Why the Davis Dozen?

Campus activists face ‘retroactive’ UC Davis-requested charges for bank blockade

UC Davis never arrested a single protester during a nearly two-month blockade outside of the campus’ U.S. Bank branch. So why then are 12 individuals—who recently were coined as the Davis Dozen—each now facing a maximum of 11 years in prison?

“That’s obviously, ultimately, a question you would have to ask the university,” explained Yolo County district attorney Michael Cabral, whose office filed misdemeanor charges against 12 of the protesters last week. The DA says the university presented a case to him recently, and his office selected 12 activists to face 20 counts each of “willfully and maliciously” obstructing free movement in a public place, plus conspiracy to commit such acts. The students are scheduled to appear in court on April 27.

The Occupy UC Davis-related bank blockade began in early January, and the branch finally closed its doors for good on February 28. Two days later, U.S. Bank’s counsel then sent a letter to the Regents of the University of California, citing the student blockade as “intolerable.” The bank also accused UCD of defaulting on its contract, which could cost the university hundreds of thousands, if not more.

The UC Regents’ counsel has countered the bank’s allegation of default, arguing that fifth-largest commercial bank in the nation is liable for termination of the partnership.

Meanwhile, the gravity of the charges against the Davis Dozen—and the fact that UCD waited nearly three months to file them—now begs the question: Do the prosecutions have more to do with the university’s U.S. Bank liability than with the protesters’ alleged crimes?

UC Davis spokesman Barry Schiller denied such accusations to SN&R, stating that “if they had not broken the law, we would still not be talking about this.”

Representatives from Occupy UCD argue, meanwhile, that the charges show the administrations new strategy of “retroactive repression,” or delayed prosecution so as to avoid media attention.

Schiller dismissed this claim. “If they hadn’t been warned every day, if people had not been there every day, I would find that argument to be a bit more credible,” the spokesman said. He added that written warnings of misdemeanor charges were delivered to the protesters each day for two weeks in February.

UCD professor of English Joshua Clover, who is one of the 12 charged, declined to comment for this story. Activists did post recently on the Occupy UC Davis website (www.occupyucdavis.org) that the blockade was “real battle against the privatization agenda, and its closure is a victory.”

A rally to support the Davis Dozen is planned for this Thursday, April 5, at 2 p.m. at the campus Memorial Union patio; more than 150 people on Facebook said they’ll attend as of Tuesday afternoon.