The chill factor

The Yolo County district attorney’s engaged in “improper collusion” with the Sodexho company, UC Davis and Davis police forces to suppress protests by UC Davis food workers who want better wages. That’s the accusation by a defense attorney representing several people arrested on the UC Davis campus last spring.

Twenty-four demonstrators were arrested in a peaceful 2007 May Day protest for the rights of Sodexho workers to join a union and become UC Davis employees. Seven of those protesters were back in Yolo County Superior Court last week on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly. The fact that the Yolo DA has continued to press charges against the protestors—which in other counties are routinely dismissed—has supporters wondering about the DA’s agenda. (See “The price of protest,” Upfront; September 6, 2007.)

Defense attorney John Viola wants the court to compel discovery of more information on the prosecution’s case, and is seeking communications and messages between the DA, UC Davis administrators and the local police agencies that may prove “selective prosecution” and an attempt “to chill the voice of union activists,” according to the defense motion.