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Three UCLA students are arrested in clash at UC regents meeting

The confrontation occurred as protesters left a UC San Francisco meeting hall, where some had disrupted the UC leaders by stripping down to bathing suits.

March 30, 2012|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
  • UCLA student Matthew Sandoval yells at university police officers after the regents suspended their meeting at UC San Francisco.
UCLA student Matthew Sandoval yells at university police officers after… (Beck Diefenbach / San Francisco…)

SAN FRANCISCO — Three UCLA students were arrested Thursday during a confrontation with university police after protesters disrupted a UC regents meeting with a "spring break" demonstration during which some stripped down to bathing suits and tossed inflatable beach balls.

The clash took place as 40 protesters, angry about high tuition, were leaving the UC San Francisco meeting hall after repeated warnings by police to clear the area. Authorities said that one student then pushed a police officer in a corridor and two others interfered with his arrest. Students denied pushing and said UC police overreacted, particularly by piling on to the arrested students and slamming them down on a concrete floor.

The three were identified as Andrew Harkness-Newton, 26; Cheryl Deutsch, 27, and Mathew Sandoval, 32. All were charged with obstructing an officer and failure to disperse. Harkness-Newton and Sandoval were also cited on suspicion of interfering with arrests and were being held in a San Francisco jail, pending bail. Deutsch was released.

No one was seriously injured, according to UC officials, although Deutsch, a graduate student who is a labor union leader, later said she and the others were roughed up.

Earlier, during public comments, student activists denounced UC's recent tuition increases and refused to stop speaking when officials declared that portion of the meeting was over. About 10 students then took off their coats and shirts to show beachwear, and some put on Hawaiian leis and began dancing. UC regents left the room and returned to resume their meeting about 45 minutes later.

UC is studying how to better handle demonstrations after the controversial pepper spraying of protesters at UC Davis in November.

In other matters, the regents delayed a decision on UCLA's proposal to build a conference center and 250-room hotel on the Westwood campus. The $162-million project, which has a $40-million construction gift from an alumnus, faced skepticism from regents on Wednesday about its economic viability. UCLA officials said they will make another presentation at the regents' May meeting and show that the plan is financially solid.

The regents on Thursday also heard criticism of UCLA's plan to sell a Japanese garden and house in Bel-Air that the campus says it can no longer afford to maintain. Among those urging the regents to block the sale was Hannah Sowerwine, stepdaughter of Edward W. Carter, the businessman and former regent who donated the money for UCLA to buy the property five decades ago. The regents did not move to stop UCLA's sale plans.

larry.gordon@latimes.com

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