Good fences make good protests
It’s hard to know what to say about the protesters tree-sitting in an oak grove outside UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Like many of the high-profile conflicts in the city carrying the clogged old heart of the Free Speech Movement, there isn’t a right side and a wrong side—just a whole lot of stupid ones.
There are the protesters, who are eating, sleeping and crapping out of a bunch of trees that the university wants to bulldoze to build a shiny new athletic center (it promises to plant new trees in their place). There’s the city, which decided it wanted in on the action, so it sued the university again—this time in an attempt to stall construction of the center. And then there’s the university, which somehow seemed to think that putting a fence around highly politicized ground would work the second time around.
The university says the fence is meant to protect protesters from football fans, who could stumble upon them during game days. Please. All it did was raise the protest’s physical and political visibility. One human chain-link fence later, even The New York Times is paying attention to this dotty demonstration.
Officials really should have known installing a fence was politically charged and emotionally explosive — as fellow UC Berkeley alum and Daily Cal veteran Paul Thornton points out, it’s like People’s Park all over again. But if People’s Park was the action-packed, tear-jerking, awe-inspiring blockbuster, this is just the really bad sequel with no plot, no point, no character development — and no extra sex appeal to make up for it.
Man, I miss Berkeley.