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May 2, 2024 48 mins

Robert and the crew interview activists in Arcata, California and Portland, Oregon about two university occupations in solidarity with Gaza that have both attracted press, and police, attention.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
All media.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
Hey everyone, Robert Evans here and it could happen here
a podcast about things falling apart and sometimes putting them
back together. I'm writing this after flying back from Texas
where my Ted died, to Portland, waking up and basically
immediately interviewing a group of protesters in Arcada, California, at

(00:25):
the cal Poly occupation in Humboldt, and then driving to
Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, where there has also
been a campus occupation, And both of these occupations have
some stuff in common, and I wanted to talk about
what was happening with both of them because I think
it's relevant, and obviously it's relevant to what is currently

(00:46):
one of the larger stories going on in the country
right now, which is that a series of occupations on
campuses protesting the Israeli genocide and Gaza have spread to
more than one hundred schools in the United States. You
will have heard of this now. We have covered some
of this in recent episodes, particularly what was going on
in Colombia at least at the initial stages of that,

(01:09):
and today again I'm here to talk about two occupations.
One of them is at cal Poly Humboldt in Arcada, California,
and another is at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
As an out of side, I have lived in both
of these cities, which is peculiar. It doesn't really mean anything,
but I thought it was weird, and obviously I still
live in Portland. Protests started in Arcada first. On October

(01:33):
twenty second, twenty twenty four, students on the cal Poly
Humboldt also called CPH campus occupied Seamen's Hall. These students
were not members of any specific group, but we're all
acting in solidarity with GAZA, and we're inspired at least
partly by the solidarity encampment at Columbia University. It started
with a small number of people, about forty five or so.

(01:55):
These are a mix of students, some alumni, and a
few random Arcade Arcada is a pretty progressive town. You
might call it Hippi. That's generally the reputation that it has.
Campus police showed up. There was a series of negotiations,
which here means they told everybody to leave, and at
that point the police began escalating things. Because the Arcada

(02:17):
police force is pretty small, cops were called in from
the surrounding area, quite a few of them. There were helicopters.
It's much more of it to do than this fairly
sleepy community in the Redwoods is used to having. Community
members started to show up as well because hey, something
was happening. A ride up from Crime Thinks website describes

(02:38):
what happened next quote, Police from every department in the
county showed up, including a helicopter, canine units, and off
duty police. Students responded by swarming them. The cops initial
plan to carry out a mass arrest was thwarted by
a series of clashes both inside and outside of the building.
The occupiers beat back police advances despite facing brutality unlike

(02:58):
anything we have seen over the last day of struggle
in Humboldt County. Again, it's a pretty sleepy place. There
were two arrests and a number of injuries. The arrests
were apparently quite ugly, but police were unable to clear
out the occupation. Barricades were thrown into place as the
fighting continued off and on, until a crowd of people
from the surrounding community, including other students and faculty, showed

(03:22):
up outside and effectively surrounded the police. After six hours,
the police retreated. The university declared a lockdown, and the
students were able to spend the next few days extending
their defenses as well upset, as well as setting up infrastructure,
including a kitchen. Early on the morning of the twenty ninth,
a team from It Could Happen Here sat down with
two of these students to discuss the occupation.

Speaker 3 (03:44):
I go by Stinger online, and I have been part
of the occupation since I think the morning of day two.
I think there's been night after the pops tried to
enter the bar arcaded building and got pushed back. I

(04:06):
think I've been here since the morning after that.

Speaker 2 (04:11):
Yeah, Blue, And what's been your history with this?

Speaker 4 (04:14):
I came here on Tuesday morning. I just attended a
meeting with everyone, and I've just been here helping at
the MAC, mainly because I feel like that's where I'm
the most useful.

Speaker 2 (04:27):
What's the MAC.

Speaker 4 (04:28):
The MAC is the Mutual Aid kitchen. We've been handing
out food, and I've just been helping prepare food for
people and trying to let other people involved do more
things because I know I'm the most useful in the
MAC personally, rather than being anywhere else doing anything else.

Speaker 2 (04:53):
By the time we talked to them, the rumor mill
widely expected the police to carry out a major attempt
to clear the occupation that night. As I write this
ten thirteen pm PST on the twenty ninth of April,
local police have just given Siemens Hall a dispersal order.
So we'll see how that goes. Hey, everyone, Robert here,
we saw how it goes. Police cracked down, arrested a

(05:14):
bunch of people and ended the occupation. We will talk
more about that a little at the end of the episode.
But because their initial efforts to clear out the occupation failed,
police have had to spend nearly a week watching and
waiting as students dig in.

