BAMN Statement for the November 15 UC-Berkeley Strike

Ronald Cruz November 15, 2011 Affirmative Action, Immigrants Rights, Labor Movement, Police Brutality, Public Education Comments Off on BAMN Statement for the November 15 UC-Berkeley Strike
  • Remove Chancellor Birgeneau!
  • FREE SPEECH for students: amnesty for protesters, charge the police who brutalized protesters
  • Reverse the fee hikes, cuts, and layoffs to at least their 2009 levels
  • Increase underrepresented minority student enrollment: Restore affirmative action and overturn Prop 209
  • Make UCB a sanctuary campus for undocumented immigrants; Implement a UC-wide Dream Act
  • Equal benefits and retirement security for all UC workers

STRIKE on Tuesday, November 15

NOON RALLY at Sproul Plaza     NOON-2PM TEACH-OUTS    2PM RALLY against police violence and other, related forms of violence.    2:30PM MARCH     5PM MASS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON SPROUL

Shut down the UC Regents’ meeting – UPDATE!

In another victory for the movement, the UC Regents cancelled their meeting this week! Follow #followbamn on Twitter for updates.

On November 9, 2011, UC-Berkeley students struck and began to occupy the Cal campus. We decided to stand up for ourselves, our dignity, for each other and for our futures. Inspired by the example set by Oakland’s occupations and general strike that shut down the 5th largest port in the nation, Berkeley students rejected the cynicism and hypocrisy of the politicians, university leaders, and news media who have been telling us that we must accept a dog-eat-dog world in which our lives are becoming worse and worse and where poverty, inequality, and world-political and environmental uncertainty are ever growing.

Repression Only Strengthened Our Determination and Expanded the Movement

We demanded greater free speech and democracy, so that our world can solve the enormous problems facing it and be governed, not by the greedy interests of a few enforcing their order at the point of a gun, but rather by rational and humane principles. Chancellor Birgeneau’s brutal policy of allowing the police to beat us for daring to act on our hopes and strivings for a better future only increased our determination and drew massive support behind us.

Despite Birgeneau’s over-the-top brutality, students bravely stood their ground and thousands amassed at Sproul Plaza in solidarity, forcing Birgeneau to back off and handing him a defeat. Berkeley’s entrance into the emerging global movement against social and economic injustice is an enormous gain for the whole movement. We are winning if we continue to stand on our best selves and fight for each other and our principles.

Mass, Militant Action Builds Our Power and Wins Concrete Gains

On Tuesday, November 15 we will strike once again to show we have the power to shut down this University. Two years ago, the mass, militant demonstration at the UC Regents’ meeting at UCLA on November 2009 sparked a statewide militant student struggle challenging the University for power, and forced hundreds of millions of dollars from Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature. If we take mass action this Tuesday, we will further the new student movement’s power immensely.

UC-Berkeley students now, like the students at UC-Berkeley who launched the Free Speech Movement in Fall 1964, are in the position to launch a new phase of mass, worldwide, radical student-led struggle to fundamentally transform our society. To the world, Berkeley is both the barometer and the trend-setter for the international student movement. On November 9, 2011, we became the first university campus in the Occupy movement to succeed in a direct, open confrontation with our campus administration.

To Win, We Must Unite the Movement for Economic Justice with the New Civil Rights/Immigrant Rights Movement, Latino/a and Black Communities

On Nov. 12, UC-Berkeley students accomplished two more milestones: becoming the first Occupy movement in the country to express our growing optimism that we can win by adopting a clear set of demands, and the first to adopt demands that openly unite the movement against economic injustice with the new civil rights/immigrant rights movement and the powerful and growing immigrant, Latina/o, black, and other minority  communities who have been the most victimized by the economic crisis.

Remove Chancellor Birgeneau

Our defense on November 9, 2011 of our right to have an occupation was rooted not only in response to Chancellor Birgeneau’s outrageous police abuse against our fellow students. The shocking violence by UCPD, Alameda County Sheriffs, and Oakland PD, all under Birgeneau’s authority, against peaceful protesters—jabbing people in the gut and kidneys, yanking students by their hair, and a conscious policy of targeting strong women leaders on the front lines—was more than isolated excesses, but rather a deliberate, planned effort to nip our potentially powerful movement in the bud.

Privatization and Austerity Requires Repression of Democracy

Birgeneau’s policy of repression is the direct byproduct of the increased privatization of our University. The corporate and private partnerships that Birgeneau has cultivated for UC Berkeley are not favorable toward protracted student struggle and unrest.  Student power runs counter to the rich elite upon whose donations the University increasingly depends. Hence, Birgeneau’s privatization policies would make Berkeley a place where Free Speech is dead.

