Tonight at 5, a group of protesters from the Feb. 12 anti-war demonstration will approach the Associated Students Legislative Council in the Flying A Room in the UCen to discuss what they allege was the use of excessive force by police officers during the event.
All accusations aside, we at the Daily Nexus would like to ask a few of these select protesters to reflect on the meaning of a “peaceful protest.” The original event was organized with the intention of voicing student concerns over the continuation of the war in Iraq. It was a protest aimed to address what some have deemed as unnecessary violence in the Middle East.
Ironically, when some of these demonstrators arrived to protest in front of Corwin Pavilion that day, some protesters began to bang on the windows of a meeting already in session, tear down signs, turn over tables and throw food. Additionally, some protesters antagonized police officers by sitting in front of their squad cars as they were attempting to leave, while others attempted to use force to prevent officers from detaining suspects. As a result, the protest may now be remembered more for the misbehavior of some of its participants than the original cause it championed.
Furthermore, it brings into question the sincerity of some of the demonstrators as several fliers posted around campus prior to the event read: “Last year… We took the 217. This year…” With all of these actions in mind, it seems as if some of the organizers were more concerned with outdoing the level of chaos witnessed at the finale of last year’s event than they were with actually conveying their message of peace.
With the exception of the overcrowding of Highway 217, last year’s protest was a far better example of how a protest is actually supposed to operate. Somewhere between 700 to 1000 protesters united last year and marched across campus without creating too much destruction, albeit some litter that was left behind.
Taking into consideration the allegations that the protesters make against police, sure, some force was used. Whether or not that force was excessive, though, is debatable. After all, there were no reports of severe injuries at the protest.
Nevertheless, regardless of what the police did or did not do, the lack of actual peacefulness at the event makes it difficult for us to feel proud of the protesters. Worse, even if something did happen, it makes it hard for us to feel sorry for them.