Students at UC Irvine were allegedly attacked by UCI police yesterday during a protest of a visit by the President of the University of California System, Janet Napolitano.
Roughly 75 students gathered outside the administration building at approximately 11:30 a.m. before marching toward Donald Bren Hall across campus, the building where Napolitano was holding meetings. There, students were met by police officers and administration staff who barricaded the doors and prevented the students from entering. Students allege a police officer punched a student.
“There were some police officers that were undercover and when we tried going in they blocked the door and started shoving and pushing us, punched one of us,” said 5th year student Lisa Lei in a statement released by UC Students Say NO To NopolitaNO. “We asked for their badge numbers and names. We asked them to give us their exact orders to stop us from going to the class but they refused.”
UCIPD Assistant Police Chief Jeffrey Hutchinson declined to comment on the alleged assault until all evidence has been reviewed. Hutchinson confirmed that no students were arrested or detained during the protest.
“There were approximately 80 students that had a message they wanted to relay to President Napolitano, who attempted to access a closed privates meaning,” said Cathy Lawhon, director of media relations and community outreach at UCI. “In the process there was some jostling and shoving as police acted to secure the building. There were no injuries reported, and no one was arrested or detained. No weapons were used by UCIPD or students.”
Napolitano has been in Irvine since Sunday to tour the campus and meet with various groups, including student leaders from the Associated Students of UCI, the Associated Graduate Students, and the Student Umbrella Organizations of the UCI Cross Cultural Center.
Napolitano's appointment, which was announced in July and took effect in September, saw significant push back from students over her compensation, lack of experience in education and her role in deportations. During Napolitano's time as Secretary of Homeland Security, the United States deported more undocumented immigrants than ever before.