Speaker 3 (05:28):
Yeah, police have not tried to like actively push us
out like we've seen on other campuses, where like they've
totally like rated and like worn down tents and everything.
And I think we also, I think a big part
of it is like logistically, we're in a small city
and we don't really have the police force necessary, Yeah,

(05:53):
which is why they've been trying to call you know. Unfortunately,
then tried to call officers from other places because especially
like I feel like in the evenings especially, we have
a lot of people both from the community and students
on campus who have been occupying the quad. But what's

(06:14):
so funny is that our main intention was not like
the original intention was not to barricade that building. It
was just going to be occupied, not barricaded. But because
of police actions, I feel like we've actually stepped up
more so. They kind of shot themselves on the foot
with that one.

Speaker 2 (06:31):
This is a pattern we've seen a few times in
recent years. In late twenty twenty, Garrison and I reported
from an eviction defense at the famous Red House in Portland.
The basic idea is that local protesters were trying to
stop police from serving an eviction during the pandemic. There
was a clash outside the house and some arrests, but
police pulled back when protesters were still on the ground

(06:51):
and in numbers. Said protesters began to fortify the area
around the house and eventually the entire neighborhood. By the
time the police realized what was going on on, they
had a nightmare on their hands, an occupation that would
have been impossible to clear without significant violence. The end
result of the situation was that the city government essentially
negotiated an end to what was happening rather than just

(07:12):
sending the police back into evict residence. There is much
more to the whole situation than that. This is something
people still get angry about because the patriarch of the
family at Red House was a weirdo sovereign citizen type.
But the goal at the time was to stop evictions
during the pandemic, and the tactics of the day worked.
The cops backed off, the city came to the negotiating table.

(07:34):
It was a successful action, whatever you think about the
individuals involved in it. After the call that Garrison Mia
and myself had with those Humboldt students and we will
hear more from them later, I got a message from
a source that an occupation was also brewing on the
Portland State University campus, or rather that it was going on,
and folks were worried things were about to escalate. But

(07:56):
don't you escalate until you've listened to these ads. Anyway,
here they are, We're back. Actions at Portland State University

(08:16):
started on Thursday the twenty fifth, and it was initially
pretty simple. One tent and one banner strung between trees
in front of the Branford Price Miller Library steps social
media did its thing. Once this first tent was up,
and the encampment slowly grew to maybe half a dozen
tents by midnight. At around one twenty am, the police
swept the encampment. Only a few people were awake and

(08:39):
less than twenty people were present against maybe forty riot officers.
The police pushed people out of the encampment. They went
straight for the supply tent and took everything, loading medical equipment, food, etc.
Into City of Portland trucks and hauling it away. It
was a bad night for a lot of people. But
what I gleaned from interviewing some of those folks was

(08:59):
that they had learned one crucial lesson, which was that
Portland police weren't willing to fuck with people or property
that was sitting on the PSU steps. This is probably
a jurisdictional thing. School properties the responsibility of the PSU
Campus Police PPB could police the park outside, but either

(09:19):
couldn't or just didn't want to be arced in dealing
with the complications that might be caused by going into
school property themselves. So the school had to deal with
the unenviable complication of the fact that these were their
students protesting at a famously progressive school and having their
cops cleared them out, especially if it caused violence or
somebody got seriously hurt, would be a real pr headache.

(09:42):
The administration at Humboldt University and famously progressive ARCATA ran
into a similar problem. In the days after the police
backed away from their initial confrontation, students developed a list
of demands by consensus. Here's one of our sources from
the Humboldt occupation again and their description of the demands
have been cut together from a longer interview. Some crosstalk

(10:04):
has been edited out to make things flow a bit
more clearly. Anyway, here's those demands.

Speaker 3 (10:09):
Okay, So students, with the mediation of faculty, have reached
out to administration in hopes of re engaging negotiations. So
we would like administration to agree to the following through demands.
One de escalator, we demand the immediate removal of police
from university campus. We also demand the immediate re enrollment

(10:32):
of students who have been suspended. And it probably is
to not suspend, resuspend, or expel any student protesters as
a result of these accusations, because they were claiming you
know that we had committed property damage and trespassing it
and things like that, and that was a lot of
the reasons that they gave for suspending us, like in

(10:55):
the email we received about interim suspension. Two was diabest.
We demand that the Kalipoly Humboldt Foundation commits to an
audit and subsequent divestment from any funds related to Israel,
Israeli products, or Israeli companies, and this includes those that
own factories on stolen Palestinian land in Israel. There are

(11:15):
four specific funds that at the minimum, we demand the
divestment from within the next six months. These were TILCX, DFSTX,
fe UPX, and DOODFX. And we did research into these

(11:38):
holdings that these funds have and how the companies that
they may have holdings in are connected to Israel. So,
for example, TILCX, their top three holdings are in Qualcomm,
Wells Fargo, and Chubb. Qualcom is an information technology company
that does the majority of its technology development in Israel,

