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Occupy Cal Protesters To Sue Over Police Response

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'Occupy Cal' protesters on the UC Berkeley campus on November 9, 2011. (CBS)

‘Occupy Cal’ protesters on the UC Berkeley campus on November 9, 2011. (CBS)

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BERKELEY (CBS SF) — A group of University of California at Berkeley students and community protesters who say they were victims of police brutality during a Nov. 9 “Occupy Cal” demonstration announced Monday their lawsuit against the university and multiple UCPD police officers.

Ronald Cruz, a lawyer with the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, said Monday that the organization is planning to file the suit on behalf of seven protesters who claim to be victims of police violence and false arrests.

In the lawsuit, which Cruz said BAMN plans to file later this month, the plaintiffs will also call on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to resign.

University spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said Monday afternoon that university administrators were unaware of the planned lawsuit and declined to comment on any pending litigation.

Gilmore said Birgenau plans to issue a memo to the campus community on Monday related to the Occupy Cal movement.

“The police repeatedly beat students, especially women students, in the ribs, stomach, arms, legs and face,” UC Berkeley senior and BAMN organizer Matt Williams said in the statement released Monday.

Yvette Felarca, a BAMN national organizer, said she was one of the first women targeted by police during the Nov. 9 protest. A now-viral YouTube video shows a police officer yanking her by the hair, Felarca said.

Felarca said she is still recovering from a beating she endured at the hands of UC Berkeley police officers that day.

“I was one of the people beaten pretty badly—and I saw so many other people, especially women, who were viciously attacked and I feel very much that it’s a matter of principle that we have to hold those police officers accountable, and hold the chancellor accountable,” Felarca said Monday. “Nobody had the right to beat us, much less police ordered by administrators.”

Cruz said Felarca has been instrumental in bringing together many of the students who say they were victimized or falsely arrested by UC Berkeley police officers that day.

The number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit may grow as BAMN organizers are considering finding more protesters who were victimized by campus police on Nov. 9, he said.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit plan to join thousands of other UC Berkeley protesters Tuesday in an Occupy Cal strike with a planned afternoon march from Oakland to the UC Berkeley campus, Cruz said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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