21 Mar 2003 raph   » (Master)

Arrested for peaceful protest

I attended the noon rally at UC Berkeley, followed by a peaceful protest in Sproul Hall, and am proud to report that I have a misdemeanor arrest on my record as a result. It was a disturbing show of force by the University and police.

None of the protestors were in the least bit violent, and we weren't even keeping people from their business in Sproul Hall (we were in the front foyer; people could still access all offices through the north and south entrances). Several speakers talked of treating the police officers with respect (one young woman has many police officers in her family), and were roundly applauded. The nonviolent legacy of Martin Luther King was invoked repeatedly.

Even so, for whatever reason the University saw fit to arrest 117 of us anyway. The protesters were peaceful, but the police pinched people, pried them away, and carried them out. I would find this quite understandable if we were violent (as were some of the protests in San Francisco), or if we were causing disruption any more serious than the lines during the busy season for financial aid, but for police to forcibly haul people away from a public building in a University feels very wrong. I wonder if the decision to make mass arrests might have been partially motivated by a desire to create more publicity for the anti-war cause. It seems more likely to be malice or stupidity, though, given the arrogant and patronizing attitude of Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell, who briefly addressed us before the police began their action.

The SF Chronicle has a brief story on the event, and UC Berkeley has a press release. I haven't yet managed to find myself in any photos or video footage, but if you see me, let me know :). There are some other arrest photos I found. I managed to record some audio from a message left on Heather's cell phone.

For coverage of the protests in San Francisco, see Kevin Burton's report and photos, and Lisa Rein's incredibly moving blog coverage.

As I posted yesterday, I am taking two days off just to learn what I can about the war, meditate, and resist in whatever way I can. Tomorrow's entry will return to the normal format of mind-numbingly detailed writing about technical things I find interesting. However, I'll probably start up a personal blog so I can write about religion, politics, and other issues without having to worry about whether they're on-topic here.


We haven't really talked to the kids about the war yet. Alan wrote a blog entry last night. He typed the first three words himself :) Even more exciting, he got an inexpensive used digital camera for his birthday. I'm hoping that he'll want to post a few of his pictures as well.

Max loves playing with digital images on the computer even more than Alan does - he's had a great time exploring the zooming and contrast controls in iPhoto. Oh, and he can peel carrots by himself now too.

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