By Diana Dolloff, Alexa Lomberg & Alexandria Love
“I’m not a criminal, we’re not criminals,” multiple graduate students said into a loudspeaker at the 11 a.m. rally at the West entrance. The United Auto Workers Local 2865 strike continued to protest unfair labor practices and intimidation of TAs on April 3. After 20 arrests yesterday at the strike, two more were arrested this morning.
The first arrest was made around 7 a.m. Graduate student and TA Jeb Purucker said “a girl who stepped back and put her arms up when a policeman tried to arrest her,” could potentially face an assault charge.
Several City on a Hill Press sources described the arrested female, Inez, as moving beyond a police officer around the intersection who then made contact with her and arrested her shortly after she told the police officers to not touch her.
“A young woman was arrested and basically just aggressively grabbed by the riot police for almost nothing,” said graduate student Ryan Lee. “She was touched by a riot police officer then she said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ It was completely a nonaggressive act on her part and an aggressive act by the UC police, who out of the blue just grabbed her.”
Undergraduate student Duncan Siscon, who was arrested yesterday, corroborated Lee’s account and said it didn’t look like there was any aggravation by the woman who was arrested. Union leader Josh Brahinsky agreed.
“It was ridiculous,” Brahinsky said. “We were letting cars through, she asked the police to stop pushing her.”
Inez was alone on a loop bus, which had been converted into a temporary processing area, for only a short while before an act of solidarity was made by a student named Maggie. At 8:30 a.m., after talk of voluntary arrest by many students to ensure that Inez would not be alone, Maggie crossed the intersection.
“We all understand that it’s a scary situation especially if you are alone,” Siscon said. “I had the other 19 people with me so I was okay, but we understand how scary it is being alone. Maggie decided to jaywalk and put herself on the line to join her downtown at the jail. I think it was beautiful.”
All protesters from the closed main entrance marched to the West entrance in an attempt to shut it down, sparking the 11 a.m. rally. Before the group of about 100 protesters arrived, police said they were “controlling traffic,” by letting cars through and not allowing picketers to cross the street when cars were lined up, even if the walk sign was on.
While students drove onto campus through the West Entrance, they were faced with criticism from the protesters. One student responded “What do you guys expect to accomplish in two days?” With many students frustrated by the difficulty of getting onto campus, reactions to the strike were not positive across the board.
The Student Union Assembly Chair Shaz Umer called the closure of entrances as part of UAW’s protest “bittersweet.”
“I agree that its not fair to shut down the campus,” Umer said. “There’s other ways to strike. It’s unfair for teachers and students who are at risk of dropping class. I’ve heard better ideas, like shutting down Hahn student services, as that only affects school administrations. I don’t support shutting down the campus. There has to be a compromise. Undergrads understand that what the TAs are going through is a lot.”
He said a “clear-cut guarantee” from the UCSC administration and Janet Napolitano outlining how they intend to support TAs is necessary. Umer sympathizes with the TAs and understands striking is a way to get the UC to recognize the severity of the problems.
The combined group of upward of 200 protesters successfully closed the West entrance, chanting “take the intersection,” just after 11 a.m., as many sat in the crosswalk and police quickly blocked off car access down High Street. The main entrance promptly reopened and rallying at the West entrance began with accounts from 11 of the students who were arrested during day one of the strike.
“The past 24 hours have been incredibly bizarre for all of us,” undergraduate student Magally Miranda said during the rally. “Starting from the moment we showed up to the West entrance, there were UC Berkeley riot police waiting for us. When we asked them who sent them, they said someone higher up. We know who the higher up are — they’re the UC Santa Cruz administration.”
As she spoke, about 15 police officers gathered and put on riot gear, wearing helmets and holding batons. They remained lined up on the side throughout the speeches of multiple speakers.
“While we are here fighting for a better education, our UC tuition money is used to intimidate and prevent student activism,” Miranda said.
She, along with the other students, recounted her experience in jail — some of them were held for up to 10 hours. Miranda said the solidarity between the protesters both inside and outside the jail remained strong throughout the entire day, despite the “traumatic” experience.
After the rally, picketers voted to split up. About 70 students began to march up to Oakes, with the goal of ending up back at the main entrance in a “snake march” to shut it down once again. Along the way, protesters advocated their cause, yelling into dorm rooms and dining halls urging more people to join the march.
“This is a strike about unfair labor practices and threats and intimidation against workers,” said union leader Josh Brahinsky. “The actions that occurred yesterday and having the buses and all the cops is realizing those threats and turning them into violence. We had someone who just got arrested [today] and that’s part of the experience.”
More bargaining between the UC and UAW is expected to continue around April 16.