peace.paz.selam

Protests at UC Berkeley today

In Americas (North), World News on November 20, 2009 at 9:14 pm

It’s not much but I wanted to put up the few rinky-dink pictures I was able to take on my blackberry at the protests earlier today. Hundreds of students have been standing outside of wheeler hall to support the group of “15-30” students and supporters that have locked themselves into the building. Today is the last of a three day student strike that began this Wednesday with a rally at Sproul Hall before busloads of students took the trip down to Los Angeles to show solidarity with the students at UCLA in their campus protests.

Not really sure yet who exactly is inside but they’ve been in Wheeler since early this morning. Chancellor Robert J.Birgeneau, has been emailing students regularly throughout the day, saying nothing of significance of course, save for that “The protesters are demanding reinstatement of 38 AFSCME custodial staff who were recently laid off and amnesty and the dropping of charges against any of the protestors.” (Yes, that is a direct quote).

When I left campus about 2 hours ago the police had already entered the building to arrest the protestors. Supporters outside surrounded the building blocking the exits  hoping to stop the police from escorting the protestors from the building.

They screamed, yelled, cat-called, cursed.

Hey hey! Ho Ho! UC Regents got to go!

Your sexy! Your cute! Take off your riot suit!

Who’s University?! Our university!

Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!

If democracy looks like thousands of kids sitting, standing, kicking, screaming, pushed against guard rails separating them from silent, stone-faced police officers clad in riot gear,

then it smells like tear gas, rain and sweat and the generosity of homemade food passed around to “keep the energy up,”

it sounds like cracking voices, dry from screaming into the cold air and tone def crowds singing “We shall overcome”

and apparently down at our brother university, UCLA, democracy feels like volts from a Taser gun penetrating the muscles of a protestor as she sat resting on a corner.

The question is whether or not at a time when our UC Board of Regents is occupied by millionaires so far removed from the struggles of many of our middle and lower income students,and are not at all personally invested in the long and short terms effects of their decisions, the negative publicity of a protest is really enough to generate change. Afterall the Septermber 24th protest was HUGE, attracting some 5, 000 people to the front steps of Sproul Hall; and STILL, despite that, despite this 3 day student strike, last night they STILL approved the budget cuts and fee hikes. Where is our society if Education is not longer a top priority? What message is being sent if those unable to pay the thousands of dollars for higher education are no longer considered an indispensable population on campus?? How will that affect minorities? How will that effect the future of education in California?

As an old friend of mine says,

we shall see.

-peace.pace.selam.

These next two were from Wednesday

The following video is from  Nov. 18th when hundreds of students rode buses to LA to support the UCLA protests.

This one is from Nov. 20, outside Wheeler Hall during the lockout at around 3pm. (excuse the ppl talking in the background)

More info on the budget cuts and protests soon to follow. Till then here’s the NY Times interview of UC President Mark Yudof.

-peace.pace.selam.

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