Moral Low Ground


Video: Riot Police Beat Peaceful ‘Occupy Cal’ Students on U.C. Berkeley Campus

Riot police were caught on video repeatedly beating unarmed, peaceful students on the campus of one of our nation’s finest institutions of higher learning.

The University of California, Berkeley students had gathered in Sproul Plaza yesterday in support of the worldwide ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement to show solidarity as well as to to protest tuition hikes and state education cuts.

Up to 1,500 people took part in the demonstration. University officials warned students against establishing a New York-style encampment on campus, but protesters decided to try anyway.

Around 9PM, police announced that the gathering of students on their own campus to exercise their First Amendment rights was unlawful. The police, clad in riot gear, were from multiple jurisdictions including the University of California Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies were involved in some of the most shocking brutality against ‘Occupy Oakland’ demonstrators over the last few weeks.

The demonstrators stood their ground, and the police resorted to brutality yet again. The video clearly shows numerous officers beating unarmed students, who courageously held tight despite the painful blows of nightsticks against their bodies. Enraged onlookers chanted “STOP BEATING STUDENTS” as the vicious attack continued unabated. Officers eventually tore down demonstrators’ tents. KGO ABC 7 reports that 39 people were arrested.

“The police will always assess the situation and do what they feel is appropriate and safe,” UC Berkeley spokeswoman Janet Gilmore told ABC 7. “Obviously we would like to end this as peacefully as possible, with a minimal number of arrests. But, you know, you have to respond to the situation that’s presented to you.”

With the cost of a four-year degree at U.C. Berkeley now approaching $60,000 for in-state students and $150,000 for out-of-state students, and with the average U.S. college student graduating more than $25,000 in debt while Wall Street firms receive more than a trillion dollars in bailouts paid for with our tax dollars, it is understandable that students at U.C. Berkeley and elsewhere are enraged and taking action. Pitching a few tents on their own campus, which they’ve paid good money to attend, so that they can exercise their First Amendment rights is not only not a crime, it should be positively encourage by university officials. They do, after all, preside over a school renowned internationally as the cradle of the 1960s civil rights, anti-war and feminist protest movements.

Have they forgotten their past? Probably not, but the San Francisco Bay Guardian reports that many U.C. board members also sit on the boards of major banks and corporations that are largely responsible for the current financial crisis that is the target of the ‘Occupy’ movement’s ire. Regent Richard Blum, for example,  is an investment banker. He’s the Chairman and President of Blum Capital. Perhaps this is why U.C. bigwigs have shown such utter contempt for students’ First Amendment rights.

If the experiences of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and ‘Occupy Oakland’ protesters who were victimized by police brutality have proven anything, it’s that in the wake of such shocking abuse, more concerned citizens will take to the streets to swell the ranks of the movement. This is sure to happen in Berkeley and far beyond, as ‘Occupy Cal’ has called for a U.C.-wide student strike.

As for their ransacked encampment, at the end of the tumultuous night a number of tents could be seen dotting the area in front of Sproul Hall as a handful of police in riot gear stood by and watched. It seems, for now, that the 99% has emerged victorious.

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One Comment

  1. HollyNovember 11, 2011 at 8:29 amReply

    “The police will always assess the situation and do what they feel is appropriate and safe,” Really? So the actions of the police were “safe”? Someone is a liar.
    I feel for these kids. I hope there is enough outrage in the community at large to stop this from happening again. Honestly, while I don’t agree completely with the protesters message of redistributing wealth and a free ride, I do agree that college costs have become unrealistic and the banks shouldn’t have been bailed out. Agree or disagree, they have the right to assemble peacefully, and I don’t understand why police are being used against these kids.

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