Dozens of UC Police stood guard on Sproul Plaza on Thursday, April 27. Photo: Ted Friedman

One of the arrests at UC Berkeley during Thursday’s demonstrations spurred some students on Friday to protest what they say was racial profiling as well as the heavy police presence on campus. UCPD turned out in full force Thursday in anticipation of violence during rallies prompted by Ann Coulter’s cancellation of a talk on campus.

The Coulter-related rallies ended up occurring mostly off campus and were largely peaceful, but the police were prepared for violence after facing criticism that the department stood back during the protests that led to the cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos’s talk in February.

UC Berkeley senior Jorge-David Mancillas was one of two people arrested on campus Thursday. He was arrested in connection to possession of a knife and was taken to Santa Rita Jail. He has since been released.

But his arrest angered a number of his classmates and at least one professor, who said they believe racial profiling led to Mancillas’ detention.

UC Police Department officers approached Mancillas on Sproul Plaza around noon. He asked them why they came up to him, and they said they had noticed him taking photographs with his phone. Several people in the area were photographing the plaza, where barricades had been erected and a small group of protesters had gathered.

This reporter witnessed officers asking Mancillas if he had a knife on him.

Mancillas said, “What’s your probable cause?” and said he did not know if he had a knife.

“You don’t know?” an officer said.

Student demonstrators circled up on Sproul on Friday to speak about their reactions to the heavy police presence Thursday. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

A folding knife was recovered. It was not clear why UC police thought Mancillas had a knife.

Mancillas told police he didn’t know he was not allowed to carry the knife.

“You can’t have that on campus,” an officer said.

On Thursday there were signs posted around Sproul Plaza listing temporarily prohibited items, which included anything that could be used as a weapon.

The campus police handcuffed Mancillas and thanked him for cooperating.

“A lot of this is about the attitude,” one said.

Mancillas’ classmates quickly rallied against what they believe was racial profiling. Mancillas, who is Latino, has multiple tattoos, including on his shaved head.

Students gathered on Savio Steps Thursday evening, where they chanted, “Scholar, not a criminal!”

Mancillas, a graduating sociology major, has been accepted to a doctoral program at UCLA for the fall, according to the Daily Cal. He has studied the effectiveness of gang intervention in Los Angeles as a Haas Scholar, the recipient of a selective research fellowship.

“He’s one of the top students at the university,” said Andrew Barlow, a professor who studies sociology of law. Mancillas works as a reader in his class.

According to a Facebook post and photos by his father, Mancillas had won an award for his undergraduate research just days before his arrest. His father wrote: “David, you’ve come such a long way, had so many struggles, overcame so many obstacles…and now look at you!”

Some students said they felt “unsafe” seeing such heavy police around campus Thursday. Photo: Ted Friedman
Some students said they felt “unsafe” seeing such heavy police around campus Thursday. Photo: Ted Friedman

Barlow said members of the UC Berkeley administration had advocated for his release from jail.

“We’re exceedingly grateful,” he said.

Although Mancillas is no longer in jail, students gathered on Sproul Plaza Friday morning to demonstrate against the broader issue of police on campus and racial profiling. They formed a circle, inviting students to come into the middle and speak into a megaphone about their reactions to the dozens of officers stationed around campus yesterday.

“A lot of us did not feel safe yesterday,” said a protester who identified himself as Froggy. “The militarization of the campus is not the answer to these issues.”

Leading up to Thursday, UCPD had received threats and intelligence strongly suggesting protests would turn violent if Ann Coulter did speak on campus, and the department was prepared for violence if she did not as well, said Captain Alex Yao at a press conference on Wednesday.

After the protests against Yiannopoulos’s cancelled speaking event, the university and campus police were criticized for not cracking down harder on the masked anti-fascist protesters who hit some people with sticks, set a portable generator on fire and smashed property on campus and downtown. Yiannopoulos had been expected to reveal the identities of undocumented students as part of his talk.

Yao said the department’s “takeaways” from that event would influence its actions Thursday. A large number of officers would be visible, warding off, and ready to respond to, any violent agitators, he said.

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...