My inbox has been flooded with discussion from faculty, staff and students in the Integrative Biology programs regarding the protests/violence/response here on the UC Berkeley campus. Unlike the knee-jerk protests by students at my former University (Penn State), the protests here are the result of planning and careful consideration of the issues (especially the egregious tuition increases). Coverage of the Occupy Cal protests will be updated and archived here.
This weekend a petition was formed to express the frustration, anger, and desired changes shared by many people across the UC system. To highlight a couple passages from it:
We are appalled by the Chancellor’s account, in his November 10 “Message to the Campus Community,” that the police were “forced to use their batons.” We strenuously object to the charge that protesters—by linking arms and refusing to disperse—engaged in a form of “violence” directed at law enforcement. The protests did not justify the overwhelming use of force and severe bodily assault by heavily armed officers and deputies. Widely-circulated documentation from videos, photographs, and TV news outlets make plainly evident the squad tactics and individual actions of members of the UCPD and Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. This sends a message to the world that UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and student protesters are regarded on their own campus with suspicion and hostility rather than treated as participants in civil society.
We call on the Berkeley administration to immediately put an end to these grotesquely out-scale police responses to peaceful protest. We insist that the administration abandon the premise that the rigid, armed enforcement of a campus regulation, in circumstances lacking any immediate threat to safety, justifies the precipitous use of force.