Yesterday morning, roughly a hundred students who were demonstrating on the UC Santa Cruz campus as part of the Occupation Education rally, attempted to block entrance to the school when a car deliberately drove through the crowd. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, approximately after 8:30 a.m. on March 1, 2012, a man driving a Ford Mustang headed up High Street and attempted to turn onto the campus where the demonstrators prevented him from entering. According to the Mercury News’s story, the driver revved his engine, a couple of times and plowed through the crowd. The driver hit several people and a bike, the Mercury News says, reporting that no one was seriously hurt.
Campus police Chief Nader Oweis had been the sole officer on the scene at the time of the accident. He ordered the man who was driving to back up, out of the intersection crowded with people. The demonstrators, according to the Mercury News’s story, began chanting for the man’s arrest. The man who drove through the crowd, and a female who had been a passenger in the car were held and then taken from the area that quickly filled with police.
The Mercury News reports that Abby Edwards, a 20-year-old, said the car knocked her to the ground, and she hit her head and knee as a result of the impact. She stated that in a sudden moment she ended up on the hood of the car, and then on the ground. She further stated that she was nearly under the car before someone helped her and pulled her to safety.
The Mercury News reports that Judith Samson, who had been a passenger in the Mustang, sent an email to the Sentinel about the incident. The Mercury News quotes her as writing “We did not speed through the crowd. In fact, we were going less than 1 mph when the mob swarmed over our car, attempted to open the doors and windows, kicked our lights in and threw paint all over the car.” The Mercury News reports that Samson said she and the driver intend to press charges against the demonstrators.
The Mercury News reports that Chief Oweis said the police hadn’t determined if any charges will be brought. Investigators are in the process of conducting interviews with witnesses. According to the news story, the demonstration had been a peaceful event until the car showed up and drove into the crowd.
The Mercury News’s story says that students asked UCSC Executive Vice Chancellor and Campus Provost Alison Galloway to close the campus because of the incident with the car. Galloway responded that the campus was closed in essence because no one was being permitted on. Galloway also stated, according to the Mercury News, that the motorist driving into the crowd of demonstrators was unacceptable behavior. Galloway witnessed what happened, according to the Mercury News, and had tried to stop the car.
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