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Thread: Red White Blue
03-21-03, 05:28 PM #1
Red White Blue
American flag flies upside down, ribbons for troops trampled at UC Berkeley Protest
Protesters: "The most heinous attack on innocence"
Chancellor: Bush abuses history
Story by Steve Sexton
Photos by Amaury Gallais and Ashley Rudmann
10:45 PM, 3/20/2003
It is a war that will slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi’s to hear it from the hundreds of anti-war protesters who rallied at UC Berkeley today. A massive demonstration that included the overtaking of the administration building followed what most considered to be a highly successful and surprising start to the war in Iraq—a night that included selective targeting of military targets and Iraqi leaders, including Saddam Hussein himself.
Protesters chanted anti-war slogans and anti-Bush rhetoric on Sproul Plaza during a noontime walkout from classes that attracted the attention of more than a thousand students and community members. Leaders of the protest took to a microphone on the steps of the administration building on the plaza before moving inside to disrupt the administrfation’s operations in a sit-in that lasted throughout the afternoon and resulted in 117 arrests.
Snehal Shinghavi, a graduate student instructor and leader of the local chapter of the International Socialist Organization said the ongoing conflict will “senselessly kill hundreds of thousands of people.”
“The Bush government is going to perpetrate the slaughter of innocence in one of the most heinous attacks on innocence,” Shinghavi told the amassed crowd that clogged the entire plaza, the major nexus on campus. “This war—the so-called ‘shock and awe’ is about scaring us and silencing our opposition about what this administration does.”
UC Berkeley Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies Michael Nagler, who was on campus during the Vietnam War protests in the 1960s, said he spoke earlier in the day with a Norwegian reporter to whom he said: “Fifty years ago we came and saved you from fascism. It’s time for you to return the favor.” Nagler, who teaches about nonviolence and meditation, urged the students to boycott the mass media in favor of reports from independent journalists who he says the Pentagon has targeted and plotted to kill.
Surrounded by the peace activists, members of the Berkeley College Republicans distributed yellow ribbons as a symbol of support for the U.S. troops. They were able to hand some off to opponents of the war, while others of the protesters jeered and derided the troops. Some anti-war activists took the yellow ribbons, threw them on the ground and stomped on them repeatedly. Others took the basket filled with the ribbons and hurled it across the plaza, causing many of the small yellow ribbons to fall to the plaza ground.
“It is completely abhorrent,” said Melanie Smith, a Republican freshman who witnessed both events. “It’s one thing to oppose this war, but to stomp on symbols of support for the troops—that they return swiftly and safely—is beyond the pale. It just goes to prove that many of these people are not just anti-war, but anti-American and want us to lose this war.”
Members of the Army ROTC had also been handing out yellow ribbons on Sproul Plaza earlier in the day, but turned in as the anti-war activists began to amass around noon, saying they wanted to avoid the hateful slurs that are sometimes hurled at them when in uniform.
The protesters chanted, “No blood for oil,” and “Bush says drop bombs. We say drop Bush.” Ralliers repeatedly declared a list of three demands that call for the university to make the University of Baghdad a sister university, to not raise student fees during the war, and to oppose the policies regarding foreign students studying in the U.S. that were implemented to track those students after the September 11 attacks. At one point during the protest, the crowd booed the newly created Homeland Security Department, charged with ensuring safety on the U.S. mainland.
As the protesters made their way into Sproul Hall after about an hour of demonstrating on the building’s front steps, they reminded the crowd that it was a day of peace and that students entering the building should remain peaceful. But things turned violent shortly after several hundred students flooded into the building, which was heavily guarded by police who did not attempt to stop the protesters from entering.
After the building was filled with protesters chanting and shutting down normal operations within, the police attempted to stop access to the building, which was limited to one doorway that had not been locked down in advance of the sit-in. Four to six police officers tried to block the stream of students through the doorway and were pushing against the protesters pushing to get in. The police were eventually overtaken by the protesters who, with the support of countless bodies, overtook the police officers and effectively gained control of the building for more than an hour. This all occurred as the chief of staff to the chancellor, the dean of students, the chief of police and other top administrators looked on from inside.
The protesters were informed after just over an hour that they would be arrested if they remained in the building. Some left, heeding the warning, but others stayed behind, reassured by the words of the leaders who told the protesters that any criminal or student conduct charges filed against them would surely be dropped as they had been in previous cases. Just last month, charges against several dozen students involved in a building takeover last April were dropped, even after the university had pursued the cases for nearly a year at a cost to taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars.
