Ten students protesting UC co-management of nuclear weapons labs were detained by law enforcement yesterday at a UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco after refusing to disperse.
Three students from UCSB, Carleigh O’Donnell, Cricket Clark and Adrian Drummond-Cole, were detained along with the other UC students after failing to obey orders from UCSF Police, said Clark, a fourth-year Spanish major. A 70-strong protesting body erupted in unified cries to the UC Regents inside their scheduled meeting, urging them to address the issue of UC involvement with the Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories.
The scene unfolded with student activists singing “Give Peace a Chance” as law enforcement arrived on the scene. Although many of the protesters agreed to leave, the disruption forced UC Board of Regents members to leave the room until the 13 remaining strikers, sitting with linked arms on the floor, were apprehended by law enforcement.
Harrington said 10 students and three other protest affiliates that chose not to leave to room were detained and were cited for trespassing and failure to disperse.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the Regents were scheduled to discuss several matters involving the nuclear labs during an open session, including the activities of Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s vision for the Nuclear Weapons Complex of 2030 – a plan that restructures the facilities’ sizes. Due to the protesters’ disruption, the Regents had to retreat to a closed session, said UC Office of the President representative Chris Harrington.
Earlier this year, Lawrence Livermore won a design contest for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, a component of the Nuclear Weapons Complex of 2030. The plan, according to the NNSA website, is to build a smaller and safer nuclear weapons stockpile. The protesters say this pending program violates a provision of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which calls for the eventual disarmament of single nations.
The meeting held at the UCSF campus in the Mission Bay Conference Center marks the ninth day of the UCSB grassroots hunger strike in which a total of 15 UCSB students – of 44 students systemwide – opted to stop eating solid foods. One hunger striker from UCSB became ill from the liquid diet and went to the hospital last weekend.
Harrington said the UC encourages discussion on the topic of nuclear weapons production; however, the University is displeased with the methodology of the hunger strike participants.
“We welcome the dialogue between students and administration members on this issue,” Harrington said. “However, a hunger strike is not a healthy or viable way to address these issues.”
Although many hunger strikers decided to end their nine days without food yesterday evening, a few will continue despite their efforts at the UC Regents Meeting.
UCSB activist Cricket Clark said the presence of the strikers at the Regents’ meeting marks the start of a great effort to end UC involvement in nuclear weapons production.
“Although the Regents told us we should speak where our opinions could really make a difference, they do not realize how much power they have in their positions,” Clark said. “I’ve grown as an individual from being around these other activists and I think that this is just the beginning of a long struggle.”
The last day of the Regents’ meeting began with a public comment period, during which 20 protesters were allowed to speak. The UC Regents purposely extended the public comment section of their agenda due to the anticipated arrival of the protesters.
After the public comments, some 80 rally participants, mostly students from UCSB, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UCLA, gathered outside of the Mission Bay Center and planned for a second entry into the meeting. It was during their second entry that the protesters were detained by law enforcement.
Commenting on her experience with the UCSF Police Dept., Clark said the group’s nonviolent display was met with animosity by law enforcement.
“We were sitting on the floor with linked arms as the police came into the room,” Clark said. “They asked us to disperse and when we refused, they [proceeded to] twist our arms behind our backs and press down on pressure points on our heads to keep us from struggling.”