Wednesday, November 25, 2009

University tensions rising -- Los Angeles, CA

The windows of the Covel Commons building pounded in sync with the impassioned chanting of the crowd. Inside, 26 individuals pondered a decision that will deeply impact the lives of over two hundred thousand students in the UC system. The indirect results of the decision may ultimately affect millions of Californians.

Over 300 students, workers, faculty and community members converged in solidarity at the entrance of Covel Commons on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus yesterday to make one last stand against UC Regents proposed 32 percent fee hikes. To keep the crowd from forcing entry into the Regents meeting taking place inside, UC Police Department had a strong presence in the course of events. In a police clash with the crowd, batons and Tasers were used leading to several student injuries. Fourteen arrests were made.

Imari Thomas, a third-year UCLA student, was among those arrested.

“All of us who got arrested had totally clean records, we were willing to get a police record to show the regents how serious we are,” Thomas said.

The 14 students were arrested in two phases, after they stood singing “We Shall Overcome” with linked arms. The first group was cited with Penal Code Section 409, or failure to disperse from a space deemed unlawful. The second group was cited with disturbing the peace. Both groups were later released.

Officers, who were previously providing support in the arrests during the Committee of Finance, ran down the four flights of stairs geared up in the lobby with Tasers, helmets with facemasks, and some with compressed paintball guns.

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