Thursday, March 4, a group of UC Davis students marching through campus began to approach a freeway on-ramp for the purposes of occupation, and Yolo County Sheriff’s Department officers blocked the route. They shot pepper balls at students’ feet as the marchers continued to approach the on-ramp. Abruptly, the police pulled Laura Mitchell, a student and queer leader at UC Davis, from the front of the crowd, dragging her along the ground, ripping her shirt off, and holding her hostage until protesters agreed to dissipate. Police alleged no injuries were sustained by any in the crowd. The video clearly demonstrates otherwise.
Below is a video account of the afternoon ordeal. **Trigger Warning: Police violence at 6:43**
Additionally, more than 100 Bay Area protesters shut down the 880 and 980 freeways for hours on Thursday afternoon, creating gridlock. All were eventually arrested, including the student journalists among them. Many were beaten (video).
Mainstream portrayals of student activism tend toward stereotyping
movements based on their place of origin. Berkeley, still widely known
as “Berserkeley,” or “The People’s Republic Of Berkeley,” lacks some
agency on the national stage because of assumptions that all students
are politically active. Along with Berkeley’s legacy of activism around
the Free Speech Movement is the legacy of administrative overreactions
to protests. In fact, the administrative building on campus which hosts
the offices of Vice Chancellors, California Hall, has “protest-proof”
doors with two essential anti-protest features: first, they lack door
handles so as to prevent any protester from chaining anything to the
doors. Second, a backup pair of doors automatically swing shut and lock
in case of protest or political activity outside.
The harder a campus works to shed its stereotype of activism, by
repressing protest movements and student voices, the more radically
students push back to gain press and attention from an administration.
This builds a longer legacy of activism. The campus of UC Davis lacks
that legacy of activism– their mascot is the Aggies, short for the
“Agriculturalists.” But just as a generation of UC Berkeley students
first witnessed police brutality on November 20, 2009, a generation of
UC Davis students witnessed police brutality Thursday.
UC San Diego Student Satire Publication goes too far
The Koala, which will receive more press for this hate than it
deserves, published a joke issue entirely themed around mocking the
Black Student Union and opponents of the Compton Cookout.
The Koala’s newest issue satirizes the demands issued
by the BSU in the recent weeks, by introducing a mock program-the
Coalition of Outreach and Opportunity for Negro Students, or C.O.O.N.S
for short. The “program” proposes such things as “Special All Black
Housing” and “Special Classes Just 4 U!” including “SOC20N: Blame it on
Whitey” and “Swimming 101: It’s not actually that deep!”
Story and full issue available here.
UC Berkeley logs its own anti-Black hate crime Monday
Monday morning, a 31-year-old Black woman said “Good morning” to a man
exiting the Recreational Sports Facility. He spat on her and called her
“n****r.” She reported it to the UC Police Department, and it has been
classified as a hate crime.
Between the hateful incidents of February and March, the racial
tensions on campuses across the United States, and the exhausting March
4 Day of Action for Public Education, students, faculty, and workers
are now experiencing a high level of burnout. How can we possibly
tackle hate crimes, budget cuts, admissions policies, and midterm
season at the same time?
Some students have spoken up
in opposition to linking the hate crimes with the college affordability
struggle. What implication could isolated incidents and copycat racism
really have on the climates of the ten unique University of California
campuses? But Laura Mitchell, dragged along the ground nearly shirtless
and held hostage, is an intern at the same UC Davis LGBT Resource
Center that was vandalized
in February. And the black student leaders mocked by the Koala are the
same ones who demand that public education should be not only
affordable, but safe. And the many LGBTQIA and Black organizers who are
facilitating townhalls across the University of California system to
respond to hateful acts represent two of the many communities who,
under the new fee increases and admissions policies, will continue to
be denied access to higher education.
In a recent Berkeley campus email responding to the hateful
incidents, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau deferred to the work of the
Vice-Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion on campus. I was reminded of a
recent conference I attended, whose planning committee contained just one
member who was the “Chair of Diversity.” When only one person’s job
description includes creating a safe environment for students from
communities of color, multicultural or LGBTQIA backgrounds, or
economically disadvantaged situations, then those issues will be absent
from the minds of everyone else.
Congratulations to the UC Davis protesters for piercing the “Davis
Bubble” with the realities of fee increases and police brutality, and a
speedy recovery to the thousands of burnt-out California activists this