“Stop Beating Students!”; “Not Nonviolence”

In case you haven’t been following what’s been going on at UC Berkeley, where students have been attempting to start an #OccupyCal, here’s a primer (this is just one of lots of shocking videos):

The university chancellor, a Robert J. Birgeneau (creepy name, eh?), sent an email to the university community with this bit of astounding doublespeak:

We stipulated that no tents, stoves, and sleeping bags would be allowed. They could gather in Sproul for discussion, but not for sleeping … It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience. By contrast, some of the protesters chose to be arrested peacefully; they were told to leave their tents, informed that they would be arrested if they did not, and indicated their intention to be arrested. They did not resist arrest or try physically to obstruct the police officers’ efforts to remove the tent. These protesters were acting in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience, and we honor them.

“Not non-violent civil disobedience.” Come again? So implicitly, they are the ones being violent, not the cops who are dragging them by the hair, beating them with batons. And the “tradition of peaceful civil disobedience” that “we honor” is actually about obedience to authority. Hmmm… I think this is the same guy who said that they couldn’t set up an encampment because the Cal campus is “private property.” Huh?!

Here’s some great commentary: “The Grass Is Closed”: What I Have Learned About Power from the Police, Chancellor Birgeneau, and Occupy Cal.

–Chris Sturr

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