Archive for the ‘UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA’ Category

March 5-6 Hahn Occupation Statement

6 March 2014

from indybay:

This past week has demonstrated that students and workers have tremendous power. We have shown that we have the capacity to pursue collective action and have our demands met. The threat of a five-day strike by AFSCME prompted the UC to concede to their demands, and on Tuesday, the UAW was likewise able to receive full concessions for their grievances in response to their own threatened strike.

Last night about fifty students occupied the Hahn Student Services building for eighteen hours, demanding the resignation of recently appointed UC president Janet Napolitano. The occupation was in response to a call for solidarity by the UC Berkeley Students of Color Solidarity Coalition, following their occupation of the Blum Center on the occasion of President Napolitano’s visit to the campus.

We stand in opposition to Janet Napolitano for many reasons. For one, she has no past experience as an educator, nor does she have knowledge of the issues that are specific to California. Additionally, as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, our new UC president was responsible for the deportation of 1.6 million people, causing immense suffering for countless families and loved ones.

At the University of California she is continuing this role, imposing the logic of crisis management, one that has been unfolding since the financial crisis several years ago when budget cuts and fee hikes were unilaterally passed without any student approval. Her record is an index of repressing the self-organization of students and workers combatting increasingly precarious working and living conditions – of using fear, force, and violence to further the exploitation of labor.

Starting at 2:30 PM yesterday, students gathered for a rally at which it was made clear that the AFSCME and UAW victories should not be accepted piecemeal but should be a part of a longer struggle. After a march to McHenry Library, more than a hundred-strong, students went to the Hahn Student Services building and subsequently occupied it. Speakers from a number of organizations such as MEChA, Students Informing Now (SIN), Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and Youth Immigrant Coalition spoke at the occupied space and discussion groups were spontaneously formed, allowing students to talk about their future, both inside and outside the university.

Hahn was transformed into a site for students to meet and have face-to-face conversations, talking about various issues that they are unable to have in the normal everyday activities of university life. For a temporary period of time, this building truly belonged to the students, as a place to gather forces. And this is only the beginning. We call on other campuses to take up the fight, to continue escalating this struggle, just as we call for others on our campus to join us in reflection and action.

- Autonomous Students

UCSC Hahn Building Sit-in

5 March 2014

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SANTA CRUZ, California – Students at UC Santa Cruz gathered around 2:30pm on Wednesday afternoon to continue demonstrations against the new UC President, Janet Napolitano. Napolitano, the former head of Homeland Security, has been the target of several demonstrations on multiple campuses, including the recent occupation of the Blum Center at UC Berkeley by the Students of Color Solidarity Coalition (SCSC). The demonstrators proceeded to the administrative Hahn building and entered the bottom floor to commence a sit-in. The demands include the UC concession to worker demands in two ongoing contract struggles for UAW’s Teaching Assistants and AFSCME’s Patient Care Technicians; the UCSC demonstrators have also endorsed the SCSC demands as posted here.

Recently, AFSCME’s negotiators settled on a contract for their service workers, and the UC conceded to some of the specific demands set forth by the UCSC chapter of UAW concerning unfair labor practices (ULP) on this campus. However, the remaining AFSCME members have yet to receive a fair contract offer and the same is true for the sum of UAW members. UC Berkeley’s chapter of UAW may also go on a ULP strike in April.

Update:
On Thursday morning, the demonstrators disbanded the sit-in.

Blum Center Takeover Manifesto

13 February 2014

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from reclaimuc:

The Blum Center Take-over group calls for:

1) UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks to publicly renounce Janet Napolitano.

2) For all those in solidarity to cancel classes tomorrow (Friday, Feb 13), and for people to build a strike in support of Napolitano’s resignation and for the democratization of the University.

3) Full amnesty for all those reclaiming campus space, including those who have taken the Blum Center.

Why we are taking the Blum Center:

Richard Blum, the primary funder and namesake of the Blum Center, represents and acts as a driving force of privatization and reorganization of the University of California system. As an investment banker, Blum profits from the fact that the UC is no longer funded primarily through the federal government. As a central figure in pushing away from federal subsidization of education, and therefore a completely affordable or free public education, Blum and other bankers and financiers on the board of regents–including Monica Lozano–have compelled the University to take out massive bonds from private banks to compensate for this lack of funding. Public funding is legally allowed to go to only educational resources bonds, and the tuition system that allow this process to happen can be used for whatever the regents want. In many cases, this money is tied to companies that these regents own. For example, Blum owns the equity management firm Blum Capital, which has massive investments in the companies that do all of the construction at the UC. To those who believe in a public and democratic education, this is seen as legalized fraud and corruption.

