Saturday evening, July 8, 2017 at a Black student gathering in a Merced hookah lounge, Merced city police abruptly raided the space with claims of searching at least one of the individuals present for drugs. The aggression brought in the space was met with defense and the events that followed lead to several students sustaining major injuries including broken ribs from being shot with rubber bullets, bean bags, and tasers. Given the history of racial violence and lack of accountability for ‘law enforcement’ there is great student concern that not only will the events of Saturday night go untold or reviewed, being deemed business as usual for policing’s militaristic approach to Black people, but that the students and individuals arrested will be charged and given extensive sentences considering an officer was hurt, which will likely be weighted greater than any student sustained injuries from the attack.
The violent interactions between Black students and local police in Merced was not isolated in the long history of racial violence occurring in the communities surrounding University of California campuses. University of California campuses surrounding community culture and locale has reflected the anti-Black climates students organize around all too often. The student identity is not mutually exclusive from all others that students bring with them when attending the prestigious public universities.
If you wish to find further readings pertaining to the police and their inadequacies in being able to “protect and serve,” we strongly encourage you to read the UCI Junglepussy Demands to ABOLISH THE POLICE. A little over two years ago, the Black Student Union Demands Team released demands that called for a variety of resources that UC Irvine administration, to this day, has made very little to no progress on. Over a year ago, the Black Student Union Demands Team, Jungle Pussy, called on the University of California Irvine to ABOLISH THE POLICE from campus, and while their calls for systematic and structural change were belittled by UC Irvine administration, we, as student advocates, believe it is necessary to begin creating these community models and addressing the needs of our Black students who have stated with their demands, “We are fighting for the Psychic stability of the world.”
Given the current political climate of the nation, which has made clear the federal stance against Muslim, Native, Undocumented, LGBTQIA+, Women, etc mutually inclusive identities and communities who have long fought for fair treatment and access it is critical that institutions for the people- public institutions take just as clear stances supporting targeted and marginalized communities who are vulnerable to interpersonal and state violence. As student leaders of the University of California it would be irresponsible not to speak out against the gentrification surrounding Berkeley, the ICE raids surrounding Los Angeles, the racially targeted anti-Black shootings in La Jolla and any other act/system that continues to affect our campus communities and the identities of the people who compose our campus communities.
We are in solidarity with the Black Student Unions across the University of California, and demand that the charges against the individuals arrested in Merced be dropped. To show solidarity we urge you to like and share the Merced, Drop The Charges Facebook page and reach out to the Merced Police department at (209)385-6912 and Merced County District Attorney at (209)385-7383 using the following script: “Hi, my name is ____ and on behalf ____ (yourself or an organization, group, city, school, ect) I am calling to demand that the unlawful charges against Majied Bey, Yakub Bey, Isa Bey, Nedir Bey, and Ciasonne Foster be DROPPED. These young men were victims of police brutality. By police officers that have no legal right to have been present in the first place, and our community will not stand by idly nor will we accept this gross police misconduct #DropTheCharges.” Lastly, make sure to sign and share the drop the charges petition and attend the protest put on by the Black Student Union.
Teresa Wachira, ASUCM External Vice President
Refilwe Gqajela, ASUCSD External Vice President
Zoë Broussard, ASUCI External Vice President
The positions stated here do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Triton, any of its members, or any of its affiliates. We welcome responses to opinion pieces. If you’d like to submit a response, or comment on a different issue affecting the UC community, please submit here.