48 Hour Hunger Strike Ends
By Mike Rhodes
April 29, 2005
Students at CSU-Fresno ended their 48 hour hunger strike today. Nick deGraff, a spokesperson for the Campus Peace and Civil Liberties Coalition, the group which organized the event, said that the hunger strike was a success because it brought attention to the issue of police surveillance and it strengthened their group. For background information on this issue, read earlier Indymedia stories here:
Thirteen students fasted and camped out in front of the Thomas administration building, demanding that the CSUF administration apologize for sending undercover police into a lecture held on campus in November 2004. The students are also demanding changes in the campus police policies that led to the spying incident and they want to know what kind of files law enforcement maintains on campus activists.
Ruth Obel-Jorgensen said that a couple of hours after they set up the encampment the administration asked the student leadership to attend a meeting. Obel-Jorgensen says that the vice-chancellor agreed to help set up a task force that will look into the incident and review the campus police departments policy on undercover police operations. The meeting did not lead to an apology or an opening up of police files.
Several administration officials said that it was against regulations for the students to camp out in front of the administration building. They said all "free speech" activities must be held in the Free Speech area, near the student union. But, when it was clear that the students would not back down, the administrators and campus police backed off. deGraff said "that the police came by last night and hassled us about the chalk drawings on the sidewalk." The police asked the students who was responsible for the "vandalism?" Not finding anyone to cite for the crime of using chalk, that washes off with water, the officers left. One of the students commented that "it is amazing how the school has money to pay for the police to infiltrate our events and harass us for using chalk on the sidewalk, but they are cutting music and sports classes because they don’t have the money."
Just before the fast ended, the students sat in a drum circle, the pace getting more and more intense as they closed in on the last minutes. The students broke their fast when the local Food Not Bombs group arrived with a vegetarian soup and some pastry.
To contact the Campus Peace and Civil Liberties group email email@example.com or call Ruth at (559) 916-7396.