Post-Occupation: The Final Hour

A certain small group of students is doing what it can to slander the occupation that occurred at Campbell Hall. CYNTHIA, a junior politician careerist bent on control, has helped to spread rumors that the occupation was carried out by mostly “older white males.” This rumor is absolutely without truth – the occupation was in fact planned and carried out by more minority students than whites — but is that important anyway?

The building was liberated and barricaded to keep the police and administration out while opening the space for student and youth autonomy. The building remained porous and was in fact, for the first time ever, under complete autonomous student discretion. Prior to the final meeting which destroyed the occupation, a rush of students had come in to the building creating an incredible energy of activity, excitement and anticipation. Friends were made, the building re-decorated, and the bathrooms were declared gender-neutral: while there was a general feeling of defeat on the outside from the day’s protest, inside Carter-Huggins Hall there was a revolution.

A meeting was called to discuss the occupation and was held in the building’s stairwell. It was derailed by student leader saboteurs who were threatened by the autonomy granted to students by the liberated space. It was and remains a concern that the building chosen for occupation provides services to minority students (whom the saboteurs condescendingly view as societal handicaps). Well, this concern is actually quite ridiculous – the space was opened to all students and youth regardless of their status as UCLA customers, and for 24-hours too, without the old hourly limitations of the building under university control. It is important to check race, class and privilege, we don’t deny this, but this is not what went on – the meeting devolved into mere race-baiting in an attempt by the saboteurs to take power of the occupied building. And they succeeded.

The student government leader, CYNTHIA, left the meeting 1/2 way through after using all of her time inside to change the positive horizontality of the building in to a hostile-bureaucracy. On her way out of the building CYNTHIA desecrated the legacy of Bunchy Carter and John Huggins by tearing down for the second time the banner declaring the hall Carter-Huggins Hall. After she tore down the banner, it was brought to our attention that she and her cronies had earlier sabotaged an attempt at direct action by a separate autonomous student group. The group had planned for months to storm the regents meeting at Covel Commons. CYNTHIA and her gang of movement-police linked arms in DEFENSE of the regents meeting, taking a load off the police, and thwarted the student group from rushing in to Covel.

These so-called student leaders swear they know the correct and objective form of protest. There is no respect for a multiplicity of tactics. By the time of time of the meeting, power had already been taken away from the university without asking permission from administrators or student leaders (are these even different categories?) and was redistributed horizontally. Unfortunately this freedom brings about the possibility of usurpation by those used to power, used to hanging above everyone from their ivory tower. These people thrive on the status quo, its their realm, and they always want to drag back those who escape.

There are CYNTHIA’s everywhere who make up and direct the movement-police to be encountered at any site of struggle. Occupation takes power and immediately destroys its concentrated form. Beware of bureaucrats, occupy everything!

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12 Responses to “Post-Occupation: The Final Hour”

  1. jubilee shine Says:

    you should occupy the student govt by winning election. that is how you beat cynthia.

    • wcstrong Says:

      That is totally a legit strategy. Obviously it takes a lot of energy and may not have seemingly as immediate results, but I know plenty of folks who have ran for office and used it to support activist groups either financially or other ways. Not the most radical, but could be part of a strategy as long as it does not turn into a bureaucratic thing. It has to be someone with a strong mind who can take the pressure.

      • jubilee shine Says:

        its all part of organizing & building. it takes more energy to fight off the opportunism of elected fake “leaders” when they can claim legitimacy of actually representing the constituency you are trying to mobilize. throw them out! out-organize them, beat them in elections & use those positions as weapons.

        before i was thrown out of rutgers in ’93 for taking over buildings &c, we had the majority of every student govt position at every college under our control. we paid to bring amiri baraka to campus, ramona afrika, &c &c. with student fees!

        when we spoke at administration meetings we were the undeniable voice of the campus. we could not be dismissed or circumvented. there were no issues with sabotage &c. when we were arrested, it was an assault on the entire student body who had elected us. no one could question our legitimacy or leadership.

        we organized dorm by dorm floor by floor room by room, recruiting members & supporters, collecting contacts & following up with floor meetings & hall meetings.

        i am now elected to the executive board of my union. this is the direction we must take- fight the enemy toe to toe & make them defend every position they have. democracy is the soft underbelly of monopoly capital/imperialism. unite the many, defeat the few!

