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May Day Warning From the University of California President: 'Avoid All Protests' | The Nation

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Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener

Politics and pop, past and present.

May Day Warning From the University of California President: 'Avoid All Protests'

A May Day warning has been issued to the ten-campus University of California system by office of the president, Mark G. Yudoff: “Avoid all protests.”

This warning came in an e-mail, sent to all campuses, issued by Connexxus, the university’s travel management program, headed “Travel Alert—Protests across US Tuesday May 1st.”

“Various activist groups will stage protests, rallies, and marches across the US on May 1,” the president’s office reported. “The Occupy Wall Street movement has called for a general strike, asking participants to abstain from work and economic activity on the same date.”

The message, apparently sent to all students, faculty and staff, was addressed to “anyone” traveling to cities where demonstrations had been planned. Under “Impact,” the message declared, “Transport, business disruptions; possible scuffles with police.” The advice for May 1: “Allow additional time for ground transportation near protest sites.  Avoid all demonstrations as a precaution.”

I asked the president, via e-mail, “Why not inform UC people of the opportunity to JOIN these protests?” He didn’t respond.

The previous “Travel Alert” from the president’s office concerned Japan after the Fukushima disaster in June, 2011. Apparently May Day in the US ranks with nuclear meltdown in Japan in posing potential dangers to travelers from the University of California.

The danger to University of California travelers apparently is especially acute in what Yudoff’s e-mail described as “cities with a large immigrant population and strong labor groups,” which “traditionally stage rallies on May 1, and Occupy groups are likely to bolster support for scheduled demonstrations.” 

Under the heading “Related Advice—tips for reducing your vulnerability,” readers were told to “avoid all large gatherings,” because “even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces.” Something to be aware of: “Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas or other measures to control crowds.” That is indeed a fact, as Occupyers from New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles and elsewhere can report.

To avoid being “harmed by security forces,” University of California travellers were advised to “maintain a low profile by avoiding demonstration areas” on May Day, and also to avoid “discussions of the issues at hand.” 

One last bit of advice: “dress conservatively.” That will definitely help with the tear gas.

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