A short film on the occupation of Wheeler Hall, at University of California, Berkeley:
Why occupation? Why barricades? Why would an emancipatory movement, one which seeks to unchain people from debt and compulsory labor, chain the doors of a building? Why would a group of people who deplore a university increasingly barricaded against would-be entrants itself erect barricades? This is the paradox: the space of UC Berkeley, open at multiple points, traversed by flows of students and teachers and workers, is open in appearance only. At root, as a social form, it is closed: closed to the majority of young people in this country by merit of the logic of class and race and citizenship; closed to the underpaid workers who enter only to clean the floors or serve meals in the dining commons; closed, as politics, to those who question its exclusions or answer with more than idle protest. (Text continued here.)
UC Irvine sociology graduate student John Bruning recounts his arrest by UC police during a November 24 demonstration:
The tactics of UCPD have quickly escalated in the past week. The last political arrest at UCI was a few years ago, during the struggle to insource workers. In my time at UCI, there has not been an incident where police pepper sprayed students, especially not at a peaceful protest. The use of tasers is troublesome given their lethality, and I would not at all be surprised if sometime this year police shot a student dead or killed them another way. Looking into the eyes of the police yesterday, in all but a few cases, there was the appearance of outright contempt for students and their safety. A few looked as if orders were the only thing keeping them from clubbing skulls. My arresting officer carried a look of hatred on [his] face, as if students’ needs were the only thing keeping him from happiness. One has to wonder, with all of the rage these men contain where their souls should be, how they take care of their aggression when there aren’t protests. At home, on their families? I hope not, for their sake. Maybe they have a nice hobby, like playing baseball.
Statement in support of the UC Mobilisation
Here is a statement in support of mobilization at UC, started by Peter Hallward (Middlesex University, London), which is currently gathering signatures:
We the undersigned declare our solidarity with University of California students, workers and staff as they defend, in the face of powerful and aggressive intimidation, the fundamental principles upon which a truly inclusive and egalitarian public-sector education system depends. We affirm their determination to confront university administrators who seem willing to exploit the current financial crisis to introduce disastrous and reactionary ‘reforms’ (fee-increases, lay-offs, salary cuts) to the UC system. We support their readiness to take direct action in order to block these changes. We recognise that in times of crisis, only assertive collective action – walkouts, boycotts, strikes, occupations… – offers any meaningful prospect of democratic participation. We deplore the recent militarization of the UC campuses, and call on the UC administration to acknowledge rather than discourage the resolution of their students to struggle, against the imperatives of privatization, to protect the future of their university. (See a list of signatories at the link above.)
To endorse the statement and add your name to the list, email Nathan Brown (UCD) at firstname.lastname@example.org.