Students receive $750 fine for protesting at Board of Governors' meeting
Twelve Rutgers student activists who were charged on multiple disorderly persons offense charges for interrupting a Board of Governors' meeting in December 2017 pleaded guilty on Monday, receiving a $750 fine each, according to an article from northjersey.com.
The Daily Targum reported in October that the demonstrators were protesting with Rutgers' United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) for a $15 minimum wage for University employees. They were arrested by the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD).
New Brunswick Municipal Court Judge James Hoebich gave the dozen students a six-month probation period which would be wiped from their records after, in addition to the fine, according to the article.
“They thought it would lead to Rutgers disciplinary charges — they didn’t expect criminal charges,” said Ira Mintz, a lawyer from the Somerset firm Weissman & Mintz who defended 11 of the 12 on trial.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed a $15 minimum wage bill for on the same day as the ruling, according to the article. The Targum reported on Friday that the bill would require most workers to receive $15 an hour by 2024.
The Targum reported that at the opening ceremony of Van Nest Hall in October 2018, USAS protestors interrupted a speech from University President Robert L. Barchi.
“The organizers hoped to receive a response from Barchi and a promise that he would drop the charges, asking the president to not just 'cut the ribbon' in front of this hall but to cut the rope that binds the hands of student activists on campus,” according to a USAS press release.
At the event in December 2017, protesters bypassed a line of police officers and entered Trayes Hall where the Trustees' meeting was held, the Targum reported. They came in chanting, “We work, we sweat, put that 15 on our set.”
At that same board meeting, Barchi announced an increase in the campus minimum wage to $11 — which at the time, he said, was all the University could do, according to the Targum.
The same group, at a Board of Governors' meeting at Winants Hall on College Avenue this past December, picketed outside the building for $15 minimum wage. The picket was joined by faculty members protesting the current contract negotiations between the University and the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT).
During the meeting, students in the USAS donned Santa hats with “$15” written on the front. While Barchi was speaking, students broke out into holiday carols parodied to advocate their cause.
One of their chants parodied the traditional Christmas song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” lyrics being, “Rudolph the low-wage worker / had a very long work day / and if you ever saw him / he needs a living wage.”
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