“The charges will very likely be dropped,” the protester Shinghavi told the students inside the building, in an effort to encourage them to stay until arrested.
Today’s sit-in is the third time in a year that a campus building has been occupied and effectively shutdown by protesters. The April incident during a pro-Palestinian protest is considered a more significant violation because it disrupted classes and midterms, a greater offense than the disruption of the administration. Numerous students, however, complained that their classes and midterms had been disturbed by fire alarms pulled a half hour before the rally began.
Police said that although the students announced their intentions a half hour before they stormed the building, the students could not be barred from entering the building until they disrupted normal operations. So the police stood by as the students entered the building en masse.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl has been trying to defend the patriotism of his university, ever since its patriotism was questioned on the national scene when school officials decided last fall to exclude symbols of patriotism from the university’s official 9-11 remembrance ceremony on the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
In a radio address to the campus community, the chancellor said this month that, “one of the costs of this war on terrorism has been the fear of being labeled unpatriotic.”
“Nothing is more unpatriotic, nothing is more un-American, than to accept without question the pronouncements of our government,” Berdahl said, while remarking on a lack of dissent against the Bush administration in the country, which he says is the result of fear.
03-21-03, 05:29 PM #2
But there was no word from the chancellor on whether the flying of the American Flag upside down right outside his office is more un-American than not dissenting from the President.
Students, faculty and staff on campus early yesterday morning saw the official flag of the university flying upside down—a sign of distress. Several witnesses, including Patriot staffers, said they saw the flag upside down, and other witnesses said it appeared a bag of garbage hung from the flag.
The university did take swift action to right the flag once it was pointed out to them. “As soon as we became aware of it, we changed it,” said John Cummins, the chancellor’s chief of staff.
But those who saw the flag upside down said they were utterly disheartened.
“I was shocked and dismayed by what I saw,” UC Berkeley student Philip Wilson told the Patriot. “ I saw our flag, the symbol of our freedom and honor, hung upside down with what looked like a bag of refuse attached to it.”
Chancellor Berdahl came out earlier this week with remarks opposing what was then a looming war in Iraq.
“I feel as though this is an unprecedented departure in American foreign policy: to launch an offensive attack on a sovereign nation that does not, even by the estimates of the administration, pose an immediate threat,” Berdahl told the Berkeleyan. “Nor has it attacked us directly. It really crosses a psychological threshold that we have never crossed before in our foreign policy. And it’s an important threshold insofar as it’s always easier to cross it again once it has been crossed.”
Saying that his remarks are not on behalf of the university, the chancellor also told the Berkeleyan that “this has been an historic turning point in American foreign policy, one that has left NATO in tatters and the United Nations seriously damaged — all the international institutions that have been built up since the Second World War.”
“It’s a radical departure, and I can’t help being concerned about it as an American citizen,” he said.
Today he penned a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle in which he alleged the Bush administration has abused the lessons of history in making their case for war.
His recent outspokenness on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq anger Dave Galich, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, who said the chancellor’s remarks serve to extenuate the imbalance of political discourse on the campus.
“He says he wants a balanced discourse,” Galich said. “But why come out with these remarks that just reinforce the dominant view on campus and serve to further alienate conservative students who are already intimidated from speaking up against professors or fellow students? It’s outrageous.”
Angel S. Brewer contributed to this report.
03-21-03, 05:30 PM #3
Fans boo The Star Spangled Banner
Posted: Friday March 21, 2003 12:50 AM
MONTREAL (AP) -- Fans booed during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the New York Islanders' 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
The sellout crowd of 21,273 at Bell Centre was asked to "show your support and respect for two great nations" before the singing of the American and Canadian national anthems.
But a significant portion of the crowd booed throughout The Star Spangled Banner in an apparent display of their displeasure with the U.S.-led war against Iraq. More than 200,000 people turned out for an anti-war demonstration in Montreal last Saturday.
"I'm sure there are a lot of people against the war, but some things people can't control," said New York's Alexei Yashin, who is from Russia. "They were probably showing what they feel about it."
Teammate Mark Parrish, a native of Bloomington, Minn., was upset hearing the boos.
"I came to the game pretty pumped up, but once I heard that it really got me going," Parrish said. "So I guess I can thank them a little bit for getting me more pumped up."
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