Blum and Janet Napolitano’s Special Relationship:

UC regent Richard Blum was central in proposing Janet Napolitano. Richard Blum’s record includes firing Robert Dynes in 2007, leading the search for Mark Yudof, and encouraging Yudof’s resignation before overseeing the “search” for a new UC president. Although the Regents state that this was done through a headhunting agency, Blum was instrumental in making the final decision. We conclude that central decisions for filling the highest-ranking positions in the UC system continue to be made by those who stand to profit from privatization. Blum’s interest in keeping a business-as-usual that allows for massive profits for companies to which he has ties indicates Napolitano’s appointment as a means to continue this process of implementing policies of social control during her time in DHS.

Blum’s 12 year term as a UC regent ended in January. His reappointment by Jerry Brown for a second 12 year term this past January shows that the regents, like him, will continue to retain power unless there is a social response to this injustice.

The appointment of Napolitano exposes the undemocratic process by which the UC system makes decisions. In order to address this structural problem, we demand a restructuring of this process which includes: a) a campuses-wide election for all future UC regents and presidents; this includes having the ability to nominate, endorse, and campaign for candidates b) the power to impeach both UC presidents and regents c) a general democratization of the regents to include actual participation of students, faculty, and UC workers in the central decision making processes of the University.

We call on all students, faculty, and staff to join us, to take action in the coming days and weeks, and to demand the restructuring of the decision making process in our university system, so that we can make the promise of a public education a reality.

More:
indybay

Note from Revolutionaries of Color II

27 May 2013

from DavisAntiZionism:

“At whatever level we study it… decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men. Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and absolute substitution.” -Frantz Fanon

“Indeed our words will remain lifeless, barren, devoid of any passion, until we die as a result of these words, whereupon our words will suddenly spring to life and live amongst the hearts that are dead, bringing them to life as well.” -Sayyid Qutb

We, the anti-Zionists and radicals (of color), organized to take over Dutton Hall at the University of California, Davis on May 15, 2013, the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. The administration, Zionists on and off campus, and local media have tried to misrepresent what took place that day, and this is why it is necessary that we send a clear and direct message.

Our action had absolutely nothing to do with the recently failed UC Davis Divestment resolution. The fact that the divestment resolution did not even pass the initial stages of Zionist bureaucracy provides us with another example of the failures of dialoguing and negotiating with racists. The resolution’s failure only made visible the pre-existing antagonisms of Zionism (colonialism) and anti-Zionism (anti-colonialism). We did not organize our action out of frustration from the failure of the divestment process. We were already frustrated! For us, dialogue with the colonizers, with the enemies of the Palestinians, is already a form of defeat. It is already a weak, counter-revolutionary position to sit down at the same table as the colonizer. We have no desire to melt the heart of Zionists. We want to remove the colonizer out of the political equation, so that there is a final end to colonial-relations. We shut down Dutton Hall – an action we recognize to be minimal compared to the worldwide anti-colonial/anti-imperialist struggles – not because of the failure of the divestment resolution passing, but because it was the day of the Nakba, the day of catastrophe for all Palestinians, and we consider it to be our historical responsibility to take a strong oppositional position against colonialism in general, and Zionism in particular.

We want to make sure everyone knows that these were autonomous actions by anti-Zionists and radicals of color. No campus student organizations were involved in the organizing and mobilizing process. The question of organization is not only a theoretical problem but also an important tactical question for us. We know full well that organizational structures that were useful in an earlier stage of history are now obsolete and impotent on the ground – outside of (Zionist) classrooms, and administration-controlled centers. These centers function within the mystifying logic of multiculturalism, in order to not only reproduce the disciplining and policing of dark bodies, but also to create internalized technologies of self-surveillance. The student organizations generally work very closely with these centers, and share with them vital information and documents about events, workshops, training programs, and the students themselves, thereby enabling the (re)creation of both structures of surveillance with a wide pool of data, as well as subjects that monitor themselves in an effective way. It is precisely in this juncture that we witness the slow disappearance of the difference between administrators and students. We encounter students that act in favor of administrators, and administrators that act as soft cops, and the entire structure of surveillance work with its various institutional coordinates in a methodical and coordinated manner in order to identify, target, order and pacify (student) protests that may have resonance in the larger communities of struggle.

