By Nooreen Moinuddin
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been taught to express myself. Whether it is through artwork, writing, clothing, or music, we are always encouraged to show how we feel. That is one of the beauties of America and one of the major reasons people immigrate here. We hear about people around the world being denied their right to freedom of speech and wonder how people can live their lives in such oppressed countries. However, some protesters today, here in America, are being denied that right.
On November 9th, students at the University of California in Berkeley staged a protest against budget cuts and tuition hikes, which they labeled “Occupy Cal.” It was described as a “peaceful protest” until officials threatened to evict the protestors. This threat turned to action when police officers began arresting some students, and striking others with batons. “The police repeatedly beat students, especially women students, in the ribs, arms, legs and face,” said UC Berkeley senior Matt Williams to the Berkeley Daily Planet newspaper. These are acts of injustice, and deny those students their right to freedom of speech, and freedom to protest.
U.C. Berkeley is thought to be one of the most liberal schools in all of America. If its students are not allowed to protest and state their opinions, even peacefully, what does that say about our country as a whole? Our constitutional rights are not just there for “decoration” in the Constitution. We must always stand up for what we believe in, and, if not through a peaceful protest, then how? The police officers, chancellor, and administrators that ordered the police officers to “end the protest by any means,” need to be held accountable to their actions (CBS San Francisco).
“Hearing about this worries and saddens me. If I had a problem with my school, city, state, or even country, I should be allowed to express my opinions and concerns,” said junior Sana Sami, “I shouldn’t have to worry about being arrested or ‘hit with batons’ like those poor Berkeley students were. It’s unbelievable.”
The students involved in the protest at Berkeley are not keeping quiet about this either. The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN is planning on filing a law suit with seven protesters who were victims of violence and false arrest from police.
It makes me sad to think that students, women, people in general are being treated this way over, what? Protesting their high tuition? Not only does it contradict the constitution, it is immoral. The police officers, chancellor, and school administrators have a lot of answering to do.