Twelve UC Davis Occupy protesters connected to the closure of a U.S. Bank branch on the campus were ordered Friday by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office to appear in court on April 27.
The protesters face charges as a result of student demonstrations which took place inside and outside of the bank between Jan. 20 and Feb. 27 and led to the closure of the bank on Feb. 28.
The charges include a single count of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and 20 counts of a misdemeanor for violating California Penal Code 647c — which involves “willfully and maliciously” obstructing or blocking the free movement of any person in a public area, according to Michael Cabral, assistant chief deputy district attorney.
“They were persistently blocking the ability of individuals who were just trying to walk into the bank, as well as employees,” said UC Davis spokesperson Barry Shiller. “Attempting to block someone from entering a public space is a misdemeanor.”
Cabral said these charges are based off of evidence from police reports, citizen complaints and videos.
If found guilty of obstructing access, protesters face a maximum sentence of six months in county jail. If convicted for conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, they face a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
In a March 1 letter to the UC Board of Regents, the senior vice president of U.S. Bank stated the bank shut down due to both safety concerns and continual economic losses from protesters congregating outside.
The district attorney’s approach differs markedly from the the aftermath of the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident at UC Davis. Although protesters were arrested that day, the district attorney’s office did not press criminal charges against them.
“The nature and quality of the incident is completely different,” Cabral said.
According to a March 16 UC Davis press release, an agreement between the campus and the bank generated $167,000 for student programs last year and annual payments of $130,000 to $780,000. Over 10 years, these amounts would have generated around $3 million for student programs not funded by the state.
The closure of the bank has led to a loss of bank funding for those programs, Shiller said.
“I think it’s the DA’s job to decide (if the charges are warranted), but as a result of the demonstrations, the bank closed,” Shiller said. “As the result of the bank’s closure, there’s now very likely a loss of revenue that was all going to student programs here.”