UAW 2865 has taken a lead role this year in defending public education in California, fighting back against proposed tuition hikes, austerity measures, decreased accessibility, and the increased privatization of our campuses. But some of our victories have come at a cost.
From the horrific pepper spraying at UC Davis and the use of less-than-lethal ammunition against students at UC Riverside, to the bludgeoning of students at OccupyCal and other less publicized incidents, students and union members from all over the state have faced repeated police brutality.
But now the court system, at the behest of campus administrations, is imposing disproportionate criminal charges, legal proceedings, and impossibly high bails on students from numerous campuses. This overt criminalization of dissent coupled with physical violence is a de facto way of keeping our members from participating in political activity. As a union we cannot sit idly by, and we call on all of our members to lend support to our fellow union activists and our students facing repression.
If you only do one thing, please call the Yolo County D.A. and ask him to drop all charges on students and instructors being prosecuted for allegedly sitting in front of a US Bank branch at UC Davis.
DA Jeff Reisig’s office: 530-666-8180.
You can also sign the Davis Dozen petition (http://davisdozen.org/petition.php) and call Chancellor Katehi and demand that she immediately cease the criminalization of protest on the Davis campus.
Chancellor Katehi’s office: 530-752-2065.
Four months after November 9th, thirteen members of the UC Berkeley community, including three UAW members who had not been arrested on the 9th, received charges for their alleged participation in these protests. On top of these illegitimate charges, they were also issued “Stay Away Orders” from all UC property, making it impossible for them to participate in the normal life of the university, as well as to carry out their responsibilities as students, instructors, or union officers. These politically motivated attacks aimed to silence student leaders while creating a culture of fear that will affect all UC campuses. Because we have placed consistent pressure on the District Attorney’s office and school administrators, the court has lifted 8 of the 12 stay-away orders and dropped charges altogether for a few students. However, we still have a number of UAW members who have not had their charges dropped.
On March 29, three UCLA students were arrested at the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco, as police were sent in to remove students from the meeting, even as they complied with an order to disperse. The arrested included UAW 2865 President Cheryl Deutsch and UCLA Head Steward Mathew Sandoval, both of whom were singled out from the crowd and wrestled down by UCPD. Those arrested were booked on serious charges with a total of $72,000 bail. It cost students and allies over $6000 to post bond to get them out. While the San Francisco District Attorney has decided not to file charges against them, the bond amount is not recoverable.
Also on March 29, this time at UC Davis, twelve campus activists were charged for their participation in on-campus protests which had already ended weeks before. The Davis Dozen—two of whom are our fellow UAW 2865 graduate students—were just twelve of many who had participated in a series of non-violent protests against the presence of US Bank on the UCD campus. Despite never being charged or arrested during the course of the protests, the district attorney, at the behest of Chancellor Katehi’s administration, charged the dozen with 20 counts each of obstructing movement in a public place and one count of conspiracy.
If convicted, these individuals face up to 11 years each in prison and one million dollars in damages. In the wake of the release of the Reynoso Report detailing the myriad failures of Chancellor Katehi on November 18th, the day of the infamous UC Davis pepper spraying, it is clear that the Chancellor and her administration have resorted to this method of less-visible repression in order to avoid the sort of public relations fiasco resulting from their previous attempts to silence dissent.
There are multiple ways to provide support to our fellow members and put an end to this political repression.
You can take action to support the Davis Dozen:
• Call, fax, or write the Yolo County D.A. and ask him to drop all charges. (http://davisdozen.org/callwrite.html)
• Call or write Chancellor Katehi, demanding that she immediately cease the criminalization of protest on the Davis Campus. (http://davisdozen.org/callwrite.html)
You can donate to the UCLA Legal Defense Fund:
And you can support the Sproul 13 (from Berkeley):
Please call on the Alameda County D.A. to drop all charges and stay-away orders against Occupy protesters, including those charged for the November 9 Occupy Cal action: (510) 268-7500.
Please support your fellow union members however you’re able — concerted action now can effectively end this round of political repression and can make us better able to respond to any future charges or arrests. An injury to one is an injury to all! Solidarity forever!