the riot -- one person was arrested that night for failure to disperse, and two men were arrested the next day for assaulting a Trump supporter.
Whether the order was to "stand-down," "shelter in place," or "hold their post," it is now clear that the leadership of the UC Berkeley administration, along with the leadership of the UC Police Department, failed in their duty to serve and protect. Officers were told to hold back and do absolutely nothing as an angry mob turned into a violent riot.
An attorney for the union that represents UC Berkeley police complained that it was because there wasn’t a good tactical plan in place beforehand.
“They were unable to assist the citizens and the public that were out there that were defenseless against these rioters, who were actively engaging in breaking the law and attacking defenseless citizens,” said John Bakhit, an attorney who represents the Federated University Police Officers Association.
Bakhit said in an interview that UC Berkeley police officers were ordered not to take any enforcement action against protesters who lit fires and threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at them. He said there weren’t enough officers on hand at the start of the protests to make arrests and protect the public.
“When these rioters saw that there was no action taken against them, it emboldened them into acting more aggressively,” Bakhit said.
The mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, said on Twitter the day after the riot that the police department had ordered the stand-down strategy.
According to Charles Lane in The Washington Post, UC Berkeley "spent tens of thousands of dollars of its own funds on extra police, including dozens of officers trained in crowd control brought in from other campuses in the California school system."
These officers were deployed in an effort both to protect approximately 1,000 anti-Yiannopoulos demonstrators, who began gathering more than two hours before the 8 p.m. start time, and to keep them from disrupting the speech.
Unfortunately, the university’s plan did not reckon with the “black bloc,” the hooded, heavily armed political thugs who rolled in to campus around 5:45 p.m. and began setting off powerful firecrackers, lighting fires, smashing windows and generally creating so much mayhem that the police had no choice but to cancel the speech and escort the speaker away for his own protection.
There is undoubtedly plenty of room for second-guessing the campus police’s performance. They eschewed mass arrests, in part because of the sheer difficulty and danger of wading into a crowd of students mixed with highly mobile, violent thugs — and in part because they were following practices recommended by an internal review panel after allegedly excessive police force against demonstrators on Berkeley’s campus in November 2011.