Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sac State uses riot police to evict sleeping students

SACRAMENTO, California, USA - A group of students peacefully occupying the administration on the California State University, Sacramento to protest budget cuts - and the way CSUS is cutting classes and faculty  - were rousted from their sleep at 3:30 a.m. Friday and threatened with arrest by police clad in full riot gear.

The move on the part of the police came after the students spent days trying to convince university president Alexander Gonzalez to pledge - among other things - to put a hold on more salary increases for his administrators.

Police enter, ready to arrest
He declined.

The middle-of-the-night eviction is best described by the students themselves in their online blog:

"This morning on the fourth day, April 16 at 3:24 A.M. we were met with the administration’s opposition expressed through a riot taskforce...

...At 3:24 AM there was a police officer at the front doors unlocking the entrance, when asked what was happening and why, we were told that he could not answer that question. At the same time police were assembling in a militant formation with full riot gear, batons, and a large amount of zip ties. They were approaching sleeping students from multiple directions within the building. They threatened with force that if we did not leave we would face arrest. Our police liaison met with Lieutenant Christine Lofthouse that if we did not leave the peaceful demonstration that we would face arrest...

...When the police moved in to take action there were only about 4 students awake out of 27. The campus police felt that it was necessary to wear full riot gear, and act in a threatening manner to a completely non violent student movement...

Here is a link to the student's blog about the occupation and the subsequent police action: LINKSac State students speak out

The middle-of-the-night police action was, of course, designed to ensure that there would be a minimum amount of media coverage. All the TV anchors (and their cameras) were sound asleep at that hour and so there would be no opportunity for the students to get their message out.

Ready to lock the doors
A clever move on the part of the public relations staff at the university. But did the police have to show up in riot gear? Really?

What that  cleverness on the part of the CSU, Sacramento administration has done is galvanize the students - and not just the 27 who were in the building. Across campus, students are likely talking about the president's unwillingness to take their demands seriously.

And they are pretty angry at the police tactics.

"This is only the beginning, we are committed and we will see this through. To put it in the words a fellow activist said “even though we walked away from our sit in, we have not walked away from our movement."

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