Now that I have some time: My experience at the UC Regent Protest
I really want to try to articulate for myself the experience of being in my first real direct action civil protest.
for those that don’t know, yesterday was the University of California Regents meeting at UC Riverside. The students and staff of the UC system have become frustrated with the Regents, who despite making decisions that effect all of, the students and teachers have no real say in the UC policies. the “public comment” section of their meeting was only 30 minutes long, with only 1 min. for each member of the public to speak. the rest of the meeting was closed doors. In my opinion and the opinion of many others there it is ridiculous that the students and members of the system in which the regents decisions effect have no say in the policies and running of the schools. The regents even go to great lengths to discourage public input; holding meetings at difficultly accessable schools like UCSF and UC Riverside. And don’t even get me started on how their were 75 riot geared police officers, armed with paintball guns, rubber bullets, and full gear. that is no way for a meeting of public officials to be held.
So the goal of this demonstration was to entrap the regents in the main conference room until they listened to what the students had to say. this meant the main group attempting to spit up to cover all exits, as well as sit in the street around the staff cars as they were attempting to leave. for sake of keeping this post short I’ll explain the parts I liked, disliked, and what we should inprove on in future demonstrations of this nature.
Liked: the solidarity formed between UC students. We are all one university, although different campuses. We were able to come together as fellow classmates, no matter if we were from Irvine or San Diego, SoCal or NorCal.
-This collaboration led to some powerful actions: The apropriation of police barricades originally set up to limit the publics movement into a way to trap regents cars in the parking lot, blocking out regents cars from exiting, as well as block the riot gear police from removing students sitting in the street, who were blocking off the staff from leaving.
-whenever someone yelled Fuck the police, they were shushed. Whenever shit got riled up, people reminded the police officers and the crowd in chants “this is a peaceful protest” and “there is no riot here, take off your riot gear”.
Dislikes: lack of communication. the police were able to easily create diversions by creating a scene at one entrance, and everyone quickly went to that side to be ” in the middle of the action”, which eventually allowed the regents to sneak out the back.
- the like of consensus: this one muthafucka during a little tuff yelled at us to all charge at the police and break through the line. he used abused the “Mic check” to use “us” statements, trying to speak for all of us when forming his opinions.
-*Warning*, this pissed me the fuck off, sass to follow: use of chants like ” straight gay black white we all have the same fight to fight” The person leading this cheer was a white, cisgendered, straight kid and I was just like ” What the fuck dude? you have to be fucking shitting me, white straight people face a fraction of the struggle that a gay black person would face. you are dismissing more than half of the institutional discrimination against People of Color and GSM’s by saying ” we all fight the exact same battle”. Because guess what: we don’t. Also chanting ” we have nothing to lose but our chains”. Check your privilege, you are in college, you are in the top 10% of the world. everyone there had a lot more to lose, as well as a lot at stake by facing the possibility of being arrested, charged with a crime, or seriously hurt.
what I learned: aside from clearing any disbelief that the US is a police state I now know what to expect in a major protest, as well as that I need to speak up if someone in the group does something I find questionable. Likewise try to foster more communication in the future if the group needs to split up and stay organized.
So if you read this post all the way through, Congratulations!