The Reynoso Report: A Portrait of Administrative Malice, Stupidity, Incompetence, and Immaturity

Today the Reynoso Report was released. The distribution of this report, initially due within two months of the pepper-spray incident of November 18, has been much delayed. But the timing of its release is opportune, because this is precisely the moment for a serious, honest assessment of the conduct of the UC Davis administration with regard to campus protests against rising tuition and in defense of public education. This is the moment for such an assessment because twelve students and faculty, among them some of those pepper-sprayed on November 18, are currently facing serious criminal charges at the behest of the administration for their political activities on campus—charges which carry a possible jail term of eleven years. If an assessment of the administration’s approach to political activism at this crucial moment is to be both serious and honest, it will necessarily be blunt and uncompromising: in a word, excoriating. That is the tenor of the following letter, addressed to students, faculty, and staff at UC Davis and throughout the UC system.

The Reynoso Report is based on the fact-finding of Kroll Securities, and the manifest conflicts of interest inherent in the appointment of Kroll have been well documented. Thus we might reasonably expect Kroll’s report to offer something like a best-case assessment of the administration’s involvement in the pepper-spray affair. And indeed, the fact-finding upon which the report is based is often middling and ineffectual. On the key issue of the Chancellor’s actual orders on and prior to November 18, it has very little to say. Rather, it relies primarily upon an interview with the Chancellor conducted after the fact, on December 20, to gauge her position. Given the international condemnation the Chancellor was facing at that time, no one should be surprised to find her remarks composed of efforts at self-serving revisionism. The report states openly that Kroll “relied upon UC Davis in the area of document production; it was deemed infeasible for budgetary, timing, and other reasons for Kroll to conduct an independent, systemic forensic review and analysis of UC Davis servers, hard drives, and electronic devices.” In other words, only those documents (such as administrative emails) that UC Davis itself offered for inspection were reviewed. In short, on the key matters of concern we might expect the report to address, Kroll’s fact finding leaves serious omissions.

Nevertheless, the information we are offered in the report amounts to a damning portrait of administrative malice, stupidity, incompetence, and immaturity.

1) The report makes clear that Chancellor Katehi and other senior administrators propped up their decision to evict the Occupy UC Davis encampment with fear-mongering based on the fallacious claim that numerous “non-affiliates” of the university were involved in the camp, ignoring and rejecting clear statements to the contrary by their own staff.

2) The report makes clear that Chancellor Katehi insisted on the removal of tents from the quad by police with no legal basis for such a police action, and that there were thus no legitimate grounds for ordering a police operation at all.
3) The report makes clear that Katehi ignored the concerns of her own staff and of the police that attempting to evict the encampment at 3:00pm on Friday afternoon would lead to a confrontation.
4) The report makes clear that, despite the Chancellor’s belated claim of November 21 that she ordered the police not to use force, the Chancellor made no concrete effort whatsoever to avoid the use of police force against demonstrators on November 18.

In short, the report makes clear that the so-called “Leadership Team,” and particularly the Chancellor, acted in a flagrantly totalitarian fashion. The Chancellor promulgated falsehoods concerning the basis for police action; she ignored the lack of legal grounds for such an action; she overruled objections to the timing of the eviction; and she made no reasonable effort to avoid police violence against students.

Since the Chancellor has been calling upon us to wait for the findings of the report before passing judgment concerning the events of November 18, let’s assess its conclusions and pass judgment accordingly. Its “key finding” is unequivocal:

While the deployment of the pepper spray on the Quad at UC Davis on November 18, 2011 was flawed, it was the systemic and repeated failures in the civilian, UC Davis Administration decision-making process that put the officers in the unfortunate situation in which they found themselves shortly after 3 p.m. that day.

This means that it is the “Leadership Team” of the UC Davis Administration, not the police, which bears primary responsibility for what happened on November 18. With the faintest glimmer of urbane wit, the report finds that “the actions of the Leadership Team provide a case study in how not to make important institutional decisions.”

