Saturday, November 21, 2009

Footnote to the preceding

I've been a bit surprised that in the coverage of the protests at University of California campuses over the 32% increase in student fees I haven't seen any condescending tongue-clucking about it being, in Tom Paxton's line, "vaguely reminiscent of the '60s." Which is, I rush to add, a good thing.

But damn, in some ways it does remind me of the '60s:
Police arrested 52 students protesting a tuition hike Thursday at the University of California-Davis and held them in jail overnight without food. One was reportedly beaten by police, a source close to the incident tells Raw Story. ...

The protesters held a sit-in in Mrak Hall, an administration building on the UC-Davis campus near Sacramento that the authorities told protesters to vacate by 5 p.m. Thursday evening. Officers from the Yolo County sheriff's office moved in and arrested those who didn't comply with the order.

“They were put in the paddy-wagon between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. last night, and they were taken to jail and held all night long without food,” Kristin Koster, who participated in the protests, told Raw Story. ... The students were reportedly only given food at 6 a.m. Friday. ...

Koster tried calling the administrators at UC-Davis Friday morning and said “they had no idea where the students were and took no action to find them."

“If anything, UC-Davis called the cops on their students, and then sent them off to jail in Woodland – in another town – without any legal observers, without any legal help, without notifying parents,” she said.
Ah, memories! Meanwhile, to the west, students occupying a classroom building at UC-Berkeley also got a dose of déjà vu:
Reports from the Berkeley campus describe students trying to arrange negotiations, and police moving in to break down barricades and make arrests. ...

Rachel Brahinsky, a former Guardian reporter who is now a Berkeley grad student, called in with this report:

    Tensions are escalating. Rows of riot cops are marching toward lines of students at the barricades. They come up to the students and barrel through. A student has been injured with either a rubber bullet or a taser, we’re not sure which.

    I have personally witnessed two incidents of students getting beaten badly.

    None of this is provoked. The students have linked arms, but nobody has taken any hostile action toward the cops.

According to a spokesperson for the students, Callie Maidhof, the action started early this morning. “Around 5 a.m. a group of students put barricades up and sometime before 6 a.m. police arrived and arrested three people who were unable to get up to the second floor.”

She added that bail was set at $10,000 for two of the students and $16,000 for the third (he refused to provide a DNA sample), who gave the statement “I think it’s ironic that we’ve been charged for burglary when it’s them that are stealing our futures.”

The two initial demands of the estimated sixty locked-in students were to rehire the 38 custodial workers that were recently laid off by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and to grant amnesty for all protesters involved in the events.
It's not certain but I suspect that last sentence is garbled and that the workers were not laid off by AFSCME but were members of AFSCME. In any event, two more demands, both related to student services, were added later.
There have been several incidents of recorded police violence, including at least two protesters with hands broken. Zhivka Valiavicharska, a graduate student in the department of rhetoric, had her hand resting on a barricade and was hit by a police baton. She was taken to a hospital and will need reconstructive surgery.

This was the second occupation of a building on campus this week. On Wednesday, students locked themselves in to the administration building where capital projects are based, but the confrontation was resolved in a few hours.
I want to emphasize that the previous post was not meant to denigrate student/youth activism. It was directed at that self-important subset of blogging budding politicians who think that activism consists of being a talking head and engaging in conference calls with White House officials and dismiss non-electoral forms of protest and action as anything from "self-indulgent" to "pointless" to "counter-productive."

It admittedly was a while ago but I specifically praised student activism and I was quite taken with the creativity of the "filibuster a building" protest that took place at Princeton a couple of years ago.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');