Media Release 3/23/2012:
BAMN files brief challenging U.C. stay-away orders against Occupy protesters, set hearing for April 3
Defendants demand end to political witchhunt
Brief available at http://bit.ly/GLP8zt
Attorneys with the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) filed a motion and supporting brief today on behalf of three November 9th Occupy Cal defendants who have been issued unprecedented, unconstitutional stay-away orders banning them from stepping foot onto University of California (UC) property except to go to class or conduct work-related activities.
“The UC-Berkeley administration and Alameda County District Attorney are carrying out a political witchhunt against me and others who have been leaders in the fight for public education,” said Yvette Felarca, a defendant, BAMN’s National Organizer, and the lead plaintiff in the civil lawsuit filed against UC-Berkeley for police brutality from November 9. “They are targeting me because I have been a prominent leader in the movement to defend public education and restore affirmative action at UC-Berkeley. This witchhunt is an outrage and an attack on the movement and the power we have built.”
“We will not let the political forces behind this witchhunt use the home of the Free Speech Movement to set the precedent that speaking out for public education means you get brutalized, prosecuted, and stripped of your First Amendment rights,” said Ronald Cruz, BAMN attorney who filed the motion on behalf of defendants Yvette Felarca, Joshua Anderson, and Zakary Habash.
“Without any legal or factual basis, the defendants have thus been stripped of core state constitutional and federal First Amendment rights of speech, association, and assembly for the duration of these criminal charges,” the brief states.
“This is McCarthyism. [The stay-away orders] deny citizens—who are presumed to be innocent—of vital freedoms because the prosecutor says they are part of a group whom the prosecutor does not like.”
The stay-away orders discriminate against political speech: “[The defendant Joshua Anderson] may speak and associated on campus in order to pursue good grades, but he may not speak in order to further his political beliefs…. Similarly, the defendant [Yvette] Felarca is permitted to accompany one of her middle-school students to the campus to discuss applying to UC-Berkeley, but she may not accompany that same student to participate in a rally to ensure that the University remains open to students from her school,” the brief states.
Felarca, Anderson, and Habash face charges of obstruction of an officer and “malicious” blocking of a sidewalk or public place, California Penal Codes 148(a)(1) and 647c.
Hearing on the motion is set for April 3, 9:00am in Wiley Manuel Courthouse’s Department 115 in Oakland.
Defend the twin democratic legacies of free speech and public education. Support the campaign to demand that the UC administration Stop the Witchhunt of the Berkeley 13 today.
SHARE THE PETITION LINK: http://bit.ly/wZdxNv