About 35 UC Santa Cruz students showed up on May 22 in solidarity with UCSC second-year Jeremy Saunders, 20, who was arrested during the three-day AFSCME 3299 strike.
About 125 police officers monitored strike activities on May 7-9. Over the course of the strike, police gave out dozens of citations and arrested two students. Saunders was charged with two misdemeanors, battery against a peace officer and resisting and obstructing a public officer. Saunders’ original felony charge was changed to a misdemeanor before the hearing.
“I definitely don’t condone [the police presence],” Saunders said. “I’m strongly against the police, especially when it’s used as a scare tactic.”
At the hearing, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Schmal said the case needs further investigation to determine a verdict. Judge Schmal approved the appointment of a public defender for Saunders.
Juan Carlos Dàvila Santiago, a UCSC doctoral student, was also arrested at the strike for a misdemeanor of obstructing an officer. Santiago, who was at the courthouse in support of Saunders, said he sees the student arrests as an effort to deter student and union activism.
“A lot of students here, including grad students and undergrad students together, are here supporting Jeremy because we believe in his innocence and we understand that him being charged is a way for the university and the state to repress student activism and repress the workers,” Santiago said.
Saunders’ next court date is a pretrial conference scheduled on June 21 at 10 a.m.