March 4, 2010

From what I can tell so far everything has died down here at Davis.  Sadly, what happened today across the campus, state, and country has only proven my last post right.  I didn’t want to be right.  I wasn’t at the protests.  I stayed in like I said and I did work.  However, I followed the events via Facebook and Twitter.  So what I’ll be doing is running down the events of the protest via The Aggie’s Twitter Feed.  They were kind enough to post pictures and minute by minute updates, so I have a pretty good feel of what happened.  In doing so, I’m going to try to demonstrate how this can only hurt us as students, not help.

“RT @lesliemb Idiot #UCDavis student spray-painted on back of our building: “Defend Public Education.” & tuition hike to pay for clean-up”

“RT @Cory_Golden #UCDavis quiet so far. Lots of chalked msgs. Banner hung at Olson reads: “If you don’t walk out, who will?” #March4

“RT @lesliemb: …and now a migraine-inducing false fire alarm Happy #March4 Day of Protest everyone! #UCDavis

“Fire alarms pulled in Wellman, Olson, Chemistry, Storer Halls at #UCDavis today, per @VPChrisDietrich #March4

So to kick it off we have graffiti on a school building, followed by students pulling fire alarms in classrooms as well as at the MU. Why?  Can someone explain how pulling a fire alarm accomplishes anything? It only disrupts EDUCATION, the very thing that these protesters were supposed to be in support of.  Instead of defending it, they were advocating and causing a disruption to education and found it something to be proud of.  Very mature and intelligent. Before I move, I want to address the sign of “If you don’t walk out, who will?”.  No one needs to walk out! There shouldn’t be any walking out. There should be a walking into classrooms, to take advantage of the education that tens of thousands of students came here to get.  If the protesters don’t want their education, that’s on them.  But please, don’t get in the way of those that are here for an education.

“RT @laurenbehold Protestors stopping the buses at #UCDavis. Lots of contention between students. #March4 – #UCDavis protestors blocking bus terminal at about 12:30 p.m.”

“Protestors now blocking Russell & Howard, main entrance to#UCDavis & main Davis thoroughfare Pic: (@egghead95616)”

“We’ve heard from students who are missing midterms because their bus lines aren’t running. #UCDavis #March4

Blocking buses? This, in my opinion, is worse than the fire alarms.  Fire alarms can be turned off.  They can be ignored.  They can be avoided.  But blocking buses? CAUSING OTHER STUDENTS TO MISS A MIDTERM? Yet again, this protest was supposed to be in defense of education, in support of education.  And yet again, here are the protesters INTERFERING with other students’ educations.  What happens to those students? Do you blame the professors if they refuse to give a makeup exam?  One would hope that a makeup midterm is given, but what if they don’t? Some professors refuse to do so under any circumstance.  And here especially, why should they?  The blame for any student failing a class because of this should be placed squarely on every protester who took part in blocking the buses.  And I hope that they carry that with them forever.

“Protestors are headed toward the I-80 onramp south of campus, it’s about 1/2 mile away”

“350+ protestors are on the move, linking arms, headed toward CHP blockade near I-80 onramp. #March4 #UCDavisCHP chopper circling.”

“Mob is pushing up against 12 man police blockade, still moving. CHP + UCDPD. CHP is going to reposition closer to onramp, still .25 mi away” – Students face police, push through, no arrests yet”

“They said they’re prepared to use reasonable force. Pellets being shot at the ground. Group is inching forward.”

Let’s hold on here for a moment.  Why block an onramp to the I-80? Who’s brilliant idea was this?  I’ve seen this type of thing before, but done in a different way.  When it is done properly it is done as civil disobedience, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached.  As Ghandi preached.  Protesters sit down and block an intersection or an onramp.  Sit down. There is no going face to face with the police. There is no breaking through barricades.  Why break through the barricades?  Why go face to face with the cops?  At that moment, any action ceases to be civil disobedience.  It ceases to be peaceful, and it is no longer a protest, but a mob presenting a show of force.  So of course the police use reasonable (non-lethal) force here.  Put yourselves in their shoes.  They have no idea what to expect.

“It’s tear gas. Group is dissipating.” – Police are ready with batons, tasers, shooting rubber pellets right now”

“People are fucking pissed, some are still moving forward despite cloud of tear gas. This stuff is hard to breathe in; it stings.”

