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Never Again! One Tent U Participant’s Experience with Police Oppression

When I pay for a tuition I can barely afford I expect that money to go into my education not towards paying teams of police officers overtime...to “control? our free speech... Shame on this capitalist system that supports the constant mental and physical oppression of people--that has turned educators into bureaucrats and student into criminals.
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tentu_choke.jpg
Never Again!

One Tent U Participant’s Experience with Police Oppression

By Nicole Landau, Project Collective


After the traumatizing experience of the arrest done by campus police of 18 students on our own campus, I ask my self, how much do Denice Denton and Liz Orwin really care about their students? On Monday April 18, 2005, a day I had been anticipating for so long, I came to an epiphany that had been floating in my mind for years, free speech is an illusion that the United States has created to make its citizens feel free. The UCSC policy and regulation handbook says that students are entitilted to their constituational right of free speech, yet when students exercise these rights, they get arrested. How can UCSC admisntrators say that they support and are concerned for the students when they hire reinforcement for a peaceful event like Tent University? As the strong hands of a police officer tried to tear me from a sit-in group by putting pressure on my arteries and neck, I was thinking to myself, is this what free speech looks like? The land of the free looks more like fascism to me. Tent University was a community of people who cared about education, no tuition, grades or requirements, just an open space for people to communicate and exchange knowledge. In an interview on the first day of Tent University Elizabeth Irwin, Associate Vice Chancellor said, that the Universities main concern was the student’s safety and that they supported the student’s voice. I wish I had Elizabeth’s home number when I saw the very students she was “concerned? about were getting their arms twisted and their heads in chock-holds. I wonder if the chancellor really believed that by calling the police and instructing them to use “minimal? force would really make the students any safer. It’s a real eye opener when the people you expect to protect you, like the police or the administration are the ones you need protection from. A week that symbolized the displacement of higher education became a movement within itself that helped reveal some of the UC administrators real concerns.

The first day of Tent U was a very exciting day. I woke up feeling empowered. I had decided not to go to my usual classes so I could participate in some hands on education. During the march from the Bay Tree Book store to the Base of campus I meet Star an interesting person that believed in spreading love by planting fruit trees and he told me he came to Tent University because Universities are a “camp-us?. The day was filled with dialogues of what to do after the UCSC free speech curfew, many didn’t want Tent U to just become an issue about the no camping policy but the majority agreed that the priority was TENT University, education our way. After the decision was made that we were going to follow through with the initial plans for Tent University many of us wondered what impact our decision would make.

The sun was shining bright and I could see confused faces throughout the base, Are you going to camp? Do you think the cops are really going to come? I remember we had “what to do if the police come? workshops. It was hard to picture what the night would really be like when a friend was impersonating a cop, but it wasn’t too hard to picture when fifty or so police officers were surrounding us in the Gnome, the main tent where all the people that were committing civil disobedience were congregated. I never expected to experience something out of COPS in Santa Cruz but leave it to the Administration to show me the true colors of our country’s politics.

Around 9:00 pm three hours after Tent University had a meeting with two UCSC public affairs women about the consequences of people camping at the Base, many of us were relieved that the police hadn’t arrived. It had seemed that the administration wasn’t going to act on our “disobedience?. I saw smiles on every ones faces, I danced to the beats of a small drum circle when suddenly the mood in the air changed. Around 15 police vans drove up the parking lot and with that first warning on the loud speaker I knew things would never be the same. I started in a circle of about 15 people out side of the main tent but as the police started getting closer and the tension intensified we all joined forces. Everyone gathered in the main tent, we looked around to see the faces that were going to put themselves on the line, the people that would become the body of the voice that would not stand to be silenced. We broke up into small groups of ten with linked arms and our heads down. We would sit by our campus.

The adrenaline was pumping and I had no idea what to expect, but I would have never expected to see students intimidated with violence. I used to think that from all the violence I see on the media my mind would now know how to take it, but when I saw the faces of peaceful students in pain from the chock-holds I have never felt more oppressed. One by one the people in the circles were getting arrested, there were hundreds of people around us in support, offering us water and food, cameras and tape recorders, everywhere documenting the night. We sang, we chanted, we meditated--everything to keep our spirits up and our voice strong. It took three hours to arrest 18 people. My group was at the opposite end of the tent. The arrest seemed more horrific as the group became smaller and the reality of being hurt was more real. When they finally got to us we all put our heads down and linked our arms tight. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and before I knew it we had three officers surrounding us. They pulled us up by our necks and put pressure on our arteries so it would be hard to breath. I didn’t know how long I would last with someone choking me. The officer whispered in my ear, “If you move, I’ll arrest you.? Confused by his words, I stayed as limp and calm as possible as I felt the person next to me pulled away. Then I was release. I opened my eyes in relief, looked next to me and saw my friends. We linked arms and tears ran down my cheek.

When I pay for a tuition I can barely afford I expect that money to go into my education not towards paying teams of police officers overtime and hiring out of town reinforcement from Berkeley as well as Santa Cruz officers to “control? our free speech. During some of the arrests people around were shouting “Shame on you? to the police. Well, I just want to say Shame on this capitalist system that supports the constant mental and physical oppression of people--that has turned educators into bureaucrats and student into criminals.
 
 


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Comments

Re: Never Again! One Tent U Participant’s Experience with Police Oppression

They were resisting arrest - ergo they weren't peaceful.

I suppose the police could have just beat them, it certainly would have been more effective - but when a person resists arrests, physical force is required, and the police chose a method that causes pain, but not generally the broken bones of a good whack with a nightstick.

Your tuition pays roughly 30% of your education, the other 70 is derived from taxing the oppresive capitalist system...

How ironic that a professor such as Angela Davis (a communist) finds her tenured position paid out primarily from the oppressive capitalist system!

Your accusations fall somewhat short in the face of fact, I fear.

cheers,
Nick
 

Keep Up The Fight

Nick (n5667) hasn't gotten it in the last several dozen exchanges and isn't likely to get it soon.

Non-violent resistance to an unjust arrest causes public outrage and may even prompt public reform. The UCPD, SCPD, BPD combined attack on freedom of assembly the night of April 18th at the base of the UCSC campus was such an arrest.

Unfortunately there has been no accountability and no reform this far.

We will always have police apologists with us.

The challenge is to mobilize the community to establish policies that restore the right of free assembly that students and community established briefly through their MLK-like courage that night.

A significant part of that will be the willingness of the community to challenge oppressive police power where it next raises its head and to resist the immobilizing chill of police violence.

I've still received no response from UCSC regarding my Public Records Act request, filed at the end of April demanding memos and notes regarding police and UC administration work-up to their assault on the teach-in that night.
 

Re: Never Again! One Tent U Participant’s Experience with Police Oppression

"Non-violent resistance to an unjust arrest causes public outrage and may even prompt public reform. The UCPD, SCPD, BPD combined attack on freedom of assembly the night of April 18th at the base of the UCSC campus was such an arrest."

Was it indeed? Is that what the courts have decided? Is it what the community believes, or what you believe?

"A significant part of that will be the willingness of the community to challenge oppressive police power where it next raises its head and to resist the immobilizing chill of police violence."

How willing is the community? I don't think we've established that yet.
 

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