The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Order Comes One Year After Arrests and Two Weeks After Food Service Workers' Victory

Special to the Vanguard

On Wednesday April 30, 2007, Judge Basha of the Yolo County Court ordered the Yolo County District Attorney to investigate and turn over the records of all protests of 15 or more people in Yolo County over the last 5 years to identify patterns in the DA's prosecution. In particular, the district attorney must present any and all communications between their office and the UC Davis administration, the Davis City Police Department, and/or the UC Davis Police Department in regards to protests and their prosecution. This order comes as part of a Murgia motion brought by the defendants, which seeks to show that there has been discriminatory prosecution in this case.

The 7 defendants, including a UCD lecturer, a UCD alum, a UCD student, UCD workers, and former Sodexho workers, were arrested on May 1st 2007 during a march in support of contracted out food service workers. Recently, on April 17, 2008, the UC Davis Administration finally announced that, in fact, the contracted out food service workers' demands would be met and all of the workers will be converted to UCD employees with Union membership. UC Davis had been the last of the 10 UC campuses and 5 medical centers to still contract out its dining services.

"This is an important victory in a longer battle," said John Viola, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild representing some of the May Day 2007 defendants, "since now we will be able to identify the ways in which union organizers and union supporters are being discriminatorily prosecuted as a result of collusion between the UC Administration, the Davis City Police Department, the UC Davis Police Department, and the Yolo County District Attorney."

"This decision really vindicates us in bringing the motion," said Arooj Ahmad, a former Sodexho worker and UCD Alumna who was arrested on May 1st, 2007, "which we think will show that we are being discriminated against for our support of the union. Now that the UC Davis administration has finally listened to the community and done the right thing, we can all see that our actions throughout this whole past year have been justified.”

During the hearing, the attorneys for the defendants exposed other incidents where police and the District Attorney worked together to chill union activity, as well as proved that other protesters who were involved with non-violent protests that were not affiliated with the union were not actually prosecuted.

“We applaud the district attorney's ordinarily lenient practices in cases of non-violent civil disobedience,“ said Viola, “but find it totally improper, unacceptable, not to mention unconstitutional that their decision to prosecute in this case was arguably motivated by an improper relationship with the University and their efforts to stop the campaign.”

The District Attorney has 30 days to turn over the records, and the next court date will be June 11th.

2008 May Day Protests At UC Davis Push for Social Justice

While it paled in comparison to last year's large crowd of 500 to 1000 students, workers, and community members, a solid crowd of more than 150 turned out to mark the commemoration of May Day in honor labor rights and other social justice. Among the variety of issues of concern--Coca-Cola's treatment of workers in Central America, ending the war in Iraq, Immigrant Justice in the US, labor rights on campus and in the city of Davis, among a broad array of social issues brought to the fore.

Unlike last year where a large contingency marched from the Memorial Union down Russell to the corner of Anderson and Russell, where streets were blocked and arrests ensued, this year's protests were mild by comparison. Music, drums, and fiery speeches were about the extent of the excitement.

A few of the highlights included an entertaining clash between the more progressive and liberal elements and College Republicans, who in a small contingency brought their own signs.

This inspired the partisan crowd to attempt to block the conservative messages in what quickly became a cat-and-mouse game.

Among a variety of speakers was Mayor Sue Greenwald who addressed the crowd citing her record of seeking a living wage for the city of Davis. The Mayor told the crowd that only she and Councilmember Lamar Heystek supported living wage and she pledged to support a progressive wage scale for the city of Davis to the applause of the crowd.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting