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UCLA Students File Criminal Complaints Against anti-Israel Disruptors

June 13th 2018

Edwin Black

Criminal complaints are now being filed by students following the belligerent disruption of a May 17, 2018 Students Supporting Israel [SSI] event at University of California Los Angeles. At least a half-dozen students announced they would visit the UCLA police department to file formal complaints reporting criminal disruption of a meeting, as well as disturbing the peace and conspiracy.

 

The move follows media disclosures that the UCLA was reneging on the public pledge by two chancellors in the Daily Bruin —bolstered by a statement for the record by a university spokesman — to refer the belligerent May 17 incident to prosecutors.

 

The disruption and nose-to-nose intimidation of the students attending the May 17 SSI event at UCLA was documented in a video, beginning at minute 41.

Disruptors suddenly and loudly stormed into the room mid-session. One person tore down a flag, demonstratively pulled away a desk placard, and cursed threateningly close to the face of a panelist. With bullhorns, whistles, staged dancing, and slogan shouting, the event was shut down.

The Louis Brandeis D. Center, led by attorney Alyza Lewin, along with Director of Legal Initiatives Aviva Vogelstein and three law students in the UCLA Brandeis chapter, dispatched a letter to the university asserting that the disruption crossed the line into misdemeanor violations of the California criminal code. They cited Title 11, section 403 (which covers deliberate disruption of a public meeting —successfully used to convict the so-called Irvine 11), section 415 (which covers malicious disturbance of the peace), and section 182 (which forbids any conspiracy to violate the other sections).

At the same time, two UCLA chancellors, Jerry Kang and Monroe Gorden,
penned an official denunciation of the incident that was published in the
Daily Bruin campus newspaper. Their statement promised, “For those outsiders
who disrupted the event, we will refer all evidence of wrongdoing to local
prosecutors to determine whether they have broken the law.”
Bolstering the chancellors, university spokesman Tad Tamberg confirmed, 
“the off-campus people who have been identified … have been arrested
previously and are known to the police here and have been referred to the
prosecutor’s office.” He added, that a proper police investigation had already
been done. “You don’t send something to the prosecutor’s office without first
|investigating it,” he stated. The involved UCLA students were to be referred
to university discipline rather than prosecutors, the university stated.
It was not clear why UCLA students, who potentially broke the law, would 
not receive the same referral to prosecutors as outsiders for the same conduct.
The case then took a strange and unexplained twist. Three weeks after the 
event, in an email, Tamberg clarified, “There were no arrests, nor did anyone
file a police report or complaint regarding the May 17 disrup
tion, hence there
was no police inves
tigation.” Tamberg explained his prior assurance about a
referral to prosecutors actually involved the disruption of an earlier, completely
unrelated February 26, 2018 event with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Prosecutors and police assert that without the filing of actual police 
complaints, no investigation or referral to the prosecutor can take place.
None of the disrupted students contacted said they had filed a report, with
two saying they did not even know they had the right to file such a complaint.
Hence, no action could be taken.
After the media disclosure, numerous students stepped forward to file 
complaints. The first was
Justin Feldman, president of the SSI chapter
at Santa Monica College, enrolled at UCLA for the fall semester. Feldman
stated he feared for his personal safety during the incident. On June 11,
Feldman, who had previously completed a StandWithUs [SWU] high school
training program, appeared at the UCLA police department accompanied
by Yael Lerman, SWU legal director, to formally file his complaint.
More than a few of the students harassed during the May 17 event were 
trepidatious about filing a police report. But, according to Lerman, the police
made the whole process “comfortable,” acting “helpful and respectful.” After
a short wait at the station, officers Robert Chavez and Lowell Rose escorted
Feldman into a small room where his report was taken during an hour-long
interview in what Lerman described as an “unrushed” session.
Lerman credited Feldman for his actions. “What Justin did in filing was 
critical in moving the process forward. The [UCLA] administration has known
about this for weeks and has chosen not to move this forward. So now the
students have to.”
After emerging from the police station, Feldman stated, “I feel empowered.”
He added, “I feel it is so important for students to take matters into our own
hands, and not leave them to bureaucratic measures.” Feldman stated that
“most students simply do not know about the process and what measures
can be taken to hold people accountable.”
"Justin's courage will serve to empower other students at universities across 
the country who will
realize that students can help move justice forward when
administrations can’t or won’t,” added Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of
StandWithUs.
A campus police spokesperson assured that the department would investigate
all complaints in the matter. Feldman’s complaint is just the beginning.
At press time, Alyza Lewin, COO of Louis D. Brandeis Center in 
Washington, D.C., had dispatched its d
irector of legal initiatives, Aviva
Vogelstein, and a law clerk to fly to Los Angeles to meet with numerous
other students who are scheduled to file complaints. Law students in the
UCLA Brandeis chapter will observe the process.
The police currently are reviewing a list of 10 individuals who allegedly 
perpetrated the disruption, along with screen captures of their text messages
and social media statements.
One such message urged disruptors “to shut it
down.”
Within 24 hours of Feldman’s complaint, UCLA confirmed that the matter 
would indeed be referred to prosecutors. “UCPD has reviewed the video of
the May 17 disruption, and is investigating the information in the incident
report for any new evidence about the disruption that it may contain,” stated
university spokesman Tamberg. He added, “UCPD will forward the incident
report to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.” A prosecutor has already
been assigned. Tamberg stated UCPD “will discuss both the report and the
video with the prosecuting attorney in July, when that person returns from
leave.”
“This case is a turning point for all students across the country,” asserts 
SWU’s Rothstein. Lewin of the Brandeis Center agreed stating, “Students
across the country now recognize the importance of promptly reporting
incidents like these to the police.”
Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling author of IBM and the 
Holocaust
and Financing the Flames.


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