Given a boost from Lieutenant Pike, who pepper sprayed UC Davis students over a week ago, students are launching occupations and harnessing the energy of the Occupy movement to call attention to budget cuts and tuition hikes at colleges and universities. They are even organizing an Occupy Student Debt campaign to convince one millions students to refuse to pay back their student loan debt because “student loans should be interest-free; that tuition at all public institutions should be federally funded; that private and for-profit colleges should open their financial records to the public; and students’ ‘debt burden’ should be written off.”
While most were wondering what would happen next to Occupy Philly and Occupy LA, students in the University of California system were taking on the UC Regents at a meeting by teleconference at four separate campuses (UC Davis, UCLA, UC Merced and UC San Francisco), where a spending plan for the coming year was to be passed. Students were hoping to stop the passage of a tuition hike.
The regents, according to Carolyn McMillan of the UC Newsroom, gave students more time than usual to publicly comment on the recent police brutality on the UC Davis campus and issue of rising tuition. Board Chair Sherry Lansing appeared to grasp the weight of student concerns saying, “We hear you and share your concerns…We will march with you side by side on the steps of the Capitol to stop these tuition hikes.” But, the increase passed because the Regents claimed they needed to pass it to maintain university funding.
Students disrupted the meeting forcing the regents to relocate. According to San Jose Mercury News, “20 minutes into the main agenda, students at UC Davis stood up, called a mike check, and said the regents should be meeting to discuss issues such as the greed of banks and the plight of students paying too much for their education.”
UCLA students had camped overnight and were ready to protest. A student told Huffington Post reporter Kathleen Miles, “We no longer see the regents as legitimate. They are appointed instead of elected, they serve for 12 years, and only a couple of them have a background in education.” She added, “With only one student regent versus 18 other regents and no way to veto or recall them, it’s not a democratic system…If there was another way to work with the system other than camping in a tent over night, we would do it.”
Yesterday was a day of general strike at the UC Davis campus. A local news report suggested interest in the strike was lukewarm. The students ended up holding a sit-in in Dutton Hall. About 50 students were there throughout the night, participating in a General Assembly.
On the east coast, City University of New York (CUNY) students held a major demonstration against tuition increases. The student demonstration, which garnered union support, did not stop the CUNY Board of Trustees from passing the increase. Rosie Gray of the Village Voice reported:
The NYPD set up barricades and the school cancelled afternoon classes in anticipation of the protest, which attracted several hundred people including a large union contingent and a sprinkling of recognizable Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Despite the protesters’ efforts, the CUNY board of trustees voted 15 to 1 to raise tuition. The hikes will raise the price of tuition by $300 annually, a 31 percent increase over four years.
Two city councilmen, Ydanis Rodriguez of Washington Heights and Charles Barron of East New York, attended (Rodriguez was injured and arrested by NYPD in the Occupy Wall Street Eviction on November 15).
On Twitter, @StudentActivism tweeted some background, “When CUNY was for poor white kids it was free. Now it reflects the city it serves, & tuition keeps going up” and “CUNY was founded in 1847. Implemented open admissions in 1970. Ended free tuition in 1975.”
Firedoglake’s premier live blog continues now. Here is a Twitter list to follow for the latest updates. All times are EST.
LIVESTREAM FROM OCCUPY LA
12:00 AM Like Occupy Oakland before they were raided, Occupy LA is fortifying the camp (via @punkboyinsf)
10:16 PM I am keeping an eye on Occupy LA. Lisa Derrick is on the ground. If you are going to be following the action, I will be adding a livestream here soon. The situation is escalating. LAPD appears to be planning to go to war against Occupy LA and whatever they do to the occupation they will have the media feeling super vulnerable because they are going to be “outfitted in special protective clothing before the raid.”
LA Weekly has more on how the press have been handled. It is a must-read. There are a lot of clues in the post on how Occupy LA might be handled. LAPD is really going to go in with a big force. People nearby LA really need to go down there to bear witness tonight.
9:10 PM Pretty certain there will be a major police operation tonight and Occupy LA will get evicted. This is being reported now: ”City buses will be staged near City Hall between 8pm-4am tonight. City Employees are being asked allowed to leave early.” (via @OccupyLA)
9:00 PM 2 Occupy Phoenix protesters are cited for… illegal camping
8:55 PM Now Lisa Derrick has an update on the LAPD’s plans for handling press at Occupy LA
7:10 PM Occupy San Diego — Police arrest Ray Lutz, a former congressional candidate, who setup a voter registration table at Civic Center Plaza this afternoon.
7:03 PM In Canada, police branded Occupy Montreal protesters that were arrested with a marker that can only be seen under UV light. This was done without the consent of protesters.
5:28 PM LAPD is using a lottery to decide which press get to be in a “pool” to cover Occupy LA as they conduct whatever police operation they have planned for Occupy LA. LAPD tweeted about this earlier (but you cannot read LAPD tweets because they are protected).
