Letter to UCLA sociology faculty urging support for arrested students
As you may have heard, 3 UCLA students were arrested on March 29 while legally protesting the UC Regents at a public meeting in San Francisco. Even though their charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence that they had committed any crime, they still face bail charges totaling $7,000.
These bail charges impose a new cost on students who wish to exercise their right to free speech by legally criticizing the UC Regents at public meetings. We believe these costs are an affront to students’ first amendment rights. As the ACLU stated in reference to the pepper spraying of students at UC Davis last year, “When the cost of speech is a shot of blinding, burning pepper spray in the face, speech is not free.” The same holds true when the cost of free speech is arbitrary arrest and the expense of bail and legal defense that accompany it.
At the moment, OccupyUCLA is trying to raise funds to pay the bail costs of the recently arrested—and uncharged—students. We recognize that if we cannot pay bail costs for arrested students, protesting the UC Regents will become prohibitively expensive and few students will feel safe voicing their dissent. Because we cannot bear these costs alone, we appeal to you as our faculty and as supporters of student free speech rights to help us raise the funds required to pay for our bail costs.
The undersigned represent both members of OccupyUCLA and students in solidarity. You can support our efforts by making a contribution at the WePay site that OccupyUCLA has set up for bail fund donations. If you would like more information, or to help in other ways, please feel free to contact us via email.
(names of UCLA Sociolgy graduate students)