For the sake of clarity, let’s summarize the report’s findings apropos of the points listed above.
1) On the matter of the supposed threat posed by “non-affiliates”:

When explaining their decisions on Nov. 17 and 18, UC Davis administrators repeatedly referenced this concern about individuals not affiliated with the university at Occupy movement protests and encampments on campus, and the security risks created by their presence. Indeed, in Chancellor Katehi’s letter distributed to campus protesters on Nov. 18, the day of the pepper spray incident, theChancellor wrote “We are aware that many of those involved in the recent demonstrations on campus are not members of the UC Davis community. This requires us to be even more vigilant about the safety of our students, faculty and staff.” As our report will indicate these concerns were not supported by any evidence obtained by Kroll.

….

Leading up to the eviction, Chancellor Katehi and Vice Chancellor Meyer were not swayed by the reports from Student Affairs staff that the Occupy activists were overwhelmingly comprised of students.

 

2) On the absence of legal justification for police action:

It is clear that the UCDPD leadership was concerned about its legal authority to remove the tents, at least during the daytime. It is equally clear that the UC Davis Administration was adamant that it did not want tents on campus and that the tents were considered a threat to health and safety. Just as the Leadership Team ultimately failed to arrive at a policy that appropriately constrained the conduct of campus police, so too did it fail to press for a definitive legal assessment of the scope of its authority to order the removal of the tents. In the course of its investigation, Kroll has been unable to identify the legal basis for the decision of the Leadership Team to act against the protesters and for theoperation mounted by the UCDPD. It appears that the UCDPD mounted its operation absent the clarity of legal authority under pressure from the Administration to do something to get rid of the tents.

3) On the administration’s failure to heed warnings about the probability of a police confrontation with students if the eviction was carried out at 3:00pm on Friday afternoon:

In the 24 hours before the police operation commenced, both Student Affairs staffers and campus police provided warnings to members of the Leadership Team that a confrontation might occur between activists and police on the Quad. These warnings do not appear to have impacted the decision-making of the Leadership Team, however….While the Chancellor viewed herself as chairing a consensus-driven discussion, her subordinates instead heard her issue an executive order. By insisting that the tents not be allowed to stay up on Friday night, Chancellor Katehi did in fact make a tactical decision: that the tents would be removed during the day….Based on the accounts of several officers, including Lieutenant Pike, Chief Spicuzza informed her officers that key and controversial decisions, including the 3 p.m. time for the operation, had been made by Chancellor Katehi herself.

4) On the Chancellor’s failure to pursue any real measures that might prevent the use of force against students:

Chancellor Katehi failed to express in any meaningful way her expectation that the police operation was to be sharply limited so that no use of force would be employed by police officers other than their demand that the tents be taken down….Vice Chancellor Meyer explained that “he did not understand that Chancellor Katehi believed that no force at all would be employed in taking down the tents until her comments following the November 18 police action.”…No members of the Leadership Team took responsibility for ensuring that all the members of the Team including the Police Chief had a common understanding of the scope and conduct of the police operation to be executed on Nov. 18.

These are devastating conclusions. Not only do they indicate unacceptable failures of leadership on the part of the Chancellor and other senior administrators, they indicate a willful disdain for the facts of the situation and a complete lack of effort to avoid the sort of outcome we witnessed on November 18. The report finds that “there was no immediate need to order the police to take down the tents on Friday, Nov. 18.” But despite the fact that “possible alternatives for protecting students in the encampment seem almost self-evident,” “the administration decided to deploy police to remove the tents on Nov. 18 before considering possible alternatives.” The Reynoso Report makes it clear that the UC Davis Administration acts in an extra-legal fashion, deploying the police force at their disposal without justification while criminalizing those who act against their policies.

Given the gravity of these charges, what do we find in the report which might account for the decisions of the Chancellor and her “Leadership Team”? Here we turn from tragedy to comedy, encountering statements from senior administrators of such frivolous stupidity and lugubrious immaturity that it is difficult to believe they could be made by people attempting to defend the validity of their leadership at a major research university.

On the inconvenient dearth of so-called “non-affiliates” at the encampment, Vice Chancellor Wood states: “students for us range all the way from eighteen…through the graduate postdoc, they could be 30 and be a student….I want to be fair that someone might see a pretty scruffy older person [and] presume them not a student.” I’m afraid this is indeed the caliber of seriousness and rigor—scruffy or not scruffy?—upon which the most important administrative judgments are based at UC Davis.

