Lisa Lei: Citizen Anteater

The UC Irvine activist is facing possible expulsion and criminal charges, but she's not backing down

Last November, UC Irvine undergrad Lisa Lei joined what she thought would be just another rally for striking workers. Members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 3299, the union that represents the school's service and patient-care employees, gathered with their supporters, all wearing identical green T-shirts, to march around the campus, stopping at a small courtyard in front of the Mesa Court housing community's dining hall. There, they chanted slogans for a fair contract from the University of California, confusing unwitting freshmen looking for lunch.

"It's obvious from the police report that they showed me that they singled me out specifically," Lei says.

UCI staff members looked on warily through the glass doors. Then, with little warning, one tall, dark-haired marcher emerged from the crowd and tried to make his way toward the door, prompting a blockade, some yelling and a small shoving match. That's when the 22-year-old Lei, who had until that point trailed slightly behind the march's vanguard, rushed up to separate the two belligerent parties.

The strikers eventually moved on, ringing parts of the campus, and briefly shutting down the intersection of Campus and West Peltason drives. By the end of the day, no one was arrested, no one was injured, and everyone went home. But nearly three months later, Lei received a letter from the UC Irvine Office of Student Conduct claiming her activism had violated the school's code of student conduct, with possible sanctions that could range from a written warning and community service to suspension and expulsion.

Whose university? Their university!
Dustin Ames
Whose university? Their university!

Lei also found out the Orange County district attorney's (OCDA) office was charging her with two misdemeanors for battery against and obstructing a peace officer connected to an earlier protest.

"I was suspicious, and I was definitely surprised," Lei says.

Lei's predicament has become a cause célèbre across the University of California system, even nationwide, as students see her case as further evidence of a crackdown on student activism. "Brocious [Jordan, a UCI graduate student also facing conduct charges] and Lei are being targeted because they are visible campus activists who have been vocal in supporting workers' rights," reads a petition circulated by the UCI chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops that has been signed by more than 1,800 individuals. "Student concerns regarding increased policing and surveillance under [UC System President Janet Napolitano's] leadership are solidified by these charges, as they reflect the unjust suppression of student activism."

The second-generation Chinese American is a regular at campus demonstrations and protests; her lucid, righteous quotes inevitably make their way into the press releases of labor unions and protest groups. A former member of the Associated Students of UC Irvine's legislative council, Lei is currently an intern for AFSCME 3299, which is scheduled to strike next week. It's because of her union work that Lei is facing three student-conduct charges, connected to two separate actions last fall. She faces one charge of failing to comply with a university official during an Oct. 30, 2013, strike vote at UCI's Gottschalk Medical Plaza, where she and others passed out thank-you cards and candy to university employees as part of her duties as an AFSCME intern. According to Lei, university officials asked her to leave the area. Labor organizers claim she had a right to be there, as set forth in the university's agreement with labor unions to allow employees to organize. But when she didn't depart, UCI police officers followed her to the employee break room.

"It's obvious from the police report that they showed me that they singled me out specifically," Lei says. "Police actually followed me around the building, even though I was working for AFSCME."

The two other UCI conduct charges are related to the November AFSCME strike and march. For that day, Lei is charged with failure to comply with a university official and physical abuse of an officer by, as a police report alleges, "[pushing] a UCI PD officer twice with [her] open right hand on their right shoulder."

Last week, Lei and Brocious, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy who is facing two conduct charges related to his alleged taping of locks during Napolitano's campus visit in October, both had hearings before one of UCI's student-conduct officers. During such meetings, the university's officer outlines the charges and evidence against students and asks them about their version of the events. For Lei and Brocious' hearings, dozens of supportive students staged a sit-in, in conjunction with the circulated petition. The students will learn their verdicts by mail in the coming weeks.

"I felt pretty confident during the entire thing," Lei says. "[The hearing] started well, and the guy was friendly enough, but he did start asking me some incriminating questions."

Next up is a court date at Harbor Justice Center for the two misdemeanor charges she faces. "There was a guest speaker at UC Irvine, and [Lei] is accused of pushing an officer," says OCDA spokesperson Farrah Emmai. "He sustained a minor injury." Lei declined to discuss the criminal charges, but she is fighting them; the case is currently in pretrial motions and meetings. "In cases where a suspect is not in custody, the police department has more time to present their case," Emmai explains.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
31 comments
El_Kite_Pics
El_Kite_Pics

Like Ms Lei, I was kicked out of school for being disruptive.  Best thing that ever happened to me.


Look ahead, Ms Lei.  Not back.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

She wants to be arrested


adds to her "cred" 

her suffering 


her victimhood


her future power moves


come on !!


you've been had....AGAIN

downtownbrown
downtownbrown

Maybe she can get into Harbor Community College?  Seems like a better fit.

