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Students Hold Speak-Out for Visiting Regents, Police Give Response
UCSC students held a protest against various UC policies and practices when the Regents visited the campus on Wednesday. Police tried to force their way through the crowd, but eventually pulled back, pepper spraying the crowd and arresting three. Protestors wouldn't leave until the arrested persons were released.
The UC Regents came to Santa Cruz on Wednesday for the first time in four years in order to learn about the S.C. campus' various new activities, achievements, buildings, and personnel.
They were met by a speak out organized by a coalition of USCS student and worker groups fed up with the Regents' undemocratic and unaccountable decision making processes and other issues, including: poverty wages, student fee hikes, education program cuts, campus expansion, lack of diversity outreach and retention, and the management of nuclear weapons laboratories at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos. You can read their declaration here.
The protest began at 2:45pm in the Bay Tree Plaza, then marched to the new Humanities Lecture Hall where the Regents were to hold their public comment period.
The crowd of about 200 assembled outside the building and held their own public comment period, where everyone who wanted to was allowed to speak their opinions and thoughts fully, far longer than the traditional 30 seconds allotted during a Regents meeting. Speakers addressed the crowd in front of a seven foot tall "Fix it" ticket, which demanded that the Regents fix the current problems with the University system before attempting to expand it.
At about 4:00pm, the crowd decided to join hands and circle the building, hoping that the Regents would come meet their student body instead of sneaking out a back entrance. Many protestors sat or stood in front of the buildings' doors.
Police tried to shove their way through the crowd several times unsuccessfully, pushing and dragging students out of their way. The protestors mostly reacted by sitting down. On one last attempt, police used batons to beat students out of the way, grabbed two UCSC students and an alumna, and shoved them back into the building while pepper spraying anyone close.
While some students and staff helped wash out the eyes of those who'd been hit with the spray, the protestors formed a circle to discuss and vote upon what to do. Meanwhile, about 30 police officers in full riot gear assembled in the Stevenson parking lot nearby.
After an hour and a half of tense negotiations, police and administrative officials agreed to release the three who'd been arrested, after citing them, if the protestors would agree to let the Regents leave without incident. The crowd sent their Regents off with chants of "UC Regents, I see racists," and "no more nuclear weapons."
At 7:30pm, long after the Regents left, the three arrestees were released from custody. When one arrestee was asked how he felt about how he had been treated today, he responded that, "How I was treated here today is secondary to how I am treated everyday as a student."
He expressed regret that what is likely to be lost among the media frenzy over the police brutality is their original message.
Two of the arrested protestors face misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and disrupting a public meeting, while one is potentially being charged with three felony counts of battery against a police officer, according to campus spokeswoman Liz Irwin.
Students held a rally at noon on Thursday in the Bay Tree Plaza in support of those arrested. There is currently a petition circulating demanding of Acting Chancellor Blumenthal that all charges and disciplinary measures be dropped, as this "police attack is the most recent effort of the University and the police to hinder the student movement from trying to democratize the University of California."
The students are asking for as much support in this effort as possible to ensure that students everywhere can express their opinions in peaceful protest without fear of repression or repercussions.
University employees protested their low wages at a time when executive compensation is at an all time high.
A student speaks in front of a "fix-it" ticket listing the protestors' grievances.
The new Humanities Lecture Hall where the Regents held their meeting.
Organizers form a circle around the building.
Police attempt to punch a hole through the crowd.
As the police tried to force their way out, they grab a student (intending to drag her inside the building).
A second student is snatched and brought inside the building.
Before closing the door behind them, police use pepper spray on the crowd.
Protestors tie a wettened bandana around the eyes of a student hit with pepper spray.
One student attempting to clean out anothers' eyes.
There was only water available to clean with.
Waiting for the spray to wear off.
A student trying to wash out a mouthful of pepper spray.
Two pepper-sprayed protestors comfort each other.
Protestors regroup and vote upon how to proceed.