UC San Diego student workers arrested after allegations of conspiracy and vandalism
Three UC San Diego student workers are facing felony charges, accused by university officials of conspiracy and vandalism. They were arrested Thursday at their homes and held in custody for over 12 hours.
The students spoke exclusively to KPBS News about the latest in an ongoing conflict between UAW Local 2865 union members and the administration.
“This is, in my opinion, very clearly part of a larger coordinated crackdown of union activities across the UC. UC has systematically tried to renege on the contract they signed with UAW and the graduate student researchers union," said William Schneider, a graduate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Schneider participated in recent protests against the university’s administration, which union members say has refused to implement contracts ratified in December.
He was arrested by UC Police and transferred to the downtown county jail.
“There was feces, urine, and blood on the walls and floors. I slept a few minutes at a time on a small steel bench and essentially waited," Schneider said in a Zoom interview with KPBS News on Friday.
Jessica Ng is a UC San Diego postdoctoral researcher who was also arrested by UC Police. She was transferred to Las Colinas Detention Facility.
“It's really infuriating, frustrating, and scary as well to be in that situation," Ng said in a Zoom interview.
A third union member, who did not want to be identified, was also arrested with them and charged with felony conspiracy to commit a crime and felony vandalism over $400.
The charges stem from a May 30 protest outside the Scripps Institution of Oceanography involving washable markers and chalk. The union says the protest was peaceful, and members wrote messages of protest on the property.
In a written statement, university officials said:
"UC San Diego Police have arrested three individuals in the felony vandalism of the Marine Conservation and Technology Facility on May 30. Graffiti was discovered that resulted in cleanup and restoration in excess of $12,000. In addition, official campus events had to be moved to other locations at the last minute. Two of the individuals charged are UC San Diego students. Police are checking on the other person’s status. UC San Diego does not tolerate vandalism or other damage to university property."
The UAW advised the arrested workers in posting bail. The union denies the university's charges and will support each worker when they are arraigned on July 10.
“What I’m feeling right now is strong pride for my fellow union members," Ng said, "as we continue to fight so hard for what we got and as the UC tries to dodge its responsibilities."