Statement on Feb. 12 protest, arrests

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Public Affairs

Wednesday, on the third consecutive day of unsanctioned strike activity, officers arrested 17 participants who ignored dispersal orders that were repeated over approximately 20 minutes—requests to move out of the city intersection of Bay and High streets and onto the university field to continue their demonstration. Officers repeatedly tried to de-escalate the situation and made clear that blocking this major roadway had to stop or it would lead to arrest. Demonstrators locked arms, sat in the roadway, and refused to move back onto the university field.

During Monday’s unsanctioned strike activity, there were several dangerous incidents between vehicles and picketers when this major intersection was blocked. The safety of everyone in our community is our highest priority. Failing to comply with an order to disperse and obstructing a roadway is extremely dangerous, and it is also against the law. The participants in the unsanctioned strike were arrested for unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and unlawful obstruction of the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk, or other public place. While we understand the frustration about housing costs in Santa Cruz, we also have responsibilities to the vast majority of our faculty, staff and students who simply want to do what they came to UC Santa Cruz to do–to study, to teach, and conduct research.

UCSC’s police officers have a critical role in ensuring safety and security to all on campus. They protect everyone’s ability to exercise the constitutionally protected rights of free expression, speech, and assembly. These rights do not extend, however, to disrupting regular and essential operations of the university by occupying offices, blocking roads, or infringing on the rights of others.

It is essential that emergency responders, the Santa Cruz community, and the campus community can freely travel through the city, and on and off the residential campus. Moreover, in addition to the 9,300 students who live on campus, UC Santa Cruz is home to families with young children and elderly residents. We hope today’s protests remain peaceful and lawful.