Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post # 2 and 3

I haven't posted in a while (due to illness and G20). The past two days I have been unable to post because I have been locked out of my dorm--two nights in a row. Go G20.

Recent events in Oakland, all relating to G20, sparked new thoughts on globalization, our country and government, and the role it's playing in the world. So I would first like to go through, what I saw and heard.

The past three or four days have looked like Nazi Germany in Oakland (or how it has been described). Fully geared police officers stood on every corner, day and night, watching everyone's every move. On Thursday night, I saw kids getting arrested for sitting down in front of police officers. I saw people getting tear-gased: crying, spitting up, and coughing madly. Students were yelling, but not fighting. Once the police started shooting, the students would run and push, shoving each other and causing the police to shoot more rubber bullets at innocent kids. For a moment when I was on my own, I thought I was going to get beat to the ground. I lost my friend in front of me for about twenty seconds and was shoved into a van, breaking the side view mirror. After getting out of the crowd, we were told we would not be allowed into Litchfield Towers and we needed to go back to where we came from. I live in Tower A and didn't get back to my dorm until after 4 in the morning. (We tried again around 12 or 1 and they still wouldn't let people in.)

The events of Friday were even more extreme and obscure. The police broke up a large crowd of people at Schenley Plaza, describing the gathering as "an unlawful assembly" that needed to break up immediately. I moved away from the main plaza square to the Union. As I was sitting on a bench smoking, a group of police officers moved towards us yelling to get back further. This went back and forth a few times, until the entire force of officers on that side of the Union moved towards Litchfield Towers. Rubber bullets began to fly and clouds of tear gas shot up behind us. I stood in the middle of the street, watching the ridiculousness of the situation. My friend kept tugging my sleeve, trying to drag me away. The moment I fell in and left, a can of tear gas landed between my friend's feet as I was jumping over a cement wall to get inside. The door to the building was open and we came piling through as another can of tear gas landed on the patio and was shooting through the door. I ran into the bathroom to find a girl getting sick in the sink. Apparently, she had been standing too.

We were locked in the lobby of Towers for about an hour, during which we saw a man get arrested and taken away for videotaping. My eyes filled up at that point, because I knew we had lost absolutely all control. Eventually we were let go, but I knew the entire situation was wrong.

I have never felt less patriotic in my life, as awful as that is to say. It was not because the police were responding. I understand crowd control and police intervention. But when I saw the intervention get to the point where students were getting tear gassed and couldn't breath, where students were getting arrested for accidentally being in the wrong place at the wrong time and just STANDING, where students were beat to the ground with sticks and then beat more. I saw the government have complete control. As soon as the situation was declared an "Emergency State", we lost all rights. At the very least we lost the right to assemble, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press. Never in my life had I seen human beings get so barbaric as to shoot innocent students with no shame, no heart.

So before we go to other countries and try to globalize democracy, before we try to tell other countries that what they are doing is wrong, I think we need to work on our own, or at least simultaneously.

Rachel Croitoru

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