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The Daily Californian Online

Three Protests, Many Causes, No Results

Contributing Writer
Friday, March 21, 2008
Category: Opinion > Op-Eds
Tags: TOMMY OWENS IS A MEMBER OF THE BERKELEY COLLEGE REPUBLICANS. REPLY TO This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For many of the protest groups recently active on and around campus, it's time to see the writing on the wall. The chances for these demonstrations to succeed are slim, to say the least. The UC regents will not budge on the BP deal. The new athletic center will be built. And the Marines are not retreating from Berkeley.

In response to the Marine protest, Move America Forward, a conservative activist group, ran television ads lambasting Berkeley by name. Is this what Mayor Bates and Code Pink wanted? Probably not, but their stubbornness have cast shame upon themselves and, by extension, our city and university.

Yet another protest erupted when "Fresh" climbed into the tree across from Dwinelle Hall. Most people probably didn't even know why he was up there. His presence required constant police supervision, drawing resources away from the city and university.

Which brings us to the Memorial Stadium tree-sitters. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that $367,000 has been spent by UC Berkeley to protect the protesters with fences and guards. That's the equivalent of more than three full rides to Berkeley. And this report came out three months ago-it's anybody's guess what that figure is now. Is that progressivism in action?

UC Berkeley has a rich history of free speech and of broaching controversial ideas. That shouldn't change, and will not change after these protesters cease their activities. But these demonstrations bring little but ridicule to our community. Where we were once a city of tolerance and progressivism, we are now a city of tree-sitters and obnoxious Marine-bashers.

Lambasting Berkeley's Marines is offensive, considering their selfless service. And draining valuable funds to protect tree-sitters is harmful to all of us. Cal's "progressive" community needs to organize their demonstrations in a more respectful and organized manner, so that Berkeley's free speech legacy lives on in a way that benefits, not harms, its intended audience.