The UC Davis Police Department graduated its first student cadets a few days ago. ASUCD President Carly Sandstrom commented: “This program is something every UC campus should take on — training homegrown officers who understand students.”  This is an example of how the administration works through a structured cooperation between administrators, cops, and students. The various student centers on campus, like the Cross Cultural Center (CCC), have demonstrated themselves to be spaces complicit with Zionist ideology. Students and staff members affiliated with these centers always mediate rightfully enraged pro-Palestinian students into submission through inter/intra-community snitching which has become central for the smooth functioning of administrative logic. There is no point anymore to talk about reclaiming the CCC by evoking the history of the hunger strike. We have to realize that these centers are fundamentally anti-Black, anti-Muslim, and anti-indigenous. To promote policing is to promote the ideology and political practice of settler-colonialism. It is concretely the continuation of the systematic obliteration and assimilation of indigenous communities, geographies, and economies, and the disciplining of black bodies that reduces them into flesh, into the economic units of slave labor. To promote policing is to promote the ideology of the War on Terror that not only evacuates Muslim bodies out of their material social self-representation and location, but also destroys their societies and modes of life for the purposes of creating new markets. The plundering and re-appropriating of resources requires strategic cooperation with the native Muslim bourgeoisie, and it is in this juncture that we witness the use of soft-power that through various reformist programs encourages the formation of moderate subjects that are complicit with U.S imperialism. Within the United States, the emergence of the “American-Muslim” identity signifies the shift from an articulation of an anti-plantation/anti-racist political-religion, towards an internally re-arranged and re-articulated ideology that is at peace with hyphenated Americanism. The CCC nurtures such counter-revolutionary identities. It will not become less racist with time. It will keep reforming and renewing itself to be better at policing dark bodies, and to train students of color to become cops and informants themselves.

For these obvious reasons we did not work through the given student organizations, nor did we try to prepare for our action at a student center, and as we took over Dutton Hall we made it clear that we did not want administrators in our space. Initially, three administrators came to the occupied building and tried to negotiate with us. But we were successful in having them leave the building as it closed around evening time on May 15. The next morning, we were able to blockade the building. We saw from the inside that cops, a fireman, administrators, and reactionary students tried to enter our space. But they were unsuccessful. We were supported by many students on campus who were sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. They came to look at the banners and signs, and engaged in discussions about colonialism, political-economic and social suffering in Palestine, police violence on and off campus, and student debt with supporting comrades who acted as observers right outside of the building. We thank our comrades for their support.

Islamophobia is actively present at UC Davis. But we do not want to think about the hatred against Islam at the level of psychological disposition or cultural misperception. But rather, we want to think about the objective conditions that structure certain kinds of social behavior that target and demonize “non-secular” bodies. When Islam is made flesh through various movements of the body of the mu’min, whether they are religious rituals or political acts in the public sphere, it provokes the racialist order to think about its own foundational sins.  In order to maintain its own metanarrative, white supremacy constantly refounds and reproduces itself in a new historical plane. Islam is seen as a deliberate transgression, an embodiment of infidelity towards America. While there is a general hatred against Islam, patriarchy enmeshed with whiteness targets Muslim women in a particular manner. The precision of this kind of peculiar targeting of veiled Muslimas gets its substance from the specificity of colonial social relations. In order to examine the substance of this specific hatred against Muslim women, we need to look at the dream content of the colonialist. The colonialist dreams about unveiling and penetrating the colonized woman, and this is structurally linked to political-economic penetration and domination. But the veil marks and makes visible the political separation between the colonizer and the colonized. If it is used in a non-assimilationist way, against multiculturalism in accordance with the embodied practice of the sharia, the veil creates a sense of terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. It signifies resistance. It signifies separation. But most importantly it signifies unknowability. This is precisely why for the colonialist there is a need to understand the veil. The understanding of the use of the veil is central to taming of the body that uses the veil. Fanon examines the relation between visibility, colonial gaze and dream of unveiling. He writes: “This woman who sees without being seen frustrates the colonizer. There is no reciprocity. She does not yield herself, does not give herself, does not offer herself [...] Thus the rape of the Algerian woman in the dream of a European is always preceded by a rending of the veil.” Beyond the veil-fetishism, colonialism has a direct interest in targeting bodies of dark women. Women are specifically targeted in Gaza because it is through their bodies that the struggle reproduces itself. Palestinian women and children are seen as a threat to the future of Israel.  Their deaths are not accidental. Israel even sterilizes its own immigrant African women, demonstrating a fundamental anxiety over the reproduction of darker bodies. These genocidal acts of the Israeli State against the bodies of darker women make it structurally similar to the United States[i]. During our occupation of Dutton Hall, as we positioned ourselves against the regulative principles of the administration, practicing Muslims – particularly our sisters – observed their religious duties. There was a salaat (prayer) schedule, and the Muslims prayed in congregation. The practitioners agreed that making salaat together inside an occupied building, in the midst of political encounters, is consistent with the spirit of Islam that aims to bring order out of disorder, without making the forceful distinction between religious practices and political action. Jahiliyyah[ii] is a condition of non-Islam, a condition in which we experience the world in an inverted manner. Our bodies feel disoriented, and the world as a totality seems disrupted. Under these extreme conditions, when we take it upon ourselves to critically engage with the disrupted/disruptive world of colonialism and capitalism, and force ourselves to struggle against the causality of this disruption, we fundamentally work against the material causes of Islamophobia, and take the first step towards disalienation[iii].

