A peaceful protest at UC Santa Cruz took a turn when a motorist plowed through a line of protesters, striking several people.
About 100 students blocked the entrance to the UC Santa Cruz campus this morning, as part of an Occupy Education rally, protesting state education cuts, reported the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Reportedly, at about 8:30 a.m., a man in an orange Ford Mustang attempted to enter the campus but was blocked by the crowd. According to witnesses, he revved his engine before driving into the crowd, hitting several protesters on foot, as well as a cyclist.
"Suddenly I'm on the hood and then the ground," said Abby Edwards, a 20-year-old protester who was struck by the car. No one appeared to be seriously injured.
A police officer on the scene ordered the driver to back up out of the crowd. The officer quickly detained both the driver and his female passenger.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinal, the female passenger, Judith Samson, wrote an email to the paper regarding the incident. "We did not speed through the crowd," wrote Samson. "In fact, we were going less than 1 mph when the mob swarmed over our car, attempted to open the doors and windows, kicked our light in and threw paint all over the car." Samson wrote that they intended to press charges against the protesters.
ABC reported that, besides the incident, the protest has been largely peaceful.
The UC Santa Cruz protest is part of statewide day of action at UC and CSU schools, in protest of "impending fee increases and the continued privatization of the university," wrote Occupy Education on the group's blog.
In a pledge on the blog, the group outlined its mission:
We, stakeholders in the University of California at Santa Cruz, will strike on March 1st to demand quality and accessible public education. As fees increase across California's higher education system, the quality of public education continues to decline. [...] We are paying far more for far less, accumulating debt on top of our dismal employment prospects. These fee increases not only shackle the futures of the students inside the university, but also limit the possibilities of people outside. As workers, students, and educators, we know that a quality, accessible, public education is vital to providing paths to social mobility. The privatization of the university is an attack on communities of color, children in poverty, and the working class. We demand that priorities be adjusted to address the needs of students, teachers, workers, and communities.
The group plans to shut down access to the university and build a "tent university" for classes and discussion.
However, UC Santa Cruz Spokesman Jim Burns explained that he did not think the protest was fair to other UCSC students.
"We don't think that it's really appropriate to impact other students and perhaps deprive them of the ability to get to class when they're already paying more for those classes," said Burns to ABC.