Local activist removed from campus by SCPD following demonstration
THE SANTA CLARA
October 27, 2016
Shortly after the Mission Church bell tolled on Oct. 14, SCPD arrested a Santa Clara graduate and activist for an unsanctioned protest on campus.
Fumi Tosu, a 2003 graduate of Santa Clara’s Jesuit School of Theology, and other peace activists were participating in a nonviolent protest calling for the end of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Santa Clara. The arrest came after the demonstrators refused to leave campus at the request of Campus Safety officers and the Santa Clara Police Department.
Tosu was accompanied by other members of the Catholic Worker community, two Jesuits, a Franciscan friar and members of Pacific Life Community—a network of activists who focus on nuclear disarmament.
According to Tosu, he and the other activists were holding a prayer vigil organized under the umbrella of Pacific Life Community. Tosu said he has participated in most of the vigils that the group has held in the past year.
This was not the first time Campus Safety and SCPD have asked activists protesting ROTC to leave campus. According to daily Campus Safety logs, protesters regularly voice their disapproval for the program and have to be escorted off Santa Clara property.
“There’s been a couple of times when nobody noticed that we were there,” Tosu said. “Other times campus security has come to ask us to leave and they have called Santa Clara P.D.”
Shortly before Tosu’s arrest, he was engaging in a discussion with a religious studies class taught by Professor Philip Riley. Riley encouraged his students to speak to the activists.
“I think it was a happy coincidence that when the protesting was happening we just finished talking about nonviolent protest and solidarity while looking at texts from Martin Luther King Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh,” said one of Riley’s students who wished to remain anonymous. “It was definitely interesting to see our discussions in the classroom come alive right before our eyes.”
Campus Safety asked the group to leave otherwise SCPD would begin making arrests. According to Riley, Campus Safety was “respectful and clear” that the group had violated the conditions for being on campus and needed to leave.
“I was trying not to be a participant but it was hard,” Riley said. “At one point the police got in (Tosu)’s face and said ‘You have to leave.’ (Tosu) turned to me and said, ‘Professor Riley do you want me to leave?’ and that’s when I invited him to my class. I kind of dodged his question.”
Campus Safety refused to let the discussion continue in Riley’s classroom, so many of the activists rolled up their banners and entered the Mission Church to attend noon mass. According to Riley, Tosu was interacting with the students by the time mass had started and had “become a focal point.”
According to Riley, as Tosu entered the church he told officials that they could not deny him the sacrament, referring to the Eucharist in the Catholic mass. SCPD then forcibly removed Tosu from the Mission Church and arrested him.
“I just don’t think you want to go arrest somebody in church,” Riley said.
According to the Redwood City Catholic Worker’s blog, Tosu was “taken to a Santa Clara police substation, where he was given a trespass violation admonishment, charged with trespass, cited and released.”
His court date is set for Dec. 13 in San Jose’s Superior Court.
“I think Campus Safety was well within their rights,” Riley said. “This is not the first time the group has been on campus. I think Campus Safety had some pretty clear directives. This is not how we want to have a discussion with these people— with these protests, these vigils.”
Campus Safety did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the incident.
Tosu is a member of Casa de Clara, which is a part of the Catholic Worker movement. The group shelters homeless women and children, distributes groceries to people in their neighborhood and offers mobile showers to those living on the streets.
According to Tosu, Casa de Clara is a “community in faith” and they “do work in the neighborhood to care for people who are living on the margins in Silicon Valley.”
Tosu said the money and resources used to fight wars would be better spent towards fighting homelessness.
“There’s a direct link between our war -making and homelessness both here and abroad,” Tosu said. “We care for the homeless on a day-to-day basis, and we also want to eliminate the causes of homelessness, including war.”
Since his arrest, Tosu has been back on campus to speak to Riley’s class.
“To have the activists come into our classroom, I felt a little intimidated,” said one of Riley’s students. “Obviously they were passionate about their beliefs and were even willing to get arrested for it. These activists were unafraid to respond to debate on their arguments and stood tall in their beliefs.”
Tosu had a meeting with University President Fr. Michael Engh, S.J., on Oct. 26 to discuss the university’s handling of the situation.
For another narrative of the events, click here for the Redwood City Catholic Worker website.
Contact Erin Fox at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.