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A Personal Narrative By Alette Kendrick

by UC Activist Defense Committee
My name is Alette Kendrick. I’m a third year student here at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in History. For the past three years, I’ve devoted a great deal of my time and myself to social justice movements here on campus. Specifically, I’ve done a lot of work in labor solidarity organizations with different campus workers’ unions, and with student organized anti-war efforts. It seems a lot of what this university purports to cultivate within students is a sense of social responsibility to the world around us. So to me, it only makes sense to step outside the classroom and engage in the struggles happening right here on campus.
This is why in the weeks approaching October 18, 2006 I was involved in a coalition of students from different organizations that wanted to address the upcoming Regents meeting at UCSC. As folks who had been to multiple Regents meetings before, we were familiar with the typical experience of going up before the Regents with our thirty seconds of time, only to address our concerns to a group who would chatter and laugh aloud, walk in and out of the room, read the newspaper, and altogether show no regard for who we were or what we had to say. Thus this coalition concluded that to put on a student speak-out where everyone could voice their concerns, to share with and inform each other, would be a much more empowering alternative. And for a while, this is exactly what October 18th was.

“That’s the one we want, get her!” is what I heard shouted at me from a cluster of cops. “What’s going on, what are you doing!” is what I had wondered aloud seconds before. I was at the megaphone when someone shouted that the regents were exiting, so I went to the rear of the building to check. In the short time it took me to return to the front, the cops had broken their line and scattered into the crowd. A few were grabbing at a shirt-less and bruised man. I saw this and in wondering aloud my confusion, caught the officers’ attention. I heard their call at me and next I knew, I was on the ground being forcefully dragged by the arms through the crowd; sustaining injuries I am still to this day treating. Pulled inside away from everyone else, I was face-down on the floor, only able to see the dozen or more black boots surrounding me. Handcuffed tightly, I was dragged up stairs right before the Regents, crying aloud the whole time from fear and pain. The two others pulled inside during the shuffle around me, were handcuffed standing up and allowed to walk up the stairs. We were kept in a big empty room that had large windows looking into where the Regents were. At one point they, and others present, gathered around those windows to look. I remember sitting handcuffed and exhausted while some of the older white men tapped on the glass, waving and smiling.

In the six months since then, I’ve endured the long legal process of battling the charges I was given. Facing not only the possibility of a criminal record that would prevent me from doing what I’ve worked long and hard for, to become a teacher, but also the possibility of jail time. This was particularly devastating as someone who has never had any degree of trouble with the law. And now, six months later, I have to fight the 3 year suspension I’ve been sentenced by the university.

Since mobilizing support against this outrageous sentence, some folks have asked me to what extent I really believe the events I’ve just detailed have anything to do with race. What seems like such an obvious answer to me, (perhaps because I’ve had the experience of being a Black woman at this university) I understand may require further explanation for others. This university has shown time and time again that supporting and sustaining communities of color on this campus is NOT a priority concern for them; and that in fact, the university creates and perpetuates a hostile environment towards these communities. This can be seen in the twenty year long unkept promise to develop an Ethnic Studies program. This can be seen in the gross lack of outreach and retention to students/faculty of color, and the refusal to give certain faculty tenure. This can be seen in the administration’s consistently inadequate response to hate/bias incidents on campus. But most of all, this systemic racism is visible in the simple fact that every year staff, faculty, and students of color quit, leave, or fail to graduate because of the hostile environment that exists on this campus. Only in this environment could I go to a rally on campus and immediately stand out as a woman of color, because there are so few else around (an experience I also have in nearly every classroom). Only in this environment, could Chancellor Blumenthal condone the violent treatment I suffered from the police. Only in this hostile environment could I be sentenced such an extreme punishment so as to ruin my entire academic career that I’ve worked so hard for; as if my contributions to this university as a woman of color are not valuable. So yes, I believe the arrest, the charges, the suspension, have everything to do with race, without question! Because they cannot be understood outside the racism that exist on this campus.

Yet these actions also have everything to do with the growing atmosphere of repression students and workers face here on campus. It was not merely incidental that I was arrested and charged at the speak-out. Students and workers have made considerable gains from the university, in recent years, through exercising our basic rights to voice concerns about what happens on our campus. And now each of us has to second guess our participation in a rally or protest on campus for fear that we’ll be swept up in arrest, fear of getting kicked out of school or losing one’s job. These are the important connections behind what’s happening with my situation that cannot be lost!

Some Notable Facts:
  • It took the chancellor more than a week and half to respond to the gross racial slurs recently scrawled in buildings on Science Hill, whereas he took less than a day to send out a campus wide notice condemning the Oct.18th rally and condoning the police violence that occurred there. Including the first incident of pepper-spraying protestors in campus history, wherein a dozen students were sprayed without warning.
  • Chancellor Blumenthal, at a student townhall meeting, responded “no comment” when asked if he felt sending Alette Kendrick to jail for three years would be in any way beneficial.
  • Of the three people arrested on the 18th, the only white male in the bunch was also the only person to have all his charges dismissed. He also received only a quarter of academic probation, whereas Alette is facing a three-year suspension.
  • On April 24, 2007, administrators pointed out a Black woman at a protest and said, “There’s the girl that was arrested at the Regents protest.” It was not – in fact, the woman they were referring to looks completely different from Alette, except for the color of her skin.
Add Your Comments
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Fri, Dec 28, 2007 8:57PM
Becky Johnson
Mon, May 28, 2007 10:25AM
not convinced
Mon, May 28, 2007 3:23AM
Sat, May 26, 2007 1:38PM
Victim of Violence
Sat, May 26, 2007 1:22PM
Sat, May 26, 2007 12:26PM
show me
Sat, May 26, 2007 11:14AM
Not what I saw.
Fri, May 25, 2007 5:31PM
Fri, May 25, 2007 4:00PM
Not what I saw.
Fri, May 25, 2007 3:30PM
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