Coalition pledges support for Occupy Cal

On Nov. 9, an outdoor encampment, modeled after the encampments in New York, Oakland, and other cities worldwide, will be established at UC Berkeley in order to protest the privatization of public education. We write to express our support for the project of Occupy Cal, and to state publicly that we view outdoor encampments as a legitimate and potentially transformative form of political activity. The occupation at UC Berkeley — like other occupations established this fall — constitutes an instance of free assembly and should be allowed to persist and reproduce itself free of police interference.

We understand that the occupation at UC Berkeley will be organized through daily general assemblies, will enable important political discussion and debate over contemporary social conditions and will provide for the material needs of students, workers and wider community members, offering emergency medical care, food, basic supplies, legal support and a place to live. The encampment will also allow for the emergence of creative and other effective responses to the interrelated crises we’re living through, including those that threaten public education.

UC Berkeley should be a place where political expression and assembly are encouraged. Public fora, as envisioned for Occupy Cal, should be able to convene free of police violence, and there should be no temporal restrictions on assemblies or encampments. The campus should not arbitrarily restrict the right of the public to assemble on its grounds, and certainly not when such assemblies contribute to the education of the campus community, and when it is possible for such activity to take place alongside of — or as a supplement to — formal teaching and research regimens. Furthermore, in no way will this encampment disrupt or restrict any student’s ability to attend classes.

If university administrators decide to arbitrarily restrict or repress public assemblies on campus, including those associated with Occupy Cal, they would do so ostensibly in the name of policy and public safety. In truth, however, they would be acting in violation of the sentiments of representative student bodies including the Graduate Student Assembly and ASUC, the appeal of the undersigned organizations, and the promise of the public university. They would enforce, through blunt force, the enclosure of our educational commons — a privatizing turn the UC Regents are also imposing through layoffs and fee hikes. By calling on the police, administrators would subject students, workers and community members to potentially traumatizing police violence and incarceration — a reality that we will not allow to be papered over by cold, bureaucratic discourse about policies, finances and purported public safety concerns.

We stand with the encampment.

— Submitted by Ricardo Gomez on behalf of the Public Education Coalition

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  • stephen weber

    I created a short video called, Why the Vendetta Mask?

    check it out…

  • Jadwiga Reinke

    First Amendment rights do not end at the footsteps of UC Berkeley therefore any attempts to abridge those rights is illegal. 

    • What’s New

      Do they end at the doorway of your house?  Please let me know the address, Jadwiga, so I can come and occupy it as an expression of my free speech.

      • Jadwiga Reinke

        The taxpayers of California have paid,  and are paying all that we know to be the UC system .  UC Berkeley belongs to the people of California, and that includes the students. Everyone employed at UC Berkeley is a public servant, from the trustees to the chancellor and all of the instructors.

        Mr. What’s New- you do not own the University.
        The students are not assembling in your home. If they did you would have every right to call the local police, as would I if you showed up at my house.You obviously don’t know the difference between First Amendment rights and home invasion. 

        • Anonymous

          The people of California have not delegated you, Jadwiga, as our official state campmaster so you do not have the right to use public facilities in a way that ruins it for the rest of us.  You already know how to post messages on the Daily Cal so your free speech rights are being honored.  Camping on Sproul won’t get your message across any better than a nice letter to the Daily Cal.

          • Jadwiga Reinke

            If you don’t want to camp on Sproul you are free not to do so, likewise those who wish to exercise their Constitutional rights are free do so as guaranteed by our founders in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights  not only guarantees us the right to “post messages” in virtual space, but it also  guarantees us the right to “assemble” to redress our grievances as citizens. This does not require the approval of those who don’t like it.  Camping on Sproul is getting a message across all over the world.

    • Anonymous

      UC Berkeley is public domain, as such, First Amendment rights are in effect. I don’t understand the justification behind treating the campus as if it were the private property of the Regents when it was California taxpayers that paid for the property.

  • UC faculty

    Birgeneau’s personal cowardice and antipathy towards activism force him to hide behind the university police (and are those black shirts or just dark blue that the officers are now sporting?)

  • What’s New? Nothing

    Ricardo supports illegal stuff that will cause conflict with police.  Gee, how unusual.