But let’s turn to Chancellor Katehi’s gravely earnest explanation of why tents just could not be allowed to remain on the quad for even one more night. Perhaps we might encounter a finer degree of reasoning from someone of so high a station:

We were worried at the time about that because the issues from Oakland were in the news and the use of drugs and sex and other things, and you know here we have very young students…we worried especially about having very young girls and other students with older people who come from the outside without any knowledge of their record.

The best rationale our Chancellor can come up with (after a month’s reflection) for a major police operation against non-violent student protesters is “the use of drugs and sex and other things” in the midst of “very young girls.” This is the sort of thing, or so she has heard, that goes on in “Oakland.”

But if this is utterly laughable nonsense in the context of university life, where football games and fraternity parties give rise to all kinds of “drugs and sex and other things” among “affiliates” and “non-affiliates” who “come from the outside,” perhaps Vice Chancellor Meyer has something more intelligent to say?

Our context at the time was seeing what’s happening in the City of Oakland, seeing what’s happening in other municipalities across the country, and not being able to see a scenario where [a UC Davis Occupation] ends well . . . Do we lose control and have non-affiliates become part of an encampment? So my fear is a long term occupation with a number of tents where we have an undergraduate student and a non-affiliate and there’s an incident. And then I’m reporting to a parent that a non-affiliate has done this unthinkable act with your daughter, and how could we let that happen?”

Ah, once again, “the City of Oakland”—what sort of people might one find there? And is it not the case that what was actually happening in the City of Oakland and other municipalities was egregious police violence against peaceful demonstrators—including the near-killing of protester Scott Olsen in Oakland on October 25? And what is it, exactly, that our tepid Vice Chancellor has in mind when he refers to “this unthinkable act” that might transpire between an undergraduate and a “non-affiliate”? Does he mean rape? It seems this is either a concept he does not to understand (“with your daughter,” he says) or a word he is unable to use in a sentence. But perhaps he just means “sex and other things”? Perhaps the very notion that an undergraduate—and a “daughter” no less—might have sex with a “non-affiliate” is an unthinkable act in the view of our painstakingly upright administrators.

That is to say: all that the pathetic and infantile discourse of the “Leadership Team” has to offer in its defense is the danger of sex and drugs, of “older people,” and the terribly frightening specter of “Oakland.” One needn’t look far to find an identical sexist, paternalist, pseudo-moralist discourse deployed in the most unbearably racist, xenophobic contexts. It is always the same thing with authoritarian bureaucrats who send in police to guard the young and innocent against those who “come from the outside”: they are more than willing to sanction brutal violence to buttress whatever obscene fantasy of purity serves as their faulty moral compass.

Let’s be honest then: whatever the “Leadership Team” of the UC Davis Administration says to legitimize its actions only certifies its illegitimacy by pointing up its remarkable stupidity, its dangerous incompetence, its apparent inability to say anything even remotely credible. These are people who have nothing to do with what a university is supposed to stand for—except to the extent that they directly oppose and obstruct it.

At the moment, the Chancellor and her totalitarian administration have only one claim upon legitimacy: the failure of an Academic Senate ballot measure expressing no-confidence in her leadership, and the success of a ballot measure accepting her “good faith apology.” Over 110,000 people signed a petition calling for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation. But 697 faculty, after all, voted against the no-confidence measure. 442 faculty voted to accept the Chancellor’s apology. Surely, then, this is all the information we need to affirm the Chancellor’s right to remain at her post? But let’s look at the results of another ballot measure, which:

1) condemns both the dispatch of police and use of excessive force in response to non-violent protests on November 18, 2011

2) opposes violent police response to non-violent protests on campus

3) demands that police deployment against protestors be considered only after all reasonable efforts have been exhausted and with direct consultation with Academic Senate leadership.

