Berkeley: Anger and Ferment at High School and University Campuses

November 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a member of the Revolution Club, Bay Area

All across the country, including here in Berkeley, students are rising up on their campuses against racism and white supremacy. The Revolution Club wanted to connect up with this growing spirit of resistance. We quickly made a banner that said: WE STAND WITH THE DEFIANT STUDENTS AT MIZZOU, BERKELEY HIGH, YALE... WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON??? Police Terror, Mass Incarceration, White Supremacist Attacks, No Jobs, Miseducation... “Post-racial” My Ass! This is Amerikkka! WE NEED AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION! REVCOM.US @REVCLUB_BAY

Protest at UC Berkeley

We took the banner and a bunch of flyers with Carl Dix’s statement of support for the Mizzou students, and also the flyer about the Tamir Rice protest on November 22, and we stood right in front of Berkeley High school as students were getting out for lunch—just last week at Berkeley High almost the entire school walked out in protest of a racist threat to lynch Black students, which a student had put on the library computers. I started doing some loud agitation: “We’re standing with the students who are rising up against racism all across the country. The days when the police or racists can get away with terrorizing Black people, those days need to be over! This kid wants to talk about lynching... where did he get that idea from? The police get away with lynching Black people every day! Tamir Rice, 12-year-old boy gunned down by police in Cleveland, that was a lynching! Eric Garner strangled to death in New York, that was a lynching!”

Students were reaching out and grabbing for the flyer. We got out almost 500 in a short time. This was way different from the typical response. In fact, at times there were small crowds gathered around the banner listening seriously to the agitation, and I was able to get more into the whole history of the oppression of Black people in this country, the system that it is a part of, the need for revolution, the leadership we have for that revolution, and the challenge to get with it and dig into it.

There was some controversy. A bunch of administrators, school security, and a Berkeley cop were standing around watching us closely. One administrator, trying to discredit us, told the group of students who was gathered around us, “These people are not with the Black Student Union,” as if that somehow meant that we weren’t legitimate. The students didn’t really pay attention to him. “Who are we?” I said loudly. “We’re the Revolution Club! We’re people who give a shit about the fact that Black and Brown youth gotta grow up with a target on their back! We are building a movement for revolution to put a STOP to this and all forms of oppression. And we stand with these Berkeley High students who refuse to accept racist terror!”

A number of Black students were open to seriously talking about what it will take to end the oppression of Black people. They were proud of what they had done by walking out last week and they wanted to know what we thought. Some of the them told us about what it’s like to be a Black student at Berkeley High... how diverse and yet segregated the school is, how other students don’t want to study with the Black students who are made to feel intellectually inferior... the whole buildup of anger about racism in society and at the school that led to the walkout.

Next we took our banner, the statements from Carl Dix, and copies of Revolution newspaper, and went up to UC Berkeley, where there was a big rally for the #MillionStudentMarch. The #MillionStudentMarch was set to take place on over 100 campuses, including Cal. It had three demands: make college tuition free, cancel student debt, and a $15 minimum wage for campus employees. It was led by Black students from the Black Students Union (BSU), along with Cal Democrats, Socialist Alternative, and over 700 nurses from the California Nurses Association, who boldly marched into Sproul Plaza, the main public space on campus, chanting. There were also some high school and college students from other schools. Many of the nurses, and some of the students, carried Bernie Sanders signs. There was some discussion about Mizzou and police terror from the BSU and ABC (African Black Coalition), but that was not the main theme of the rally and march. A number of people, especially the nurses, gravitated to our banner, taking pictures and expressing their support for the students and Mizzou.

After the rally, we marched over to California Hall, the main administration building. Students and nurses plastered the whole front of the hall with signs about all the debt that students face. Someone brought a replica of a ball and chain, symbolizing the burden of student debt, and people took turns putting on the ball and chain and taking pictures of themselves. After the nurses marched to downtown Berkeley, the students from the ABC led a hundred students who remained in chanting the lines from Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”



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