        http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/14/nyregion/protests-disrupt-board-meeting-at-rutgers-u.html

        http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/23/nyregion/rutgers-phone-building-seized-in-tuition-protest.html

        http://www.nathannewman.org/EDIN/.educ/.youth/cco/ucpinfo/swnm/wris/pack4/org_tuit_rutgers.html

  2. Susan Li Says:

    hey,
    who are the coordinators of this event? i’d love to talk more to them about the purpose and reasons for this event. Please contact me!
    Thanks

  3. Such bullshit Says:

    I notice that the response from the detractors to the clarification that no, this wasn’t only white people, has been met with dead silence. Because, what, they are the arbiters of what people of color want?

  4. All true Says:

    Everyone who was inside there all night and day making that liberated space work knows the truth: they were living a dream with every stripe of student who had something to share in the struggle, which was damn near everyone. Until, that is, the student “leaders” came in and asserted control–just enough control to knock the movement off its tracks for a second, although no one person established dictatorship. They’re good–everyone in that stairwell saw a professional derailment conducted with a sharp tongue. It was one of many attempts by various individuals to derail the whole thing, several of them successful to some degree. Between the obvious snitches, the random violent professor, and the photogs who wanted to treat Carter-Huggins like a zoo tour, UCLA is a hostile space for an occupation, but 16 hours tells the story: by no means does a hostile campus mean a doomed occupation.

    It needs to be said, BTW, that privilege questions ALWAYS need to be taken seriously and there absolutely needed to be a discussion about it in that space. The problem was those few who fucked everyone else over with race-baiting. People were seen attacked for strawman positions that they didn’t even hold. Most important questions have nuanced answers.

  5. Wes Strong Says:

    Would it be possible to talk with someone or ask some questions via email about this situation at UCLA to include in a report on the UC and other cali actions for students/youth here in Connecticut? We are looking at ways to begin a seirous fight back and I think Cali actions are a great example and inspiration despite internal issues. Please let me know.

  6. UC Fights Back Says:

    I have revised timeline to reflect revisions. See ucfightsback.blogspot.com. Edits welcome.

  7. Jason Ahmadi (UCB alumnus) Says:

    Hey all you beautiful people,

    Sorry I was unable to return to the occupied space as I said I would. I came on a bus from Berkeley and did my best to support your action in the day that all of you decided to occupy the building. That first night I, along with four other people, had a cop-watch/Pippi Longstocking story telling on the back door to the building. It was an empowering act even though all we did was cuddle up together and read a story. I want to thank you all for taking the space and sharing it with the public. I am assuming from this post that the occupation has ended and I would like to congratulate you all for your action.

    I was also troubled by the lack of respect in diversity of tactics. I could not understand why some organizers seemed offended by the action. If anything your action supported the efforts at Covel Commons by dispersing the police presence to multiple locations, just as the actions at UCB, UCSC and UCD prevented the UCPD from sending most of their force to the Regents meeting as they usually do. I hope that you will all continue to reach out to allies who may disagree with you as we all need to be together to rescue our public education from privatization.

    This reminds me of a story of what happened from a UC Regents meeting at UCLA a year ago. It seemed like Deja Vu as they were voting to raise the fees and organizers at UCLA organized a tent city to encourage other campuses to come and show their support. Nine UCLA students decided that they would do a sit-in to try and disrupt the Regent’s meeting if they voted to raise the fees. The Regents voted to raise the fees again and 16 people decided they would perform an act of civil disobedience and get arrested at the meeting. Seven of those decided take action right on the spot because the extremely emotional nature of the Regent’s decision. Student organizers from UCSA were extremely pissed off at the original nine because they encouraged others to join them and one of their friends decided to get arrested with them. They were extremely violent in their language to the radical organizers and it seemed to create huge divisions in the movement. I remember names even if most do not remember me and I think it is pointless to bring them as it will probably only create more division.

    We need to stop this shit now. We face enough challenges from the opposition without fighting amongst ourselves. If someone does not respect your tactics then give them love. If you do not like another’s tactics try to understand their point of view and why they are taking the action they are taking. If you still disagree, either try to communicate your disagreement with love and not hate. If you can not do that, simply let them do their action and you take yours. Other’s action will only detract from your action if you let it. Call me a hippie if you like, but Love overcomes fear and we need to be together if we truly want to win.