Palestine is central to decolonization proper. It is not a side issue. We are at the beginning stage of the formation of an uncompromising anti-Zionism on campus that does not take soft positions for the sake of political, legal, social expediency. Anti-Zionism helps us determine our friends and enemies in a historical manner[iv]. Post-Zionism is just another name for the justification of the occupation of Palestinian life and social consciousness through a reified genealogy that aims to evoke the settler-socialist fantasy of civil integration. Far leftists will have to call for a decisive break with Zionism if they are to be credible in the Islamic world, in the third world. Post-Zionism may have the appearance of a political pragmatism, but it is fundamentally a counter-revolutionary, reactionary position. Zionism cannot be improved. It has to be dismantled. But this task of dismantling requires that we understand Zionism as more than a mere political ideology. It plays a central role in structuring, specifying and organizing neoliberal economic programs[v] in the Middle East within the totalizing logic of capitalism. The economic domination of Palestine foundationally relies upon the Zionist occupation that emerges out of a racialized social-political, historical-ontological difference between settlers and natives.

We had to write this note from the point of view of revolutionaries of color because we find ourselves in colonial relations, in antagonism with white supremacy. And, we are sure that true (white) abolitionists will understand this position. Colonial-relations are reproduced in capitalism. Capitalism has to persistently racialize and colonize. The Nakba is a historically specific event. And, we cannot lose sight of this specificity and the details of our social experience and the differentiating grammar of struggle as we make general propositions about the structure of capitalism, and by extension, imperialism. We have to understand that while capitalism absolutely totalizes and homogenizes, it also necessarily differentiates. It necessarily makes distinctions between the first world and the third world. It necessarily reproduces bodies of slaves and servants in a new historical plane. As always, we are against identity politics[vi], but that in no way seduces us into carelessly upholding empty universals. Fanon writes: “Challenging the colonial world is not a rational confrontation of viewpoints. It is not a discourse on the universal, but the impassioned claim by the colonized that their world is fundamentally different.”  We cannot forget the historical specificity of the dynamic between determinations and struggle.

Death to Jahiliyyah.

Death to reified conceptions of struggle.

Long live the Intifada!


[i] We know about the sterilization of indigenous and black women in the United States in the past.

[ii] This concept is discussed by Qutb in the modern context. We have discussed it differently here.

[iii] This notion of disalienation comes from Steve Biko’s work.

[iv] The friend-enemy distinction is inspired by Malcolm X’s speeches and his theorization of the “collective white man”. A comrade/sister from Palestine reminded us as we were preparing this note that we should be careful about the friend-enemy distinction because there are too many so called “allies” for the Palestinian cause who are interested in dominating the way we talk about resistance to Israel. This is precisely why Malcolm X’s focus on white-supremacy in relation to slavery and servitude is the correct political move.

[v] Adam Hanieh talks about neoliberal programs in Palestine in more detail.

[vi] For our critique of identity politics see our first note: http://bicyclebarricade.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/note-from-the-revolutionaries-of-color/

UCI students visited by the FBI

8 January 2013

[Correction: The previous post on this incident contained inaccurate information regarding the subject of the investigation and was retracted.  The FBI has not mentioned the Muslim Students Union or Students for Justice in Palestine during their questioning.]

from OccupyUCI:

The FBI is seeking information from UCI activists, again

Today a UCI activist comrade was approached by the FBI.

Two FBI agents showed up at the parent’s house wanting to know information on another activist on campus.

This is how the conversation went:

FBI: Do you know X?
Comrade: I do not want to talk to you, I want to talk to my lawyer.
FBI: OK

Under NO circumstances talk to the FBI or any cops!  ANYTHING you say can implicate your friends and yourself.  Do not attempt to say something smart thinking that you are being clever in responding.  Even saying “I don’t know” can result in perjury charges.  Additionally, do NOT invite them into your home.  This is leaves open the opportunity for the FBI to search and gather clues lying around your home.  If they come to your doorway step outside, close the door behind you and say “I do not want to talk to you, I want to talk to my lawyer.”  Tell them a lawyer will get in touch with them.  If they do not leave ask “Am I being detained.” if they say No, WALK AWAY.

This is all intimidating, they want you to be intimidated! Do not let them coerce you into talking, you have the right to remain silent and not implicate your friends and yourself in anything.  They do not look as scary as they seem, they in fact look a little douchey, twenty-something, right out of the academy.  If you weren’t looking any closer, you could mistake them for Jevoha’s witnesses, or Mormons.

