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Friday, April 09, 2004
Biggest. Letdown. Ever.
This year’s April 9th protests were, to say the least, very subdued relative to other activities in the past. Maybe it was because April 9 fell on a Friday this year, a notoriously bad day to have protests. Maybe it was the 16 visible uniformed policemen. Maybe it was the construction on Sproul Plaza.
In any event, here are the details. 100 pro-Palestinian protesters rallied at noon today between Dwinelle Plaza and Wheeler Hall to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, the war in Iraq, and the construction of the Israeli security barrier. The protestors built a mock barrier to symbolize the ugliness of the Israeli wall, and set their stage up in front of it. There were several speakers from student groups, faculty members, and outside associations over an hour’s time, and afterwards, the protesters formed a ring around California Hall (and some pro-Israel activists standing outside) before dispersing peacefully.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Basically, it was just your average ordinary protest. A very large departure from April 9 protests in the past. If you didn’t make it out to see it, here’s what you need to know.
- This rally generated as much, if not more, solidarity on the Israeli side than the Palestinian side. At least as many Israel supporters came out as Palestinians, and they made their presence felt.
- Several campaign censures may be filed because of certain acts during the protest. Particularly, DAAP and CalSERVE signs being waved in front of the prop wall, and ASUC President candidates Yvette Fallarca and Renita Cheney giving statements directly involving their respective parties during this speech. Student Action candidates watching the demonstration noted that, if the protest was going to be used as a campaigning tool, then the protest should be judged by the same standard as any other campaign tool. Therefore, the un-permitted amplified noise, the traffic-blocking wall, and the ASUC funds used by SJP to have this rally leave DAAP and CalSERVE open to several possible negative repercussions. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out, especially considering the enormous amount of censure evidence the Attorney General already has stored.
- Basic mood of the rally: There was lots of noise being made, but nothing was really being said. By this, I mean it was mostly chanting, a giant pep rally. Even professors from associations pledging to “reduce hostilities” were screaming “FREE PALESTINE” at the top of their lungs.
- SJP seemed very disorganized and pell-mell throughout this process. It seemed like the leadership thought the rally would run itself, and constantly they were scrambling around looking for an exit strategy from one segment of the rally to the next.
All in all, it was a fun way to spend a Friday afternoon.
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