At a demonstration earlier today in defense of 5 UC Irvine students who were unlawfully detained last week for chalking relatively benign slogans on campus sidewalks, 4 more students were detained. As our friends over at Occupy UCI write, “OK, now this is just ridiculous.” To add insult to injury, Jared “Stick Up Students” Kemper was one of the pigs on the scene. For details, read on. In the interest of getting this information out there, we are copying their post below. If you’d prefer to read it in the original, check out Occupy UCI.
At around 11:45am today, 4 more UCI students were detained by UCPD for chalking in front of Aldrich Hall, UCI’s administration building. These students were participating in a protest against the detention last week of 5 students for the same “crime” and police violence against students at UCSF protesting fee hikes – including an incident in which UCI Police Officer Jared Kemper pulled his handgun on unarmed students.
Two officers arrived on the scene immediately, to run down students and check hands for chalk. Then a third officer arrived: JARED KEMPER. Apparently Officer Kemper is under use of force review but has not been placed on leave after repeatedly beating students, aiming his gun at students, and then shoving a female student. After the crowd of 30-40 students that had gathered began chanting “FIRE KEMPER!” he was quickly whisked away and replaced by 2 more cops, including a plainclothes cop. As the students were being released, student workers had been sent with mops and buckets to begin cleaning up the chalk; though they particularly focused on the anti-police statements, including “UCPD DON’T SHOOT ME!” and “OFFICER KEMPER: ARMED AND DANGEROUS.”
After they were released and police left, students continued chalking in defiance, in the Humanities Plaza. That is, until 1:30pm, when police were once again called on these violent extremists. Students left before the police arrived again.
There was near consensus from students walking by: CHALKING IS NOT A CRIME, IT IS FREE SPEECH!
In case there is any doubt about the legality of chalking, we have (in our modest legal knowledge) compiled a short list of relevant law, code, and court decisions about chalking and speech about police. We hope that the UCI Police begin to actually study the law, rather than enforce the make-believe pseudo-policy that the UCI administration tries to present as legal doctrine.
California Penal Code Section 594:
‘(a) Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:
(1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
California Penal Code Section 640.5:
‘(a) (1) Any person who defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material the interior or exterior of the facilities or vehicles of a governmental entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code’
UCI Student Code of Conduct:
‘102.04 Theft of, conversion of, destruction of, or damage to any property of the University, or any property of others while on University premises, or possession of any property when the student had knowledge or reasonably should have had knowledge that it was stolen.’
Mackinney v. Nielsen 69 F.3d 1002 (9th Cir.1995)
‘Chalk is not “liquid,” and there is no evidence that the sidewalk was “damaged.” No reasonable person could think that writing with chalk would damage a sidewalk.’
‘Nielsen did not have probable cause to arrest Mackinney for a violation of Sec. 594 because his actions did not “damage” the sidewalk.’
Duran v. City of Douglas 904 F.2d 1372, 1377, 1378 (9th Cir.1990)
‘”while police, no less than anyone else, may resent having obscene words and gestures directed at them, they may not exercise the awesome power at their disposal to punish individuals for conduct that is not merely lawful but protected by the First Amendment.”’
We call upon the UCI administration – ultimately the ones responsible for directing the police to suppress free speech and student rights – to once and for all enact a policy regarding chalking consistent with those at other public universities. With the absence of permissible places to advertise events and groups, and UCPD’s practice of tearing down political posters posted in accordance with university policy in designated posting areas, students must be given other places reserved for speech, or we will take them for ourselves.
We find the following policy recommendations to be completely reasonable and mutually agreeable:
- All chalk on outdoor horizontal surfaces shall be permitted, so long as it is exposed to the elements and would wash off from a typical rain storm or be worn off by pedestrian traffic.
- No chalking on vertical surfaces or other surfaces not exposed to rain.
- No arrests, detentions, or citations for ANY STUDENT for chalking anywhere.
UCI cannot continue on with this illogical and irrational policy of repression. Police were forced to withdraw Kemper and release students without citation today because the crowd of students could have gotten out of hand. And we will continue to be out of hand so long as these exponential tuition hikes are imposed upon us and we are violently kept away from the bargaining table.
As one particularly mediocre U.S. President said in a moment of profound realization: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”
Or, as this option presents itself to the UC administration today:
CHALKUPY EVERYTHING, or OCCUPY EVERYTHING. It’s their choice, not ours.