Regardless, treat the FBI like vampires, do not invite them in, do not talk to them, do not let their charms fool you!

Here is an excerpt  Not Yr Cister Press, in response to Leah and Grand Jury subpoenas in Portland:

“Whether or not Leah provided information substantial to indictments, her cooperation facilitated the grand jury investigation. Frequently stated in grand jury resistance trainings is that answering even “harmless” seeming questions can have highly damaging outcomes. What appears insignificant could be an essential link in the prosecutor’s case. Further, stating “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” could potentially open you up to perjury charges. Finally, the State had, until October 17, encountered a mostly solid wall of resistance. Their strategy had failed to break solidarity among anarchists. In coercing testimony from Leah, the State damaged the credibility of those who publicly resist.

This point—that even limited cooperation is harmful—cannot be emphasized enough. Saying anything to a grand jury is a problem. Say nothing.”

Solidarity with all Grand Jury Resistors, Solidarity with all activists facing political persecution.  Solidarity with all prisoners.

Here are also some good readings:

Occupy Legal (Mainly serving the Bay Area) 

NLG: You have the right to remain silent (PDF)

Eshelman Hall Shutdown

27 November 2012

BERKELEY, California – On Tuesday afternoon, students at UC Berkeley chained their necks to the 2 doors of the 6th floor of Eshelman Hall. Police are unable to enter the floor without causing severe injury to demonstrators. Initially, some 40 students gathered outside to support the action. The demonstration is calling attention to the low enrollment of students of color and austerity measures impacting students of color being employed at the university. It appears this occupation is not strictly related to #occupycal demonstrators who pitched tents and faced police brutality a little over a year ago. The action coincides with the appointment of a new chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, to the campus.

UPDATE:

5:30pm – Police appear to be unable to enter the 6th floor.

5:40pm – The occupiers have released a list of 4 demands including: amnesty to demonstrators, the restoration of the Multicultural Student Development (MSD) to its former structure, increase the MSD budget, increase funding for recruitment and retention services.

5:50pm – It appears some administrators have entered the building to negotiate. The police has otherwise restricted access to the building.

6:05pm – Negotiations have reportedly fell through, however the occupation continues.

Demonstrators outside spell out of “SOS” with candles.

6:25pm – Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri [and Dean Poullard] continues talks with some students. Watch livestream here.

6:40pm – Crowd outside has increased. Negotiations appear to continue. The student newspaper, the DailyCal, reports that students actually drilled their restraining locks to the doors. The demands can be found re-posted in full here.

7:00pm – Reportedly, NLG legal observers have been denied access to witness potential police action inside the building.

9:15pm – Negotiations have ended and the Eshelman occupiers have decided to exit the building. The student demonstrators have been promised a “transitional review team” and amnesty for their actions.

9:40pm – The occupation has ended.

July Update on Jasper Bernes’ Case

8 July 2012

from reclaimUC:

Though Jasper was on track to have a probable cause hearing for the May 1 arrest on June 29, one of the officers subpoenaed was on vacation. As a result, the hearing was rescheduled for July 20. He has an intervening court date on July 11, but does not need supporters to show up then. The hearing on the 11th is a routine appearance, designed to give his lawyer a chance to speak with the judge and the DA.

Essentially, Jasper is hoping to resolve the case through an agreement with the DA. Because the case has dragged on so long, and because he has taken a postdoc at Duke University and is scheduled to begin teaching there in August, he is willing to accept a reasonable plea deal. Though all of the charges are spurious, he wants to get this over with and go on with his life, and has indicated to the DA that he is willing to plead guilty to one charge from May 1, as long as the terms offered are not too onerous and will allow him to move to North Carolina with his family in August. So far, the DA has been unwilling to make a reasonable offer, and is insisting on certain terms – such as a stay-away order from UC property – that are unacceptable. Given the fact that Chancellor Birgeneau has already told the DA to withdraw charges for November 9 (thanks to phone calls and pressure from supporters) it is more than ridiculous for the DA to continue to pursue these kinds of punishments.

At this point, the best way to support Jasper is to continue to call the DA and to tell them to drop the charges for Nov. 9 and make a reasonable offer. It’s best to contact the Deputy District Attnorney handling the case directly, Chris Cavagnero, as well as his supervisor, Paul Hora. Call (510) 272-6222 and ask to be put through to them. It would be best if calls happened this Monday and Tuesday (July 9 and July 10), before his appearance on July 11.

Update:

Jasper has taken a “pretty miserable deal” and plead guilty to a number of counts. However, Jasper feels he is “lucky” as he will not have to serve prison time.

Related:

  • Information on the Sproul 13 can be found here.