    Also, none of you own this movement. I have been working on reforming the UC for three years now before the budget crisis and housing collapse and I know there have been people in it longer than me. This is the same things Mario Savio was talking about in the 60’s and even the movement came before him. This movement belongs to know one because it is all of ours and we must learn to share it and work with each other if we can even begin to imagine victory. We must crush our egos, recognize our privilege and realize that we need patience and that this has been a long time coming and will not be won in a semester or even a year.

    I love you all, even those who disagree with my tactics,
    Jason Ahmadi

    p.s.
    if we have met, feel free to find me on the book of face so we can stay in contact 😀

  8. wcstrong Says:

    I like Jason’s comment here, it reflects my experience as a student activists here on the east coast. I think there is a problem with reverting to sectarian divisions on both sides that is entirely destructive to the progress that can be made in engaging new people in the movement. I think that despite this conflict in this case, the UC fight back struggles have reached a level that is far beyond the past struggles that made national news, especially those that occurred in NYC that were wrought with sectarian division. The movement belongs to the people, and as active participants, we must remember that and always tailor actions to that. It is important that everything that we do has support from the masses who can offer solidarity actions to defend those doing CD actions and can develop flying squadrons to spread strikes. I think all serious leftists and radicals should make concerted efforts to engage anyone who is genuinly interested in the issue – even if there are huge difference in opinion on what to do. If we engage in this discussion in an open democratic space with the masses (ie not just a leftist circle jerk where we spout great messages and demands that are not based on mass organizing and mass support) then the direction of the movement will be determined by the masses in a fair and just way. And if there is significant division, serious people should always be willing to try out the best supported ideas, and to revisit thier success afterwards to figure out where to go from there. My years of experience in student/youth activism and my experience in the left has exemplified this point – our organizing needs to be focused on the masses and to be about the masses, specifically how do we engage them in these discussions and actions. I have over 2 years of coalition building experience, and this has taught me that we cannot isolate ourselves as a movement by taking a political stance as a movement that is 5 steps ahead of where the masses are. Certainly factions can take stance as long as they are clear that they may not represent everyone. Need some clarification on what the masses are means? Well, perhaps we should ask them. I know some terrible stories from NYC occupations where the masses of students were ignored and political divisions were made concrete, leading to the fallout of major organizations on those campuses. And lets be willing to use multiple tactics, but be able to decide and discuss what, when, how, etc. so the masses can participate and understand these discussions without dividing them into political camps. Lets also be willing to be self critical, I’ve heard many people outright support the New School 2 occupation because it was a “radical tactic”. Certainly what the cops did was bullshit, but if we romanticize events like this, we miss the important message. NS2 failed because it was so radicalized and it alienated the masses – even fellow comrades – all because they wanted to take it on a specific line that was radical enough for them. WHat good has this done for the school? What progrss has been made materially? In fact, i would argue that it hurt the political scene as I know many who dropped out of political work following the whole situation. I respect occupation as a tactic, but if we can’t bring the people with us, if they aren’t ready, what does it accomplish? And let me be clear on this, I think what you folks in Cali have accomplished is a serious level of connecting with the masses in this regard that has not happened so far in the US, so congrats. BUt lets not let divisions on the left over ideology destroy something that could be bigger. Lets air criticisms and be honest with each other, lets be comrades, not adversaries.

    We cannot practice political fetishism, either, we need to be talking to and building a mass movement – it might not be your best choice of politics or political line, but lets be serious: American is an apolitical beast, and in order to break people into a world of liberating politics, we have to engage them where they are at to build thier conciousness, have the political discussions and arguements to build political awareness and build a radical mass movement. This is how they did it in the 60s, this is how we should to it in the 00s.

  9. Carter-Huggins Hall and the alternative you can seize « One Occupier's Take Says:

    […] eventually, led to our downfall, when the careerists took advantage of the lack of structure to derail the whole thing at the end, later claiming to speak for the occupation as a whole with its bullshit agreement with the police. […]

  10. neverbeenuaw Says:

    See my treatise on the topic of concrete goals vs. abstract adventurism, touching on the vulnerability of abstract movements to “leader” hijacks: http://neverbeenuaw.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/carter-huggins-hall-and-the-alternative-you-can-seize/

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