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‘Scholar Not a Criminal:’ Group Rallies Against UC Berkeley Grad Student’s Arrest Amid Protests

BERKELEY — A different kind of chant has risen up out of the chaos promised by those on the left and right in a battle over free speech on the streets of Berkeley.

“Scholar…not a criminal! Scholar…not criminal!” shouted protesters.

One group of sociology students from the University of California hastily made signs out of notebook paper on Sproul Plaza to protest what they say was the unfair arrest of their friend J.D.

It happened as officers built a strong show of force on campus to send a message to those for and against a cancelled speech by conservative Ann Coulter.

Mimi Elias was with the graduate student instructor as he was arrested in the plaza.

“I think it was blatant profiling that’s what it appears to me…because they aren’t profiling Trump supporters or people that have the ‘Make America Great Again’ hats,” said Elias, who’s about to graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in social welfare. “It was apparent to me he was profiled because of how he looked.”

“They walked up to him and was like, ‘Do you have a weapon?'” said UC Berkeley sociology student Shalita Williams. “And out of everybody that was out here, they approached him. He’s Latino. He’s full of tattoos, arms, neck, all over.”

“It had to have been a profiling. Why else would he be stopped out of all of the other students walking around and all of his stuff is searched?” said graduating senior in sociology Nicole Rankin. “And they find a reason to arrest him…even though he is a top student, just got into a Ph.D. program, a Haas scholar, an Underground scholar, a McNair scholar.”

While J.D.’s friends and students he graded papers for didn’t want to reveal his picture or full name, FOX40 has learned from Santa Rita Jail records that J.D. is Jorge-David Mancillas, arrested on suspicion of possession of a weapon on campus.

“He was not showing a weapon,” said Elias, who also had no knowledge of Mancillas having anything like a hunting or Swiss Army knife.

Sociology professor Andrew Barlow says having a weapon just isn’t something his 41-year-old teaching assistant would be doing now.

“Of course not,” Barlow said. “This is a guy who comes from a past where he was around people with weapons, and he made a highly intentional decision in his life to get as far away from weapons as he possibly could.”

The Underground scholars initiative, one of many areas where Mancillas has distinguished himself, is for students who have been incarcerated before.

Friends chanting their support for him in Sproul Plaza say there’s no way he would have done anything to jeopardize the bright future he’s been building.

Mancillas’ arraignment has been set for May 1.