By: M.L. Stein
Take a Political stand, and have your newspapers stolen.
This appeared to be the fate of the Daily California at Berkley.
About 22,000 free papers, nearly the entire circulation , were snatched from racks on campus and in the city on election day, apparently to protest the Daily Cal’s support of a controversial ballot masure, Proposition 209, which would end affirmative action for minotiries and women in the state’s public sector. Voters overwhelmingly approved it.
Daily Cal editor in chief Mike Coleman said it seemed highly likely the newpspapers were stolen by individuals or groups opposed to Proposition 209. On Monday, the day before the election, 4,000 Daily Cal copies were lifted from racks in bunches.
On Tuesday , according to Ceolman, three delivery trucks dropping off papers at 260 points on campus and in Berkley proper were tailed by persons who removed bundles from stands minutes after the trucks left.
The following day, at the urging of university policy, Daily Cal staffers papered its office windows in the event of further vandalism. Police guarded campus racks as anti-209 students held a rally at Sproul Plaza, Berkley’s hub.
Last year, when the Daily Cal supported action by the university’s Board of Regents to eliminate affirmative action in school hiring, the paper was picketed.
Coleman said staffers were convinced that opponents of 209 were behind the altest theft.
He added that he confronted a student member of an organization called the Coalition to Defenc Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary about the missing papers, and the student denied the group was responsible.
The editor said police were hesitant about conducting an investigation into the remoal of free newspapers. The San Francisco East Bay area, where Berkley is located, and San Francisco itself, have been plagued with thefts of free-paper and coin-box racks for several years.
Most of the prepetrators steal papers to sell them recyclers, but sometimes persons unhappy with a newspaper’s content are responsible. Losses have run into thousands of dollars. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat alone reported a loss of $7,000 in one month and a San Francisco man arrested for rifling boxes made $10,000 a year at his trade, according to police.
The Daily Cal in its story of the thefts quoted a student who said he spotted individual loading copies of the paper into a truck bearing a “”No on 209″” sticker. About 4,000 papers were found dumped in a fountain on campus.
When word of the thefts reached thepaper, Coleman ordered 5,000 extra copies to be printed and hand-delivered around campus. He said the thievery cost the paper severeal thousand dollars.
“It was a chidlike prank,”” Coleman comme ted in an interview. “”I don’t see what it accomplished. It certainly didn’t change anyone’s vote. I think its real purpose was to frustrate the Daily Cal staff.””
In an editorial, the newspaper said it intends to prosecute whoever is responsible “”to the fullest extent allowed by law.””
“The only statement this cowardly crime makes,”” the editorial said,”” is about the character of those responsible for it.””
“This attemp to squelch our views should anger you no matter what side of the Proposition 209 debate you are on,”” the editorial said.