Birgeneau has shown his true colors as an enemy of public education and has got to go. Forcing his removal will be a powerful gain for our new movement, and assert that students at universities everywhere have the right to free speech and to stop the era of privatization that he has implemented.

The Dangers Facing our New Movement

The greatest danger our new movement faces is not Birgeneau’s police, but rather the bad advice we will hear from some who will try to shut down our movement in the interests of directing our energies toward electing Democrats before the presidential campaign season begins January 2012. This won’t be stated openly, but this will be their actual aim.

They will argue against shutting down the Regents’ meeting or other powerful mass direct actions. The tremendous authority and popular support that the Occupy Oakland and Berkeley movements are drawing in is based upon our boldness in action, unwavering optimism, obvious joy and courage to tell the truth and our rejection of the cynicism and pessimism of mainstream politics.

Mass, Direct Action – Not Moral Appeals

These were not moral appeals or stunts designed to highlight our victimization—putting tape over our mouths, bearing coffins, lying down to get arrested, etc.—tactics that students have used futilely for decades. We cannot afford to demoralize ourselves or those who look to us for hope and inspiration.

Demands adopted by the General Assembly on Nov. 12, 2011:

Local Demands:
• Respect Free Speech, Including the Right to Set up Tents • Immediate Resignation of Robert J. Birgeneau, George Breslauer, Harry Le Grande, and Chief of Police Mitch Celaya. Democratic Election of their Replacements by Students, Faculty, and Staff. • No Use of Force against Protests on Campus. • Charge the Police Responsible for Brutalizing Protesters. • Amnesty for All Protesters. No criminal or Code of Conduct charges. • Make UC-Berkeley a Sanctuary Campus for All Undocumented People. Pass the UC-Wide Dream Act. • Equal Benefits and Retirement Security for All Unionized UC Workers.

Statewide Demands:
• Reverse the Fee Hikes, Cuts, and Layoffs to at Least their 2009 Levels. • Refund Public Education and Public Services: Tax the Banks and Billionaires. Repeal Prop 13. • Full Implementation of Affirmative Action. Overturn Prop 209.

Nationwide Demands:
• Stop the Privatization of Public Education. •Bail Out Schools and Public Services. •Redirect Military Funding to Education. • Immediate Forgiveness of All Student Debt. •Stop the Attacks on Teachers Unions. • Repeal “Race to the Top”

Others will argue that our movement should not have  leaders who can be held accountable, or that we should not have demands or try to pretend that demands that were voted on by the General Assembly don’t exist. But all this amounts to simply leaving the task of leading and defining the political program for the Occupy movement to the Democratic Party. The Democrats, meanwhile, already control the state and most of the federal government and have been the primary implementers of the attack on public education. Our movement should not be reduced to a device to reelect the same people who are already betraying us.

Fight to Win, Join BAMN

Our enemies are arrogant and are committed to the suicidal policy of “solving” the economic crisis on the backs of the poor. They have no answers to the fundamental crises of the economy, the vast and increasing inequality within and between nations, and global warming. They are vastly fearful of our movement gaining any sense of its power by winning a victory at any level.

Our movement cannot succeed on enthusiasm and joy alone, and needs to develop new leaders who study and learn from history and can step forward as open and accountable leaders so that we act on a political perspective that can win. The movement needs new leaders to make the decision to fully break with the rich who are leading our society and the planet to ruin, and to embrace the joy and solidarity of fighting for justice and a viable future.

Those of us who have followed closely or joined in the mass actions of the past few weeks, who have embraced and loved the actions and savored each of our tactical victories, and who have analyzed how and why we are winning, must step forward and assume leadership of our movement now.

BAMN is the only organization that understands that to win we must unite the students’ struggles to the power and will to fight of the California’s most oppressed communities. The most powerful social force for progress in California is its vast and growing Latina/o community. The historic struggle for black freedom and to end racism against all minorities is central to the movement for progress in America.

BAMN exists to articulate the demands that young activists are implicitly fighting for in a political program, and to teach the youth who want to fight how they can win. Like Martin Luther King, we are never scared to speak the plain truth about racism and poverty, or to expose the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful who practice reverse Robin Hood policies to steal from the poor to give to themselves.

Our job is to reach out to the best, most serious and inspired leaders of the actions and develop their political understanding so that they can build and lead a powerful, integrated, youth-led civil rights movement that can win lasting gains and shift the balance of power to favor the oppressed. We urge all of those who share our vision to join BAMN, so that we can build the power of our new movement and make our vision for America real.

  Join BAMN! BAMN meets Thurs, Nov. 17, at 7:00pm at UCB’s MLK Student Union in the Douglas Fir Room (4th Floor).


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