Drop the Charges and Repeal the Ban Against the Anti-Mnuchin Protesters!
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To UCLA Chancellor Gene Block:
February 26th was meant to be another day in the normalization of the Trump/Pence Regime. Steve Mnuchin came to the UCLA campus to speak and “politely” converse about the regime's cruel and brutal Tax Plan.
But students and professors had been organizing to greet him. And in the midst of protest, boos and hisses from the audience, women from Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club, LA spoke up, defiantly calling out the impact of the Tax Bill and starvation inducing sanctions on foreign countries which Mnuchin is responsible for. Within 30 seconds of speaking out, one after another the women, including a UCLA student, were dragged out of the auditorium, arrested, held for 7 hours and read a verbal notice from the Chancellor by the UC Police Department, that they were banned from the campus.
This ban is illegitimate. It was never put in writing, there's no way to contest it and it's been arbitrarily enforced.
The day after the event, Mnuchin cowardly demanded that UCLA not release the video of his program: a public program with a public official. The UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations bowed to this unprecedented request. This has been widely protested, including by Association of Professional Journalists who said “it sets a very bad precedent for a public university, which has expressly dedicated itself to the values of academic excellence and civic engagement, instead to permit government officials overly sensitive to appearances to constrain academic debate and deny public engagement by effectively censoring UCLA’s online publication of the record of a public event held on campus.”
On March 1, when the activists defied the illegitimate ban, to participate in a protest on Bruin Walk in a National Day of Action: 11 Minutes of Silence for 11 Million Undocumented People, UCPD threatened to enforce the ban, but ultimately backed off. Then, on March 5th, with no warning, two of the activists (including the UCLA student) were arrested again and banned again for simply attempting to attend the speech by the courageous Chelsea Manning (the irony!). They were arrested just hours after issuing this challenge to Mnuchin to debate.
All this sets a dangerous precedent. UCLA rolled out the red carpet for Steven Mnuchin, a member of a regime endangering all of humanity, bowed to Mnuchin’s unprecedented request to suppress the video of the speech, and banned those who spoke out in political protest on the grounds that THEY are a “danger” to the campus!
The real danger to the students, and really all of humanity, is this regime.. a regime which is obliterating the separation of powers, filling the lower courts with fascists of all trades; attacking the science of climate change and evolution as well as the scientific method in general; demonizing and criminalizing immigrants with the same dehumanizing rhetoric used in Nazi Germany and carrying out mass deportations with a momentum toward ethnic cleansing; stripping away civil rights and liberties; and putting the world in the crosshairs of a nuclear holocaust. In the face of all this, it is right and important for the campus to be a center of protest and debate about our future.
Whether you agree with the specific action of the young protesters, this ban is draconian and the charges unjust.
We, the undersigned, DEMAND that the charges against the 5 arrested at the Mnuchin event be dropped and that the ban against the UCLA student and Refuse Fascism activist be repealed.
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