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Protesters who occupied cottage arrested in Oakland

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From page A1 | February 01, 2012 |

Ten UC Davis protesters who had been holed up in a cottage on campus last week were hauled in by police during mass arrests in Oakland on Saturday.

Geoffrey Wildanger, a graduate student, said he was among nine arrested on suspicion of failure to disperse. Protesters were ordered to disperse but were blocked into a space by police and unable to leave it without being arrested, he said.

A 10th UCD protester, whose name The Enterprise could not immediately confirm, was arrested on suspicion of felony burglary for being inside the YMCA in Oakland where police arrested about 400 Occupy protesters during sometimes-violent clashes.

Meanwhile, on campus, U.S. Bank again shut down its branch in the Memorial Union on Tuesday in response to another daily protest.

None of the UCD protesters in Oakland was seriously injured, Wildanger said, but some reported being hit with batons and seeing worse.

“It was insane,” he said.

Among the UCD contingent, all but the protester who has been accused of a felony had been freed by Tuesday. Wildanger said he and friends were trying to collect money online to bail him out of jail.

Wildanger said he and about 15 others decided Friday to abandon their occupation of a vacant cottage near the Quad that until December was the home of the Cross Cultural Center.

A small number of protesters moved into the building Jan. 24, after a march on the Quad, but the move upset more than administrators and those affiliated with the student centers. It also resulted in at least one lengthy, heated meeting among protesters.

Brett Lemke, a junior anthropology and philosophy major from Madison, Wis., said there was a range of opinion among protesters about the decision to move into the building. He said he opposed the move because Occupy UCD’s general assembly had not voted to approve it.

Others inside and outside of the movement were riled because the cottage is slated to be the new home for two programs created to help the very sorts of students that protesters have said they worried would be priced out of a UC education.

They are the Educational Opportunity Program, which provides services to help students adapt to university life both academically and socially, and the Guardian Scholars Program, which assists former foster youths.

“Those three forces (other protesters, the student centers and the administration) combined made it too much work to remain there,” Wildanger said. “We had to decide if we wanted to prove a point by staying (in the cottage) or support people in Oakland, so we left on Friday.”

Wildanger said he didn’t believe the “minor disagreement” over the cottage occupation would prove divisive.

Lemke said he, too, hoped the debate over the cottage wouldn’t cause lasting damage or affect how the campus viewed Occupy protests.

“Because that occupation was an autonomous action and not sponsored by the movement, I would certainly hope not,” he said.

UCD officials had no immediate comment on the decision by protesters to leave the building, but noted that they did clean up before doing so.

Protesters have chosen to take different tacks on campus this quarter. Lemke, for example, was among a small number still camping on the Quad — he counted about 10 tents Tuesday afternoon — and has been collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would pay for the tuition of in-state students with a tax increase.

Others have protested at the U.S. Bank branch, demanding that it be closed because large banks have profited from student loan debt. Bank and campus officials have been discussing how to respond, a campus spokesperson said Tuesday, but no decision has been reached.

UCD signed a 10-year deal with U.S. Bank in 2009. According to the campus, the deal brought in $167,500 during its first full year, money that supported campus recreation, athletics and students affairs and paid for a new identification card office.

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net. Follow him at http://twitter.com/cory_golden

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Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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