It turns out that 343 faculty voted against this ballot measure, a shameful fact for those of us who call these people our colleagues. This result makes it very likely that over 300 of those who accepted the Chancellor’s apology or who expressed confidence in her leadership also voted against condemnation of and opposition to the excessive use of force by police, or the consideration of alternatives to the use of police force. With friends like these, the Chancellor finds herself among the only company suitable to uphold the authoritarianism of her administration: the sort of people who are happy to support police violence against students.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor’s “good faith apology” to students pepper-sprayed in the fall now takes the form of an effort to have those same students prosecuted for their blockade of the US Bank branch on campus: another principled and courageous stand against the privatization of the university. Subject to international humiliation for her malfeasance in November, the Chancellor has reached out to student protesters in March by trying to destroy their lives through criminal charges. This is what the “good faith” of the administration amounts to.

Enough is enough. The Chancellor has made it clear that she will cling to her station by any means necessary. But the case against her is now so overwhelmingly clear it brooks no argument. Since the Chancellor has called for “healing,” let me offer a prescription: those of us among faculty, students, and staff who care about the university and about the demonstrators who stand up for it should immediately organize an ongoing picket and blockade of Mrak Hall, until the Chancellor is forced off the UC Davis campus—just as Chancellor Birgeneau tendered his resignation when faced with a picket of California Hall over retroactive charges against those beaten by police at Berkeley.

Surely this is the only genuine way the Chancellor’s disingenuous calls for “healing” can be answered.

Of course the Chancellor will find this proposal, and this letter, “uncivil.” But now that we finally have documentation of the hollowness of her words and the culpable folly of her actions, we can cut once again through the drivel with which she insistently responds to the most serious allegations.

Katehi: get out.
Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis
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“Freedom” and “Neutrality” at the University of California

On April 9, two UC Davis law professors—one is an administrator and the other holds an endowed chair—published an article called “Defining the Boundaries of Free Speech in College Protests.” The article takes issue with the Davis Faculty Association’s call for the Yolo County DA to drop politically motivated charges against the “Davis Dozen.” The authors, Alan Brownstein and Vikram Amar, castigate the DFA for its characterization of the legal action as “retroactive” and for engaging in “viewpoint discrimination.”

In the first place, the authors misunderstand what is meant by “retroactive.” This adjective conveys a simple fact: it was only after US Bank announced that it had permanently closed its doors that the UCD administration requested that the DA bring criminal charges against the 12 protesters. The university is targeting the dozen in a clumsy attempt to limit its liability to US Bank, which claims it was “constructively evicted,” and is threatening a lawsuit.

Despite their claims to the contrary, Brownstein and Amar’s argument targets these protesters and aims to imprison them. This is the meaning of their twisted invocation of Martin Luther King Jr. to claim that civil disobedience gains its force from the willingness of protesters to be arrested and sanctioned. In other words, Brownstein and Amar think that a successful protest is one in which protesters go to jail, not one that achieves its concrete aims.

Brownstein and Amar’s own “viewpoint neutral” claim is the following:

Laws regulating the time, place and manner of activities on public property in race-neutral, content-neutral, viewpoint neutral ways that leave open ample other opportunities for expression (and the campus’ regulations have to and do satisfy these standards to be permissible) are not unjust laws.

In constructing their argument, the authors remain firmly planted on the reified terrain of legality, whereupon unequal class and race relations are institutionalized, normalized, and presented as “just.” The “neutrality” from which the authors articulate their position, then, is a sanitized abstraction of a status quo whose maintenance depends on the continued oppression of women, minorities, queers, and the poor. For their argument to seem reasonable, domination must be understood as neutral and just, and resistance to domination must be seen as unreasonable.

It’s no coincidence that the authors chose the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech to underpin their argument against the US Bank protests. The administration wants to shift the struggle onto the familiar terrain of “free speech,” where supposedly fair and neutral limits have been established.

“Free speech” remits to the plane of the symbolic and the preterite, to the dusty images and grainy video of a bygone Free Speech Movement. “Free speech” can be celebrated, promoted and even commodified by the authorities, but the movement must remain a thing of the past. By concentrating on speech, the administration wishes to confine today’s dissent to the rhetorical realm, where it poses absolutely no threat to the established order.

