Friday, March 30, 2012

Criminal Charges To Be Filed Against UC Davis Bank Protesters

A little over than a week ago, the UC Davis Faculty Association circulated a petition in opposition to the decision of the UC Davis administration to forward information about its students involved in the highly successful US Bank protest to the District Attorney. The petition quotes from an official statement regarding the bank closure:
As of today (March 16), UC Davis police had forwarded six cases to the Yolo County district attorney’s office, recommending prosecution for violating Penal Code sections that make it a misdemeanor to ‘willfully and maliciously’ obstruct the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk or other public place, or to intentionally interfere with any lawful business.

Mike Cabral, assistant chief deputy district attorney, said March 15 that the district attorney’s office had not yet completed its review of the case files—and that a decision on whether to prosecute is likely to come Monday or Tuesday (March 19 or 20). If the decision is made to go forward, the district attorney’s office will notify the suspects by mail, ordering them to appear in court.
Today, we find that not six but 12 protesters will likely face criminal charges [Update: more from the Davis Vanguard here]:
Misdemeanor charges will likely be filed against 12 people connected to the on-campus U.S. Bank protests, according to an email circulated among UC Davis administration Thursday evening. The protests were part of an effort to get US Bank off campus, which is eventually what happened.

We have a call out to the Yolo County District Attorney's Office and will update when we have more information. Here's the email:

Yolo Co. D.A's office public information rep has confirmed that misdemeanor charges have been filed against 12 individuals in connection with the U.S. Bank protests. Letters are in the mail.

The Yolo County District Attorney's office has notified UC Davis that the D.A.'s office today mailed letters to 12 individuals, ordering them to appear for booking at the Yolo County Jail and then to appear at a later date for arraignment in Yolo County Superior Court on misdemeanor charges related to their alleged activities earlier this year at the U.S. Bank branch at UC Davis.

Starting in January of this year, these individuals frequently obstructed access to the bank branch, located in the Memorial Union at UC Davis. The bank chose to close during many of these events, and, in a recent letter to account holders, announced the campus branch to be "officially closed" as of Feb. 28.

As we've seen recently at UC Berkeley, with the filing of criminal charges as well as stay-away orders against a number of prominent student protesters, UC administrators willingly collaborate with the offices of their respective DAs. In order to do this, the administration sends UCPD to actively search out information ("evidence") against student protesters, which is then forwarded to the DA. At times, this evidence has come from the medical records of students who had sought treatment at University Health Services after being assaulted by the police themselves.

What this means, it appears, is that the Office of Student Conduct (OSC), which from 2009-2011 was charged with the quasi-legal repression of student protesters, is being superseded, its work passed off to the criminal (justice) system proper. This move, of course, is part of a broader trend that is becoming apparent at universities across the country: the militarization of campus space and of university life at large.

(Above video from yesterday's protest at the UC Regents' meeting at UCSF Mission Bay. Police arrested three protesters.)

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