SF Chronicle: “Students shut down UC regents meeting”
Hundreds of students and faculty members temporarily shut down a University of California Board of Regents meeting being held simultaneously today at campuses in San Francisco, Davis, Merced and Los Angeles by standing in the conference rooms and chanting slogans so loudly the regents could no longer conduct business. . .
At the UCSF Mission Bay campus, UC Berkeley social policy graduate student Megan Wachspress, 27, said the regents were part of the problem.
“We need to find a new way to pick regents,” she said. “So many of them have conflicts of interest. They’re on the boards of corporations. They belong to groups that oppose tax increases, and they keep raising the pay for top administrators.”
SJ Mercury: “Live Blog: Davis protesters take over financial aid building”
Charlie Eaton, financial secretary for United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents about 12,000 UC teaching assistants, tutors and other staff, was one of about two dozen people to speak at the San Francisco campus.
Eaton criticized what he called “the actions of the financial and corporate elite on the board” to raise tuition costs.
He said police then responded to protesters at universities by “having us beaten, having us pepper sprayed and having us arrested.”
“The buck stops with you … and it’s time for you to pay,” Eaton said.
Other speakers criticized an independent commission proposed by the regents to look into the Davis incident that would be led by former Los Angeles and New York police Chief William Bratton, who is already contracted to work with the UC administration.
UC Berkeley Police Respond with Statement
At the same time, UC Berkeley Police Officers Association responded with an open letter to the campus community and UC Board of Regents, defending their November 9 beatdown of non-violent protesters and calling out the administration for not backing them up.
In its attempt to justify conduct which has been met with pretty universal condemnation, the letter expresses a disturbing perspective on the perceived threat to UCPD’s own safety posed by “disgruntled citizens” that strikes us as paranoid and detached from both the reality of the actual demonstration and their role as public servants.
However proud we can all be of UC Berkeley’s contribution to free speech in America, no one can deny this: Our society in 2011 has become an extremely more violent place to live and to protect. No one understands the effects of this violence more than those of us in law enforcement.
Disgruntled citizens in this day and age express their frustrations in far more violent ways – with knives, with guns and sometimes by killing innocent bystanders. Peaceful protests can, in an instant, turn into violent rioting, ending in destruction of property or worse – the loss of lives. Police officers and innocent citizens everywhere are being injured, and in some instances, killed.
While students were calling the protest “non-violent,” the events on November 9th were anything but nonviolent. In previous student Occupy protests, protesters hit police officers with chairs, bricks, spitting, and using homemade plywood shields as weapons – with documented injuries to officers.
At a moment’s notice, the November 9th protest at UC Berkeley could have turned even more violent than it did, much like the Occupy protests in neighboring Oakland.
They also notably call out the administration:
To the University Administration and Regents: Please don’t ask us to enforce your policies then refuse to stand by us when we do. Your students, your faculty and your police – we need you to provide real leadership.
Read entire statement here.
Building Occupations at UCD, UCSC
In related news:
2.6M expected to strike on 11.30.11 in the UK
UPDATE 2 (11/29/11)
SF Examiner: Protesters sue UC Berkeley for police brutality