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Davis, California

Friday, April 12, 2024

Editorial: Drop the charges

On Friday, 11 UC Davis students and one faculty member went to court for an arraignment on the charges of the obstruction of movement in a public place and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor.
While it will be up to a judge to determine whether the protesters are guilty of going beyond the limits of the right to free speech, the fact of the matter is these 12 individuals should never have had to step foot in court in the first place.

The decision to go forward with the prosecution was ultimately up to the Yolo County District Attorney, but it was the University that recommended the charges and provided the information for the prosecution.

According to an article from UC Davis News & Information, on March 16, “UC Davis police had forwarded six cases to the Yolo County district attorney’s office, recommending prosecution for violating Penal Code sections that make it a misdemeanor to ‘willfully and maliciously’ obstruct the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk or other public place, or to intentionally interfere with any lawful business.”

That UC Davis personnel initiated and recommended the prosecution of its own students is a loathsome set of actions to add to the list of wrongdoings the administration and their cohorts have taken against students this year. Alleging a “malicious” intent by the protesters that could lead to these individuals facing 11 years in prison and $1 million in charges is a hugely disappointing and inappropriate step by UC Davis. This seems to go against the Principles of Community the University should be trying to promote.

In a letter released last week, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter wrote that UC Davis “only wishes to see the rights of everyone on campus preserved.” Yet, we fail to see how allowing students to face time in jail is a proportionate way to preserve the rights of the campus community.

This is not about whether or not we agree with the motives of the protesters blockading U.S. Bank, but the failure of the administration to properly handle the situation. The administration should have dealt with the situation directly rather than through retroactive charges passed down by a district attorney.

After what has happened this year, we would expect that the leaders of this campus would have learned from past mistakes and be actively engaging with students.

It is unacceptable that Lieutenant John Pike is still on paid administrative leave after pepper spraying students in their faces, while UC Davis students and faculty are facing prison time for blocking a doorway. It is time that the University gets their priorities straight and decides under what type of principles of community they really want to operate.


  1. Lukacs, the women who worked at the bank have mortgages/rent to pay, children to feed and they lost their jobs–which are hard to come by these days. Do you think being thrown into unemployment lines helped them?? You seem completely insensitive to their suffering–there ARE real victims in this case. This is reminiscent of the occupation of the EOP/Foster children building. Leaders of protests need to figure out IN ADVANCE —are you getting unintended results? Are you alienating people who used to be on your side? You can Boycott the banks, switch to credit unions (which I have already done), or otherwise protest big banks, but this relentless harrassment of these workers closed their place of employment and lost money for student services at UC Davis. Frankly, The Administration’s seeming impotence caused a delay in an appropriate response which could have ended this sooner–and perhaps saved the branch and the jobs of these workers. But that doesn’t justify the relentlessly illegal actions of these protestors.

    • You have provided no evidence . . .

      (a) that the US Bank workers lost their jobs;

      (b) that workers were relentlessly harassed;

      (c) that protesters broke the law.

      I hope you and other readers can understand the distinction between being charged with a crime and having committed one.

  2. I agree with the author on Pike—the DA should charge him TOO. But, The people who chose to relentlessly unlawfully block access to the bank, ultimatley caused closure of a legitimate business and the loss of employment by several women including college students. This has caused great hardship to these employees and their families. When this bank closed there was much gloating and loud celebrating by those involved. Now it is only appropriate and FAIR that they face the consequences for their choices. This was not a game although they acted like it was. It was a grossly mishandled and misdirected protest with dire results to innocent workers. These blockaiders will probably plead to a misdemeanor and get probation—but the DA and Administration (for once) are right, they deserve to be charged.

    • I don’t suppose you can substantiate your claim that “innocent workers” have suffered “great hardship.” But its certainly interesting that you choose to focus on imaginary victims when plenty of real victims of the university’s privatization policies are close at hand: pepper-sprayed students, students forced into life-long debt burdens by tuition increases, families who have mortgaged their homes to pay their children’s tuition and then had those homes seized by banks like the one no longer on campus.


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