Warning: Video contains violence. Video taken by Daniel Pugh, fifth-year mechanical engineering major at UC Merced.
The UC Santa Barbara Black Student Union has organized a protest Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in response to the arrest of five black college students near UC Merced.
According to organizers, the students who were arrested are all family members, and attend UC Merced, Laney College, Diablo Valley College, Merritt College and Bethany College.
The Merced Sun-Star reported on Sunday that officers entered Chandelier’s Hookah Lounge & Smoke Shop at 12:50 a.m. on suspicion that a man wanted on a warrant was inside the lounge. The man was not not found or arrested, according to the Sun-Star.
Several people were inside celebrating the launch of a clothing line, organizers said. According to the petition written by San Diego State’s BSU, the event was drug and alcohol free.
A video taken by Anthony Munoz, who was working private security at the event, shows scuffles between students and police. One officer shot a student in the side with a “sage weapon,” which is nonlethal, according to the Merced police department.
According to the Sun-Star, both Munoz and club owner Amrik Singh said that police never explained why they were in the lounge.
According to protest organizers, five students were arrested on charges of assault and battery of police officers as well as resisting arrest.
Viranda Woodard, programming director for UCSB BSU, said several BSU executives across the UC collaborated to organize the protest, with other campuses standing in solidarity with UC Merced.
“It’s the principle of us standing in solidarity; these are incidents and acts of violence that happen all the time,” Woodard said.
There is a petition that was posted on the Facebook event and that will be circulated at the protest asking that all charges against the students be dropped.
“The aggressive actions of the Merced Police Department cannot go unchallenged. These police officers must be held accountable for their actions,” reads the petition. “That is why we are asking for your support to demand that the Merced Police Department and Merced County District Attorney’s Office immediately dismiss all charges.”
Woodard said the protest will make sure students are aware of injustices against students of color and help clarify the events in the video, since many students expressed confusion.
She also said that the protest is to advocate for the students who were arrested, all of whom are black. The protest will begin at Cheadle Hall at 3:30 p.m.
“It’s a peaceful matter, we’re just asking for respect,” she said.
Correction: The protest is at 3:30 p.m., not 3 p.m.