[UPDATE:] 19 UC Irvine Students and Supporters Face Criminal Charges for Protesting

Update, December 10, 12:41 p.m.: Occupy UCI!--"an autonomous body in Orange County attempting to subvert hegemonic, state-supporting/ed protest by promoting radical discourse and militant action"--is accusing campus administrations of conspiring with prosecutors when it came to the timing of charges filed against 19 protesters.

"It is important to note that these charges were filed DURING FINALS WEEK and the arraignment will be during Winter Break, while many students go home to see their families," reads an Occupy UCI! statement titled "UC Irvine Administration is Out for Blood."

The statement continues, "Not only is this the greatest intensification of political repression coming from the UCI administration yet, it is also a deliberate attempt to disrupt the course work and family lives of students involved in dissent."

Read the full statement on the Occupy UCI! page.

Original Post, December 9, 12:47 p.m.: The Orange County District Attorney's Office this morning filed misdemeanor charges against 19 students and sympathizers who participated in a February protest against the dissolution of contract talks between UC Irvine and a janitorial union and myriad issues plaguing the UC system including proposed massive tuition hikes and officials' lukewarm response to a racist UC San Diego student television production.

Convictions could bring sentences ranging from probation to a year in jail, depending on the counts against particular students, who are identified in the OCDA statement on the next page.

Among the issue that had the students fuming outside Chancellor Michael Drake's office on Feb. 24 was his administration's plan to perform citizenship checks on its workers, some of whom are students working off tuitions.

The most serious charges were filed against John Bruning, 24, of Santa Ana, and James Eric Lagergren, 23,of  Irvine. They each face misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment and obstruction of a public place. Lagergren is also charged with one misdemeanor count of being a public nuisance.

Eric Kitayama, 26, of Anaheim Hills, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of trespassing, and one misdemeanor count each of disturbing the peace and refusal to disperse. The other 16 accused face misdemeanor counts of trespassing, disturbing the peace, and refusal to disperse.

"They are accused of chanting, yelling slogans from their various protest groups, blowing whistles, and pounding on the walls and floor," reads the OCDA statement below. "They are accused of disrupting approximately 400 UCI employees working in Aldrich Hall, who were evacuated at 11:00 a.m. due to the protests."

"No racist police! No sexist police! UC Regents, UC racists" and "Whose university? Our university!" were among the chants, according to media reports at the time that noted 14 students planted outside Drake's office were eventually removed in handcuffs by campus and Newport Beach police officers.

It was a busy time for campus police; 11 students were arrested two weeks earlier at the UCI speech by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Those arrests sparked yet more protests.

The OCDA statement follows on the next page . . .

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