Archive for the ‘UC Merced’ Category

UCM Student’s Charges Dropped

23 August 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Last week, UC Merced student Peter Howell had his charges dropped by the SF District Attorney’s office. Howell was charged with four rather serious and ludicrous charges for events leading to a police officer rashly pulling a gun out on protesting students during a UC Regent’s meeting last November. Read more about what was at the time a developing case here.

UC Student Faces Serious Charges Still

28 December 2010

from ThoseWhoUseIt:

Peter Howell, the UC Merced undergrad facing a felony count for the Regents’ meeting, had his arraignment today around 10:45 am.  Brought out in orange scrubs and cuffs, Howell’s lawyer asked that the felony charge be reduced to a misdemeanor given that the prosecution’s case is so weak and that there is video evidence demonstrating that Howell never touched the weapon.  The prosecutor attempted to defend the position that he grabbed Kemper’s baton, but the reasoning was incoherent.  Here’s Howell on the scuffle:

“I put my hands on my chest and backpedaled,” Howell said in the interview. “I was trying to get away. (Officer Kemper) shoved through me, and he may have lost control of his baton. You can hear it rattle on the ground in a video. At no point did I strike him on the head, so I believe that statement was false.”

Regardless, the judge refused to engage the debate, pushing it back to the hearing date, now scheduled for February 22 upon the request of the defense.  The judge denied him release on OR but reduced the bail from $30,000 to $15,000.

Hands off Peter Howell!

Update: Howell’s lawyer, John Hamasaki, is looking for anyone who witnessed the alleged incident on November 17 at UCSF-Mission Bay.  Contact him at if you are a witness, or else if you have photos or videos of the alleged incident.

Safety reminder: Please do not offer yourself as a witness if you have uncharged conduct from that day (that may also show up in photos or videos). This is not an assumption that anyone does, just a precaution. Also, please don’t discuss any possible evidence or witness testimony you may have in writing, including comments sections on blogs and over listservs. Due to the recent increase in state/university repression, we should actively consider being very careful with information, in order to care for each other and ourselves.

[Editor: On a related note, 19 students/demonstrators involved in the UC Irvine sit-in in February are facing arraignments tomorrow, Dec. 29th at 8am at the Central Court (700 W Civic Center Dr., Santa Ana, Orange County)*. The charged face several misdemeanors each. More here.]


UC Police Ramp Up Repression

19 December 2010

from reclaimUC:

This just came to us on the email, regarding the UC Merced student who learned the other day that he was facing four misdemeanor charges from the protest at the UC Regents’ meeting in November [Update: the above link discusses a different student facing battery charges from the same protest; the student in the email cited below is facing charges for allegedly attacking UC Irvine cop Jared Kemper. Sorry for the confusion!]

Tuesday morning Peter learned he was being charged with four misdemeanors arising out of the demonstration at the Regents meeting. Peter only learned that he was being charged after his attorney called the District Attorney’s office to check on the status of his case. Peter was informed that there was a warrant for his arrest issued at the behest of the district attorney’s office. Peter immediately arranged to appear in court in San Francisco at the earliest possible date.

Thinking everything was squared away, Peter spent the night at a friend’s house on Tuesday. Instead three cars full of police officers showed up at his house pounding on the door. His housemate tried to turn them away, but they asked for his ID which they ran to see if it was valid. The police were also looking in the backyard and the windows to see if they could concoct a reason to go inside. Luckily, his housemates knew their rights and told the police to leave, which they finally did after insinuating that the house was lying to them about knowledge of Peter and his whereabouts.

When he got to campus on Wednesday, he went to his professor to tell them what was going on. The professor offered to give him an incomplete, which is helpful but that means he’ll have to re-study for his final over winter break. Peter found out later that police had been at the campus coffee shop looking around at everyone to see if he was there. Police also stationed themselves outside of the classroom where his final exam was to take place, and even went inside and lurked in the projector room during the entire test.

Peter, through his attorney, had himself placed on the court’s calendar immediately after he learned that the district attorney’s office was filing charges against him. Nonetheless, police have continued to hunt for the UC Merced student relentlessly. He now has two incompletes and must make the work up after break. Peter is rightfully outraged at the police’s behavior and is astounded that something like this could happen in a country that says it values free speech and democracy. Also, he is disheartened that a university, his university, would use its police force to unjustifiably intimidate students, going far out of the way to make them feel hunted and watched.

We have learned that the Merced manhunt was orchestrated by the UCSF police, who traveled two hours out of their way in order to attempt to arrest and humiliate Peter in front of his friends, professors and classmates.

This situation is unique in a few ways:

  1. University police conducted a 24-hour manhunt (With UC student funds) for a student who is charged with a few misdemeanors.
  2. These police were from SF and went all the way to Merced to do this.
  3. Police created a situation of intense surveillance of the Merced campus, including a coffee shop that students use and call their own space.
  4. Serious attempts were made to enter his house, including searching for a Plain-View Doctrine reason and questioning the integrity of his housemates.
  5. He does not have a violent record of any kind and is not a flight risk. He has never given the police any reason to believe he would not show up for his court date on Monday.

We should consider some possible reasons that the UC has suddenly decided that its police force is best used to harass students at their homes and during final exams. Is it because they need to justify the unjustifiable act of Officer Jared Kemper of UC Irvine, pulling his gun on a crowd of unarmed protesters? Or have the UC regents and administration finally realized that the public education movement isn’t a phase, and that we’re not going to stop?

Peter deserves commendation for his cool head in this stressful situation and our support on Monday at his courtdate. Please show up, 9am in Department 13 at 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco to support this student who has been the target of oppressive police tactics.

[Update Sunday 12/19, 2:08pm] Just got word of some updates in the case. Most important is that Peter’s arraignment will not be taking place tomorrow (Monday) morning, as previously noted. We’ll post updates as we get them:

  • He has been informed that he will be charged with a felony count of 148(b) for the removal of an officer’s baton;
  • The total charges are a felony and three misdemeanors;
  • He’s arranging to turn himself in;
  • He won’t be in court tomorrow and his lawyer is working on putting him on calendar soon (hopefully Tuesday).