SF State hosted its share of excitement this past week with six arrests, two protests and a load of stress to students, staff and faculty.
The arrest of six non-resident persons at SF State on the night of Thursday, May 16 sparked a protest of about 50 students and citizens led by SF Commune members who said their friends were victims of “police brutality,” the following day at Malcolm X Plaza. Viral YouTube videos documenting the event aroused city interest in the event and lured activist group Anonymous to join the protest and organize a rally of about 30 people Tuesday afternoon.
The recent events on campus have created tension throughout SF State and provoked conversation among students and SF State officials. Some involved in the conversation were prospective SF State students as well.
“I’m going to be coming here (next fall), but I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for myself,” 18-year-old Hannah Stutz said. “I definitely don’t think I’m going to be living on campus.”
The dorm arrests
Police arrested and forcefully removed six non-residents in Mary Ward Hall Thursday, May 16.
A group of eight to 10 non-residents were invited into the dormitory earlier that evening, according to resident Luis Garcia. The group was followed by San Francisco Police Department officers from a commune on Capital Avenue and Broad Street that had been shut down by police the previous day according to Tiffany Wages, who invited them into her room.
Police identified where the non-residents were in the building and began forcefully removing them.
Mary Ward Hall residents Miranda Gonzales and Kenneth Anyanwu said that residential advisers rushed down the halls to tell tenants to “evacuate the building” at around 7:30 p.m. after a fire alarm was pulled by one of the non-residents.
The non-residents stay at Mary Ward Hall violated several University housing agreements, University spokesperson Ellen Griffin said.
One overnight guest is allowed per host resident. The maximum room occupancy is five people. SFPD told Griffin two dogs were with non-residents, and only service animals are allowed in University housing.
Additionally, a portion of section 1.20 of the Residential Life policies and procedures states, “Residents will be required to sign in their guest at the residential community desk and present a registered Guest Pass, when asked, while visiting the residential community.”
The group of guests did not have registered guest passes.
“They’re acting as if they always follow it,” student Nick Camacho said. “Every single guest you have over during the day isn’t signed in.”
Six arrests were made overall. Five were for resisting a peace officer, trespassing, conspiracy, battery of a police officer and lynching, which is an attempt to remove a person from custody of a peace officer, said Griffin. The other arrest was for drinking in public. They were sent to San Francisco County Jail, said Griffin.
A University-wide SFSU Alert about the incident was sent out at 10:45 p.m., about three hours after the incident began.
“The mass communication system was used in an attempt to dispel far-ranging and false rumors, notably rumors on social media and on the internet in general,” said Griffin. “Management of the situation itself did not require mass communication — direct communication between residence hall staff and residence had taken place.”
During the arrests, UPD Chief of Police Patrick Wasley was taken away on a stretcher, said Griffin, and put into an ambulance because of “cardiac arrest,” according to San Francisco Fire Department personnel.
Friday, May 17, a group of 50 students and citizens gathered in Malcolm X Plaza at 5:30 p.m. to discuss their concerns described as “police brutality” the night before.
The group met with Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell and asked what was being done to aid the people who were hospitalized and arrested.
Greenwell responded with, “We’ll see what we can do.”
Freshman and Mary Ward Hall resident Jaclyn Clark said it’s not the arrests that bother her, but the protest in response.
“The protestors are making things uncomfortable,” 18-year-old Clark said. “They’re sitting outside the building yelling and protesting.”
Clark thought there was “nothing wrong” with what the officers did and added she feels safe with the extra police officers around the building. She also said no one has informed her of any additional security measures or addressed the incident in general.
Greenwell tried his best to field a slew of questions coming from a combination of students and non-residents who were involved in Thursday night’s incident.
“I think the dialogue went well,” said Greenwell about the Malcolm X Plaza gathering.
Wages, who was also in attendance on behalf of her non-resident friends, felt that “little progress” had taken place during the gathering.
“We’re going to go to the jail and hopefully try to demand some medical attention for our friends,” said 19-year-old Siobhan Wynne, a friend of Wages. “Apparently, two of them were hospitalized, but another four haven’t been and they were all beaten.”
The gathering was preceded by a march to the Administration Building to confront SF State officials. A group of about 20 people sat on the lobby couches and conversed with Greenwell about medical attention for the non-residents now detained.
Greenwell then advised the group to gather in Malcolm X Plaza to discuss what the protesters wanted. Shortly after the Administration Building sit-in, emergency coordinator Kit Bomar requested that everyone, including employees, leave the building immediately.
Anonymous’ Tuesday rally
Tuesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. in Malcolm X Plaza, protesters announced that suspects arrested in Thursday night’s incident at Mary Ward Hall would be released by 5:30 p.m.
About 30 people congregated in front of the Plaza where they hung signs that read “Welcome to San Francisco Police State University” referring to the amount of force used by the SFPD after they removed and arrested the individuals at the dormitory. The charges made against the six arrested were downgraded to misdemeanors.
Protesters claim the injured suspects were not given medical aid after being arrested. They criticized administration for not doing enough to help.
“If you have any kind of ethics you would help a human being and make a phone call to get them medical attention,” communications major Celia Gonzalez said. “This is not the first or the last police brutality incident.”
Protestors urged administration and UPD to take responsibility for injuring those arrested.
The crowd later marched to Mary Ward Hall, but were denied access to the building after officials closed all entrances.
At one point, protestors blocked traffic on Lake Merced Boulevard as they walked toward the University Police Station.
Police officers stopped protestors at every entrance of the station. After a few minutes of standing outside the building, the group discovered that the suspects would be released from San Francisco County Jail before 5:30 p.m.
“They still have charges pressed against them, so they’re not completely free,” demonstrator Issac Kirk said. “Furthermore, they are still being targeted by police officers. Until these police officers are held accountable for their actions, I don’t think this battle will be over.”