Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Violence of Linking Arms

They will regret this till their dying day.

The Birgenau-Bennett Declarations regarding the Violence of Linking Arms is getting a lot of play.

First, it was the University of California, Berkeley, police spokesmouth who put her foot in it by saying:

"The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence," UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. "I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest."

Yes, well. Obviously, she's not very bright, and for that reason alone, she should be given some slack and maybe offered a few remedial social history lessons. Just a thought.

On the other hand, when the Chancellor of the University comes out with this (from Shanghai, no less -- although perhaps appropriately, this being the China Century and all):

It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience.

We've got to take a stand. The man isn't ignorant like his police spokesmouth. The man is trying to redefine terms to suit his policies of repression. So if that means that non-violent resistance is now to be defined as "not non-violence", that's what it shall be.

The Devil take the hindmost.

It's simple. Linking arms and refusing to obey commands of Authority is classic non-violent resistance. It's been done for generations upon generations, by all kinds of people all over the world in solidarity against oppression.

For generations and generations.

Interviews with some of those beaten and arrested at Berkeley:


  1. Watching the video of the beatings broke my heart. It reminded me of so many other instances, of civil rights marches and the dogs and the hoses, of the Vietnam War protests, and the beatings of un-armed civilians by police. This is just completely unconscionable and indefensible.

    Linking arms and forming a human chain, as you say, is the epitome of a non-violent response. By definition. If no one engages with that linkage, there is no violence. The only way there can be any violence in that situation is if the police initiate it.

    This whole thing just makes me furious. America hasn't learned a damn thing from history, and it's going backwards with each year on economic, social, civil rights, gender, etc. etc.

    It's monstrous that the world's lone superpower is one of the most reactionary and belicose nation's on earth -- primarily directed outward, but all too often inward.

    This simply can not stand.

  2. What is sort of fascinating about all these multiplying episodes of violence against non-violent resistance -- or in some cases, no resistance at all -- is that less is being made of it by the Movement than I would imagine is warranted. This happened with the first violent episode in New York, and it seems to be a consistent pattern with all the rest of them (and there are many, many now). Literally hundreds of people have been injured and thousands have been arrested so far, and if the rumors coming out of Oakland and Portland and a number of other cities are borne out, it's going to get much, much worse very soon. Like tonight.

    You don't want to see the emotional state all this official violence puts me in. And I know quite a few people of a certain age who are right there with me, disbelieving that we are seeing it play out again. It's hard to explain, but in some ways it's worse this time -- and yet the potential for change is greater.

    Well. It's global this time, isn't it? There have been many precursors to what's happening, but never anything quite like this. So perhaps in that context, the violence against the demonstrators -- that many people realize is only just getting revved up -- "isn't all that bad." Others have long had it much worse.

    But it's still horrifying to witness...