As we reported early last month, 19 students and their allies at UC Irvine were charged for taking part in a sit-in in solidarity with AFSCME 3299 bus drivers facing outsourcing and privatization. For 10 months after the February 24th action, no one heard a peep from the Orange County DA’s office. That’s why it came as an utter shock to these students when they were charged with 3 — and in one case 4 — misdemeanors nearly a year after the alleged incident. It was equally shocking that these 19 had to appear in court last Wednesday (12/29) between Christmas and New Year’s. The DA had nearly a year to file charges, but she chose to do so during finals week and set the arraignment for between Christmas and New Year’s. If this doesn’t constitute harassment, we no longer know what does.
We have just learned that after all of this, the arraignment was continued (effectively rescheduled) until January 21. Apparently the DA was out sick and had all of the evidence in her car. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be keeping tabs on the case of the UCI-19 (facing 3-4 misdemeanors each) and the UCM-1 (Peter Howell, facing 3 misdemeanors and a felony seizure of an officer’s weapon). It goes without saying that we stand in solidarity with all of those facing charges, and we’ll be out at the courthouse whenever possible. We urge you to do the same. Our comrades need our support now more than ever. While jail time is very unlikely in the UCI case, technically the arrestees could face up to a year in jail for their part in a non-violent action against the flexibilization of union jobs on our campuses. In the Merced case, UCOP and UCPD are alleging that Howell seized an officer’s baton, claiming this as the pretext for Kemper’s trigger-happiness. As we’ve reiterated numerous times, we know this is bullshit. We’ve all seen the video. This isn’t a game; Howell, a 19 year-old Merced student without any priors, could do time on a fake-ass felony charge. Fuck that. It’s up to us to make sure this doesn’t happen. Let’s do it!