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Section Header
Protest links Bush's war with Likins' hike

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Activist Rachel Wilson (right), freshman Laura Showalter and sophomore Leo Powell protest inside the Administration building yesterday.
By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday March 6, 2003

Four protesters and a news photographer were arrested after the protesters locked themselves to a railing in the Administration building yesterday afternoon.

The Administration Building was closed for the entire afternoon as three students and a UA employee locked themselves with U-locks and a chain to a handicapped-assist railing in the south lobby of the building. The activists were protesting a possible $1,000 tuition increase and what they called the misuse of state and university funding.

The three students, political science sophomore Yuske J. Banno, engineering and physics sophomore Sean Nock, biology freshman Laura Showalter and speech and hearing sciences employee Rachel Wilson were arrested on charges of interfering with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors.

Also arrested for trespassing was Tucson Citizen photographer Gary Gaynor, who, according to University of Arizona Police Chief Anthony Daykin, did not leave the lobby when asked by officers.

More than 40 protesters stormed into the lobby as Wilson, Banno, Mock and Showalter sat down, locked themselves to the railing by their necks, and ran a chain around the locks as at least 10 others sat around them waving signs.

First UAPD security, then clothed officers began securing the lobby, escorting and at times pushing the protesters out of the lobby. Daykin said people in the lobby were asked three times to leave or face arrest. Most left peacefully, as Assistant Dean of Students Veda Kowalski warned the four locked protesters that if they did not leave they would be arrested.

"They told her they wanted to be arrested," said Sharon Kha, university spokeswoman.

Gaynor was seen being pushed by UAPD officers out the exterior door of the lobby, with parts from his camera bag falling to the ground. He was then cuffed and placed against the wall next to the locked protesters.
open quote marks
We're just showing our solidarity for the movement and trying to get students to stay home.

- Sean Anderson

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"This is absolutely typical of this university to do something like this," screamed protester Leo Powell after he was pushed out of the lobby into the crowd outside.

Gaynor was released less than an hour after his arrest. Tucson Citizen editor and publisher Michael Chihak said he has consulted an attorney and will challenge the citation.

The building was locked down for four hours as officers tried different types of bolt cutters to remove the locks. Firefighters finally had to use the Jaws of Life to remove them safely, Daykin said.

Some believed the protesters' actions were unfair to others.

"I told the police to go in there and take them out. They're just wasting time," said Jason Taylor, a pre-nursing junior who waited for an hour outside the north entrance of the building before realizing he would not be allowed in.

During the four hours that they were locked down, Wilson said they sang songs and played word games together, which were broken up by intermittent rounds of cheering from the other protesters outside.

Kha said she talked to Likins while he was in transit. He told her while voicing opinion on campus is strongly encouraged, interfering with the daily actions of others to do so is not.

"He said, ĪThat's where we draw the line,'" Kha said

The protest, which was held in conjunction with the nationwide "Books not Bombs" strike that was headed by the Student Taskforce for Democracy, started at about 9 a.m. with at least 20 members chanting slogans and urging students not to attend class.

The group also taped 16 written demands to the steps of the building. They insisted construction be stopped on campus and the U.S. military's actions against Iraq ceased.

Sean Anderson, member of Refuse and Resist, one of the at least four groups involved in the task force, said the demonstration and demands were to inform students about the misdirection of funds from education to war.

"We're just showing our solidarity for the movement and trying to get students to stay home," Anderson said.

Wilson said the need for a tuition hike could have been prevented if the U.S. decided to direct its military funding toward the state universities, or if the state directed its funding away from the prison system.

Around 12:30 p.m., protesters demanded to speak to Likins, who was on his way to an Arizona Board of Regents meeting in Tempe. Patti Ota came outside to talk with the group instead. But then, they rushed into the lobby as someone screamed, "Come on, the meeting's inside now."

At about 4 p.m. the four locked protesters were escorted outside the eastern door of the building and taken by police to the Pima County Jail. After being booked through pre-trial services, they were released just after 5:30 p.m.

"My real thoughts are: I'm sick of having to do this. I'm sick of this administration being so resistant to student input that I have to lock myself to buildings," Wilson said, minutes after she was released from Pima County Jail.

Wilson said yesterday's incident was only the first of many to show opposition to the tuition increase. She would not say, however, what other actions the group might take.

The incident was the first time this school year that the Administration building has been used for protest.

In February 2002, more than 40 people protesting UA's involvement in the construction of telescopes on Mount Graham tried to reach Likins' office on the seventh floor, but were met outside instead.

In November 2000, Students Against Sweatshops members locked the doors to the building. The group, which was headed by Wilson, was protesting the university's involvement in the fair labor association.

Along with the criminal charges, students may face sanctions from the Dean of Students for violating the Student Code of Conduct, Kha said. Kha did not know whether or not Wilson will face sanctions as a university employee.

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