Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities, Two Demonstrations, and Two Police Responses to Both

Wednesday, November 9, 2011: About 5,000 Students in the UK Protest Education Cuts and Tuition Hikes
According to Time: "Supported by the Occupy London movement, it was originally thought that 10,000 people would turn up to protest. (Estimates suggest that around half that number turned up.) Around midday the students gathered in central London, near the University of London and began marching through the city's streets with placards and megaphones."
Source: Time
"Rachel Turner, a 19-year-old protester who is currently on a gap year but plans on attending university next year, said she was marching because, like most of the protesters there, she thought 'tuition fees being raised to 9,000 pounds is ridiculous.' The chants of the crowd agreed with her. Others could be heard shouting 'You say cut back, we say fight back" and No ifs, no buts, no education cuts' throughout the day." "While many protesters complained that the police had come out in unnecessary numbers and were intimidating with their barricades and riot gear, most of the officers seemed to be in a good mood. Many could be seen joking with protesters and prior to the demonstration, several officers were handing out maps to those wanting to join. Harriet Wood, an 18 year old student at the University of Sussex said of the police, 'They're really nice. They're just doing their job really, they have to be here."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011: About 1,000 Students in the US Protest Education Cuts and Tuition Hikes
Source: Think Progress
Think Progress reported: "Yesterday afternoon, 1,000 students from University of California, Berkeley rallied to show solidarity with the worldwide 99 Percent Movement, as well as protest local cuts to state education aid and tuition. The scene at Berkeley's Sproul Plaza quickly deteriorated by midday, when police announced that the encampment was unlawful. In a move not altogether unfamiliar to the Occupy movement, police in riot gear resorted to force to break up the rally."

According to SFist:

"After getting hit by police officers, Shane Boyle, a Cal graduate student involved in the melee, told The Chronicle, "It really, really hurt - I got the wind knocked out of me...I was lucky I only got hit twice." He also revealed a red welt on his chest. Six UC Berkeley students and english professor Celeste Langan were arrested for "resisting and delaying police officers." After the officers left the scene, students quickly replaced their tents at Sproul Plaza."

So, um, yeah. I was appalled by the police's disregard for students who were simply exercising their first amendment constitutional rights and because, well, I haven't incurred brain trauma and I don't watch Fox. I was actually having an "argument" about this clear brutality over at the on my post on the #OWS web site forum (NOT what democracy looks like: OccupyCal - Uber Violence by Police against Students) and was saddened, but not really surprised, to find people defending this police action. But here in the United States, it's clear that we've grown accustomed to having our rights trampled (quite literally), and we accept police brutality as a ho-hum fact of life. 

But as events in the UK prove, it doesn't have to be that way.


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