UC Berkeley Police to purchase Armored Vehicle

25 June 2012

BERKELEY, California – The UC Berkeley Police department is using funds from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase an armored vehicle known as the bearcat. In previous protests in the East Bay, armored vehicles often referred to as “tanks” have been seen in use, as recently as May Day 2012 in Oakland, as well as during Oscar Grant protests. Both the Alameda County Sheriffs and Union City reportedly own armored vehicles for “crowd control” purposes. The new addition for UCBPD will also be shared by Albany and Berkeley police. (via reclaimUC)

Update:

UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau cancelled the order for the armored vehicle!

Support Jasper!

31 May 2012

Download Black & White pdf

UPDATE: Jasper’s court date has been pushed back until July. The next court date is a motion to suppress on June 29. Here is some background on Jasper’s case:

Related:

  • The DavisDozen are a group of students and a professor given conspiracy charges for holding a sit-in in front of a campus bank branch of the US Bank. The demonstrations eventually lead to a decision by the bank to close its doors. Their next court date is another pre-trial on June 22, 1:30pm @ Yolo County Courthouse. Read this report on the June 1st court date.
  • The Santa Cruz Eleven are a group of demonstrators arbitrarily charged with the take over of a vacant bank in downtown Santa Cruz. The hefty charges include felony vandalism, and a handful of other misdemeanors.  Updates on SantaCruzEleven here.
  • As of June 11, all 9 of the people charged for trespassing at the Gil Tract Farm in Albany have been dropped. Read more.

Gill Tract Farm Raided

14 May 2012

ALBANY, California – Early Monday morning, around 80 Alameda County Sheriffs and UCPD raided the Gill Tract Farm and arrested demonstrators. The farm was established on April 22nd at a vacant lot owned by the University of California. Despite dialogue and signs of progress, the UC gradually began locking gates and blocking access to the urban farm last week. The UC expressed concerns over the periodical use of the land for research, to which occupiers and some UC researchers responded by agreeing to work together to find an amenable solution to allow coexistence. Around 7am, the police declared the area an unlawful assembly and summarily arrested those in the encampment.

A re-convergence action has been organized for 5pm, Tuesday at the Albany Library, 1249 Marin Ave.

Related:

Police Lockdown the Gill Tract Farm Occupation

9 May 2012

ALBANY, California – On April 22nd, a few hundred demonstrators broke ground at the Gill Tract empty lot on San Pablo and Marin and established a guerrilla garden. The land owned by the University of California, Berkeley, was periodically used for agricultural research, but was otherwise untouched. Community activists have spent a decade in dialogue with the university to open the land to the public. However, talk of selling the land to build a strip mall on this high grade agricultural soil launched demonstrators into action. On the 22nd, demonstrators tilled the land, transplanted seedlings, established chicken coops, set up tents, organized events and workshops, and inspired the community to flourish.

Although support for the new community farm flooded in from neighbors and members of the University of California, administrators at the UC threatened eviction multiple times through the course of the next two weeks, and then last week they finally gave demonstrators an ultimatum. Around 7am on May 9th, the UCPD [locked the west gates and placed concrete barricades to prevent vehicular traffic].

Update:

8:00am – The UCPD told press that they are only restricting vehicular access, and that the East entrance is still accessible. (via Susie Cagle)

10 May, Thursday

Around noon, UCPD closed the last remaining pedestrian gate. However no arrests have been made as of Thursday night. Read more.

Read more:

Occupy the Farm: Gill Tract Farm

22 April 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 22, 2012

Occupy the Farm Activists Reclaim Prime Urban Agricultural Land in SF Bay Area

Contact: GillTractFarm@riseup.net

(Albany, Calif.), April 22, 2012 – Occupy the Farm, a coalition of local residents, farmers, students, researchers, and activists are planting over 15,000 seedlings at the Gill Tract, the last remaining 10 acres of Class I agricultural soil in the urbanized East Bay area. The Gill Tract is public land administered by the University of California, which plans to sell it to private developers.

For decades the UC has thwarted attempts by community members to transform the site for urban sustainable agriculture and hands-on education. With deliberate disregard for public interest, the University administrators plan to pave over this prime agricultural soil for commercial retail space, a Whole Foods, and a parking lot.

“For ten years people in Albany have tried to turn the Gill Tract into an Urban Farm and a more open space for the community. The people in the Bay Area deserve to use this treasure of land for an urban farm to help secure the future of our children,” explains Jackie Hermes-Fletcher, an Albany resident and public school teacher for 38 years.

Occupy the Farm seeks to address structural problems with health and inequalities in the Bay Area that stem from communities’ lack of access to food and land. Today’s action reclaims the Gill Tract to demonstrate and exercise the peoples’ right to use public space for the public good. This farm will serve as a hub for urban agriculture, a healthy and affordable food source for Bay Area residents and an educational center.

