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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Education & Student Activism | Police State and Prisons

Property Damage at Kerr Hall
by The Project (repost)
Wednesday Nov 25th, 2009 4:45 PM
The Kerr Hall occupation ended Sunday morning, November 22nd. Three journalists reporting for City on a Hill Press, TWANAS, and the Project were embedded with approximately 60 to 70 protesters. The Project staffer reporting from inside the occupation has prepared the following report.

I was present during last 22 hours of the occupation and I was also present several hours on Friday and Thursday evening. Although I do not hide my bias and my radical perspective on the situation, the information I provide is without purposeful spin or fabrication.
During the afternoon on Saturday, a small group of student liaisons for the occupiers began negotiations with the administration over the seven consolidated demands (printed below). The student liaisons returned to debrief the rest of the occupiers on the process after approximately four hours at the negotiating table. They discussed the process of negotiations and explained what the administration had offered them. The occupiers were given about an hour to respond, so the liaisons returned to speak with administration after the hour had ended. The remaining individuals concluded that the negotiations wouldn’t result in productive gains, as such the occupiers voted on ending negotiations and barricading the building.

Apparently several exits had been barricaded the day before, but the entrance to the building had yet to be closed off. The barricades were located at the exits to the building and the staircases, as the occupiers remained on the second floor (where the main entrance is located). Students that disagreed with the tactic of barricading the door left the building, many of whom stayed outside in support. In a matter of a 10 to 20 minutes the front doors were securely barricaded. The main entrance was barricaded with two tables and a refrigerator with a brushed steel facade on the doors. The barricades primarily included ‘C’-clamps attached to webbing straps tied down to large objects to securely lock down the doors –a manner different from piling heavy furniture in order to simply obstruct the doorway.

Tables were removed from the Chancellor’s conference room (212) during the barricading of the front doors and the reinforcement of other barricades. In order to remove the tables from the conference room, occupiers unscrewed attachments to the tables holding cables and wires. It should be noted that in this process no visible damage was incurred on the tables or cables attached to projectors and other media equipment.

One occupier stated afterwards that, “any incidental damaged sustained by the occupied facilities was a direct result of students’ need to defend themselves from police assault, as demonstrated in Los Angeles and Berkeley in the past days. Had the occupation not been attacked, it’s activities would have continued uninterrupted and the building and equipment would have remained in productive use.”

About thirty minutes before the riot police assembled in front of the building, faculty supporters outside suggested that the journalists record any visible damage. I surveyed the areas that the occupiers had been primarily located. I did not enter the Graduate Division of the building, but did however survey all the open hallways, the lobby, and the conference room. I noted the following damaged items: A. a corner of a wall with chipped paint a few millimeters thick, B. a door’s push-bar that had cleanly separated into two pieces, C. a panel that had become detached from the underside of the table, D. a table with a pair of legs that had become unattached while being moved, E. minor scratches on the surface of a table being barricaded with, F. small dents in the refrigerator being used to barricade the main entrance. The other objects being used to barricade the doors did not have any visible damage.

Between the lockdown of the building and the end of the occupation, some occupiers participated in cleaning the building, including sweeping, washing dishes & washing scuff marks on the walls and floors. The lobby area contained several food items, food containers & boxes, scattered paper, masking tape on the walls, and other various items in abundance, but was not visibly damaged upon vacating the area. The conference room was also scattered with various items including sleeping materials and paper, but was also not visibly damaged upon vacating the area.

After the doors were forced open by firemen and several minutes of nothing happening, the following was stated, verbatim by the police officer communicating to the occupiers: “I am captain Augie Zigon, peace officer with the University of California. This building is closed. Your concerns have been heard and the issues have been reviewed. You are interfering with the business operations of the University of California.” (Students begin to cheer and clap, the captain is inaudible, the captain motions to ask the occupiers to quiet, the occupiers comply). He continues, “(inaudible) …tactic by the illegal occupation of this building.” (the captain motions his hands up, encouraging the occupiers to make noise, he smiles and then continues.) “If you remain here, you are in violation of code 602 point 1 of the California penal code. In the name of the University of California, I am asking you to leave immediately. Please leave in an orderly manner and no charges will be followed. You have 12 minutes to leave. Remaining individuals will be arrested. Walk through the lobby to the outside area of the hallway, turn to your right and exit through the, it’s call the north door, going up to Steinhardt. So, you’ll have the opportunity to do that now, if not those remaining will be arrested.” (The occupiers then request to see the paper the captain was reading and give a copy to the press. The captain hands them a copy.)

Several occupiers spoke to the police officer that had given the notice to vacate the premises and requested 30 minutes to clean up the building, however the officer told the occupiers to simply leave. All of the students left in an orderly manner within the 12 minute window as directed. Students freely joined the crowd of supporters and marched to Kresge Town Hall.

A protestor on the outside that had been involved earlier noted this about the barricades after the events of the morning had transpired:

The occupiers voted to block the entrances and exits to Kerr in order to protect themselves from police violence. Gauging the police’s excessive use of violence to remove occupiers at the other UC’s, the occupiers believed that it was in their best interest to protect themselves via material blockages. The barricades themselves represented a last ditch attempt to stall the inevitable. Beyond that, the material existence [of the barricades] was symbolic of the devout resolve [of the occupiers] to hold that space until their demands were met. They were not willing to compromise or concede to the requests of an incompetent, self-serving and classist administration. Their exit was hence contingent upon the university’s decision to forcibly remove them from the building. Their insistence on staying forced the administration to sanction the use of violence against them. Police did in fact use batons to push the crowd [outside], which included faculty and staff observers, off of the Kerr Hall platform. In the process of doing so, one UCSC professor was pushed over the balcony and fell onto the stairwell below. The occupiers’ decision to barricade demonstrated immense courage and commitment on their part.

Consolidated Demands:

I. Total amnesty for all individuals involved in current and past student protest concerning budget cuts, including Brian Glasscock & Olivia Egan-Rudolph

II. Keep all resource centers open under the management of individual directors: Engaging Education, Women’s Resource Center, Ethnic Resource Center, CANTU, etc.

III. Making UCSC a safe campus by protecting all undocumented (AB540) students and workers through non-cooperation with ICE.

IV. Renege the 15% cut in labor time for UCSC custodians

V. Prohibit rent in Family Student Housing from exceeding that of operating costs in order to keep it affordable.

VI. Freeze on layoffs to all campus employees.

VII. Guaranteed funding through employment or free remissions for both graduate students who have lost TAships and undergraduate students who have lost work-study positions

Staff member,

The Project