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

Nobody cares 

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

So this young lady is facing suspension or even expulsion for essentially trying to break up a fight? Are you serious?

Dcd Mario
Dcd Mario

wait till Obama comes to UCI to do nothing about this.

Gilberto Torres
Gilberto Torres

Corruption at its finest. Ps. After losing the Kelly Thomas case why the fuck is Tony still DA?

Jeff Rey
Jeff Rey

she's guilty for sure for she's a known activist. She was done the courtesy of being notified by the DA of charges rather than public arrest for assault etc. Thankfully Janet Napolitano is in charge of our UC now and she is quite capable of dealing with unethical/illegal practices of activists!

Michael Moon
Michael Moon

Tony R. can indict her, but can't find a reason to indict a sub prime banker in Orange County?

Jay J Johnson
Jay J Johnson

What a load of bullshit UCI. You ain't primetime, know your role and leave this girl alone.

Heather McCoy
Heather McCoy

All of you knuckle dragging anti-labor fuckers need to read a book or two about US labor history.... Maybe then you'll grow the fuck up.

daTRUF
daTRUF

it's either you be a lil bitch made human, suggested by jimgilchrist or you do what you know is right and regardless of what laws they create to justify their actions.

Em Sedano
Em Sedano

Napolitano learned from running Homeland Security that massive retaliation is always the answer. There's the bonus it's fun to mobilize an entire government to teach the rest of us a lesson.

Brig Mills
Brig Mills

Ms. Lei has an absolute right to demonstrate while obeying the law and UC policies. That her inspiration comes from personal experience (cites mother and grandmother work history at end of article) is heartening. However, if evidence shows she became physical with and/or obstructed law enforcement or other university officials, I expect the consequences to become part of her personal experience too.

msedano
msedano

When the former honcha of Homeland Security assumed control of the UC Presidency this kind of government massive retaliation was predictable. Lei should count see this as a blessing; she could have been disappeared, or had a drone sic'd on her.

Aimee Monahan
Aimee Monahan

Between this Case and the Irvine 11, UCI really is trying to stamp out student activism. What are they so afraid of. Keep up the good fight Lisa.

jimgilchrist
jimgilchrist

If the police singled out Ms. Lei, as she claims, then what is the issue here?  Police always 'single out" a person who breaks laws, violates the rights of others, or who recklessly takes the law into their own hands.


The best way not to draw the attention of law enforcement is to not conduct oneself in ways that attract the police in their efforts to maintain peace and order in our society.  


Ms. Lei, the typical radical student starlet, is so mesmerized by the short-lived notoriety she receives in the campus spotlight that she is blind to any responsibility she should bear for creating the situation that resulted in the misdemeanor charges she faces.  


Of course, Ms. Lei is not the first injudicious student, posing as an intellectual, who has imprudently chosen to coerce others into following her lead. 

Same ol' stuff,..same ol' unwise mindset…just a different fool on a different day and on a different campus. 


Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

tarbash
tarbash

Is this the same UCI that spent a shitload of money to figure out that hitting metal golf clubs against rocks makes sparks?


Now it's just an AA Diversity Training Center. 

tinroof
tinroof

Is there some video showing what happened?  Probably there is somewhere.  If so maybe the author can post a link.  

The issue here is that these protesters want to occupy buildings and engage in civil disobedience but then when they are subject to penalties for their conduct they want to be let off because they are supposedly doing it in favor of a "noble cause". If a right wing protester were engaged in the same conduct I doubt if Ms. Lei would be jumping to their defense.  

Personally, I really don't think it is appropriate that labor unions be allowed at any publicly funded institution, including a public university. They are a pernicious influence.  Although I disagree with Ms.Lei's view on the politics of the matter I do support her right to speak freely about it (even though she might be super annoying, which she probably is) as long as she doesn't violate any laws or student codes.  Those who do violate laws or student codes should be subject to civil and criminal penalties just like anyone else who violates the law. 

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

She is just another OWS type who demands others pay for her habits


even FDR was against government employees being part of Union 


unions take away the individual and demand they all be treated equally


when any grownup knows that people are not equal


some better than others and some not so deserving


but the thuggery that exemplifies unions scares many into keeping quiet 


just the way they like it/ need it

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

He'll draw a line in the sand.


Sand trap, that is. He only cares about tee times and getting time away from Mooch.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

all you self hating racist elitists need to read the books on the CURRENT Dem party and its connections to communism socialism the kkk the fed injecting blacks with diseases 


for starts


When Unions are credited with "giving us the 40 hour work week and other "benefits"


I say


nice spin


THEY DIDNT GIVE US ANYTHING


THEY BRIBED CONGRESSIONAL THUGS 


also, who is to say the norm wouldnt be a 30 hour work week?

:)

Muhammed
Muhammed

@JGlanton  Funny when Limbaugh said it a few years back, now not so much.

 
Anaheim Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...