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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Education & Student Activism

Summary of Events: UCSC Protests Regents Visit
by one of many
Saturday Oct 21st, 2006 12:56 AM
With misinformation rampant about the protest of the UC Regents visit to UC Santa Cruz, here's one student activist's attempt to provide one perspective of the story
On Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006 hundreds of students and workers at UC Santa Cruz marched on a gathering of the UC Regents, using a variety of tactics to forestall, disrupt, and eventually lock-down a 'public comment period,' which they called a "farce." The action was an attempt to highlight the undemocratic, unaccountable, and illegitimate nature of the Regents, asserting the need to democratize the UC system, while demanding that the university fix a score of core problems before considering expansion. Read Why We're Here and What We're Fighting For

The action started with a rally at the Bay Tree Plaza, before marching up to the new Humanities Building at Cowell College. There, a community speak-out was held for a good period of time before more direct action was taken. Then, what was supposed to only have been a 30 minute 'public comment period' turned into a three hour standoff, as protesters, after a failed attempt to prevent the Regents' entry to the building, eventually encircled the area, blocking all 5 exits. As protest tactics escalated and the police became increasingly angry and frusterated with their inability to control some of the protesters, they targeted three activists, took them to the ground, and dragged them inside the building. As students struggled to prevent the abduction of their friends, they were met with a barrage of batons and pepper-spray sent forth from the retreating officers. With the police inside and all doors closed, the stunned crowd sat dazed while a few students assisted those who who were hit by the cops and their pepper-spray.

Now with 3 hostages, the police and administration were able to take a semblance of control back. While 30 recently-arrived riot-cops geared up in a nearby parking lot, the community got together to talk about how to get out of this situation. They'd made their point, they said, they'd disrupted the Regents visit, preventing their issues from being ignored yet again, and now they wanted to ensure the safe release of their friends. After a long period of negotiations involving students, workers, faculty members and the administration, a deal was finally made.

First, a student and a faculty member would be allowed into the building to ensure that the 3 students detained inside were ok. Then, the students, who had agreed to the deal by a group consensus process, were to not cross a specific line and allow all the Regents and police to go out a back door into their University-supplied buses. Finally, the 3 detained students would be cited and then they, and the two sent in to check on them, would be released.

An odd sight this was. Hundreds of protesters, silent, standing behind an imaginary line, so as not to jeapardize the release of their friends. Some may say that this was a sign of compliance with authority but I see it a very different way - it was a sign of power. They proved that if they stand up and be bold, they can reclaim what is rightfully theirs. The only power that the administration and the police had was to abduct their friends - using violence and the threat of imprisonment to assert their control over the protesters. Keeping activist hostages in cuffs and in custody was their only way of ensuring that the students wouldn't interfere with the Regents not-so-sweet goodbye.

The hasty agreement worked more-or-less as planned. As is common in a beaurocracy, everything took a lot longer - especially when it came to letting the detained students go. But as the sun dissapeared and the protest neared the end of its fifth hour, finally all were let free. Hugs were had, citations were displayed, and stories were shared. We knew that we would have a struggle ahead of us - the administration would inevitably try to make an example out of those were were targeted - but for now we were back together. And that, at least for the night, was enough.

---------------------------------------------------

Some random points and tidbits:

* It's important to note that the protesters were not one homogenous block. In fact, for much of the event, a community speak-out was held where everyone had the opportunity to touch on issues they felt passionate about. Many of those who didn't feel comfortable with the tone of some of what went on were involved with the speak-out instead of those flare-ups of intensity. You'll find many different perspectives from students and workers at the action, so don't assume that everyone feels the same way. I think it's fair to say that all of us that were there, in one way or another, had frusterations with and criticisms of the action.

* Rumor is that while the Regents were blocked inside the building, one of them was reading the Disorientation Guide's chapter on, you guessed it, the Regents!

* UCSC spokeswoman Liz Irwin has claimed in numerous newspapers that 'the protest did not disrupt the event.' Yet, she also mentions that two of the three arestees have been charged with 'disturbing a public assembly.' How can you simultaneously charge people with disruption while asserting that the event was not disturbed? Lying Liz strikes again!

* The University administration has yet to express any regret or concern over the beating and pepper-spraying of students. You'd think they'd be more concerned about the safety of the community.

* While two white activists (a man and a woman) arrested were charged with 'disturbing a public assebly' and 'resisting arrest,' an African American woman arrested was given significantly higher charges - battery of a police officer (a felony), amongst other things. Its important to note that one of the primary white male police officers involved in her assault and arrest has a history of physical attacks on her, going back to at least the spring of 2005. This is also the same cop who has been consistently seen at protests pretending to be an activist while videotaping students.

