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A Poet’s-Eye View of Occupy Berkeley

Posted on Nov 21, 2011

Riot police from a Bay Area precinct battle with students on the UC Berkeley campus on Nov. 9.

When he caught wind of conflict between students and police on campus, former poet laureate and UC Berkeley professor Robert Hass rushed to the scene on Nov. 9, only to witness local riot police beating students—and eventually his wife and him, too—with billy clubs. Here’s his elegantly worded account.  —KA

The New York Times:

Earlier that day a colleague had written to say that the campus police had moved in to take down the Occupy tents and that students had been “beaten viciously.” I didn’t believe it. In broad daylight? And without provocation? So when we heard that the police had returned, my wife, Brenda Hillman, and I hurried to the campus. I wanted to see what was going to happen and how the police behaved, and how the students behaved. If there was trouble, we wanted to be there to do what we could to protect the students.

Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd. It looked like the oldest of military maneuvers, a phalanx out of the Trojan War, but with billy clubs instead of spears. The students were wearing scarves for the first time that year, their cheeks rosy with the first bite of real cold after the long Californian Indian summer. The billy clubs were about the size of a boy’s Little League baseball bat. My wife was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children, when one of the deputies reached out, shoved my wife in the chest and knocked her down.

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By felicity, November 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

Ozark - I think it’s humanly impossible for a
reporter/journalist to be objective - after all, the
‘subject’ is delivering the news.  I was unaware that
Leftists wanted all news scrubbed of objectivity. And
I’m assuming then that the Right also wants all news
scrubbed of objectivity.

If such are the cases, it is my responsibility to
read both ‘presentations’ of the same news item.  Of
course, I won’t necessarily end up with the ‘truth.’ 

(To cut reporters some slack, it’s a good idea to
remember that harried reporters tend to see breaking
news through the rear view mirror of premises they
haven’t had time to examine.  But that’s not supposed
to be the plight of journalists - there’s a huge
difference between the two cats, or so they argue.  I
sometimes have my doubts.)

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, November 22, 2011 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

Nope, i dont know that all the students who participated are Leftists. So you are right about that.

But I do know that Leftists want all reports to be scrubbed of objectivity. There are several Truthdig articles calling for that, including this one coincidently entitled “Away with Objectivity”:

Read it and let me know what you think.

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By felicity, November 22, 2011 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

OzarkMichael - do you know for a fact that the
Berkeley students who participated in the rally are
all Leftists? Now I’ll pull a you and say that all
Rightists are indiscriminate with their epithets.

Aside from that, my student/granddaughter was at the
demonstration (didn’t get clubbed.)  She related to
me that some of the demonstrators were definitely not
abiding by the rules of non-violent demonstrating, in
fact, some were deliberately shoving others into the
cops.  I’ve participated through the years in many
non-violent demonstrations and have always suspected
that there were a few among us who intended to
deliberately provoke the cops to violence.  I’ve
always figured, well this is democracy and democracy
is always messy so don’t sweat it.

(I’ve also suspected that the provokers may have been
Rightist plants.)

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By OzarkMichael, November 22, 2011 at 6:59 am Link to this comment

Elegantly worded and completely lacking objectivity.

Just what Leftists love best.

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