Revolution #250, November 15, 2011
Report from Occupied Cal: General Assembly of 10,000
Students first attempted to set up an Occupy encampment at UC Berkeley on November 9—in a Day of Action with protests by 3,000-4,000 people. They were met with a vicious attack. Police struck students with batons and ripped down tents. The UC Berkeley Chancellor defended the action of the police and declared that no tents would be allowed on campus. In response Occupy Cal called for the General Strike for November 15. [see accompanying article]
By the evening of the General Strike, Sproul Plaza was packed with an estimated 10,000 students and others. Minutes earlier the general assembly of Occupy Cal had voted overwhelmingly to defy the University and re-set up the encampment. The Plaza was jam-packed, with some students standing on the roof of a campus dining facility. Tents were set up in the midst of this massive general assembly—and Occupy Cal was re-established.
As the tents were being set up words from Mario Savio, a leader of the 1964 Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley were read: "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
During the night the police threatened to arrest students. As of 9:00 am on Wednesday, November 16 there had been no arrests and more than 20 tents remained on the steps of the administration building.
A third year student told Revolution about the police attack the week before: "I was on the lines Wednesday night and it was scary. I had a moment where I thought, hey this is real, there really are police with batons coming at me. I didn't realize up to that time that it was a real possibility that they would start hitting people without us doing anything. But then they did it two times in one day."
Students were determined to carry their message and the struggle forward. "I don't think the police should use batons against people who have ideas for change...They are not going to silence us," a woman student told Revolution. More than 85% of the General Assembly voted to reestablish the camp despite the University mobilizing the Alameda County Sheriffs and police from other campuses as backup.
The mood during the day was both festive and militant. There was a march against police brutality with an estimated 3,000 students marching through the streets to Berkeley High School and Berkeley City College. As they marched students sang the lyrics to the Twisted Sister anthem, "We're Not Going to Take It—Anymore" and chanted "The System has Got to Die! Hella Hella Occupy!"
In the afternoon, several hundred from Occupy Oakland, which had been raided on Monday, marched the five miles from Oakland to the Berkeley campus chanting, "Here Comes Oakland!"
Many professors either cancelled class or decided to hold their classes outside in support. There was an open university with teach-ins going on all day on a whole range of different topics.
"What we see today and what we feel today is our creative power. This is the return of the repressed, and it is beautiful," one Occupy Cal organizer told the Daily Cal. Various art was created on the Plaza from a large "Regentasaurus" sculpture, to a teepee made of sticks inside which a number of students sat playing musical instruments.
Departments and schools held marches into the Plaza. More than 100 law students marched from Boalt Law School and a similar number marched in from the School of Social Welfare. There were marches by the English Department and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.
A creative writing class had discussed how they should respond after two faculty of the English Department were beaten by police and one arrested on November 9. They decided to take their class out to the Plaza and read poetry they had written about the Occupy Movement.
Occupy San Francisco: Democracy Now! (November 16) reports, "Just miles away, there are fears of a new raid on Occupy San Francisco after a battalion of riot police surrounded the downtown encampment. San Francisco police say they do not plan to clear the main camp, but have arrested seven people who set up tents on a sidewalk."
Occupy Oakland has called for a rally and march on Saturday, November 19 to support the people's movement—"the right to good jobs, access to education and the right to keep our homes"—2 p.m.— 14th & Broadway.
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