* According to sources inside the building, apparently the cops are tired of being sent to protests all the time. They don't feel like it's a good use of their time and training. Police at the event included officers from UCSC, UCSF, UC Berkeley, SCPD, and the County Sherrif's office. It's become about a twice-a-year practice to bring police from Berkeley to respond to protests at UCSC.

BEFORE YOU COMMENT...

1) Read Why We're Here and What We're Fighting For

2) Check out the various photos, videos and commentaries that have been posted. Try to move beyond the corporate press' reports and attempt to understand what really happened and what students were so passionate about.

3) Think constructively about the future. Of course it's important to analyze the events of the day, but how can we move forward in a way that seriously addresses these issues in a strategic way? As such, think about what you would do if you were in the place of the student organizers. Don't just 'suggest' or 'critique,' without recognizing all the pressures organizers have to deal with.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Jamie Bronstein
Saturday Oct 21st, 2006 4:25 AM
So far, all I've seen is some extremely muddy thinking. You seem not to be able to make up your minds what this protest was primarily about. Was it about having access to the regents so that you could communicate your concerns? If so, did you seek this access? Was it about nuclear weapons programs on campus? If so, did you communicate that to the Regents while they were there? Was it about things that had nothing to do with the Regents, like showing your opposition to capitalism? If so, why single out the Regents? Or was it just a big temper tantrum? Because that's what it seemed like to this onlooker.

Any serious social movement needs to have clearly stated goals, that you subsequently go on to publicize. It does help if you have leaders capable of articulating those goals, and if you develop your strategies to understand what your vocabulary of protest is. You can advocate violence for the love of violence if you like, but don't expect the vast majority of student, staff and faculty to find that acceptable. If you do decide that violence is the tactic for you, then ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES (which here include being tear-gassed) and stop bellyaching already. if you're going to position yourselves as proud and empowered actors don't expect us to PITY you in the same paragraph.
by Buffalo_in_da_midst
( abuse@devnull ) Saturday Oct 21st, 2006 8:39 AM

What is the underlying issue?

If it's the 'democratization' of the hearing system, well, ya blew that, by hijacking it and essentially doing the same effin things the regents do when they hold meetings.

If it was about a specific issue to be 'public commented' on *at* the meeting, you never mentioned it.

Are you a flash mob looking for a cause?
I suspect so.

New age mercs, looking for a cause.
Pitiful, disruptive, nonconstructive.

Couldn't even muster up a reason specifically related to the meeting being disrupted.

Are you provocateurs? Who's paying you?
The sellouts of the future.
Rich..bitch.. punks.
by _
Saturday Oct 21st, 2006 11:50 AM
wow, i always wonder who the retards (the two comments above) are that vent on here. the message was clear, the action was brilliant, and the students and protesters at ucsc deserve props. you bet your ass that the regents noticed, and got the message. they havent seen anything like this, at least, not for a long time!
by thoughtcriminal
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 2:23 PM
SAW seems to have a serious problem - inflitration by undercover cops who do their utmost to turn every situation into a violent one. (Matt is a good example of this)

Why do they do this? So that Liz Irwin and the corporate media can point to the 'violent anti-social behavior' - just look at all the news reports: UCSC protest turns violent is the dominant theme - and absolutely no explanation of why.

This article does not cover any of the reasons the students were protesting, but presents it as a semi-military action. People, wake up! Formally announce a position of non-violence - that's the LAST THING that Liz Irwin and the UCSC head honchos want to see.
by _
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 2:48 PM
thoughtcrime, you are worrying for no reason.

the mainstream media reports are not the way you want to judge the effectiveness of your protests. even the people that you seem to want to invoke by declaring explicit strategies of "nonviolence" were described in the exact same way in the press in their time.

you should know by now that the police will be violent regardless of what protesters say or do.
the media will pass the blame on the protesters. always. try to keep it in context.
by thoughtcriminal
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 3:17 PM
Anyone who thinks that the Pentagon-FBI-JTTF-DHS-DIA-local police agenda is limited to spying on anti-war protestors is living in a dream world. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that the goals are also disrupting anti-war groups and influencing them to turn violent in order to discredit them. If SAW really wants to be effective, they need to adopt Gandhi and Martin Luther King non-violent approaches - those are what work. You may never know who is or isn't a police spy or agent provocateur, but the ones who are the most violent and 'radical' are the prime suspects (they'll also try to insinuate themselves into your private lives - classic undercover drug cop approach). Personally, I'd suggest that instead of one group, SAW members organize themselves into a variety of loosely affiliated non-violent groups - your 'leaders' are obviously rather foolish and uninformed, and probably include a cop or two. Or, stay the course. Liz Irwin loves it when a protest gets violent. Simply make a large statement to the press and demonstrate that you won't tolerate violence - that's how to undermine COINTELPRO.
by ironic
( nothanks [at] nothanks.com ) Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 4:02 PM
The ironic thing about thoughtcriminal's comments is that her/his writing actually reinforces one of the main tenants of how COINTELPRO worked:

