Students steal 3,000 papers to protest front-page photo


Members of university's Latino community say use of picture is racist





CALIFORNIA -- After publishing a picture of a Hispanic\nman's arrest on the front page of its Oct. 6 issue, the student\nnewspaper at California State University at Sacramento has faced\nprotests from the Latino community, a court subpoena and group\nmediations to resolve the conflict.

Members of the university's Latino community protested The\nState Hornet's front-page photo of a police officer arresting\nGustavo Chavez, who was charged with resisting arrest at a Sept.\n18 football game. The photo was published with a story describing\nseveral violent incidents at the game, including the fatal assault\nof a spectator.

Protestors removed 3,000 copies of the newspaper from designated\nbins over two consecutive days and blocked the door to the newspaper\noffice in reaction to the picture. The State Hornet received\na bomb threat on Oct. 8, but no bomb was found.

The protesters asked The State Hornet to print a front\npage retraction and apology for running the picture, publish a\nlist of minority staff members and change its editorial policy\nto prohibit the publication of anything depicting minorities in\na negative light, said David Sommers, editor of The State Hornet.\n

Sommers said the newspaper will not comply with any of the\ngroup's demands.

"We ran the story in the terms that the bigger picture\nhere is that violence is to the point that somebody died at a\ncampus event," he said. "Something better needs to be\ndone."

The group also protested on Oct. 12 in the library quad outside\nof The State Hornet office.

"What it all comes down to is the protestors wanted to\ndo a lot of yelling, but they didn't want to sit down and talk,"\nSommers said after offering to meet with the group.

Some of the protestors formed a group called United Students\nfor Action.

Member Gustello Cardenas said that USA was formed "to\nalign ourselves with students who are aware of situations that\nare happening on campus."

He said the group planned to talk to California legislators\nabout issues that had been going on at California universities\nand in Sacramento.

Cardenas said the group wanted to discuss "xenophobic\nattitudes that create stereotypes."

After the protests of the photo, Sommers received a subpoena\nfrom Chavez's defense attorney

The subpoena ordered Sommers to release The State Hornet's copies\nof film negatives, notes that reporters had taken regarding Chavez's\narrest and the notes and negatives taken of the student demonstration\nfollowing the publication of Chavez's photo.

"[The defense's] reading of the protest was that the protest\nwas not of us running the photo, but it was a public outcry over\nhis arrest and his treatment," Sommers said.

Sommers contested the subpoena, and on Dec. 3, a judge threw\nout everything but the negatives and the names of witnesses to\nChavez's arrest. As the Report went to press, Sommers was\ndeciding whether to appeal that ruling.

The State Hornet is now taking part in mediation sessions\nwith USA. The sessions are sponsored by students involved with\nconflict resolution classes on campus, Sommers said.

"This was a good first step in discussing the concerns\nthat people had," Sommers said. "We are a student newspaper,\nand we are always concerned with what students have to say about\nour level of coverage"


reports, Winter 1999-2000