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UCSC graduate student strike brings big numbers and tense encounters with police

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Tuesday is the second day of an open-ended labor strike organized by U.C. Santa Cruz graduate students. The students said they will not be teaching, grading, holding office hours or conducting research as they demand a cost-of-living adjustment.

Graduate students and other supporters of the strike are standing out front UCSC campus with signs and have been chanting throughout the day.

“The showing has been amazing. Not only to have so many graduate students participating in the strike, and coming down here, but the faculty and undergraduate students,” graduate student James Sirigotis said.

The protesters have marched into the street blocking high street and both entrances of UCSC’s campus.

Across the street, police officers in riot gear are watching the protesters. Several times police moved in into the street, but so far Tuesday the protesters have backed away onto the grass to avoid confrontations.

The law enforcement presence includes the CHP, Santa Cruz PD and deputies from Alameda County. U.C. Santa Cruz Police chief Nader Oweis said the officers are there for the safety of the protestors and the other people who need to get on campus.

However, the police presence hasn't gone over well with student protesters. They could be heard chanting "cops off campus".

“It doesn’t warrant the police presence that is currently here," graduate student Kylie Kenner said. "It seemed like the police were ready to approach, and they were standing with their batons in a way that was very intimidating.”

Police asked the protesters not to block entrances or they’d have to disperse the crowd, like they did once Monday, when there were allegations of police being aggressive with protesters. The mayor of Santa Cruz even said he knows of at least three people who were "struck by cops".

“A police officer actually pushed me to the ground, which is something I’m extremely unhappy about,” undergraduate student Emily Aranda said.

Chief Oweis said they will review all body cam footage (like normal) and will accept any reports from anyone who felt they were mistreated.

One person was arrested Monday during the protest for being uncooperative with police.

The university calls this an illegal strike, and said they won’t negotiate as long as it continues.

Santa Cruz / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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