Four sue Berkeley, UC Berkeley over injuries at campus riot

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BERKELEY (BCN) Four people who attended a speaking event in Berkeley featuring the controversial right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos that turned violent last February have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the University of California and the city of Berkeley.

Plaintiffs John Jennings, Katrina Redelsheimer, Trever Hatch and Donald Fletcher argue that their Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by university officials and police who exposed them to the "unlawful actions of an angry mob of violent anarchists" when officers retreated from the scene on Feb. 1.

The Fourteenth Amendment states that the government shall not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process and that any person in its jurisdiction shall not be denied equal protection under the law.

The lawsuit argues that the plaintiffs were denied their rights to due process and equal protection when law enforcement vacated the areas around Sproul Plaza and the MLK Center, where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, regrouping nearby in a position where they could "ensure their own safety while leaving plaintiffs exposed to violent assaults."

"By their failure to intervene or employ reasonable tactical methods to ensure the safety of the plaintiffs and the public, government actors conducted their official duties with indifference to the plaintiffs' safety, permitting hordes of violent rioters to swarm the university campus in a violent rage," the lawsuit states.

The suit says that police, university and city officials should have been better prepared to contain and mitigate violence associated with the event.

It names the regents of the University of California, UC president Janet Napolitano, current UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ and former chancellor Nicholas Dirks, interim vice chancellor of student affairs Stephen Sutton, associate vice chancellor and dean of students Joseph Greenwell, 
campus police Chief Margot Bennett, various other employees of the campus Police Department, the city of Berkeley and the Berkeley Police Department, as well as the city of Berkeley itself.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof declined to comment on the lawsuit this afternoon, saying that while the suit may have been filed, it has not yet been served to the defendants.

Once that happens, university officials plan to issue a public response, according to Mogulof.