Seven File Claim Alleging Unnecessary Berkeley Police Violence

BERKELEY, California — Seven protesters have filed a claim against the city, alleging illegal use of violence by police during a June protest following a City Council discussion of the federal Urban Shield program and the city’s participation in it.

The plaintiffs — Lewis Williams; Dylan Cooke, also known as Virginia Cooke; Samir Shrestha; Katharine Loncke; Gopal Dayayeni; Brooke Anderson; and Sharon Fennema — variously allege that police twisted wrists and shoulders; used batons to strike demonstrators, in at least one case on the head; and otherwise intentionally and unnecessarily inflicted pain and acted with unprovoked aggression during the protest.

It occurred toward the end of a City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School that lasted more than six hours, beginning June 20 and continuing into June 21. It culminated in several people rushing onto the dais and a crowd of protesters gathering in the street outside, after the council voted to continue for at least another year the city’s participation in Urban Shield, a first-responder exercise that critics say abets a nationwide trend toward militarization of police.

Financed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Urban Shield is “a comprehensive, full-scale regional preparedness exercise assessing … response capabilities related to multi-discipline planning, policies, procedures, organization, equipment and training,” according to its website. It involves police, fire and other first-responder agencies.

The claim, filed on Thursday by attorneys James Chanin, Rachel Lederman, R. Michael Flynn and Hasmik Geghamyan, is a preliminary step to a possible lawsuit in state or federal court.

“None of the claimants presented a threat or engaged in any conduct justifying any use of force by the police at any time,” the claim reads in part. “In fact claimants and others tried to calm the officers and assure them that there was no need for force.”

The claim alleges that the following public employees caused injury or damage: Police Chief Andrew Greenwood; Sergeants Sean Ross, Spencer Fomby and Todd Sabins; Officers Brian Mathis, Samantha Speelman and Christopher Schulz; and unnamed others. Each claimant seeks more than $10,000.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the city has no comment on pending litigation.

On Wednesday, the city’s Police Review Commission recommended that the Police Department cease participation in Urban Shield “beginning with the 2018 activity,” and “search for, or create in partnership with other communities, alternatives to replace the positive elements of Urban Shield.” The council could take up the matter early next year.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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