Mayor, students penalized for stealing newspapers

CALIFORNIA ‘ In January the mayor of Berkeley, who admitted to trashing 1,000 copies of the University of California at Berkeley’s student newspaper, pled guilty to the offense in an Oakland court. Mayor Tom Bates was fined $100 for the criminal infraction and, amid public scrutiny, said he would propose a city ordinance and support state legislation making it a crime to steal free newspapers.

Four students witnessed Bates throwing out copies of the Nov. 4, 2002, Daily Californian that contained an editorial endorsement of his mayoral opponent, incumbent Shirley Dean. Although he initially denied involvement, he later released a statement apologizing for his actions.

Cisco DeVries, spokesperson for the mayor, said plans for a city ordinance to criminalize newspaper theft are currently in the works.n


PENNSYLVANIA ‘ Three Drexel University students caught on campus security cameras trashing several thousand copies of the student newspaper were placed on disciplinary probation earlier this year. A school official said at least one of the thieves was upset about two cartoons the newspaper had previously published.

David Ruth, judicial officer for the university, said each of the male students was billed $175 on his tuition invoice, which will go directly to The Triangle to offset the $1,000 editors say it cost to print that edition. In addition, the students, in conjunction with the university’s office of multicultural programs, will be put together a forum or workshop to discuss the newspaper theft.

The Triangle Editor Geoff Castle referred all questions of the disciplinary proceedings to Ruth, but said he felt the punishment was adequate.

‘[Stealing newspapers] is such a blunt, stupid form of protest that obviously we would like to see it discouraged in the strongest possible terms,’ he said.