Berkeley mayor admits to Daily Cal theft after police investigate

CALIFORNIA — A month after 1,000copies of the University of California at Berkeley’s student newspaperwere stolen, university police investigators have recommended the city mayor becharged with petty theft.Berkeley mayor Tom Bates admitted Thursday tobeing involved in stealing and trashing copies of the Nov. 4 edition of TheDaily Californian. The edition, which carried an editorial endorsement ofhis mayoral opponent, incumbent Shirley Dean, was stolen one day before theelection. Several students witnessed Bates throwing the copies into thetrash and immediately informed police officials, said Rong-Gong Lin, editor inchief of the Daily Cal. Throughout the past month, Bates had denied anyinvolvement with the theft.“This is the mayor of Berkeley who hasadmitted to being responsible for stealing newspapers a few feet away from thebirthplace of the free-speech movement,” Lin said. “And he actuallylied [about] it to the Daily Californian.”Bates released astatement on Thursday apologizing for his actions in thetheft.“There is no question that tossing newspapers is absolutelyinappropriate and unacceptable,” Bates said in a statement. “Iapologize on behalf of myself and my supporters for our involvement in thisactivity.After a month-long investigation, U.C. police officialsrecommended to the Alameda County District Attorney that Bates be charged withpetty theft.District attorney officials said the case is still beinginvestigated.According to Mark Goodman, executive director of TheStudent Press Law Center, a group that assists student journalists and tracksstudent newspaper thefts across the country, The Daily Cal hasexperienced numerous thefts in the past, though police officials have taken noaction.“This is both a serious First Amendment violation and alsoa crime,” Goodman said. “I hope that appropriate measures are takento see that justice is done here.”In his statement, Batesattempted to show his support for free speech.“I think we allagree that campaigns must be about furthering the free exchange of ideas. Anyeffort to impede this free exchange is a great disservice to The DailyCalifornian and the people of Berkeley,” Bates stated.TheDaily Cal staff called for the mayor’s resignation in an editorialtoday.“Bates has let down his political colleagues, his supportersand, most of all, the city’s residents who trusted him to beBerkeley’s mayor,” the editorial stated. “The only honorableaction Bates can now do for Berkeley is to resignimmediately.”Bates refused to comment on whether he willresign.The theft at U.C. Berkeley is part of an ongoing problem forAmerica’s college student media. Over the past month, at least six thefts ofcollege newspapers have been reported to the Student Press Law Center.

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