Through fear that every organization was infiltrated, COINTELPRO was able to cause a great deal of infighting within organizations that, in fact, may not have been infiltrated at all. COINTELPRO was as much about the production of fear and infighting as it was about the actual use of agents within organizations.
by thoughtcriminal
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 6:10 PM
Sure - and what was the result? Some little group would decide to 'go underground' or something similarly ridiculous. As far as there not being undercover cops involved, what about the operation TALON program? Did SAW ever figure out who the 'reliable source' was? They're probably still there. Undercover cops are recruited while still in high school, remember.

If the group simply states that they are committed to changing the way the University of California is managed in order to make it more democratic, transparent, and public-oriented (in general) using <i>non-violent</i> methods, they will head off the kind of paranoid infighting that you describe, attract more students, and have a far greater chance of meeting their real aims.

Furthermore, some SAW members have done things that seem designed to provoke violence - screaming 'fuck the pigs' at a UC Regents meeting doesn't help your cause, it just makes you look like an idiot and keeps any sane student from supporting you.

Many students I've talked to don't like the 'militant protestors' for obvious reasons; it's either immature juvenile behavior or deliberate undercover provocation. In either case, SAW should publicly renounce violence.

Liz Irwin and the UC Regents (and Rumsfeld's Pentagon) don't like this; they'd rather see violent protests than peaceful ones, wouldn't you agree?
by _
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 7:33 PM
thoughtcrime: its not your group to make policy for.
you dont really think that students are looking
to indymedia comments for strategic advice, do you?

if you are a part of the group, go to a meeting,
say your piece there, be accountable. otherwise,
hopefully people will ignore your rantings.

also, anyone who gave a shit about saw or UCSC movements,
who had sincere proof that a cop had infiltrated saw
would go to a saw meeting or saw leadership and give them
the info, not broadcast anonymous accusations on the internet.
cops have been outed infiltrating saw, but that process hasnt
involved or required anonymous internet entities telling SAW
how to run their ship and get people to sign behavioral contracts.

what thoughtcrime is doing, at best, is incredibly stupid, arrogant,
and delusional, at worst it is a "snitch jacket", a well established
as a cointelpro strategy and the work of an agent.
by artemisia
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 9:52 PM
of course the administration wants us to be "non violent", so we wont affect anything.(American pacifism is now clearly just passiveism)

theyll always discredit you and wont give up their power.

listen to the cops tell you to sit still, listen to the fucking santa cruz liberals tell you to sit still

and while our world falls apart and the conflictuality becomes increasingly apparent

will you still be fucking SITTING STILL?

sorry for the extremely bitter post

ps. sanata cruz liberal, do some research. realize the state accepts the "nonviolent" option only as a compromise when their power is truly threatened.
by El Voz
Monday Oct 23rd, 2006 5:49 AM
i don't think a random internet poster, is guilty of being a provocatuer, nor of snitch jacketing... and though I COMPLETELY disagree not only with his/her definition of violence and thus what he/she consideres 'non-violence' particularly in this instance, as well as in its use in the general capacity and function of social change... I do however agree about some of his points about SAW etc.

Keep in mind, there is PROOF... Freedom Of Information Act and legal records physically PROVING RECENT infiltration, neutralization and spying in SC. It is patently deluded, that anyone involved in organizing at UCSC, is not security conscious on some level, but more so, that they haven't done active work to understand the strategy, tactics, and methods used to those very ends.

And thus, training and educating others on it, so as to develop better tradegies to hinder and or block such things... and furthermore to break the completely stupid cycle of either A) action oriented politics (sans any strategic analysis) and B) no strategic or analytical planning that actually have some functional and pragmatic understanding of actual power in a specific situation, and the relations there in... to actually perhaps obtain MEASURABLE successes and gains by those action.

And I speak in a very broad swathing general sense of 'activism' throughout the bay area here, not just SC. SC is just a special case, as it again... has "proof"