Demonstrators Clash With Police At UC Fee Hike Protest
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS / BCN) -13 people were arrested after a protest at the University of California’s San Francisco Mission Bay campus Wednesday morning turned into skirmishes with police.
The protest involving some 300 students, faculty and supporters was held outside a UC Regents meeting to discuss a proposed 8 percent student fee hike
One person was taken into custody for assault with a deadly weapon after hitting an officer with his own baton, police said.
“It was an angry, unruly and aggressive crowd,” UCSF police Chief Pamela Roskowski said at a midday news conference after the protests had died down.
About 50 protesters cornered a police officer in a parking garage next to the meeting, and one student took his baton, Roskowski said. The officer drew his gun after the student hit him on the head with the baton, and someone in the crowd said, “take his gun,” the chief said.
Roskowski said she had reviewed video of the confrontation.
“The officer showed great restraint,” she said. “The police conducted themselves very well.”
Three officers were injured, including one who suffered a cut to his arm while a protester was attempting to use a barricade as a weapon, Roskowski said. No one was hospitalized.
At about 9 a.m., a group of protesters crammed against a barricade at the front of William J. Rutter Center, where the meeting was being held. Police sprayed demonstrators with pepper spray and beat the crowd back with batons.
“They didn’t give people a chance to leave. We don’t have anything to fight back with,” said Maria Belman, a UC Berkeley student who got pepper spray in her eye.
“They’re putting workers into abject poverty,” said Paul Haller, a building manager at UC Berkeley. “I’ve worked here for 27 years, and back then I didn’t think about retirement, but now it’s a lot more important.”
Picket lines formed in various parts of the campus, with students and faculty chanting, “UC Me? UC worker poverty. UC Me? UC student poverty.”
Inside the meeting, several students from UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, and UCLA spoke during the public comment period about how fee hikes are impacting their campuses.
“Our campus is experiencing increases in unexpected ways – for example, student shoplifting so people can have food to go to school,” said Jasmine Hill, undergraduate student body president at UCLA.
UC President Mark Yudof has proposed raising fees by 8 percent for the 2011-12 academic year, which means undergraduate fees would increase to $11,124 per year.
He has also proposed that the university provide grants for undergraduates with household incomes of less than $120,000 to cover the fee increase for one year.
“Anyone dropping out who is making less than $120,000 must be dropping out for other reasons,” he said.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
Protesters said an 8 percent fee hike on top of last year’s 32 percent increase is unreasonable.
”It’s not a public institution anymore basically,” said Christine Byon, with the UC Students’ Association. “We can’t really say that it’s serving the public good when fees are this high.”
UC Spokeswoman Lynn Tierney said the system is one billion dollars in the hole, and it’s not just students that will have to dig deeper.
”In addition to student fees being considered at this meeting, they’re also going to raise the amount that it costs people to pay into their retirement plans, and to pay into their health program,” said Tierney. “Everybody is getting a bill today.”
KCBS’ Holly Quan & Doug Sovern Report:
Newsom Addresses UC Fee Increases
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will become a UC and CSU regent in January, when he is sworn in as Lieutenant Governor. On Wednesday, he told KCBS he sides with the protesters, and will vote against raising fees or tuition.
Newsom calls the proposal to raise UC fees another eight percent terrible and inexcusable.
“They’re simply wrong to do this, and I don’t say that to demagogue, I don’t say that because I’m the politician that always votes against those fee increases, I mean that in the core of my being, that it is a major mistake,” said Newsom.
Newsom had just praised Governor Schwarzenegger at a green jobs event in San Francisco, but then savaged him on this issue, offstage; saying if the governor had shown “real political leadership” on education, there would be no need to raise fees again.
“He went out of his way to make sure I wouldn’t be lieutenant governor,” said Newsom. “One of the principle things that I argued against the guy he (Schwarzenegger) was supporting was that he supported a budget last year that devastated higher education. I made that a big part of the campaign for good reason. The governor was wrong, Abel Maldonado was wrong, and Democrats, not just Republicans in the legislature were wrong.”
Newsom said that if we give him six months he’ll find enough efficiencies in the $19 billion dollar UC budget to prevent any more increases.
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