(California Golden Blogs is not a place for us to discuss political events. The comments will be closed for this story.
This is primarily meant as a factcheck, not a political opinion.)
This is a place many Cal alumni turn to for news, and I feel there is going to be an annoying narrative hanging in the air today about our campus and our people. In light of yesterday’s events, I want to issue a public service announcement about last night’s protests in Berkeley, because I feel our Golden Bear population deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Anarchists from around the Bay Area, NOT Cal students, were the ones who demonstrated violently last night in Berkeley. Utilizing typical black bloc techniques, they hijacked last night’s peaceful student protest of a certain speaker and turned it into the uncomfortable display that was aired throughout the nation.
That is not necessarily the narrative that was aired out for the public, so I will leave you with this statement from the university.
The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest.
The masked agitators came to campus eastbound on Bancroft Way, and fire damage and other destruction to the Stiles Hall construction site, where a new residence hall is planned, was reported. The group entered campus and immediately began throwing rocks at officers. In an effort to avoid injuries to innocent members of the surrounding crowd who might have been caught in the middle, police officers exercised restraint and did not respond with force.
Agitators also attacked some members of the crowd who were rescued by police. UCPD reported no major injuries and about a half dozen minor injuries. Mutual aid officers from the city of Oakland and from Alameda County arrived at Berkeley around 7:45 p.m. to assist UCPD and Berkeley city police.
No arrests had been made by UCPD as of 9:30 p.m.
Campus officials said they condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics now overshadow the efforts of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence at Berkeley and his perspectives.
People have taken advantage of the Berkeley spirit of free speech to use it to advance their own agenda for a national audience. As a Cal grad, this isn’t the first time it’s happened and it certainly won’t be the last.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of protest at the University of California, anarchists from OUTSIDE campus have been hijacking peaceful student protests at UC Berkeley for years for black block type marches, from “Black Lives Matter” to anti-war rallies. Anarchists tend to be in high supply in our little neck of the woods, and Berkeley is their rallying cry for their small chaos sprees (I’m not sure exactly what they want, other than the dissolution of the world order). It has left many in our nation with the impression that our university’s students are crazy revolutionaries who want to overthrow the state.
It is a caricature.
There is a trend in the media to demonize students on campus who advocate for certain things as violent thugs, as reactionaries, so pundits hundreds of miles away can yammer on about what a terrible place Berkeley is and how terrible the people who go there must be.
That is not who we are. That is not the real picture of the Cal I know and the Cal you’ve known. It is one that has been fed to us by people who took concepts of Berkeley from five decades ago and warped them into a war of words between two political factions who want to divide and conquer.
Violence is not what Cal stands for. Violence is not what the Golden Bears should be known for. Our Cal family stands for peaceful expression and the Free Speech Movement. That is a right that was expressed early on this Wednesday night before it was hijacked by agitators who do not represent the viewpoints of our university’s student body and our alumni base at large.
I hope that the university will be more proactive going forward in identifying when instigators come on campus and exploit our peaceful protests for their own bizarre purpose. I would say the job they did last night was subpar, given the ensuing damage.
Long after the agitators left, it was Cal students picking up the pieces.
As a loyal Cal alum, I am tired of hearing about how Cal student demonstrations are a pox upon this nation, are inciting violence so the rest of the nation will follow, and the worst that America can bring. So I hope this message and facts from last night’s story can get through to the Cal family at large. This is a time more than ever which calls for discourse, not judgment.
Fiat Lux. Go Bears.
PS: I have received a few emails about how some Cal student demonstrators did not actively abandon the scene when the protest turned violent, seemingly enabling the anarchists to continue ensuing down their wanton course. Students who are planning on protesting in the future, keep this in mind for future events regarding how to protest safely:
Leave the area where others are engaging in illegal activities and acts of violence. Your presence may be interpreted as participating in a riot or illegal group action.