Sunday, March 1, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UCD sues U.S. Bank for closing over protests

By
From page A1 | May 06, 2012 |

UC Davis filed suit Friday against U.S. Bank, alleging that the bank breached its contract by shutting down its branch after repeated Occupy sit-ins there.

On March 1, U.S. Bank pulled out of a 2009 agreement, worth an estimated $3 million over 10 years, with the money earmarked for student services. Bank officials said UCD had not done enough to end daily protests at the Memorial Union branch.

UCD spokeswoman Claudia Morain said the university is seeking lost revenue in Yolo Superior Court because the bank threatened legal action of its own.

“We did it reluctantly after several months of trying to resolve it and avoid litigation,” she said. “We did it in the best interest of the campus community, which the agreement was intended to support. We remain open to a negotiated solution.”

Teri Charest, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis-based bank, declined comment until its attorneys can review the filing.

Problems for UCD and its banking partner began Jan. 2 when Occupy UC Davis protesters began blocking the branch each day, singling it out as a symbol of the privatization of the university and corporate profits made at the expense of struggling students and families.

Eleven days later, the bank sent a letter of default, accusing UCD of a “severe breach” of the lease.

The bank said it had been forced to hire its own security guard after campus police refused to act (a charge UCD denies), suggesting instead that the bank close its doors and let in one customer at a time.

The bank’s letter said the protesters were “led by a UC Davis faculty member.”

In a reply Feb. 10, UCD said it was not responsible for the actions of protesters. As for the faculty member, English professor Joshua Clover, “conducting a ‘sit-down’ at a bank is not within the course and scope of any faculty member’s employment at UC Davis,” the university says in its complaint.

In its complaint, UCD acknowledges that police were cautious because of the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying of Occupy protesters on the Quad:

“The police were especially careful to avoid escalating conflict. Based on experience, the police formed the opinion that trying to physically remove protesters posed an unacceptable risk of emboldening the protesters and others to act violently, or to cause the situation to deteriorate in other ways that would be more difficult for the police to manage.”

The bank, then, was asking the university to “ignore the professional judgment of the police and to order the physical removal of the protesters, no matter the consequences. … The (university) cannot exercise its governmental authority contrary to the professional judgment of the police just to serve its commercial interest with the bank.”

Under the terms of its deal, UCD had 30 days from the time of the bank’s notice to put things right.

UCD says that after the week of Jan. 13, the protesters instead held their sit-ins in the hallway — solving the bank’s original complaint. U.S. Bank did not send a written notice about protesters just outside its doors, says UCD.

The campus also contends it asked for the bank’s assistance in addressing the protests, suggesting such steps as mediation with protesters, a public relations campaign, allowing employees to be interviewed by police and seeking a restraining order.

UCD says the bank did not cooperate; U.S. Bank says that’s not true.

In a letter dated Feb. 1, UCD officials noted that the campus had formed a “Protest Management Team” of police, student affairs officials and senior administrators that began meeting twice weekly after the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying. A member of the team “negotiated” regularly with protesters outside the branch.

It also told the bank it was consulting with other police departments and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

On Feb. 22, the bank sent a letter to the university complaining that protesters continued to take actions like locking arms and not allowing employees to enter the branch.

“The protesters must be removed so the bank can operate,” wrote attorney Gregory Haworth. “U.S. Bank cannot accept more excuses. Customers and employees need full and unfettered access to the branch without intimidation.

“(UCD has) requested that U.S. Bank not use security forces to gain access to its branch. That request has been honored by the bank. However, while U.S. Bank has stood down, (UCD has) failed to remedy the situation.”

The branch continued to shut down early, day after day. After telling UCD it was ending the deal, U.S. Bank informed its customers in a March 12 letter that it was closing for good.

The DA’s Office has since filed charges against 11 students and one faculty member, Clover, on misdemeanors of obstructing movement on a street or in a public place and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor. The defendants are due in court for arraignment on Thursday.

U.S. Bank is seeking $1 million in restitution from the protesters.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Cabral has said he plans to offer the protesters a plea deal for community service.

Cabral would be obligated under law to present the request for restitution from the bank or account holders listed as victims. On Friday, he said he had not yet heard back from the bank about its wishes.

Chancellor Linda Katehi and Provost Ralph Hexter have said in a letter to the campus community that UCD will not seek restitution from the protesters.

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or (530) 747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

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

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Sheriff: Mother ‘sole person responsible’ for infant’s death

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Rifle Team has a blast with competitive shooting

    By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Child abduction case in jury’s hands

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    Pipeline project will soften water in 2016

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Pig out at Farmers Market’s Pig Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

     
    Christie to Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Bob Dunning: Colon prep can be hard to swallow

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    Scouts help fill STEAC’s pantry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    City offers wetlands tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Parole denied in 1987 killing spree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Explore Asia at Arboretum storytime

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    MU Games closing in late March

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Still no parole in toddler case

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    UCD student with meningococcal disease is recovering

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Young patients bond with special stuffies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Diversity theater group continues creativity workshops

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Radio talk show moves to Mondays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Assault awareness campaign kicks off

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    UCD student panel to cover anti-Semitism, Islamophobia

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Yolo Food Bank hosts thank-you breakfast on Pig Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Forum

    Milt Priggee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    Rowing: PE as well as life skills

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Police complaint procedures drafted

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Clarifying energy update letter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Weekly claw pickup necessary

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Mars or ISIS? Similar outcome

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    City may get charged up over energy choices

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B5

     
    Design innovation centers for the 21st century

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    A new perspective on life

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

     
    Distant water crisis has lessons for Davis

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

    Call for study to settle if anesthesia poses risk to babies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Aggie men get a bounce-back win at Cal Poly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    The mystery continues: lowly Gauchos upset UCD women

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils get a soccer win despite finishing woes

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Winning close games is the key for DHS softballers

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Razo throws well as Aggies get a baseball win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Defending champion Blue Devils have diamond holes to fill

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Republic FC falls to storied New York Cosmos

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Yolo Federal Credit Union honored for supporting business education

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Online store will celebrate, mock People’s Republic of Davis

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, March 1, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8