A University of California, Berkeley student is saying via Facebook post, that he suffered a 39-hour ordeal via the Berkeley Police Department and has yet to receive an apology.
The Daily Californian reports that senior Ismael Chamu's allegations stem from a walk he and a friend took on Piedmont Avenue at around 2 a.m. last Wednesday morning following a hike above campus. Chamu says that police claimed that he and his friend matched the descriptions of suspects in a nearby burglary and detained them.
Chamu's friend, who does not have an accent and was described by Chamu as "light-skinned" was allowed to leave by the six officers at the scene, Chamu says. According to his harrowing Facebook post, Chamu was denied an attorney, repeatedly mocked by police because of his race, strip searched, and missed work resulting in the apparent loss of his job.
"Chief Greenwood directed police staff to investigate the allegation. As Mr. Chamu's allegations are part of an ongoing investigation, we won’t have any more details to share," said Berkeley Police spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel in statement emailed to the Daily Californian.
Berkeleyside managed to get some more details out of Frankel, reporting:
According to Greenwood, an officer saw Chamu duck behind a vehicle when he saw police, and appeared to set something down. Greenwood said an officer recovered a knife under that vehicle during the investigation. According to a photograph of the knife provided by BPD, it was a 6-inch knife with a 2.5-inch blade. Police arrested Chamu on suspicion of possession of an illegal weapon, the spring-loaded folding knife, said Greenwood.
The young man was not identified in a line-up as one of the burglary suspects. Greenwood said he has already told his staff to look into Chamu’s allegations. 'Given the apparent interest in this matter, I thought it best to respond to you as quickly as possible,' he said in an email Friday night.
Berkeley has yet to equip its police officers with body cameras, although a plan to do so is slowly moving forward, the Daily Cal reports.
Chamu's Facebook post has since gone viral, garnering 4,117 shares by the time of publication. Berkeley's Mayor Jesse Arreguín has become aware of Chamu's case and said that, "the city is looking into the allegations. We take them seriously and want to get the facts about what happened."
The 21-year-old activist, who says he missed both a fellowship and a scholarship interview due to his detainment, has continued to update his Facebook page with details on his subsequent anxiety and attempts to get justice. "I was kidnapped by armed agents. I was humiliated. I have been traumatized," posted Chamus.
Later he wrote, "I appreciate the warmth and support from everyone. At the moment I am trying to decompress and be normal again."
Here's Chamu's entire original Facebook post, which contains explicit language:
I am Free. Tuesday around 2AM I was detained by 6 Berkeley Police Department Officers as my friend and I were walking thru the Frat Row Area on Piedmont and College Avenue. Police Officers immediately ran towards us and they handcuffed us on the spot no questions asked. I proceeded to ask the officer why I was being detained and his response was that someone had called about two male subjects suspiciously walking through the neighborhood and that we were burglars. I repeatedly asked to speak to a lawyer and to remain silent. They denied me that right saying that I was not under arrest therefore I was not entitled to such privileges. The officer threw me into the back of a BPD SUV vehicle and they mocked me repeatedly for "not speaking English" .
They proceeded to take me to Berkeley City Jail. They fingerprinted me, Strip searched me. I never have felt more violated, frightened and humiliated in my life. Every moment I was fearing for my life. I am a 5' 2' Mexican Guy...I have nothing. I begged my Ancestors for help and peace. I prayed to God for freedom.
They threw me into a Jail Cell. It was freezing inside and I slept on a stupid little mattress and one blanket. I was kept locked up at the Berkeley Police Department Jail for 30+ Hours. I kept asking for counsel and legal representation but was never granted the right. The psychological torment was more than I could bare. I would nap and wake up hoping that I was free but it was all in my head. Every now and then the Police would come around and bang on the metal door as to mock me. As to Mock my existence. I could not sleep, I was starving, I was freezing. I felt so alone so detached I got constant anxiety attacks and panic but I was alone no one there to help me but myself.
I had no perception of time.
Today around 4AM I was awaken by loud bangs , I had court for 9AM. I was moved into a BPD van and transported to Oakland Police Department Jail. I was placed into a Jail detainment Cell the entire day, I never saw a lawyer or a judge. Throughout the day a Sheriff C. Tracy Mocked me by putting both hands on his knees and saying "Tu no Hablas Espanol o inlges tu little Frijol, you a little Bean" he would laugh and slap his knees. I felt so low and angry. I was pissed but kept a calm face. Around 6PM I was finally released. I had no charges. They stole 2 days of my life. I missed a Scholarship Interview, a Fellowship Skype interview and work.
I was kidnapped by armed agents. I was humiliated. I have been traumatized. I still feel shock and pain and anger. I am just glad to be free. At Least feel the illusion of freedom.
The Police racially profiled me for being Mexican. For looking like a "Burglar" for appearing "Dangerous"
I will never forget this. Fuck them. Fuck them a thousand times over Fuck them. BPD you will hear from me soon.
I want the world to see this injustice. I was not a teacher, or a student, or a scholar. I was but a Criminal Mexican in thier fucking eyes.