UC Berkeley community members protest People’s Park development
Protests are continuing at People’s Park by UC Berkeley, where the university is planning to construct student housing amid strong backlash from the surrounding and student community.
People’s Park — established in the 1960s during a wave of counterculture protests — was approved for construction to build student housing in September 2021 despite a long history of operating as a community space. The decision was met with strong opposition, with many criticizing the forced relocation of houseless individuals in the park as well as the destruction of historically significant land.
In recent weeks, protests and delays have ramped up. As of Aug. 17, the park is once again filled with tents, with many of the resident protestors “committ[ing] to occupy the space over the coming weeks or even months,” People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group President Harvey Smith told the The Daily Californian.
Construction workers were ready to begin building the new student housing on Aug. 3 at midnight, when they were stalled by protestors occupying the park.
Before the pause, the legality of the housing construction remained convoluted. A July 1 order from the First District Court of Appeal temporarily halted the construction — citing the California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit filed by Make UC A Good Neighbor and The People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group against the UC Regents — and a July 29 ruling allowed construction to resume.
Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof told The Daily Californian that a decision regarding the most recent stay order may come in October. Construction remains paused until then.
Former UC Irvine student arrested after shooting threats
A former UC Irvine student who was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition after making several threats of mass shootings is now facing prosecution, with a recent L.A. Times article divulging previously unknown details.
The former student, 30-year-old Sebastian Dumbrava, was initially arrested in January 2020 after police found ammunition, magazines and a deconstructed AR-15 in his home. He was convicted in March 2021 and given an early release in October 2021.
Prior to the January 2020 arrest, Dumbrava was placed on a three-day involuntary psychiatric hold in early 2019 after campus police discovered Reddit posts from Dumbrava threatening violence toward himself and the campus community. Dumbrava denies making the posts.
Dumbrava sued the Board of Regents in August that same year, alleging that having the psychiatric hold on his record wouldn’t allow him to obtain a security clearance necessary to work for the federal government, citing the hold as unlawful and seeking damages for the professional impact.
Following his release in 2021, Dumbrava tweeted the following on October 25, according to the L.A. Times: “In the year 2020, I had prepared to commit a mass shooting on the UC Irvine campus. My intent was to cause financial injury to the University. I had planned to pursue the shooting of students in the event that the University failed to provide restitution for my injuries.”
A few days later, he emailed a University of California official and an attorney, demanding $50,000.
Dumbrava was arrested again in January 2022 after refusing a mandatory meeting with his probation officer. After being released in February 2022, he was arrested again in March 2022 for failing to report to his probation officer. Dumbrava has remained in jail since.
“We charged this individual not once, but twice, with everything we could possibly charge him with at the state level — and it’s not enough,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer to the L.A. Times. “He’s going to keep getting out, and he’s going to keep making preparations to make good on his promises to carry out a Virginia Tech-style shooting at UCI.”
Dumbrava now faces seven felony charges for the email requesting $50,000 — classified as extortion — as well as for possessing the large-capacity magazines found in his room in 2020. The new charges leveled against him carry a maximum prison sentence of four years and four months. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bail.