The ghost of Clark Kerr moans and rattles its chains, reminding us how the University of California, in its majesty, acquired a reputation for disrespect of democratic citizenship almost half a century ago, when it tried to turn the Berkeley campus into a politics-free zone. Now, courtesy of Maryan Monalisa Gharavi at The New Inquiry, comes the following travel alert from the University’s Office of the President, sent to all campuses to alert anyone traveling to cities where big May Day demonstrations are expected May 1 (my boldface, their brass):
Advice: Confirm business appointments for May 1st. Allow additional time for ground transportation near protest sites. Avoid all demonstrations as a precaution.
Activist groups, including Occupy Wall Street, to protest May 1 across the U.S. Traffic disruptions, scuffles with police possible. Avoid all protests.
Now that the university that has gone into the business of suppressing peaceful assemblies — the Davis campus in particular, a center of agribusiness research, has become synonymous worldwide with one of the less edible products, namely, pepper spray — the powers that be now signal their official view that public demonstrations are poison. No doubt the rationale is one of convenience. “Convenience” is an all-purpose reference-point for authorities. All hail the great God Traffic!
The University thereby joins the nearby Richmond (CA) police department, whose recent directive on “civil disturbances” ropes into that category what the police call “dissident gatherings” and warns (cue groaning soundtrack):
“Current training and intelligence reveals that protestors are becoming more proficient in the methods of assembly.”