Crime and Courts

UC San Diego students, alum accused of felony for ‘chalking' slogans on campus

Hundreds of protesters from the University of California system descended on San Diego's Central Courthouse downtown on Monday to speak out against the arrests of two graduate students at UCSD and an alumnus

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Hundreds of protesters from the University of California system rallied outside of San Diego's Central Courthouse on Monday in response to the June 29 arrests of two UCSD graduate students and an alumnus for felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit a crime by UCSD police.

The trio were arrested for allegedly vandalizing the Marine Conservation and Technology Facility at UC San Diego on May 30, reportedly writing slogans like "Living Wage Now" in washable marker and chalk outside a campus building. The messages were part of what they said was intended as a peaceful protest, asking UC San Diego to uphold the contracts that their union, UAW 2865, which represents academic student employees, had negotiated with the university system. 

The three were scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, but in a written statement issued the same day, the San Diego County District Attorney's office said the arraignment would not move forward because the case had not been submitted to its office for review.

"These charges are meant to intimidate and isolate not just three people but every person who dares to stand up for themselves and their fellow workers," Jessica Ng, one of those arrested, said at the rally. 

The protesters maintain that the school system isn't honoring the contracts and that they want 12-month appointments — so that graduate students earn an income over the summer break — and a minimum 20-hour work week. They allege that, instead of honoring the contract, the school is trying to discipline those who are speaking out. 

NBC 7 reached out to UCSD for an interview with university leadership to address the protesters' concerns regarding the contracts but, instead of granting an interview, UC San Diego pointed to a statement released on July 4 and updated July 10 that said, in part: 

"UC San Diego supports its community members' rights to voice their concerns lawfully. UC San Diego does not tolerate vandalism or other damage to university property."

School officials claim the incident caused $12,000 of permanent damage and had to be professionally repaired. They didn't say whether its police department plans to file charges with the district attorney's office.

The protesters from UAW 2865 said they are considering a strike to force the university to comply with the contracts. 

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