OCDA’s Office Files Charges against 19 student participants and sympathizers of Feb. 24 Sit-In @ UC Irvine

We just received information that students and sympathizers of the February 24, 2010 Sit-In @ UC Irvine have been called to face charges against them by the OCDA, below is the press release from the OCDA’s office.

SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) filed charges today against 19 students and sympathizers for being disorderly outside the Chancellor’s Office and refusing to leave the University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus. John Bruning, 24, Santa Ana, and James Eric Lagergren, 23, Irvine, are both charged with one misdemeanor count each of false imprisonment and obstruction of a public place. Lagergren is also charged with one misdemeanor count of being a public nuisance. Eric Kitayama, 26, Anaheim Hills, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of trespassing, and one misdemeanor count each of disturbing the peace and refusal to disperse. The following 16 co-defendants are charged with one misdemeanor count each of trespassing, disturbing the peace, and refusal to disperse:

  • Moosa Matt Azadian, 21, Anaheim
  • Rachel Denice Burton, 21, Irvine
  • Juan Antonio Castillo, 48, Santa Ana
  • Fernando Chirino, 28, Irvine
  • Ryan Sinclaire Davis, 22, Santa Ana
  • Saron Ephraim, 22, Tustin
  • Sandra Flores, 20, Irvine
  • Dennis Lopez, 32, Irvine
  • Evangelina Nevarez, 36, Los Angeles
  • Sylvia Van Pham, 22, Fountain Valley
  • Celene Perez, 28, Los Angeles
  • Whitney Lauren Shepard, 22, Irvine
  • Indar Smith, 22, Irvine
  • Aida Belaynes Soloman, 21, Irvine
  • Irendeep Kaur Srai, 22, Irvine
  • Samiyyah Jowharah Tillman, 22, Irvine

All the defendants are UCI students except Castillo, Nevarez, Perez, and former student Kitayama. If convicted on all counts, they face a sentence ranging from probation to one year in jail. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 29, 2010, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The Department and time are to be determined.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2010, 17 defendants except Bruning and Lagergren are accused of trespassing onto the UCI campus, entering the fifth floor of Aldrich Hall, and gathering outside the Office of the Chancellor. The defendants are accused of disorderly conduct involving over 40 people inside and outside the building. They are accused of chanting, yelling slogans from their various protest groups, blowing whistles, and pounding on the walls and floor. They are accused of disrupting approximately 400 UCI employees working in Aldrich Hall, who were evacuated at 11:00 a.m. due to the protests.

While the 17 defendants were inside Aldrich Hall, Bruning and Lagergren are accused of pushing a dumpster against the doors of the west exit outside the building. Lagergren is accused of heaving a dumpster into the middle of Pereira Street, one of the main streets on the UCI campus, and blocking traffic.

At 11:15 a.m., UCI Police read a dispersal order using a portable bullhorn. The 17 defendants inside are accused of refusing to leave, sitting down in a single-file line, continuing to yell, and banging on walls. The UCI Police arrested each defendant. The Irvine Police and Newport Beach Police assisted in dispersing those gathered outside. Bruning and Lagergren were not arrested at the scene.

UCI has designated areas to practice free speech in a safe and effective manner without disrupting the normal operations of the University. The UCI Code of Student Conduct places appropriate limitations on where demonstrations may be held without discrimination, and all students are expected to adhere to this Code. In California, entering any land with the intention of interfering with or obstructing lawful business is misdemeanor trespassing.

Deputy District Attorney Lynda Fernandez of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

And here is a partial response from our friends at OCCUPYUCI.wordpress.com:

We have just learned that 19 students and supporters have been charged by the District Attorney of Orange County for participation in the February 24 sit in.

Each person is being charged on average with 3 misdemeanors, though 1 person each is being charged with 2 and 4 counts.  The charges include: false imprisonment, obstruction of a public place, being a public nuisance, trespassing, disturbing the peace, and refusal to disperse.  Arraignment will be December 29.

It is important to note that these charges were filed DURING FINALS WEEK and the arraignment will be during Winter Break, while many students go home to see their families.  Not only is this the greatest intensification of political repression coming from the UCI administration yet, it is also a deliberate attempt to disrupt the course work and family lives of students involved in dissent.

We will keep you posted for more about these cases.

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