Ruth Fowler of Occupy LA put up a post on this:
This essentially means from now onwards, only a limited number of pre-agreed media endorsed by LAPD are allowed on Solidarity Park (formerly known as City Hall) property to report on Occupy LA and our battles with the LAPD and City Council’s attempts to evict us. I immediately emailed a member of the press who was in this meeting representing a MSM publication, and received this response:
They were only going to let in one media outlet for each medium (print, tv and radio) but we convinced them to let in three….the only media eligible for pool were those who were on the LAPD press release list and able to get to headquarters with an hours notice. So very few were represented at the meeting. I asked about independent radio/blogs and they said that only media with LAPD-issued badges would be allowed in the vicinity. I asked about those already at the camp and they said after the unlawful assembly order everyone who doesn’t leave will be arrested, even those who are journalists. Our attorney was looking into whether there were legal challenges to be made.
5:26 PM LAPD just handed this notice to Occupy LA participants (via @OccupySD)
5:15 PM Luke Rudkowski asks Black Friday shoppers why they are occupying.
5:11 PM Occupy Wall Street to protest the war profiteers tomorrow at 17th Annual Aerospace and Defense Finance Conference.
5:08 PM UC Davis students are still occupying Dutton Hall
5:06 PM Occupy Oakland will try to retake Frank Ogawa Plaza.
4:52 PM Classical music for the 99 percent
4:49 PM In Germany, anti-nuclear protesters are pepper sprayed.
4:41 PM Yes, Occupy Philly and Occupy LA still occupying. They haven’t been moved out by police yet. Threat of eviction still hangs over occupations. And it looks like Occupy DC could be facing eviction soon too.
4:24 PM Write-up on Amy Goodman’s interview with pepper spray developer on Democracy Now! this morning. I transcribed some of Kamran Loghman’s remarks and then went ahead wrote a paragraph that includes every instance of pepper spray use on Occupy protesters that I could find. If I missed one, let me know.
1:06 PM Revelations on how the state of Tennessee handled Occupy Nashville: before the camp was cleared and protesters began to be arrested, the state had billed them for the use of state troopers. The total bill, according to AP was $1,045.
Also, Jeff Woods of NashvilleScene.com posts on the emails that AP obtained on internal conversations around the curfew the state tried to arbitrarily impose on occupiers:
After announcing the 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew at Legislative Plaza, Thaddeus E. Watkins — attorney for the state Department of General Services — sent an email to the state attorney general’s office.
“Fun time has started,” Watkins wrote.
Yes, the laughter is killing us! Jailing idealistic young demonstrators and trampling on free-speech rights — it doesn’t get any more hilarious than that.
11:45 AM Police presence at DC occupations — in Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square — are increasing. Though, thirty minutes ago, @OccupyKSt tweeted, “All’s well at McPherson Square. Police were on scene to remove a person who has consistently been violating both legal and camp guidelines.”
11:11 AM Why Occupy protests:
11:03 AM Four were arrested at protests at the Wasthington state capitol. Three of the protesters there were tased. The police spokesperson claims the tasers were used on people trying to enter the building after it had closed. Also, in this article, it is reported that a protester bit an officer in the arm. Not sure if that really happened or not.
11:01 AM Report on the Occupy protests in the Washington state capitol building yesterday during a special session being held to deal with the state’s budget. Two thousand, at least, occupied the capitol.
9:49 AM Say hello to a new occupation: Occupy Peoria in Illinois. They just spent their first night occupying. Anyone near Peoria is encouraged to go to the camp and give the PM shift some relief in the AM.
9:45 AM First Occupy Long Beach protester convicted of the heinous crime of “park camping.” Fourteen others face charges of “park camping.” Don’t let these menaces near public parks in your area. They are liable to start up a peaceable assembly against something going on in the world that they do not like.
9:40 AM Occupy Raleigh is paying rent to camp — I am not sure any camp should be doing this. The Occupy movement is about reclaiming or taking space. It is about the idea that citizens have a right to public space to occupy and voice grievances against government. Having to pay money to hold a 24/7 camp is antithetical to the movement’s spirit, it would seem.
9:38 AM Allison Kilkenny’s report on the CUNY students’ demonstration and march against increasing the cost of tuition yesterday.
9:32 AM Rob Kall, editor-in-chief of OpEdNews, friend and a former mentor of mine, is based in Philadelphia and wrote about the impending Occupy Philly eviction. He put it nicely:
This eviction process has hit many of the biggest Occupy Wall Street locations. I don’t think it forebodes the end of the movement. Rather, it signifies a new stage that will emerge. Think of it as similar to a caterpillar going into a cocoon. The activity seems to cease. Time passes, and then, an incredible, magical metamorphosis occurs and a butterfly or moth emerges, ready to fly instead of walk.
There were many signs at Occupy Philly stating “the movement is an idea that cannot be evicted.” If you’ve seen caterpillar cocoons, you know how dingy and grey they can look. You don’t see the incredible transformation happening inside. I am certain that the Occupy movement is going through a metamorphosis stage– one that will shock and amaze the world– one that will take the movement to a higher, soaring level.