Ché volunteers gathered inside the venue before dawn on Tuesday and blacked out the windows.
“We won’t go easily.”
Raquel Calderon and about 50 other Ché Café volunteers were on hand at 5 a.m. for a meeting at the Ché building to discuss Miranda rights, anticipating the arrival of the sheriff deputies to possibly arrest them before they are permanently locked out.
As of noon the sheriffs hadn’t arrived but a handful of Ché loyalists stuck around waiting for what they thought was the inevitable.
“No pun intended, but I think it’s kind of a cop out,” says Jordan Krimston of the band Big Bad Buffalo, who were part of the Ché’s pre-dawn demonstration. Members of La Bella and KIDS were also on hand.
“There were rumors that UCSD [administration] said they didn’t even know about it when they were the ones who had it posted,” Krimston tells the Reader.
Four TV news teams showed up to record the crowd walking around the building at 6 a.m. carrying “Save the Ché” signs and chanting, “Whose community? Our community!”
After the march, the crowd went inside for breakfast. Some played board games waiting for the deputies to arrive.
While it was unclear how many would have been arrested, Krimston says he thought most of those who were there would have subjected themselves to arrest following a sit-in.
“I’m told that there will now be someone there 24/7,” says Krimston.
Calderon notes the irony that such a progressive institution as the University of California would clamp down on the Ché Café.
“It seems like the [UC administration] is opposed to anything that is not homogenous. They painted over Graffiti Hall. It’s the same situation now with the Ché. I think we should be wary of a university that says it cares about diversity. We should not necessarily take what it says about diversity at face value.”
Calderon says the administration misled the public saying the building was unsafe and saying the Associated Students supported the eviction. “The Student government voted the opposite of this. The administration said if you don’t leave they will evict you, but the [AS] intention was to renegotiate an agreement.”
Calderon also tells the Reader that the AS voted that the famous murals on the exterior of the building not be painted over but she fears that will be ignored.
“The AS also asked that the space not be altered. That we would enter into an interim period. The university took advantage of their resolution…. It is very hurtful that they would come down so hard and heavy-handed.”
The Tuesday-morning turnout included people in their late teens and 20s to some in their 50s.
“The people behind the Ché are a diverse group of graduates, undergraduates, and others who care…. These people are intelligent, critically thinking, creative people. You have to be very passionate to give your heart to this kind of place.”
But while the Ché Collective may be passionate, it is still a group of volunteers without a clear governing structure.
One Collective member said two members almost came to blows, and that one member started crying over the disagreements between the volunteers.
Captain Frank Turner of the San Diego Sheriff department explains why his force did not show up at 6 a.m. on March 24 as was indicated on the posted eviction notice taped on the Che Café on March 17: “Evictions are executed on a first-come, first-served basis,” Turner tells the Reader, adding that his department has 180 days from the day it is posted to send his people in to clear the space and allow the locks to be changed. “It goes in our stack and we will serve it when he can.... We serve between 15 and 20 evictions a day.”
In the name of efficiency, he says that he will serve this eviction when he has other evictions to serve in the area.
But Turner says there are considerations as to when this particular eviction will be served. He says he will need to coordinate it with the availability of the onsite police force, which would be the UCSD on security. Also, he says that because it his understanding that there might be as many as 100 people who might be resisting, he could not administer this particular eviction with his regular two-man crew. “We are hearing that there will be people who are willing to be arrested for the cause.” Turner adds that he also will have “buses and vans” available in the event there would be a need for mass arrests. “Of course, we hope that does not happen.”
Turner says it is his understanding that pepper spray would not be needed, but that if his officers are attacked, they will use “whatever means necessary” to protect themselves. He says there have been cases where officers enforcing evictions have been killed. “But we do not expect that in this case.”
Turner says the way it works is that once his officers arrive, they instruct all those on the property to leave. He says if they do not comply they will be immediately arrested. “We don’t just pick them up and move them.”
When asked, Turner says he could not even provide a “ball park” estimation of when it would be served.
A press release sent out Wednesday by the Ché Collective says: "...the building remains in the hands of the students, faculty, alumni and community members who had helped to defend it. The Ché Café Collective considers these events a victory."
But Captain Turner says there was no intervention on the part of the UCSD administration delaying the service of the eviction. And that it was only expediency from his department that delayed the eviction. He says it his understanding the eviction absolutely will proceed.