Saturday, December 12, 2009

the enrage

Yesterday I left my house around 12:30 and biked up to the UC Berkeley campus. The previous evening wheeler hall had been occupied (an open occupation in which people, including cops, were allowed to come and go) during the night/early morning, the hall was raided and approximately 65 people were arrested. The prisoners were taken to Santa Rita, up north by Santa Rosa.

I saw a group of people with signs; "Support laid off workers," "Sociologists for Education," and other banalities and rode by them. I then circled back and figured, yes sadly, this was the follow up march/action to the previous evenings arrests. A group of about 50 liberals very in age, gender, and ethnicity (but bound together in their ability to withstand boredom) stood in front of an executive from UC Berkeley. The representative, who had some sort of public affairs position, fielded questions from the liberals. Most of the questions went along the lines of "The students have finals, they can't be in jail," or "I used to be faculty here and what should I tell my three year old kid about how my employer imprisons people for studying." The representative replied vaguely; "This is an unfortunate incident, but actions have consequences. We need to work together to find a solution." The protesters wanted to know the whereabouts of their comrades, and how to get them out of jail. They were given more ambiguous answers.

After fifteen minutes I grew bored of the encounter. The problem with talking to officials is that they will negotiate you to death. Dealing with bureaucratic processes isn't supposed to yield results it just sucks you dry. Its a method of stalling people to their demise.

The UC campuses have been having occupations pretty regularly, with Santa Cruz leading the way. Part of the reason for Santa Cruz's radical stance is that there is a small contingent of anarchists there who refuse to allow themselves to be stuck in meetings, in democratic procedures, and demand action after action. Additionally what I think Santa Cruz and some other places are doing that is actually really smart is turning the protests into dance parties. Add some alcohol and a confrontation with the police (or small scale rioting) and your normal party goer enters a state of anomie, of social deindividuation. They become politicized. Almost everyone hates the police, and a little alcohol and others acting in concert and everyone gets involved.

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