By samanthaorwell on April 6, 2008 - 1:00am
On April 4th a protest was held at the grassy knoll at UBC. The grassy knoll is undergoing redevelopment; the plan for Trek Park (affectionately called the grassy knoll) is a new transit loop that would effectively level and remove the grassy hill UBC students love to sit upon on the rare sunny day.
The protest started with live bands and good times. A bon fire was then lit in the centre concrete area and the brigade was called to hose it down. Protesters were quite fond of the festive fire and attempted to step on the hose to stop the extinguishing of potentially a symbol of the firey spirit that is Grassy Knoll protest.
One woman, who was stepping on the hose, who news is calling “Stef” was arrested:
"(the woman) was grabbed by an RCMP officer and thrown to the ground, pinned, and handcuffed. Her face was literally shoved in a puddle of mud while an RCMP officer sat on top of her," the release said, describing it as an "uncalled act of police aggression."
A small army of 25 students that grew to a whopping 35 created a human chain around the police car that detained the rabble-rouser “Stef”. 19 more students were arrested.
There is a pretty thorough play-by-play at the UBC Insider with links to videos and all that jazz.
The CTV report interviewed a guy from The Ubyssey (UBC’s horribly named popular news source). He claimed that there is problems with the RCMP: “the RCMP don’t understand how university students protest” (try reading that in a dinky sort of voice).
So my question is, where the activism at these days? I assume the human chain idea was reminiscent of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement sit in, except it was short of approximately 3000 people. It was a nice gesture for the 35 odd people to “swarm” the car and sit around it in peaceful protest but really, if the police can arrest you, they will.
What I’m getting at, rather poorly, is that activism is pretty weak nowadays. You know why? There’s nothing good to protest. Yeah, I said it. We live in Canada. It’s pretty nice here. Even the shit I complain about on this blog is pretty much nothing compared to the Rights Movements of the 60s-70s. Really, grassy knoll? Weak. Don’t get me wrong, I love the grassy knoll and I don’t want it to be mowed over with concrete, but am I going to participate in a human chain and then get arrested over it? I don’t think so- I’ve got better things to do. Mainly binge drinking at some dive bar on a Friday night.
I think of myself as rather progressive and I enjoy the lefty stuff just as much as the next radical. So I seriously sit and WAIT for something that I can CARE about so that I can get my pitchfork and torch and start a ruckus. But there is seriously nothing I care so deeply about that I can protest. I even sometimes WISH I could go back in time so there was something worth fighting for.
Iraq you say? And how about that Amnesty International stuff? Yeah, I care. I care enough to give money to their causes. Not enough to participate in them. I’m not quite a “global citizen” in that sense and I suspect that most aren’t. As much as I care about human rights, I really only feel like doing things about MY human rights or those directly around me. I like.. feel bad and sad for international far- away causes and I DO have an intellectual realization that globalization damns us all (in such a way that my consumer preferences is probably damning that kid in the third world). But “the man” has effectively done his job in putting up the national citizenship barriers such that I really only care about “my own people”.
Selfish? Damn straight. But who are you to judge me when it was society who brought me up to only care about myself?