Daily Californian catches students stealing newspapers in protest of ‘racist’ content

CALIFORNIA — Two University of California at Berkeley studentswere arrested and cited yesterday for stealing copies of the campus newspaper,The Daily Californian, as part of the campus police’s ongoinginvestigation into thefts that occurred this week, an officer said.Anunknown number of students trashed several thousand copies of the independentdaily newspaper May 7-8 in protest of what they say was racist editorial contentin recent editions, the newspaper reported.A group of students alsoattempted to storm the newspaper office on May 6-7 to demand a front-pageapology for a story that ran that day, which reported a black football playerwas arrested on charges of assault. The protesters, who were greeted by campuspolice when they attempted to enter the sixth-floor office in Eshleman Hall,said the accompanying photograph of the student “unfairly perpetuated a racialstereotype that black men are criminals,” the newspaper reported. Thosesentiments were echoed in letters to the editors the newspaper publishedtoday.The Daily Cal editors also have received more than 100e-mails criticizing their decision to publish on April 25 an editorial cartoondepicting North Korea leader, Kim Jong-Il, which some foundoffensive.Editors decided not to apologize for either reporting on thefootball player’s assault charges or publishing the Kim Jong-Il cartoon. In hisMay 7 editor’s note, editor Rong-Gong Lin, II, responded to claims that theassault article was biased by admitting that the newspaper failed to mentionthat reporters had been unable to get a hold of the football player seekingcomment. “Some pointed out that images in mainstream media put out anegative stereotype of African Americans, that are unfairly associated withalleged crimes,” Lin said. “The stereotypes can lead to damaging consequences,and some pointed to the repugnant practice of racial profiling as an effect. …These issues are crucial, as is reporting on newsworthy events.”On May7, newspaper staff members discovered more than 1,000 copies of the 10,000 pressrun in trash cans near their Sproul Plaza distribution racks, which thenewspaper reported were later lined with yellow caution tape.Universityof California Police Department Capt. Bill Cooper said more than 2,400 copies ofThe Daily Cal also were stolen yesterday, but this time at least two ofthe culprits have been identified because of a stakeout by newspaper staffmembers.Campus police arrested Wale Sean Forrester in connection to atheft of about 1,000 newspapers on Sproul Plaza that an editor witnessed at 7:45a.m., Capt. Cooper said. Seven hundred copies were later recovered in a Dumpsternear the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Police also arrested Aluma Raymond Nikelefor taking 300 papers from near Valley Life Sciences Building.Bothstudents were cited with criminal theft and released until their Oakland courtdate tentatively scheduled for June 8. Cooper said he also forwarded the matterto the university’s student judicial affairs office, which could holddisciplinary hearings for the two students.Cooper said in Californiastealing free newspapers is considered theft.”Even if they aredistributed for free out there, they are intended to be distributed one at atime to individuals,” Cooper said. “So by taking them out of circulation, itdoes represent a financial loss for the paper in terms of loss advertisingrevenues … as well as the actual production costs there mightbe.”Although the students could face county jail time if convicted,Cooper said they more likely will be fined, as was the punishment for BerkeleyMayor Tom Bates when he was caught stealing The Daily Cal last Novemberin an attempt to stifle an editorial endorsement for his then-mayoral opponent.Bates was originally charged with petty theft, a misdemeanor punishable by afine and up to a year in jail, but his charges were reduced to a criminalinfraction. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine at his January courtdate.Cooper expects students and community members will follow the courtproceedings closely for these two students, along with any others arrested, tosee how their punishments compare to Bates’, who The Daily Cal has opinedgot off too easy.

Read The Daily Cal article about the assault charges against the football player. Cal Football Player Arrested in Assault.