Three weeks after the original incidents occurred, the University of California Police Dept. is still investigating nearly $2,915 in damages that allegedly resulted from February’s anti-war protest.
According to police, the damages are mostly from acts of vandalism on university property, including tents and tables. The vandalized items were set up in Corwin Pavilion as part of the 2008 Army-Industry Collaboration Conference hosted by UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, which became the target of the protest on Feb. 12. The site was subject to heavy graffiti done with grease markers, pens and chalk.
Due to these disruptions, the second day of the ICB conference was relocated off campus. When lost rental fees for the relocated conference are figured into the calculations, the total amount of damages increases to $3,748.
UCPD spokesman Matt Bowman said, so far, no suspects were identified in the case. However, the department is currently investigating the series of crimes in order to seek restitution.
“There were dozens of witnesses of the graffiting, but none have come forward at this time,” Bowman said. “We have no suspects thus far, but we are reviewing all documents, including images, video footage and material on the Internet to further the investigation.”
According to Bowman, the total cost classifies the crime as a felony offense, which permits the police department to press charges independently of the university. However, if the department chose to prosecute individuals, the crimes would fall under the category of a misdemeanor.
“Since the victim in this case was the university and because the total dollar amount exceeds $400.00, police can launch an independent investigation,” Bowman said. “But since there are [multiple suspects], different mediums and different handwritings, it would not be one crime and therefore only the cost of that one item would be used in determining the extent of the crime.”
University Center Director Alan Kirby said that following the vandalism, the university compiled a list of damages which it then forwarded to UCPD.
“There was about $3,000 worth of damage including tables, tents [and] blinds in Corwin Pavilion,” Kirby said. “Of course, there are items on the list we cannot really quantify. What we are concerned about are items on the list which we can replace.”
Protest organizer JT Yu, a UCSB alumnus, said any student who allegedly committed an act of vandalism most likely did it as a spontaneous expression of his or her anger toward the University for conducting military research.
“The graffiti is a product of what people were thinking, a product of people being angry about UC being militarized,” Yu said. “People were obviously angry and that is seen in the writing.”
However, Bowman said such a form of protest is still illegal so the police department will continue actively seeking restitution in order to reimburse the university.
“We are doing everything we can to recover the expenses incurred,” Bowman said. “If protests are peaceful then that is great, but when protests become criminal then we have to get involved.”