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BOT meeting protester to face charges in court

University of California, Los Angeles student Seth Newmeyer is facing misdemeanor charges as a result of clashes between police officers and protesters at the Nov. 16 Cal State University Board of Trustees meeting.

The Long Beach City Prosecutor filed two misdemeanor charges against Newmeyer in early February that include failure to disperse and a $32,000 vandalism charge — for a glass door broken at the meeting.

Four students were arrested and an officer was injured by the broken glass as students protested against a 9 percent tuition increase.

Newmeyer’s trial begins on March 6, but he said he cannot afford a lawyer to represent him in court.

“I … will not accept money that could be going to protest-related actions to fund one,” Newmeyer said in a released document. “This is a case that should never see court.”

He said he is “going the route of public defenders,” hoping to gain the assistance of either the American Civil Liberties Union or National Lawyers’ Guild.

The $32,000 “reflects the cost of replacing the glass, hardware and door assembly,” CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said via email.

Fallis also said the CSU is not pursuing the case.

“We’re not suing anyone for the door,” he said. “The CSU cannot tell the prosecutor to move forward.”

Newmeyer has released a two-page document detailing his situation and calling on others to protest the charges set against him by contacting city officials. He has also created an online petition.

He said he was about five or ten feet away from the door at the time that it broke.

Although video evidence of the protest shows that Newmeyer is away door as it breaks, it also shows him violently shaking the doors against police officers seconds before it shatters.

“We didn’t want to back up and be locked out,” Newmeyer said.

A baton is also wedged in the doors’ handlebars in the video, placed there by officers according to Donnie Bessom, a Students for Quality Education organizer who was at the protest.

After protesters were shut out of the BOT meeting and the door had shattered, Newmeyer said he walked away with other protesters — officers circling them the entire time — and was arrested an hour later on four charges: assault and battery on an officer with a deadly weapon (the door), vandalism and obstruction of justice.

A week later the District Attorney dropped the charges due to video evidence, Newmeyer said.

Ashley Wardle, a San Diego State University student, was also arrested and given two years of extracurricular suspension, Newmeyer said. Since then, her charges have been significantly reduced.

But Newmeyer said he is afraid he will have to face similar, if not worse, repercussions.

“My main concern is that … if this goes to trial, then the [UCLA Student Conduct Committee] will hear and maybe throw me out of school,” he said.

Newmeyer’s petition can be found at change.org.

 

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