Thursday, January 19, 2012
RIVERSIDE (CA) - Thousands of students, workers, and community members gathered to participate in the governance of the UC system. When their participation was limited and ultimately shut off, they took direct action to ensure their voices were heard. For this, they were confronted by police from numerous agencies. Police violence broke out, and three arrests were made.
Preparations for the event have been going on for months, and have included on-campus general assemblies and discussions of occupation. The camp began Tuesday night and immediately drew support from students and campers from Occupy Riverside and Occupy LA. By Wednesday, a food table was set up, as was an outreach table and a people's library. Students and faculty held many teach-ins and teach-outs to raise the consciousness of students.
But the action really began Thursday morning, when groups of students and unions members spoke to the regents during the public comment section of the meeting.
Here are a few of their speeches:
Once the regents made it clear that they would not listen to our concerns, we decided to continue the meeting, but under our own auspices, that we might expand the conversation.
Sixteen people sat on the ground in a circle and expressed their demands for administrative pay freezes, rehiring of laid off lecturers and staff, the adoption of proposed revenue solutions. They then shifted the meeting to a general assembly, to which all were invited, which entertained proposals for collective action around education issues. One of the regents got on stack to express disappointment that the meeting had been restored to the people. The rest were quietly evacuated.
Many police were brought in, but nobody was arrested. After a short while, we learned that the regents had adjourned to another room to continue the supposedly-public meeting without us. At about the same time we heard reports that our comrades were being confronted by riot police downstairs. We decided to go join them.
Here began a series of attempts to meet with the regents as they exited from the building. We split into groups in order to cover the multiple exits. The first confrontation was on the stairwell at the back of the Highlander Union Building.
Others ensued on the stairs at the front of the building near Chicanx Student Programs, and at the back loading dock. At the front stairs, dispersal orders were given numerous times but never enforced. Cops ordered usd to stop moving forward even though we were not advancing whatsoever.
Regents began sneaking out the back one-by-one so we set up people's roadblocks to control the traffic. Passengers in parking enforcement vehicles were severely delayed, while a student regent acted as a liaison with the regents, asking them to meet with us. While we waited, we brought a tent from the encampment and occupied the street with a dance party. Eventually, however, riot cops break through the crowd and escorted the trucks out.
The focus became the back loading dock once again, where a row of riot cops had maintained a constant presence. Police pushed protesters with batons, and fired projectiles containing metal pellets and ink paint, striking three comrades from Occupy LA in the legs. It was at this point that two of the arrests were made. One was of Kenneth Ehrlich, who UCR's website lists as a lecturer in the art department. He is charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and his bail was set for $25,000. He has since been freed on bond.
The shooting had people pretty frightened, but calm prevailed and there the situation devolved into the next in the series of standoffs. It too eventually dissipated, and the final one of the day also involved an arrest. A comrade from Occupy Riverside was charged with misdemeanor batter on a police officer and felony obstructing or resisting. He was bailed out the next day.
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