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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Student fined for vandalism, over $1,000 donated by others to help with court fees

As of now, 34 donors have collectively put $1,450 toward a WePay donation page titled “Free Tomás,” referring to fourth-year art studio major Tomás Matzat. The donation goal on the website is $6,000, to cover the restitution for a series of vandalism charges.

Matzat’s first run-in with the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD) occurred on Nov. 18 last year, when he was arrested alongside other protesters on the UC Davis Quad. During this arrest, he was reported to have suffered nerve damage from zip-tie cuffs used by police officers.
Later, in March, he was arrested on a vandalism charge by the UCDPD during finals week. He was charged with 15 misdemeanor counts and five felony counts of vandalism, as per California penal code section 594.
“The acts of vandalism occurred on or about Jan. 9 of 2012 and concluded roughly on March 16,” said Yolo County assistant chief deputy district attorney Michael Cabral. “The acts of graffiti focused on various issues, such as political statements about war, the [University] administration and businesses on campus.”
The evidence surrounding the charges is concrete, according to Cabral, who explained that stencils and other materials were found in Matzat’s possession, and that he was seen making a presentation to an art class about some of the acts of graffiti.

“The case is set for sentencing on Nov. 20, and I anticipate the court will place him on probation, with a full restitution paid to the university,” Cabral said.

Matzat did not respond to requests for an interview.

“Tomás will be required to pay court fees for the privilege of being prosecuted,” Matzat’s WePay webpage states.

Although the page also states that the university “has requested … restitution for a vandalism charge,” this is not the case, according to UC Davis Spokesperson Claudia Morain.

“The University doesn’t set fees; the court imposes court fees,” Morain said. “If a crime happens, the police investigate it and refer it to the district attorney … the University’s only role is to report crimes.”

Matzat was dismissed from the university after falling behind in his classes after the arrests. However, he was readmitted after a discussion between his attorney and the University. Protesters also took part in a sit-in at the dean of Letters and Sciences office on his behalf.

A benefit art auction and poetry reading are being held on Matzat’s behalf on Nov. 15 at the John Natsoulas Art Gallery. The art at the auction is being donated by local and national artists, as well as Matzat himself.

The deadline for the WePay page, wepay.com/donations/free-tomas, is Thursday.

ROHIT RAVIKUMAR can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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