Thursday, November 17, 2011

UC Davis Students Occupy Mrak Hall as CSU Students Turn Up Heat

Inspired by the Occupy Movement, as well as recent police brutalization of UC (University of California) Berkeley students, people at UC Berekeley and UC Davis took action on Tuesday as part of the UC-Wide General Strike. In Berkeley, UC students were joined by thousands from the Occupy Oakland encampment and agreed to occupy a campus plaza with tents, in defiance of police orders.

At UC Davis, about 70 Central Valley students took things up a notch and occupied Mrak Hall, which was taken over during the student struggles of Fall, 2009. According to the student newspaper, the strike on the UC Davis campus was the largest in recent history, drawing several thousand. As the California Aggie wrote:
An estimated 2,000 people gathered on the Quad at noon on Tuesday to strike against tuition increases, police brutality and the privatization of the UC system. The protest was the largest strike at UC Davis in recent years and will continue with a Day of Action on the Quad today at noon.
Although protesters in both Berkeley and Davis were removed on Thursday by riot police, student occupiers at UC Davis have set up an occupation in a plaza with tents; and in response, students of several other UC campuses have launched occupations of their own.

The coordinated attacks that have occurred against UC Berkeley and UC Davis occupations, as well as against Occupy Oakland, have been organized in part by Homeland Security and the FBI. Fearing a larger rebellion against capitalism and it's states, the feds are hoping that repression scare people away from coming out, occupying space, and forming alliances. However as we have seen in the last several months, their repressive strategies have backfired- often bringing more people out into the streets, and to the occupations. In Oakland this was seen most beautifully: over 50,000 came out for a general strike on November 2, during which bank windows were broken, the port of Oakland was shut down, a foreclosed building was briefly occupied, and tens of thousands of people held Downtown Oakland from the police.  

Not to be outdone by their UC counter parts, CSU (California State University) students attempted to disrupt the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday in Longbeach, during which Board members voted to again raise fees by 9%. While in the past CSU students have been more docile and less confrontational and also 'better managed' by non-profits and Left/union groups, students this time clashed with police, and windows were broken. The intensity and combativeness that CSU students demonstrated are only signs of things to come. They signal the start of a militant struggle against our class enemies, across social terrain that will not be recuperated or regurgitated into hollow symbolism.

UC Trustees, fearing violence (citing "vandalism," and clashes with the cops) at their upcoming meeting, decided to cancel. While the intensity of the Occupy Movement in the Central Valley has yet to match that of the Bay Area, every day more people become less afraid and feel empowered to take action against those that benefit from the exploitation and alienation of modern life. More and more people in this area will begin to intensify the struggle.

In Fresno, those occupying the Downtown Courthouse Park have faced wave after wave of arrests. City officials and police have also continued to attack and destroy homeless encampments throughout the city. Hopefully Courthouse Park occupants and people form the homeless encampments can find each other and recognize common enemies, and also their common desire to take, and occupy space and buildings. And, with so much vacant property in Fresno and the greater Central Valley, there's no better place than here to begin occupying everything.

In Modesto and the surrounding area, conflicts are ripe for escalation. Students at Modesto Junior College and CSU Stanislaus have faced massive cuts. Foreclosure continues to make thousands homeless. Police brutalize and murder, again and again. We must hold mass- meetings and assemblies to talk about how capitalism is attacking us, and how we can organize ourselves. We must talk about how we can occupy and take over that which can be used to meet our needs. And, we must talk about how we can defend our struggles and spaces from the state and grow more and more powerful. These are processes which have already begun in the Central Valley: Homes have been taken and occupied; held off from the banks. Students have organized mass walkouts, and schools have been occupied and taken over. People have taken to the streets against the police and prisons. We must continue to find the threads that weave our struggles as one and bring ourselves together in the process.