“Speech” and its associated practices and prohibitions were simply the local site on which a broader conflict over civil rights and militarization was fought in the 1960s. The name “Free Speech Movement” is problematic, at once a misnomer and a convenient way for the current university administration to transpose the struggle from material action onto a purely rhetorical “marketplace of ideas,” where we all have the right to say what we want, as long as we don’t take concrete steps to make our dreams real. Jamming the movement into the free speech cage also permits administrators and politicians to repress the aspects of popular resistance that truly frighten them—it’s enough to recall that the Free Speech Movement took place in a context of riots, bombings, and other acts of physical resistance. The bank blockade is so threatening because it crosses the line between the rhetorical and the material, between the abstract and the concrete. In doing so, it succeeded.

Both authors took part in a “Freedom of Expression Forum,” whose name evokes the administration’s notorious Freedom of Expression Support Team. The forum was sponsored by the Civility Project, the Office of the Chancellor’s Orwellian initiative to lump political dissent, along with racism and hate speech, into a broad category of speech and action called “incivility.” Together, these forums, initiatives, and spy teams constitute a sustained effort to suppress meaningful resistance to the university’s privatization program by placing strict boundaries on dissent.

These boundaries are codified as law and “protest guidelines,” but they are actually quite malleable. Nowhere is this more apparent than in interactions with the police. Here, at the point of conflict, the police apparatus defines legality according to the situational demands of its function: to maintain (the existing) order. The police declare a gathering to be illegal or a march to be a riot. The cops’ basic operational procedure is to first eliminate the threat to normal circulation of traffic, conducting of business, or growing of grass and, later, to define illegality as whatever the arrestees and police-brutality victims were doing. They typically employ weasel words: “assaultive” in the absence of actual assault; “not non-violent” to describe protesters who had linked arms in order to face, together, the coming beatings; “resisting” to designate someone arrested violently in a one-sided use of force and “pain techniques.”

Sometimes these words make it into the legal code, as in California Penal Code, Section 405a, which makes it possible for one to be charged with lynching for, among other possibilities, rescuing a black friend from bodily injury at the hands of an angry white mob—the cops.

More often, though, the police exercise their legal authority—based nakedly on the violence they inflict or imply—to limit or prohibit being in a place. Gang injunctions, as prohibitions on being a black and/or latino youth in designated areas, are an obvious example of this. In such cases the state exercises its God function on individuals, letting them be, or not be. The police merely utter le non du père, the declaration of unlawful assembly, the “nein” to our Dasein. They tell us we cannot set foot on campus, that we must “stay away,” that we cannot sit in this hallway that happens to adjoin a bank whose presence, unlike ours, is never questioned. The grass is closed.

This, then, is the moving terrain of law, the neutral vantage point from which which our serious, business-suited Ivy League Constitutional scholars have written an essay which may well serve as an amicus curiae brief intended to imprison twelve individuals.

Never mind that the student protesters have not harmed anyone. Never mind that the administration has. What matters is the manner in which dissent occurs. The UC administration has embarked on a campaign to criminalize all forms of dissent which depart from the purely rhetorical and cross into material resistance that threatens the practices and structures of privatization, and which depart from the notional and enter the real.

Shit’s about to get more real.

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Davis Dozen Press Release

Occupy UC Davis Antirepression Crew Media
oucd-antirepression-media@googlegroups.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What: Call-In to Oppose Prosecution of the 12 UCD Protesters
Contact: Yolo County District Attorney at (530) 666-8180 or Fax: (530)666-8423
Support: Come to the Arraignment on Friday, April 27th, 8:30am at the Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 9, 213, Third Street, Woodland, CA, 95695

11 UC DAVIS STUDENTS, PROFESSOR, CHARGED FOR U.S. BANK BLOCKADE

Accused May Face up to Eleven Years in Prison

Just months after UC Davis police pepper sprayed seated students in the face during a protest against university privatization and police brutality, Chancellor Linda Katehi’s administration is trying to send some of the same students to prison for their alleged role in protests that led to the closure of a US Bank branch on campus.

