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College student arrested for vandalism may have been protesting

It appears that an act of vandalism at the University of Pittsburgh may have been in protest of the university's policy toward the working conditions at the overseas factories where its licensed clothing and apparel were made. Police in Oakland have arrested a Pitt student they say used spray paint to write "WRC" in the commons area of the Cathedral of Learning building on campus. He reportedly has been charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors.

Authorities say that "WRC," which was written in letters 12 feet by four and a half feet wide, could refer to Workers Rights Consortium. That is an organization that investigates the working conditions at factories that manufacture university-licensed apparel around the world. Many universities work with WRC to ensure that worker conditions are acceptable, but Pitt has declined to partner with WRC despite urging by many students. The university says that a similar organization provides that service for Pitt.

Police said that the suspect was sitting on a park bench when they arrived at the Cathedral the morning of March 30. They claimed that he had paint on his clothes, spray paint cans and a can of mineral acid in his backpack. It does not appear that any acid was used in the Cathedral.

The suspect has been charged with felony criminal mischief, both felony and misdemeanor institutional vandalism and misdemeanor possession of instruments of crime. Under Pennsylvania law, vandalism of "any school [or] educational facility" is considered "institutional vandalism," which is a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony carries a potential prison sentence of seven years, so anyone charged with this level of crime should hire a defense attorney to investigate the claims against him or her and build a defense.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Man arrested in Cathedral of Learning vandalism," Molly Born, April 2, 2013

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