“Every piece of uncontaminated urban land needs to be farmed if we are to reclaim control over how food is grown, where it comes from, and who it goes to,” says Anya Kamenskaya, UC Berkeley alum and educator of urban agriculture. “We can farm underutilized spaces such as these to create alternatives to the corporate control of our food system.”

UC Berkeley has decided to privatize this unique public asset for commercial retail space, and, ironically, a high-end grocery store. This is only the latest in a string of privatization schemes. Over the last several decades, the university has increasingly shifted use of the Gill Tract away from sustainable agriculture and towards biotechnology with funding from corporations such as Novartis and BP.

Frustrated that traditional dialogue has fallen on deaf ears, many of these same local residents, students, and professors have united as Occupy the Farm to Take Back the Gill Tract. This group is working to empower communities to control their own resilient food systems for a stable and just future – a concept and practice known as food sovereignty.

Occupy the Farm is in solidarity with Via Campesina and the Movimiento Sin Tierra (Landless Workers Movement).

The Gill Tract is located at the Berkeley-Albany border, at the intersection of San Pablo Ave and Marin Ave.

• Join us: Come dressed to work! We need people to help till the soil, plant seedlings, teach workshops, and more.

• Donate/lend: We need shovels, rakes, pickaxes, rototillers, drip irrigation tape, gloves, hats, food, and anything else farming related!

• Monetary donations can be sent through our website at www.takebackthetract.com

(via reclaimUC)

Re-Admit Tomas to UC Davis

18 April 2012

from Davis Anti-Repression:

A UC Davis undergraduate in art studio was arrested early Saturday morning, 17 March, in his dorm room, by members of both the UC Davis and City of Davis Police. He was charged with Felony Vandalism and held in jail over the weekend and into finals week; his school supplies, phone and computer were all confiscated. With no access to his contacts nor warning of the arrest, he was unable to contact legal representation. Incommunicado in jail, he was unable to take final exams, and was only bailed out (for $20,000) when concerned friends began looking for him after he had been missing for days. UC Davis Student Judicial Affairs, which initiated the warrant for his arrest, didn’t bother to notify his home department, his family, friends, or professors to let them know the student’s whereabouts.

Several weeks later, both Student Judicial Affairs and Student Housing threatened him with disciplinary measures including eviction and expulsion, in addition to the criminal charges they initiated through Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. The student, who entered UCD as a transfer student last fall, has since been expelled based on poor academic performance, on top of criminal charges that may carry a 3-4 year sentence and $10,000 fine. As a student prominently involved with Occupy UC Davis, arrested during the pepper spray incident on Nov. 18, 2011, these charges appear to be a means to intimidate and punish him for political activism.

The charges against this student-activist are in line with the ongoing and systematic police and legal repression of the Occupy movement. Threatening people with inflated or trumped-up charges, a familiar tactic in many vulnerable communities, is now increasingly wielded as a strategy to chill political dissent on campuses — a way of exacting punishment in jail time, legal expenses, and interference with other obligations before the opportunity for trial. “This is the new de facto regime of guilty until proven innocent, and it should be opposed by every decent person,” said Joshua Clover, a professor at Davis. The university News Service, which reports directly to Chancellor Katehi, has already expressed its enthusiasm for engaging “law enforcement to prosecute proven violations” — seeming to misunderstand the legal relation of trials, proof, and guilt almost entirely, with harmful consequences for students.

The Reynoso Task Force Report on the UCD Pepper Spray Incident just last week verified that the administration’s unfounded hysteria regarding the Occupy movement resulted in their extralegal use of force against student activists. Importantly, the Reynoso Report also underscored the need for campus authorities to handle student political protest through already established, appropriate channels; namely through the SJA and Student Affairs—and not by means of police and criminal charges.

We urge the UCD campus community and the general public to reject categorically the administration’s use of legal maneuvering to suppress political dissent.

Bring a cushion, 5,000 friends, your favorite textbook, and a colorful sign to the Office of Letters and Sciences [at 1:30pm, Thursday]! We’re going to meet at the building’s ground level entrance. If you can’t attend this event, support Tomas at his arraignment this Friday: https://www.facebook.com/events/217176528382173/

FREE TOMAS! WE DEMAND HIS IMMEDIATE RE-ADMITTANCE!

Update:

After a student and faculty sit-in, Tomas was readmitted.

Related:

Support UCLA Students!

