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On Thursday, students, faculty and staff gathered at the US Santa Cruz campus entrance for an Occupy Education day protest against state budget cuts, and the increasing tuition costs in response to those cuts.Students blocked the main entrance, to permit only "pedestrians, bicyclists, emergency vehicles and those serving the disabled."
With campus administration's compassion and understanding for the student's concerns, both sides made keeping the protest peaceful a priority, and for the most part, it was.
Campus officials said there were no arrests or serious injuries, though at least one student hurt her head and knee when a vehicle attempted to drive through a blockade of demonstrators at the main entrance, an incident witnessed by a Sentinel reporter and the top campus official monitoring events, Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway.
Police said the Ford Mustang made contact with three other students as it rolled through the crowd, revving its engine a couple of times before plowing into the students. The Sentinel observed the car coming to a stop only after students jumped on the hood, banged on the windows and threw a hot-pink paint ball on the windshield.
Protesters were angry when the police released the driver pending an investigation and began shouting various crimes they felt he should be charged with, including attempted murder. The driver spoke with the Sentinel:
“You don't want to stop in the middle of the mob,” Biggs (the driver) said. “I told them, ‘You need to move and what you're doing isn't peaceful.'”
As a fourth-generation resident of Santa Cruz, he said he has grown tired of years of campus protests.
“All I've ever seen protesters do is cause havoc,” he said, calling them “terrorists” and adding, “They just want to be radical.”
He said closing down the campus made no sense because “People are just trying to go through their day, get to their jobs. They are taking away everyone else's freedom at that point.”
If plowing through a crowd of pedestrians isn't a "radical" reaction to being inconvenienced, I don't know what is.