A new video (warning: it's intense) has surfaced showing police violently confronting a peaceful group of UC Berkeley students at Occupy protests on campus. I really don't understand why the Cal administration or the city of Berkeley thought that it was a good idea to have the police there at all. The Huffington Post has a little more. This video, along with a sound bite of kids chanting "stop beating students" probably isn't a great PR move for UC Berkeley, Berkeley PD, or the city. The video shows the lengths that a (self-styled "liberal") university will go to to control its students and the messages discussed on its campus and demonstrates that even in a higher learning setting, where all ideas and viewpoints should be given air time and free speech and expression celebrated, there is a real fear of actually letting students have their say. What are you afraid of, UC Berkeley?
In my experience at a similarly "radical" university (I take pride in having attended "University of Havana, North," with all of the "fascist liberal anarchists," though not the actions that led to Bill O'Reilly calling us those things), security
and the administration set up a lot of hoops to jump through before
protests were allowed. In one case, it was easier to get a permit from
the City to protest on Broadway than to get permission to have a
peaceful assembly on campus (against an appearance by John Ashcroft).
Following racist and homophobic events on campus, students were given
permission to occupy one of the central lawns my senior year--poor kids
were freezing, but it was all very calm and polite. At the time, it was
a pretty big deal that a tent city was allowed, but it was allowed. Despite these
restrictions, the NYPD was not allowed on campus, unless investigating
felonies, after the police brutality during the 1968 anti-war protests put 150 students in the hospital. So, a chilling of free speech on
campus, but at least a pretty strong guarantee that the university
wouldn't call in the cops to hit us with truncheons.
I've embedded the video from Berkeley below...it's not Tarantino-levels of bloody (or anything close to Chicago '68, Columbia '68, etc.), but I found myself a bit shaken, mostly out of shock that this was allowed to happen. Universities must protect their students.