The students who occupied the classroom next to the room I teach in have been arrested, apparently. No one outside seems to know much, but no one has poked their head out the window in a while. I’m still processing. I know I saw police hitting students with billy clubs. And while no one is going to say that the students didn’t provoke a conflict, that things didn’t get dicey, at no point were any of these police in fear for anything more than a frustrating afternoon. The violence on the part of the police was in response to the violence of being. I’m in solidarity with the protesters, don’t get me wrong. But even if you’re not, even if you think they’re a bunch of whiny Berkeley kids or whatever, the fact is that every time a Berkeley city cop struck a student with his billy club, he was hitting a non-violent student protester whose protest was the demand to occupy a classroom. That makes me sick. If you stand in the wrong place on campus, it seems, the chancellor of the university will call the city police who will use billy clubs (and tear gas and rubber bullets, according to what I heard) to remove you. They do not negotiate, it seems. The administrators of a campus which pretends to take pride in the Free Speech Movement will call the police, who will knock the doors of a classroom off its hinges so it can charge students with Burglary. I am sick.
The police allowed the protesters to occupy the building for almost twelve whole hours today, they stormed in and arrested students almost immediately, this morning. They arrested three students then and the others barricaded themselves in a tiny little room like the one I teach in, the one next to it, I think. I don’t know if there were fifty students who occupied that room, but I do know that when I was turning students away at the beginning of the semester — because the University doesn’t offer nearly enough sections of that class for all the students who are required to take it to graduate — I told them that the room was too small for more than twenty to sit comfortably. I think those students today must have been mighty crowded (UPDATE: for a picture of the cops coming in, click here or scroll down). It does occur to me that when the police occupied the building this morning, the students in that tiny room were hardly a threat.
I saw the officers from the Alameda County Sheriff department arrive around 2, in a line, looking neither to the left nor to the right, with visors over their eyes, in full riot gear. I was too intimidated to take a picture of them.
The Chancellor sent out an email today saying that “Since 3:00 p.m. today a group of senior administrators, faculty, and student leaders have been reaching out to the protestors inside Wheeler Hall. Attempts to engage in a conversation with the 15 to 30 protestors estimated to be in the building have been refused.” I could be wrong. But I call bullshit.
(2nd and 4th photos via Millicent, thanks to my dead camera battery)
Update. The police coming in, from the OccupyCA site:
And this photo, from the inside looking out: