Where’s AWDU Now?

21 Nov

By Zachary Chance Gill Williams, Recording Secretary Elect

After the resolution of the triennial election last spring, AWDU members began organizing in support of public education and public services  with a broad group of California unions and community organizations.  These efforts coalesced into the ReFund California coalition.  This campaign to “make banks pay” has acted as a larger, statewide alliance from which our own independent attempts to build solidarity and increase consciousness on our own campuses could draw strength.

As our active members prepared for and engaged in outreach to new students and new student-workers in the UC in September, Occupy Wall Street set up camp in Zuccotti park, kicking off a spontaneous wave of protest against inequality, unaccountability, unfairness, and all other injustices those who occupy have brought before general assemblies across the country and across the world.  By the beginning of October, ReFund’s first week of action was already drawing support from occupations that had sprung up across the state in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and numerous other cities, making common cause in their protests against banks and foreclosures.  While the 99% demonstrated in the streets, California prisoners resumed their hunger strike against systematic mistreatment.

November kicked off with Oakland protesters shutting down the port of Oakland, while bank transfer day saw as many as 600,000 accounts move from big banks to credit unions.  As a November 16th meeting of the regents drew near, our members participated in direct actions across the state, pressuring  the regents to conduct their affairs with equity and pledge their support to restore California’s commitment to the improvement of public welfare.  While hundreds shut down Wilshire and Westwood, thousands rallied at Sproul Hall at Cal and attempted to set up an occupation, ushering in the first instance in the wave of police violence that has continued across our campuses lately.  UC president Mark Yudof pledged to feebly request more state funds, without any plan with respect to where they would come from.

As tensions between Occupy Cal and the administration continued, violent crackdowns against occupations persisted.  Across the country, the message is clear: corralled and entrapped, tear gassed and concussed, bludgeoned and pepper sprayed – popular protest, unlike corporate political campaigning, must be strictly controlled.  Even linking arms, after all, is not non-violent, according to Berkeley Chancellor Mark Birgenau.

As a result of our union’s efforts, the UC regents cancelled their meeting, in fear of alleged ‘rogue elements,’ and northern California students took to the streets in the San Francisco Financial District, protesting regents at their corporate offices, while students in the south of the state shut down the CSU trustee’s meeting, which nonetheless voted to hike Cal State tuition by 9%, despite objections to the vote’s legitimacy.

Building on these confrontations with the appointed governors of California’s system of public higher education, in solidarity with continued efforts to shut down Occupy Oakland, and as part of their continued attempt to occupy Cal, on Thursday Berkeley students, unable to place tents on the ground, took their abodes to the skies, while students at Davis and UCLA set up occupations of their own.

While Santa Monica police came under cloak of night and arrested 14 UCLA students who refused to disperse from their tents, Davis students, after a full night’s sleep, confronted the UCPD in the afternoon, where a line of prostrate protestors was dusted repeatedly with pepper spray, as they non-violently demanded the release of the 5 students arbitrarily arrested for engaging in the Davis occupation.  Through the power of their presence and their voice, hundreds of UC Davis students then stood down and dispersed the dozens of riot cops who had come to stand down and disperse them.

As the regents scheduled a multi-location teleconference to approve expenditures without a reliable plan for revenues, thus locking in tuition hikes if (and when) state funding fails to arrive, Occupy UCLA briefly regrouped on Friday and pledged to reconvene on Monday, while Davis protesters gave a moving display of the power we all hold as students and as citizens as they silently confronted Chancellor Kartehi while she exited a closed press conference on the brutality of the day before.  President Yudof, however, continues to have full faith and confidence in the chancellors.

If you look through the photos of the marches, occupations, demonstrations, building take overs, sit-ins, and other forms of direct action that have swept the state, you’ll spot AWDU.  Occupy Wall Street may have been evicted from Liberty Plaza, but things are just warming up at the UC.  AWDU’s in it for the long haul; come and join in.


Occupy at UCLA
Take Back UCLA
UCLA Fights Back
Make Wall Street Banks Pay


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