Why is the arrest of seven people, student or otherwise, of any consequence to anyone? After all, the police were only keeping the peace, right?
To the first question, the ramifications of this escalated assault on those involved are pretty hefty. To start, the tone this sets for the students at FIU is that pre-crime sanctions are acceptable, and this is supposed to serve as an example to anyone who would step forward and try to confront the university on its policies. It must be asserted that no crime was committed, furthermore the event wasn’t even a protest, however; legalities are gagging participants as an effect. This in and of itself should be enough to have the charges dropped and condemned by President Rosenberg.
To the second question, there was never a problem with the police until calls came down to them from the administration to confront Occupy FIU members with mandates opposing plans to encamp. When they approached en mass (November 16, 2011), four to our seven, you can imagine the element of intimidation that was in play. No tents, sleeping, or staying past 9pm-8am, the police said. These arbitrary rules created with no written documentation to follow up their claims validity, were observed as a courtesy by the Occupy crew at FIU, though mediation with the General Counsel was required just to get a tent up as a protest symbol. The very idea of limiting the terms of free speech to a zone, then further limiting its parameters to a time frame is repugnant. These practices are of a subversive nature and should not be tolerated by the student body. In protest perhaps everyone conducting activities at FIU should use the word Occupy before their event to witness first hand the prejudice involved by the word alone.
What would lead administrative staff to behave in such ways? Double standards where they will tell us what to do without documentation, but when we lack the “appropriate” documentation arrests can be made on the probability that an infraction, of a charge the police decide on after the fact, might be committed.
I suppose this kind of behavior is normal to a university that doles out masters degrees in National Security Studies financed by the Defense Intelligence Agency that teaches people how to be spies, and has a Global Governance Masters program for the Southern Command in Doral which is the US military’s control center for operations in Latin America. Perhaps this is why degree paths like Anthropology and Social Science in the Liberal Arts are under attack by Rick Scott, while undermining education to use a business plan model that failed at Texas A&M (link) That’s not to say that FIU hasn’t been selling itself to corporate interests. The University hosts Wells Fargo despite the fact that Wells Fargo invests in two companies of the Prison Industrial Complex. Putting that all into context, there is also the matter of the Global Learning Program that assesses student’s attitudes, then reciprocates curriculum encouraging students to favor liberal imperialism. Maybe that was the true crime of those arrested and charged afterward for “disruption of an education institution”, the disruption being that of thought and ideas that might effect the minds of FIU’s students.
Michael Park, Member of Occupy FIU