11 April 2012

On March 29, three UCLA students were arrested at the UC Board of Regents’ meeting at UC San Francisco, as police were sent in to remove students from the meeting and they tried to comply with police orders.  Before the students were violently arrested,  UCLA Lt. O’Connell was seen pointing out certain UCLA student activists to other police.  The first student was arrested after he asked police who the commanding officer was, and why students needed to leave the building when the dispersal order was only to leave the room where the meeting was held.  Two graduate students were arrested as the police wrestled the first student to the ground.  It seems clear that the three were singled out given their prior arrests at UCLA.  Two were booked on serious charges and a total of $72,000 bail, and it cost students almost $6000 to post bond to get them out of jail.  The third was released on her own recognizance.  While the San Francisco District Attorney has decided not to file charges against these three, the bond amount was not recoverable.

This year, UCLA has become a flashpoint of student protests against increasing tuition, budget cuts, and administrative mismanagement of public higher education.  In November of last year, 11 students were arrested blocking the Westwood-Wilshire intersection to draw attention to UC’s business relationship with Bank of America and Monica Lozano’s conflict of interest as a member of both the Board of Regents and the Board of BoA.  Later that month, under the direction of Lt. O’Connell, 14 students were arrested in a pre-dawn raid of the Occupy UCLA encampment by around 70 riot police as administrators watched.  Despite a letter signed by dozens of faculty, the LA City Attorney still pursued charges against the students, eventually settling with the protesters to take a class on the First Amendment in exchange for a diversion of the charges.

Since the arrests in November, UCLA students have seen a rapid and troubling increase in repression from police, including arrests and violence.  Lt. O’Connell also oversaw the police response to student protesters at the Regents’ meeting at UC Riverside in January, in which a lecturer was violently arrested and police opened fire on students with less-than-lethal ammunition.  Even since the most recent Regents’ meeting, UCLA police have been following student activists on campus.  While students still aren’t deterred and will keep fighting, we anticipate more arrests and more violence against students.

We are therefore asking for your support in covering our costs to free the two students, and building a bail and legal defense fund for future arrests.  If you are able to donate, please go to: https://www.wepay.com/donations/ucla-protester-bail-fund

Please help us, so we can keep fighting!

In solidarity,
The Ad-hoc Legal Support Committee of Occupy UCLA

Davis Dozen Press Release

11 April 2012

Occupy UC Davis Antirepression Crew Media
oucd-antirepression-media@googlegroups.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What: Call-In to Oppose Prosecution of the 12 UCD Protesters
Contact: Yolo County District Attorney at (530) 666-8180 or Fax: (530)666-8423
Support: Come to the Arraignment on Friday, April 27th, 8:30am at the Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 9, 213, Third Street, Woodland, CA, 95695

11 UC DAVIS STUDENTS, PROFESSOR, CHARGED FOR U.S. BANK BLOCKADE

Accused May Face up to Eleven Years in Prison

Just months after UC Davis police pepper sprayed seated students in the face during a protest against university privatization and police brutality, Chancellor Linda Katehi’s administration is trying to send some of the same students to prison for their alleged role in protests that led to the closure of a US Bank branch on campus.

On 29 March, weeks after an anti-privatization action against US Bank ended with the closure of the bank’s campus branch, 11 UC Davis students and one professor received orders to appear at Yolo County Superior Court. District Attorney Jeff Reisig is charging campus protesters with 20 counts each of obstructing movement in a public place, and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, the protesters could face up to 11 years each in prison, and $1 million in damages.

The charges were brought at the request of the UC Davis administration, which had recently received a termination letter from US Bank holding the university responsible for all costs, claiming they were “constructively evicted” because the university had not responded by arresting the “illegal gathering.” Protesters point out that the charges against them serve to position the university favorably in a potential litigation with US Bank.

Three of the protesters had received summons from UCD Student Judicial Affairs in mid-February, and it was only after US Bank announced that it had permanently closed its doors that the UCD administration requested that the DA bring criminal charges against the 12. Supporters argue that the university is targeting the dozen in order to limit its liability to US Bank and that the university is effectively using public funds (through the DA’s office) to protect a private corporation’s right to profit from increasingly indebted students at an increasingly expensive public university.

Among the 12 are some of the protesters pepper sprayed by campus police during the infamous November incident. But whereas the District Attorney declined to file charges against protesters then, this less publicized prosecution seems to be an attempt to punish the dissenting students, perhaps in retaliation for their pending ACLU lawsuit against the university. “We might not think of this as violence, because there aren’t broken bones or pepper spray or guns—it’s not as explicit—but sending someone to jail, holding them for a day, let alone 11 years, is violence,” said Andrew Higgins, a graduate student in History and representative of the UC graduate student union.

Supporters are requesting that the public contact the Yolo County District Attorney at (530) 666-8180 and voice their opposition to this prosecution. Supporters also request public attendance on the day of their arraignment, Friday, April 27th, 8:30am at the Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 9, 213 Third Street, Woodland, CA, 95695. The website in support of the 12 accused is http://www.davisdozen.org.

[END OF PRESS RELEASE] (via BicycleBarricade)

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