Remembering and reinscribing the violence of this police response into our collective memory of the occupation is of more than historical interest, however, and consists of more than merely remembering the pain inflicted upon our comrades, however necessary this may be. It is in this violent police response that a strategically correct interpretation of events lies, and this fact makes efforts to conceal the conflict of the day more than merely an effort to prevent further violence. The police response showed precisely what was at stake in the occupation, and what remains at stake in the movement more generally. The police response showed exactly how far the UC Regents, President Yudof, and the local administrations are willing to go in order to drive the privatization of public education down our unwilling throats. It showed us, in short, that we were doing something right, and we can expect more of the same if we ever hope to win.Read the rest here.
And that’s not all: the final police and administration response -- that of opting to let the occupiers walk out of Wheeler of their own accord--tells even more of the story. It tells us just how powerful our collective presence was on that day. There can be no doubt that every single occupier would have been arrested, likely beaten and abused to some degree, and hit with the trumped-up felony charges, had the crowd not been assembled outside. And this was not merely because the crowd was bearing witness to injustice or expressing its verbal non-consent.
It was not moderation and negotiation that created and sustained this pivotal moment and generated its outcome: it was the unmistakable show of force that the students gathered represented, a force that was not merely symbolic. As the great revolutionary CLR James once put it: “The rich are only defeated when running for their lives.” The same could be said of today’s privatizers of public education, and those running things more generally. Oakland’s Oscar Grant rebellions taught us this much in January, as it was only the threat of continued rioting that put BART officer Johannes Mehserle behind bars. The Berkeley occupation movement teaches us the same lesson today.
And we have late word of a library occupation at Cal State Fresno, and more are on the way, at Berkeley and elsewhere. Earlier today, marchers occupied the UC Office of the President in downtown Oakland to demand a face-to-face with Mark Yudof. Further, the contagion is international, as the students who have held Austria in a constant state of occupation for weeks on end descended en masse yesterday onto the US embassy in Vienna as a demonstration of solidarity with the California occupations and outrage at the images of police violence that have been broadcast across the globe. This is a force that is expanding as we speak, and will do so as the months pass and contradictions become more acute. The university struggle has turned a crucial corner on the UC Berkeley campus, and a qualitative leap in consciousness has occurred, by weight not of peaceful entreaties but of forceful demands.