If you remember back to late November when UC Irvine cop Jared Kemper pulled a gun on unarmed students, both UCPD and UCOP issued public statements claiming that a student had grabbed Kemper’s baton and shouted, “Get his gun!” Publicly available video (on KTVU no less!) showed this to be an outright set of lies. The student, UC Merced undergrad Peter Howell, was held in custody for a few days before being released. No incriminating evidence was produced whatsoever, and as the video clearly shows, Kemper dropped his own baton without anyone doing so much as touching him, let alone attempting to grab it. The weapon fell to the floor of the parking deck, and in a flash, Kemper drew his pistol, pointing it directly at students, workers, and journalists for a prolonged period. He then picked up his baton, put it back in its holster, and then continued to point his firearm at unarmed bystanders.
The plot thickens. We have just learned that Howell has been charged with 4 misdemeanors, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. His arraignment is on Monday, and we urge everyone to come out to the court at 9 am in Department 13 at 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco. The DA is trying to stick him with these obscene and unwarranted charges. We’ve all seen the video. Where’s the evidence?
One of our close comrades spoke with Howell and his lawyer and has written an account of these developments to be circulated far and wide. We are posting her account below. Please repost gratuitously!
Tuesday morning Peter learned he was being charged with four misdemeanors arising out of the demonstration at the Regents meeting. Peter only learned that he was being charged after his attorney called the District Attorney’s office to check on the status of his case. Peter was informed that there was a warrant for his arrest issued at the behest of the district attorney’s office. Peter immediately arranged to appear in court in San Francisco at the earliest possible date.
Thinking everything was squared away, Peter spent the night at a friend’s house on Tuesday. Instead three cars full of police officers showed up at his house pounding on the door. His housemate tried to turn them away, but they asked for his ID which they ran to see if it was valid. The police were also looking in the backyard and the windows to see if they could concoct a reason to go inside. Luckily, his housemates knew their rights and told the police to leave, which they finally did after insinuating that the house was lying to them about knowledge of Peter and his whereabouts.
When he got to campus on Wednesday, he went to his professor to tell them what was going on. The professor offered to give him an incomplete, which is helpful but that means he’ll have to re-study for his final over winter break. Peter found out later that police had been at the campus coffee shop looking around at everyone to see if he was there. Police also stationed themselves outside of the classroom where his final exam was to take place, and even went inside and lurked in the projector room during the entire test.
Peter, through his attorney, had himself placed on the court’s calendar immediately after he learned that the district attorney’s office was filing charges against him. Nonetheless, police have continued to hunt for the UC Merced student relentlessly. He now has two incompletes and must make the work up after break. Peter is rightfully outraged at the police’s behavior and is astounded that something like this could happen in a country that says it values free speech and democracy. Also, he is disheartened that a university, his university, would use its police force to unjustifiably intimidate students, going far out of the way to make them feel hunted and watched.
We have learned that the Merced manhunt was orchestrated by the UCSF police, who traveled two hours out of their way in order to attempt to arrest and humiliate Peter in front of his friends, professors and classmates.
This situation is unique in a few ways:
- University police conducted a 24-hour manhunt (With UC student funds) for a student who is charged with a few misdemeanors.
- These police were from SF and went all the way to Merced to do this.
- Police created a situation of intense surveillance of the Merced campus, including a coffee shop that students use and call their own space.
- Serious attempts were made to enter his house, including searching for a Plain-View Doctrine reason and questioning the integrity of his housemates.
- He does not have a violent record of any kind and is not a flight risk. He has never given the police any reason to believe he would not show up for his court date on Monday.
We should consider some possible reasons that the UC has suddenly decided that its police force is best used to harass students at their homes and during final exams. Is it because they need to justify the unjustifiable act of Officer Jared Kemper of UC Irvine, pulling his gun on a crowd of unarmed protesters? Or have the UC regents and administration finally realized that the public education movement isn’t a phase, and that we’re not going to stop?
Peter deserves commendation for his cool head in this stressful situation and our support on Monday at his courtdate. Please show up, 9am in Department 13 at 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco to support this student who has been the target of oppressive police tactics.
All out to our comrade’s hearing!
We want Kemper’s badge! Cops off our campuses!