Tuesday, September 19

Protesters storm campus

Activists took to the Hill, campus and Westwood while the UC Regents voted to raise student fees

An estimated 2,000 demonstrators protested in front of Covel Commons and around campus on Thursday, voicing their opinions about the UC Board of Regents’ final vote to increase undergraduate student fees by 32 percent.

The flood of protesters doubled the predictions made by university police and student organizations prior to the meeting. Students marched all over campus, protesting in Bruin Plaza, along Gayley Avenue, in Westwood and in scattered lecture halls. Due to the intensity of the rally, many of the regents could not leave the commons until almost three hours after the board meeting ended.

“We weren’t allowed to leave,” said Student Regent Jesse Bernal. “(The situation) just became a little too intense for the police officers.”

When the first van of board members finally left, it was stopped by about 50 protesters, who sat in the driveway near Sproul Hall and formed peace signs with their fingers.

With this sit-in, protestors hoped to force the regents out of the van and initiate discussion about the vote. The intent was to start a conversation with the regents about the fee hikes, not to attack them, said Michael Hawley, a fourth-year theater student who helped lead the sit-in protest.

University police lieutenant Maureen O’Connell announced to the crowd that the event was an unlawful assembly and more police officers were brought to the area to clear out the students sitting in the driveway.

O’Connell later explained that by blocking the van, the protestors were falsely imprisoning the passengers, a criminal offense. However, the staff members then decided to leave the van and move to Sproul Hall, which led to a flood of students rushing toward the regents and shouting “Shame on you!”

“Of course (students) have a right to protest, and I was glad so many students showed up,” Bernal said. “It’s just really unfortunate that some of the students were getting violent. It’s never okay to try to hurt people.”

However, some protesters defended their actions as nonviolent.

“We’re not intentionally going to touch (the regents), we just really want to talk to them,” said Jose Callocondo, a UC San Diego alumnus.

Student regent-designate Jesse Cheng mentioned that overall, the students had been “really good and nice.”

“The regents really heard students’ pain … but they were antagonized by students,” Cheng said. All of the regents left the area by about 4 p.m., Bernal said.

Although no students were arrested in connection to the Sproul block-in, one woman was arrested around noon for obstructing an officer, according to UCPD spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein and UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton.

Yet, despite the protesting against officers, some students did not blame the police.

“The cops were really nice inside,” said Hannah Lee, a fourth-year English student who was arrested during the protests, but later released. “You (just) had to communicate with them in a certain way.”

Students were not only threatened with arrest but faced with Taser guns, similar to incidents on Wednesday.

Earlier in the afternoon, Marc Barlis, a fourth-year psychology student, said he was sitting and linking arms with his friend Rusty O’Neil, a fourth-year political science student, at the crosswalk between De Neve and Sproul.

“We were trying to prevent the regents from leaving campus in the van when they pushed me and Rusty,” Barlis said. “He fell and then I saw an officer Tase him.”

O’Neil and Janelle Vray, a third-year sociology student who was also Tased, headed to the hospital for treatment at 5:10 p.m.

Greenstein said she didn’t know if police used Tasers on Thursday, as university police did not yet have a chance to debrief. Despite the events of the afternoon, organizers stressed nonviolence and student solidarity.

“We want a peaceful student movement,” said Emilio Lacques, national affairs director for the Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President’s office. “We want students to rally … and stay lawful.”

With reports from Marcus Torrey, Bruin contributor.

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