Last Monday, twenty UC Berkeley students began a hunger strike in protest of Arizona Senate Bill 1070. The student demands include condemnation of the bill by the UC Chancellor and the formal adopting of sanctuary status by the university, which would bar the school from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in conducting raids on campus. (Although the city of Berkeley, and near by Oakland and San Francisco are all sanctuary cities, ICE has a troubling history of conducting raids in the Bay Area, including a recent arrest and deportation of a UC employee. Previously, the university police have been charged with demanding proof of citizenship from Chicano students.)
Read the letter below and sign a petition in support of the hunger strikers.
5 May 2010
Open Letter from UC Berkeley Hunger for Justice Coalition
We, the hunger strikers of UC Berkeley, are calling out to all people of color, to our communities of color, to take a stand this Friday, May 7th at noon against racism and all the many forms that this oppression takes in our society. We call upon communities of color and all our allies to protest at locations of power, wherever it may be that you are best able to protest, whether that be an administration building or city hall. We must unite and let those in power know that we are standing together to oppose the criminalization of our communities. Let them know that we will not allow them to target workers for firings on our campuses through the misguided privatization policies of our campus administrations. Let them know that we will not allow them to target our fellow students that have stood up to them in past, that stand up to them in the present, and that will stand against them in future protests. Let them know that we are all one: workers, students, community members. Let it be known that we will not be divided.
The people in power do not think that we are a force to be reckoned with, they do not believe that our people will come together to oppose them. We began our hunger strike at noon on Monday and were met with abusive police tactics throughout the night. We were subjected to sleep deprivation, with threats of arrest if we were caught sleeping. The police would drive in circles around us throughout the night revving their engines and flashing their lights at our strikers as they huddled together for warmth. We did not break and will not break under these practices of torture.
Our administration told us that they would enter into discussions with us, but when we tried to bring in a representative of the workers, a member of our community, the doors were closed before her face. When one of the hunger strikers turned to leave in disgust, to leave this so called meeting, he was met with police force. One cop threw him to the steps twisting his arm behind him, while another cop knelt on his legs. We shall not be treated this way. As we sit here and see yet another hour pass of not eating, we now see that the police are coming out in numbers not yet seen, all armed with riot sticks…
As you read this know that students in a Los Angeles area high school have also begun a hunger strike in solidarity with the struggles of our communities in Arizona. They have decided that they will not end their hunger strike until we end the hunger strike at UC Berkeley. Know that the city of Oakland voted unanimously to boycott Arizona on May the 4th. Let us all come together and hold protests throughout the state, let our people in Arizona hear our cries of protest, that we will stand with them and not take this oppression any longer.
This is why we are calling upon our sisters and brothers, why we are encouraging everyone to protest and initiate hunger strikes at the offices of your campus administrations. The administration is afraid. They are afraid of our power as a community. On Friday at noon let us all stand together and show them our communities united in struggle.
In Solidarity & In Struggle,
The students on hunger strike at UC Berkeley