What was supposed to be a quiet Saturday turned out to be one of the more memorable events of my life.
I started the day by going to the mall with wife. I hate going to the mall. Especially around this time of the year. But coincidentally, at the mall we ran into some friends of our. More coincidentally, this friend is one of the few friends I knew who was in law enforcement.
Although the tragic pepper spraying incident at UC Davis just occurred less than 24 hours ago, I did not bring it up during our conversation because I knew that I did not agree with this friend’s politics.
But alas, he brought it up, and my wife talked with him about it for nearly 30 minutes. His position is that it was a necessary and justified procedure. He also noted that as a law enforcement official, he has to take the safest course of action so that at the end of the day he can go home to his wife and kids in one piece.
I sat there quietly staring at my feet and trying really hard not to turn red with anger.
In hindsight, I admit I was wrong. I should have been more open minded to his point view and engaged him in open dialogue. I did not do that. I refused to listen to his point of view. That is my loss.
I ended the conversation by saying that I wanted to go home to attend the press conference at UCD Surge II.
When we arrived, we saw 4-5 police cars pull into the area. However, they did not drive up to the area where the press conference was held. Surrounding the press conference building, were a group of about 200+ students standing with their arms linked. We all stood there for around 3 hours, in the freezing cold, waiting for the Chancellor to appear.
While standing around, there were constant reminders that if she does arrive, everyone is to be completely silent. There were also chants of “you can leave, we will not harm you”. To be honest, it was rather boring waiting for so long. We thought of leaving because we did not think she is still inside. But we had already invested so much time we had to see it through.
At some point someone even announced that there were riot police getting ready to storm in and that we should be prepared. That actually got me really excited, and helped me fend of the cold for a few more minutes. Sadly, we never saw any cops within the vicinity.
When we received word that the Chancellor was coming out, everyone got into a long line and sat down quietly. It was pretty amazing. There were around 300 people there, and we managed to get organized in what seems like less than 10 minutes.
As planned, everyone sat quietly with their iPhones in hand. We saw the Chancellor walk out in silence, mobbed by TV cameras, got in to her car, which her husband was driving, and drove slowly away.
It was a really cool protest. It really fit with my vision of how protesting should be. After all, we are students and graduates of one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States. I never expected us to be any less than respectful and smart. Also, it was a very diverse crowd. Whites, asians, indians, blacks, muslims? In fact, one of the person taking charge of some of the announcement was a girl wearing a hijab. I thought that was kind of symbolic, since we are in the midst of an “Arab Spring”. It made me chuckle thinking that if FauxNews was here, the headline would have been “Muslims Incite Riot at Public University”.
I went home and did not think much of the protest. But when I woke up, the event had became a huge buzz all over the national media. Everyone was commending the protestors for their silence. To a lot of people, it was a powerful image of something they have not seen before.
I am glad I was able to take part in it. I encourage anyone who is on the sideline to take part in events like this. You never know how your participation could change your life, or the life of people around the world.