Three UCLA students were charged with obstructing an officer and failure to disperse on the final day of the UC Board of Regents meeting held at UC San Francisco last week.
The arrests followed the meeting’s public comment period, when members of the University of California community spoke against high tuition and what they called the board’s “undemocratic” behavior.
Four audience members shouted that they signed up to speak, but could not because their names were not on the list used by the regents, angering protesters. Some protesters then started dancing in the audience, revealing beachwear underneath their clothes. The point was to criticize the regents for holding a meeting during spring break, when most students cannot attend, said Mathew Sandoval, a world arts and cultures graduate student.
When the protesters were deemed too disruptive, UC police gave a dispersal order, warning protesters three times that they may be subject to arrest and use of force if noncompliant.
At this time, some protesters began to leave as officers walked them toward the exit. About 18 officers waited outside of the meeting room.
The facts of the clash that erupted next are in dispute. UCSF spokeswoman Amy Pyle said Andrew Newton, a fourth-year international development studies student, pushed a police officer, which led to his detainment. Some witnesses, however, said he was nonviolent and that the officers used excessive force.
Kyle Todd, a UCLA law student, who saw the arrest, said the police officer grabbed Newton as he backed away from police.
“(Newton) was yelling at the (officers) but he was still backing away from them,” Todd said. “He didn’t use force or violence against the officers in any way.”
When police took hold of Newton, Sandoval, who was nearby, attempted to block Newton’s arrest by trying to pull the officers away. Both were then forced to the ground and handcuffed.
Newton is charged with battery on a police officer, according to a statement from UCSF. Sandoval is charged with the use of violence to prevent an officer from performing his or her duty, along with a felony ““ “taking by means of a riot any person from the lawful custody of a peace officer.”
Police also arrested Cheryl Deutsch, president of graduate student union United Auto Workers Local 2865 at UCLA.
Deutsch said officers pushed her and other protesters toward the stairs, but there was no room to move and leave because too many people were stuck trying to move toward the exit.
After police gave another warning to leave, Deutsch was pushed down to the floor by several police officers and arrested.
She was released later Thursday night with a citation. Sandoval and Newton were released after posting bail of $61,000 and $11,000 respectively, according to county jail records.
UCSF would not comment further on the arrests beyond a statement outlining the students’ charges.
The arrests came at a time when several investigations were launched following police action against Occupy protesters at UC Davis and UC Berkeley last year. On Wednesday, the Regents discussed a UC-wide evaluation of police and campus protest protocols.
The report is expected to be released in upcoming weeks for public comment, said UC General Counsel Charles Robinson.
A separate internal review of UC Berkeley’s police department, conducted by UCLA’s police department, was released last month. The review, led by Jeff Young, the assistant police chief at UCLA, concluded that UC Berkeley police acted within policy when using batons during a protest, and would have been more effective if pepper spray use was allowed.
Another report investigating the use of pepper spray at UC Davis during a student protest was due to be published in early March. But a university police union attempted to block its release in court, arguing that the privacy of individual officers who are mentioned is legally protected.
Although the court ruled Wednesday that much of the UC Davis report can be published, there is a possibility the police union will appeal the decision, further delaying the release, Robinson said.