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UC Berkeley Rape Survivor Stephanie Garcia and Other BAMN Organizers Respond to Daily Cal’s Opposition to BAMN’s Victorious Fight To Remove Rapist Omar Pedroza

BAMN December 5, 2015 Featured, Rape and Sexual Assault Comments Off on UC Berkeley Rape Survivor Stephanie Garcia and Other BAMN Organizers Respond to Daily Cal’s Opposition to BAMN’s Victorious Fight To Remove Rapist Omar Pedroza
UC Berkeley Rape Survivor Stephanie Garcia and Other BAMN Organizers Respond to Daily Cal’s Opposition to BAMN’s Victorious Fight To Remove Rapist Omar Pedroza

Stephanie Garcia speaking at BAMN’s Public Tribunal to fight rape and sexual assault, the three women who were part of writing this statement spoke on the panel, about fighting their rape or the rape of their friend.

BAMN Op-ED Submitted to the Daily Cal Student Newspaper:

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation … want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass, 1857

BAMN, in the spirit of Frederick Douglass, Dr. King, and the new civil rights movement, has put the student movement in a position to cement the Affirmative Consent Law (“Yes Means Yes” SB 967) into policy among university administrations requiring that they provide and enact real legal protections for women who are raped and who bravely come forward to fight for justice. As in Brown v. Board of Education, it took Dr. King and the civil rights movement building mass, militant direct action in order to force the state to enforce the Brown ruling when the court stated it would only do so “with all deliberate speed.” BAMN is building a movement to end the 40 years of broken promises where, despite lip-service to the contrary, rape has been covered-up by college and university administrations across college campuses nationwide. BAMN leaders and other survivors are coming forward to publicly name rapists, mobilizing direct actions to expose, confront, and drive them off college campuses. Some of us in BAMN, as survivors, made the pivotal decision to publicly come forward as leaders to fight for justice against the men who raped us. Thanks to the movement we built, the UC Berkeley administration upheld their earlier finding that Omar Pedroza was guilty of rape. Going public and taking matters into our own hands, we won. Our victory points the way forward to a new era of progress.

Yet in the face of our victory, the Senior Editorial Board at the Daily Californian responds as the white establishment and clergy did to Dr. King in Birmingham in April 1963, during his struggle to defeat the old Jim Crow. The eight clergymen in Birmingham issued an open letter to Dr. King appealing for “law and order,” calling for the fight against segregation to be pressed in the courts and not in the streets. They labeled Dr. King an “outside agitator” and proclaimed that the demonstrations were “unwise and untimely.” Dr. King wrote a scathing response criticizing the “sympathy” the clergy claimed to profess while ultimately acting to uphold the status quo of Jim Crow segregation. The Editorial Board condemns, as Dr. King characterized, our “marvelous new militancy” of a new period for the struggle for women’s liberation inspired by the struggle against racist police murder ignited on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

The national epidemic of rape and sexual assault across college campuses is well-documented, as are the longstanding crimes that college administrations have committed against brave women who have come forward to report their rape. The documentary movie The Hunting Ground reveals how administrations resisted at every step, covering-up these crimes, and thus becoming accomplices to the rape and sexual assaults. We in BAMN have experienced this directly. We continue to fight against these injustices through student mobilizations as well as in the courts. BAMN has filed a lawsuit against another rapist, Chester Brown, and against Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) for their cover up of the rape and for violating the civil rights of Muslim women. We know the fallacy of relying on an administration and a judicial system, both which cannot be relied upon to render justice.

The Editorial Board’s reference to the idea of “triggering” is ultimately a false pretense espoused by the administration using the pretext that it is a policy to protect students who have been raped or sexually assaulted. The real aim of the policy is to protect the “secret” of the epidemic of rape and sexual assault happening on their campuses. It is meant to protect the identity of the rapist and instead drive the student who was raped into isolation and frequently out of the university. The policy of “avoiding triggering” and the silence imposed by it is counter-posed to the real demand of the movement to publicly name the rapist and keep him off the university. That is the key to empowering the student movement and shifting the balance of power towards the side of women. The administration fosters the idea that the rape survivor needs to be protected from reliving the trauma, when in actuality, this policy of secrecy is the second crime against the survivor; it is a policy of cover-up and endangering other women through protecting of the identity of the rapist. The reality is that students who are assaulted relive the trauma on a daily basis through the constant fear and experience of seeing their rapist on the campus. Addressing this problem requires getting at the root—taking direct action to keep rapists off campus.

BAMN stands on the truth. Omar Pedroza raped Stephanie Nicole Garcia. Chester Brown raped Aarefah Mosavi. BAMN demands justice by any means necessary, and yet the Editorial Board cries out just as the eight clergymen did in Birmingham that we have resorted to “extreme measures” by taking the struggle for justice to the streets. They join the “liberal” reaction who professes to favor freedom, yet deprecates militant direct action. They refuse to name Omar Pedroza and speak of an abstract sanctity of a legal system that refuses to protect women and youth. For years the endless poster campaigns and solutions presented by the university administration have failed to provide any meaningful protections for women. The Senior Editorial Board promotes the false ideal that there is no truth, that the side of injustice should have a seat at the table along with their “right” to defend sexist and racist positions. The Daily Cal reduces the solution to the epidemic of rape and sexual assault to the need to “foster dialogue.” We disagree.

Sexism, rape, and sexual assault is a question of power. We must fight the second-class treatment that women face. BAMN is building a movement for women’s empowerment, for the equality of women, and to end the cycle of rape and sexual abuse. We take militant direct action to protect ourselves, other rape survivors, and to empower women across college campuses and throughout the nation. BAMN champions the rights of women and other oppressed groups against sexism and against racism and the new Jim Crow.

The Senior Editorial Board, by condemning the militancy of our movement against rape and sexual assault and our independence from the administration, has betrayed the struggle for women’s liberation and the fight for equality on the UC Berkeley campus. The Daily Californian should be a voice of the growing new civil rights movement, not a reactionary mouthpiece for the conservative university administration. Actions speak louder than words. Join BAMN. If you are a rape survivor and want to make a public fight, contact us. We will continue this fight until “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Submitted By the Following BAMN Organizers: 

 Stephanie Nicole Garcia, UC Berkeley Student and Rape Survivor

Aarefah Mosavi, UC Berkeley Student and Rape Survivor

Angela Dancev, UC Berkeley Alum 

David Douglass, UC Berkeley Alum 

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About The Author

BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.

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