On 29 March, weeks after an anti-privatization action against US Bank ended with the closure of the bank’s campus branch, 11 UC Davis students and one professor received orders to appear at Yolo County Superior Court. District Attorney Jeff Reisig is charging campus protesters with 20 counts each of obstructing movement in a public place, and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, the protesters could face up to 11 years each in prison, and $1 million in damages.

The charges were brought at the request of the UC Davis administration, which had recently received a termination letter from US Bank holding the university responsible for all costs, claiming they were “constructively evicted” because the university had not responded by arresting the “illegal gathering.” Protesters point out that the charges against them serve to position the university favorably in a potential litigation with US Bank.

Three of the protesters had received summons from UCD Student Judicial Affairs in mid-February, and it was only after US Bank announced that it had permanently closed its doors that the UCD administration requested that the DA bring criminal charges against the 12. Supporters argue that the university is targeting the dozen in order to limit its liability to US Bank and that the university is effectively using public funds (through the DA’s office) to protect a private corporation’s right to profit from increasingly indebted students at an increasingly expensive public university.

Among the 12 are some of the protesters pepper sprayed by campus police during the infamous November incident. But whereas the District Attorney declined to file charges against protesters then, this less publicized prosecution seems to be an attempt to punish the dissenting students, perhaps in retaliation for their pending ACLU lawsuit against the university. “We might not think of this as violence, because there aren’t broken bones or pepper spray or guns—it’s not as explicit—but sending someone to jail, holding them for a day, let alone 11 years, is violence,” said Andrew Higgins, a graduate student in History and representative of the UC graduate student union.

Supporters are requesting that the public contact the Yolo County District Attorney at (530) 666-8180 and voice their opposition to this prosecution. Supporters also request public attendance on the day of their arraignment, Friday, April 27th, 8:30am at the Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 9, 213 Third Street, Woodland, CA, 95695. The website in support of the 12 accused is http://www.davisdozen.org.

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Letter of Solidarity with the Davis Dozen from their UC Berkeley Counterparts

from UC Chilling Effects

Last week, 12 students and professors were notified by the Yolo County District Attorney that they were being charged in relation to the blockade of an on-campus bank at UC Davis.  Protesters had blockaded the branch of US Bank in opposition to its exploitation of students at Davis, and the banking industry’s profit-taking through increasing student debt and rising tuition in general.  The protests were successful in getting the bank to close its doors and void its contract with UC Davis. Now, almost a month after the protests ended, these 12 are being charged with over 20 misdemeanor counts related to the blockades, and the Yolo County DA has indicated it might seek damages of up to $1 million dollars on behalf of the bank.

As the recipients of a similar set of belated charges from the Alameda County DA, brought against us in relations to the events of November 9 at UC Berkeley, when students tried to set up a small “Occupy” encampment there and were viciously beaten by the police, we want to extend our solidarity to the 12 protesters charged. We condemn this opportunism on the behalf of UC Davis police and administration. They are clearly using the Yolo County DA to accomplish repression which they feel they are unable to undertake on their own, after the widespread public outrage at their behavior last fall, when sitting protesters were serially and vindictively pepper-sprayed.  That incident, captured on video and viewed millions of times the world over, became an international symbol of the brutality of US police.

In a talk given last year, UC Irvine Professor Rei Terada reflected on the fallout from the UC Berkeley and UC Davis incidents by predicting that, in the immediate future, campuses were not likely to resort to “the kind of violence you can photograph.” The developments at Davis and Berkeley have proven her remarks uncannily prescient. Afraid of public outrage and its endangerment of their jobs, UC administrators and police departments have farmed out the job of repressing students to local prosecutors. This allows the campus administrators to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the charges, claiming such matters entirely outside of their jurisdiction, even though in all of these cases charges could not have been brought without the active encouragement and collaboration of campus police. And so we see that, at Berkeley, Chancellor Birgeneau claims that he knew nothing about the charges filed against UC Berkeley protesters, even though his police department had forwarded to the DA specific recommendations to charge all 13 people. Either Birgeneau is not telling the truth or UC police acted, in this matter, without his oversight. Both are evidence of incompetence. At Davis, Chancellor Katehi, who nearly lost her job after the pepper-spray incident, instructed her police department to avoid confrontation and let protesters continuously blockade the US Bank branch for close to eight weeks, without ever arresting any of them. But, wanting to have it both ways, her police then forwarded the cases to the Yolo County DA.

