25 Anti-Apartheid Demonstrators Arrested at UCLA
More than two dozen anti-apartheid protesters were arrested at UCLA on Wednesday after they occupied an administration building for more than an hour, and three police officers sustained minor injuries in scuffles that erupted as they tried to haul the arrested demonstrators away.
Although the protest began peacefully, 25 of the more than 100 participants refused to leave UCLA’s career-placement center after being warned by the head of campus security that their continued presence in the building constituted an unlawful assembly.
As the arrested demonstrators were loaded into vans, other protesters sat in front of the vehicles to block their movement, while onlookers, many of them students who had just emerged from class, began to throw sticks and books.
A university spokesman said 22 of those arrested were students and three were not. The arrested men were taken to County Jail, and the women to Sybil Brand Institute. Bail was set at $500 each. The spokesman said the injuries to the police officers consisted of a broken nose, a sprained back and a sprained foot.
The takeover of the career-placement center occurred shortly after noon, after a small rally opposing the University of California’s investments in companies with business ties in South Africa.
Although campus officials knew of plans for the outdoor rally, they said they were caught off-guard by the takeover of the building.
“I just came back from a late lunch . . . and saw all the police cars and thought, ‘What the hell?’ ” said Charles W. Sundberg, director of the placement and career planning center.
After entering the building, the protesters chained the front door shut. They appeared to be allowing staff members to leave unmolested by a back door, but Assistant Vice Chancellor Allen Yarnell said that some of the people had remained inside and were “confused and frightened.”
As students were repeatedly warned by administrators and campus officials that they would be arrested if they did not leave the building, most of the protesters moved outside, where they continued to chant and sing.
In a printed statement they distributed, the students said they had selected the career-placement office as the focus of their protest because it “represents the University of California’s complicity with Apartheid South Africa.
“It is in this office that companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America and Shell, companies which help continue the oppression of apartheid, recruit students to work for corporate irresponsibility. Also in this office the Central Intelligence Agency, the ROTC and the National Security Agency exploit support for a militarized world.”
A committee composed of students, faculty and administrators from all nine UC campuses has been reviewing the university’s investments for more than a year. While it has recommended divestiture of some companies because of their business practices in South Africa, it has stopped well short of recommending divestiture of all companies doing business there.
The UCLA protest was relatively small and far less violent than other recent protests on university campuses, including Berkeley.
Clearly, not all UCLA students were as impassioned about policies in South Africa as the group that remained in the career-placement center. Only yards away from the rally was an international food and entertainment fair, which attracted many times more students than the protest.
And just outside the career-placement center were several well-dressed students nervously waiting for job interviews, which were delayed because of the takeover.
On the lawn outside the center, one young man sporting a navy-blue suit insisted on going ahead with his interview with two Internal Revenue Service recruiters.
“Look,” he snapped when interrupted by a reporter, “can’t you see we’re having an interview?
“This is important--not that,” he said, motioning toward the protesters inside.
In a related development in Berkeley stemming from the violent anti-apartheid demonstrations at that campus two weeks ago, the City Council voted Tuesday night to prohibit Berkeley city police from aiding university security officers during anti-apartheid protests. The resolution passed unanimously despite sharp criticism from university officials.
The Berkeley police were called in two weeks ago during anti-apartheid demonstrations at UC Berkeley that turned violent. Nearly 150 people were arrested and more than 30 people, including 18 police officers, were injured.
Vice Mayor Veronika Fukson said the resolution was designed to pressure the university to divest its assets in South Africa.
“If the university would divest from South Africa, then there would be no demonstrations, no violence and no need to call on the Berkeley police,” Fukson said. “We don’t want it to appear that we’re lending support to the University of California’s position against divestment.”
John Cummins, assistant chancellor at the Berkeley campus, disagreed. “They are allowing their ideology to get in the way of their responsibility as elected officials,” he said. “We have never called in the police because of political activities, but because the law is being broken.”
City Police Chief Ron Nelson and UC Berkeley Police Chief Derry Bowles both opposed the council’s decision.
Nelson said the city should be able to intervene when “the lives and property of the citizens are involved,” but said the city police would abide with the council’s decision.
Bowles said, “I think the city is angry with the UC regents, but we are the victims of it.”
Times staff writer Ruth Snyder in Berkeley contributed to this article.