Campus protest thoughtfully convinces the undecided

Arya Aliabadi/File

UC Berkeley is well-endowed — not only with resources, but also with a rich tradition of social activism. On the pavement covering Sproul Plaza, under the London Plane trees, protesters have assembled for generations to stamp their feet and shout rallying cries that tingle one’s tingly bits. This past week, there was a protest that some people are calling different — people that did not, in fact, take part in the protest themselves.

On Monday morning, the familiar ringing of Berkeley buzzwords whizzed through the air. Chants for “Justice! Solidarity! Equity! Fairness!” could be heard as far as the wholesome streets of Telegraph and Bancroft. At roughly 10:30 a.m., a passerby decided to engage the protest leaders in a dialogue on the issue. We at the Clog were able to reach the passerby for comment on his discussion.

“Basically, I just brought up a few points that opposed their narrative,” he stated. “They listened carefully to what I had to say and conceded that I was right about some aspects. I thought they gave a thoughtful and convincing argument. I also enjoyed the cheese-dip they offered me at the table — very tangy.”

The Clog was able to interview several other pedestrians who stopped to remove their headphones and listen in on the protest. One relayed appreciation that the noise level was kept at an appropriate volume and did not devolve into a cacophony of incoherent shouts into a megaphone that was too close to the speaker’s mouth. Another expressed appreciation for the brochures laid out for pickup and also noted the right amount of tanginess in the assorted dips.

“I was amazed as to how well-planned this protest was,” she said, with a carrot in the corner of her mouth. “You totally don’t get the impression that it was a knee-jerk reaction to something whizzing around social media. Just — wow!”

Several undecided passersby also expressed admiration for the willingness of protesters to address and examine critiques of their own views.

“You really don’t get the sense that they are cherry-picking their side of the story,” a local pedestrian quipped. “In fact, I saw several high fives between the protesters and counter-protesters after one side delivered a particularly forceful point.”

At about 2:30 p.m., the protesters stopped to enjoy a cup of tea and create posters. Several eyewitnesses noticed the light and gay spirit among the crowd. Some at the scene characterized it as a refreshing moment of levity in between the non-stop hollering about weighty and serious issues.

School administrators were pleased that the total number of injuries was relatively low in comparison to the totals from recent years. One protester did unfortunately experience a leg cramp roughly midway through the event. She was, however, spotted giving the thumbs up to the crowd as she was carried off. One viewer characterized it as a touching display from a true justice warrior.

“You just know she was dying to get back out there and carry the banner for the cause. It was really touching that she fought through the pain of standing outside for a few hours. And for a worthy cause!”

Contact Ismael Farooqui at [email protected].