BERKELEY – As planned, the hip-hop show with Boots Riley and several other bands performed Friday evening, December 11th.
People met on the steps of Wheeler Hall at around 8pm, many spoke out against the actions the Chancellor had taken and some spoke about the SF State occupation and the solidarity they have with the UCB occupiers. Together, they marched through the rain to a local housing co-op.
The artists, including Boots Riley, played until 11pm to a crowd of about 150. The artists expressed their support and solidarity with the occupations and discussed the need to fight capitalism and systemic oppression. As the show concluded, a march to campus formed in response to the police repression at Wheeler Hall earlier that morning*.
*Around 6am on Friday morning, around 66 occupiers were arrested, despite no warning for dispersal. When the police entered Wheeler Hall, they locked the door. Many were asleep or simply preparing for finals.
Earlier in the evening, some of the arrested people spoke to the crowd describing the police coercion and humiliation they suffered despite the peaceful nature of the occupation.
As the protesters marched from the concert, they made makeshift barricades and obstacles (mostly from trash cans) for vehicles attempting to drive through the crowd. The march quickly turned into a small riot, taking the streets and blocking traffic. At one point a car irritated with the marchers, sped through the crowd carelessly, hitting an individual (although, no one suffered any apparent harm). As the crowd approached the entrance to campus, some lit torches. They approached the Chancellor’s residence on campus and began smashing lights, damaging windows, and breaking pots.
The Chancellor, although not the sole contributor to the crisis we face now, was directly involved in the unjust arrests of Wheeler Hall in the morning and continues to threaten the futures of the stakeholders of the University of California, Berkeley. He is neither a mastermind nor a figurehead, but does stand as a powerful and influential individual that refuses to accept both the project that Live Week attempted to create and the fact that he shares a part of the blame, no matter who he can point his finger at. The crisis isn’t a new phenomenon given birth by the economy, the legislators, the regents, the UC office of the president, or the campus administrators, this is a crisis formed by the status the system attempts to maintain. As the events unrolled during the evening, it was clear that many are aware of the lack of faith the Chancellor has for the students and many have become aware of the power that individuals have, due to promise that Live Week fulfilled, to create a space for people to come together.
Although some may attempt to paint the evening as a night of petty violence, this event reveals a refusal to accept the university’s actions and the physically violent police repression in passivity. The property damage incurred may seem ruthlessly aberrant and scarring on a university already suffering budget woes, but the damage incurred by the silencing of stakeholders Friday morning exceeds beyond any value the university can place on some broken glass and ceramics. The University of California is a model public university that the world watches and the actions it takes reverberates to communities outside simply the current students, workers and faculty. The dignity and security of individuals through out California, and the world, is being crushed due to the decisions made here.