“About 100 protestors pushed up against line of about 30 cops. We’re about 30 yds from on ramp. #march4 #ucdavis

“Cops are beating people in the front. Arrests being made. Holy shit. Looks like tasers being used.” – About 150 protestors facing police now, things are not looking good”

“Beating, movement has stopped for now. CHP: “Unlawful assembly. Please cooperate. Our intention is that no one gets hurt.””

Tear gas. Rubber bullets. Batons. Arrests.  Tasers.  To the police, it has turned into a riot.  They are trying to get this group under control.  They are trying to get them to stop what they are doing.  And what do the students do?  They keep pushing forward.  They go face to face with the police again. So students start getting beat.  Should the students have been beat in the first place? No. Should they have been tased? No.  Should tear gas or rubber bullets have been used? No.  But that is purely the students’ fault that it was used.  Do not confuse this with the police “being bored”, as I read in a comment on an article, and deciding it would be fun to shoot at students.  No.  The students very overtly crossed the line, and the police took appropriate action.

“Someone with a megaphone said they’ll release Laura Mitchell, who was arrested, if people move back toward campus.”

“There are now over 100 cops here. Probably about 200 students and bystanders. People are beginning to turn around.” – Protest disbanded but over 100 police still present”

“About 150-200 now marching around to different #UCDaviscampus buildings trying to draw more support. #march4

This last one is not from The Aggie’s twitter: “plumaslaker RT @MelodyGutierrez Group has agreed to head back to campus. Will they take over a campus building again?#UCDavis #March4

Students finally left the onramp after the police negotiated the release of one of the more prominent protesters.  Instead of going to the dorms and doing something productive, however, they decide to keep marching around, and talk about taking over another campus building becomes prominent (I saw pretty much the same message about 10 times on Twitter).  Will it happen?  I hope not.  Enough damage has been done.  The fact that they are still trying to draw more support bothers me slightly, though.  Do the protesters feel as if they haven’t done enough?  Because in my mind they have sullied our reputation and the cause of lower tuition and more priority given to education.  Excuse me, it hasn’t been sullied; it’s been irreparably damaged.  And I’m not the only one.  Anyone who saw this on the news could not give their support to this cause.  Yesterday I was afraid of us looking like hooligans.  Now people are going to hear UC Davis or UC anything and think of us as an angry mob, as a bunch of riot happy, racist, vandalizing students with nothing better to do.  Did they make the cause visible? Yes.  But there is visible in a good way and visible in a horrible way, and I don’t think I need to say which of these today’s occurrence was. And from what I’ve been able to find on the internet, it seems like Davis has beat every other campus in terms of “activity”.  Almost every other campus managed to be peaceful, at least, and/or productive, but we get gassed and shot at and arrested.  We pull fire alarms.  UC Davis: We act like high schoolers, or worse.  These protests will now be linked to this forever.  Nothing is going to change that unless an immediate reversal is made.

Before closing I would like to make one brief mention of UC Santa Cruz: they seem to enjoy overturning cars.  And some not UC schools (and some UC’s) got a little rowdy.

So where do we go from here?  How is this fixed?  How do we repair what the protesters have damaged? My only thought is through casting off those that are willing to protest like Davis witnessed today.  Those that are willing to lock themselves into a building, those that think that smashing windows and starting riots is the way to change things.  We need to get eloquent, mature, well-reasoned people to stand up for us students.  We need students who are willing to go through every channel, who are willing to petition every level of the state and federal government.  We need students who will show the Universities, the State, the Nation, and the World that we truly care about education and that we will not act immature and unintelligent when fighting for it.

The protests aren’t over yet, but I fear that any drive the cause had before them is over because of them.  I’ll update this as things develop.

Students staged a Sit In on Russell between Sycamore and Anderson around 6.  I haven’t heard anything else since then, so I am assuming that they went away or were forced away by the police.  I do know that traffic was diverted.  That is more civil disobedience than was the near-riot on the 80.  Why couldn’t they have just done the sit in from the beginning and avoided everything else?


3 Responses to “Aftermath”

  1. Gaby Says:

    I agree with you man. The cops were justified in their actions. You do something wrong, you face the consequences. These protests just set everything like 10 steps back (way more than that, ha). And it’s unfortunate that these people don’t realize what they’re doing is not helpful.

  2. Gaby Says:

    Oh, making students miss a midterm is unacceptable. They’re assholes plain and simple.

  3. Ben Arevalo Says:

    Your coverage is amazing. ❤

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