By Will Norton-Mosher
When the three students who were arrested at the Oct. 18 UC Regents protest came out of the new humanities building, they weren’t alone. Though it hadn’t yet been formed, the UC Activist Defense Committee (UCADC) came out of the building with them.
The UCADC was formed as a direct response to the events of the Oct. 18 campus protest when students unhappy with UC policies attempted to shut down a visit from the board of UC Regents. The demonstration became rowdy; students were pepper sprayed, and some were arrested. Immediately afterward, the defendants became unofficial icons for the UCADC, which features the three defendants on their website.
UCADC spokesperson Patrick Makiri said that the committee found the students a lawyer to work pro bono weeks after their arrests.
“A lot of other people went out and found them a lawyer; it took them two weeks to find [one],” he said.
The students’ cases remain a fierce point of debate between student activists and the administration, which has stated that police acted appropriately and lawfully given the circumstances of the protest. Students say the police singled out activists according to their race and political history.
Students have mounted a fairly large and vocal response. Last Thursday, the UCADC sponsored a teach-in, distributing flyers featuring a photo of Alette Kendrick, one of the arrested students, being pulled into the humanities building by police.
“Things are definitely intensifying now,” Kendrick said. “I feel like I have so much support right now. It’s really, really, uplifting.”
The students who were arrested have been invited to speak at a variety of recent events that are not explicitly related to their cases. Kendrick spoke at the International Socialist Organizer about a student movement in Oaxaca, Mexico, and appeared during the UC Santa Cruz employee walkout on Feb. 15.
UCADC has become a key supporter of campus activism. Some students used the teach-in to advertise other issues, such as upcoming concerts, and alternative media.
Kendrick’s attorney, Greg Colben, says that the arrests were part of a growing political nature of police work. He said that though the issue is political, he and Kendrick aren’t trying to set precedents with the case.
“We’re not trying to politicize this,” Colben said. “But we’re trying to extricate this from an unfortunate situation. We’d like to see about resolving this through negotiations.”
Guy Lasnier, UCSC’s media contact, disputes any claims that the arrests were politically motivated.
“It is our belief that the police acted appropriately and without prejudice in determining which protesters to arrest,” he wrote in an email to City on a Hill Press. “The arrests of the three individuals were a result of behaviors that were perceived to be violations of laws.”
In court last Friday, Kendrick pleaded not guilty to three counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of resisting arrest. Tani Thole, who faces misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, appeared in court as well, but her arraignment was postponed.