The last year has seen a remarkable flourishing of protest and resistance in this country. Hundreds of thousands of people have had the opportunity to experiment with new tactics and ideas. But this has also been a time of experiment and innovation for police forces and the courts, which have used the protests as a chance to deploy new weapons, and practice with new techniques of control and containment, as well as set new legal precedents which allow for greater repressive powers. This recent round of “jail-mail” might seem limited in scope but it sets the precedent for a future world where, based upon omnipresent surveillance, anybody who attends a protest might become the subject of a criminal complaint months or even years later.

We understand this development not as the exception to the rule but rather the confirmation of a general trend toward the continuous expansion of the powers of the state, where civil disobedience-style tactics which, in other times and other jurisdictions, might be treated as mere infractions are met with the threat of jail-time and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. We hope that all sane people will stand with us in calling on the Yolo County DA to drop the charges.

written by several of those charged for the events of Nov. 9

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Rally to Support the “Banker’s Dozen” – April 5 @ 2pm on the MU Patio

 

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The Bank Dispute: Pro Bono Legal Advice for the UC Regents

The successful bank blockade has sparked a lovers’ quarrel between US Bank and the UC administration over who cheated whom.

US Bank blames the Regents (who are technically the bank’s landlord) for having “constructively evicted” the bank.

What this means, in real-world terms, is that US Bank is mad because the University did not attack and/or arrest the blockaders.

“The Regents have refused to remove or arrest the persons participating in the gathering even though the Regents have used available laws to disperse protestors who have congregated elsewhere on the University’s campuses. U.S. Bank asked repeatedly for immediate intervention so U.S. Bank could conduct business at the Branch.”

This seems like a reasonable objection, given that the UC administration is indeed world-famous for its violent removal of protesters from places “elsewhere on the University’s campuses.”

US Bank is saying that it had, upon entering into a contract with the University, a reasonable expectation that its ability to do business on campus would be maintained by violent means, if necessary. This, in itself, says much about the coercive nature of both banking in general and of many “services” foisted upon students at today’s universities.

The bank claims a breach of covenant and is attempting to “hold the Regents liable for all losses, including, but not limited to, the unamortized value of the costs incurred by U.S. Bank to outfit the Branch, the business losses suffered by U.S. Bank, moving expenses and the rent paid during the time U.S. Bank was barred from using the Branch.”

The bank’s objections come despite language in the contract that releases the University from the obligation to provide security at the bank branch. “Bank assumes all responsibility for the protection of Bank, its agents and invitees from acts of third parties.”

US Bank wishes to avoid defaulting on its contract by having prematurely vacated the premises, and the Regents will now bear the legal costs of a “partnership” with a vulture corporation intent on reaping profit from all possible sources. Meanwhile, the UCD News Service laments the loss of what one administrator called a “new, fun source of revenue.”

Fun-loving guard at the "source of revenue."

The UC administration, in order to limit its liability, is claiming that the bank “chose to close” and terminated the contract prematurely, before the university could get “law enforcement to prosecute proven violations of the California Penal Code and also allowing for peaceful protests.” (It seems violations are “proven” prior to prosecution in the authoritarian world of the UC administration.)

Yet the UC Davis News Service, with its typical zeal for demonizing protesters, inadvertently promotes US Bank’s claim to damages by echoing the bank’s hyperbole about employees being “effectively imprisoned in the bank.”

The News Service also trumpets the administration’s latest attempt at repression—it has requested that the Yolo County DA bring charges against six of the blockaders, for interfering with “lawful business.” Since the UC administration is now arguing precisely the opposite, namely that business was not substantially interfered with and, moreover, that US Bank “was not genuinely interested in maintaining a long-term presence at the Davis campus,” we advise them to withdraw their request to the DA, thereby ceasing the judicial repression of students.

Documents:

Letter from US Bank to UC Regents

Letter from UC Regents to US Bank

The contract

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Campus Art Against Cops, Capital

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