Monday, November 23, 2009

A Regents Meeting Recap

I want to congratulate all the unions, workers, and students pulling off a great protest under difficult conditions. We had over 2,000 protesters at UCLA, and there were some great actions. Here are a few highlights:

Hundreds of people stopped traffic at one of the main intersections in L.A. and then marched up through the campus.

Over a thousand people participated in a boisterous rally outside the regents meeting (the rally got international coverage). Even though the police tasered and hit several students and workers, we kept coming back for more.

A very surreal moment happened during the public comments period. After extending their bathroom break for an additional thirty minutes, the regents cut off public comments, while several people were still waiting to speak. This is after months of planning and negotiating, and several hours of waiting patiently. When our group at the meeting started to yell, "Let them Speak," not only did the regents declare their own meeting an "unlawful assembly," but they brought up police with guns into their own meeting to arrest the people who wanted to speak.

Another surreal moment occurred earlier on when several of us had to listen to the regents congratulate each other about how great they are and what a great historic day this was because they were agreeing to fund a new hospital project. The self-praising lasted several minutes, but when a mother of two students was later addressing the regents, not only were they not paying attention to her, but they cut her off, while she was delivering a heartbreaking story.

After the vote on the fee increases, the students surrounded the building and locked arms refusing to let the regents leave the building. A tense standoff lasted for several hours, and hundreds of students and workers joined the human chain. On the other side of the building, people were sitting and lying on the ground to prevent anyone from driving out of the building. When they finally brought Yudof out, they had to use tasers in order to clear a way. What message does this send, when you have to use weapons on your own students?

While most of the police did a good job, there were a couple who acted badly, and they should be investigated and disciplined. We will consider asking for a formal investigation into the conduct of the police. The main problem is that some of them took a very hostile stance by sticking guns in students' and workers' faces without any provocation. There are videos on the web showing how the police tasered and beat several students, and this information will not be ignored.

Another group of students occupied a building for a day, and then left peacefully, and hundreds of students participated in a flash mob by pretending to die outside of the regents meeting (this event made for some powerful photos).

We also had an all night camp out and dance party on Wed. night, which highlighted the building of a growing movement.

I did several radio and television interviews, and the press were very surprised to learn how the UC treats its workers. I think this was a historic event for our coalition, but this is not the end: it is only the beginning.

Here are some of the interviews:

Democracy Now!

CNN

Uprising

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for your insights. I have posted a petition to deliver to the UC regents. Please get the word out to sign this:
    http://act.ly/1dw

    It's time to roll back fees and administrative salaries and to bring the UC/CSU system back to the job of educating any citizen in our state who wants a college education. As a secondary teacher, I can no longer tell my students that they can go to the university, despite their economic status. How sad! I am just getting kids ready to be worker bees. I can't do that.

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  2. I found most of the protests to be disappointingly small. I think as a major university, we should be able to organize a protest of much more then 2000 people. Although much of the protesters we're quite avid, I feel as though their lack of numbers made them seem a little insubstantial. It is disappointing that so few students at UCLA care enough to take a stand.

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