(12:01):
so they have like factories there and that's kind of
where they develop their smartphone chips and tracking intelligence, which
is kind of like two of the main things that
they work on and sell, and then Wells Fargo was
part of a five hundred million dollar loan deal with
multiple other lenders that support that was supporting Elbet Systems,

(12:25):
which is an Israeli military weapons manufacturer. So those are
like two of the big ones just from the first
fund that we had looked into. And our third demand
was declare in solidarity with universities across the globe and
for all Palestinian people, including their martyers and refugees. We

(12:46):
demand a ceasefire statement from KLi Pally Humble calling for
an immediate and permanent ceasepire in Palestine, and we encourage
all other California State universities and universities of California to
do the same. As we were writing this, it was
we found out that the faculty administration had released a

(13:09):
ce spire statement, I believe, but the actual like university
like admin had it like the whole university admin, but
like the faculty had released a c spire statement. Faculty specifically,
I know there's there's definitely faculty that have There's some
faculty who have been with us since day one, like
camping out with everyone since day one, and it's like

(13:33):
a lot of the faculty. We like, we are totally
comfortable putting our trust in like some of these faculty,
Like if there was an emergency, like I would call them,
you know, like if there was an emergency on campus
where like I was about to be arrested, I'm like, yeah,
I'm gonna call up this like professor. Like they have
been and they have been like trying to you know,

(13:54):
update us with whatever they hear from Admin. But just
in like the past few days, we've actually kind of
discerned that upper admin has sort of cut off contact
with lower admin and faculty. And this is something that
we talked about with faculty members as well. Because of
the significant faculty support that we've been receiving, Administration is

(14:16):
literally just not telling faculty anything anymore.

Speaker 5 (14:20):
Yeah, it really seems like it's turned into just this
pure conflict between everyone who is part of the process
of an education fighting against the admin who are not
part of that process, who are trying to stop everyone
with cops.

Speaker 2 (14:33):
Back in Portland, that first failed encampment brought more people
out the next day, Friday, the twenty sixth, and by noon,
more tents and a few banners had been set up.
Student organizations had put together lists of demands. Now these
demands have varied and have been edited a few times
after long democratic consensus sessions by people present. The list

(14:54):
I was presented with when I showed up on Monday
included three demands. Number one, p you should release a
statement condemning the genocide of Palestinian people with weapons provided
by the US. Number two, the university should end the
sale of Israeli products on campus and any programs that
involves inding students, employees, or faculty to Israel. And number three,

(15:16):
the board of trustees should terminate all relationships with Boeing
and other companies complicit in the ongoing genocide. Their list
included Leopold, an Oregon based company who makes rifle scopes,
but also companies like Intel and Hewlett Packard. Boeing was
the company I heard reference most by protesters. The aerospace company,
which is involved in the manufacture and design of just

(15:38):
so many weapons, has a partnership with Portland State University.
Later on Friday, the same day that these lists of
demands started coming together, the school president and cut announced
a pause to the school's relationship with Boeing to address
these protester demands. Precisely. What pausing this relationship means is unclear,

(16:00):
and a lot of the people I talked to felt
like it essentially meant nothing, but cut wrote quote, PSU
will host a forum at which these concerns can be
carefully framed and debated. We will organize a two hour
moderated debate in May to include faculty and student voices,
so you know whatever that means. By late in the

(16:20):
day Friday, media had started showing up in numbers to
report on the occupation, which was still quite small, but
bigger ones were happening all over the country, and if
your local news you want to do anything you can
to tie your area into whatever the big story is nationwide,
so you know, good excuse to show up. There was
also some conflict between local student groups at this point

(16:41):
and unaffiliated groups of activists, some of whom were also students,
over whether or not to keep occupying over the weekend
and keep attempting to you know, keep an occupation in
place despite police crackdowns, or to save their strength for
a new concerted push on Monday. At any rate, some
people stayed, and by seven pm that night Friday night,

(17:04):
the Portland Police Bureau showed back up in full riot gear.
Park rangers told protesters to exit the park area, and
a stand off ensued. While some protesters confronted police head on.
A smaller group of activists used this as a distraction
to move a number of tents onto the library steps,
having noticed that PPB didn't seem to be willing to

(17:24):
go directly onto campus property. Once this was done, the
folks confronting the riot line gradually pulled back to the steps.
The police seemed confused or at least put out by this.
They left for a while, then returned briefly to cut
down the banners hung on the trees. I was told
a number of people mentioned this kind of laughingly when
I was around that the way in which the police

(17:46):
justified this was that a recent anti camping public camping
measure meant to target the homeless specified that the kind
of thing that a banner hung again like Basically, the
fact that the banner touched trees in two different areas,
or like touched two different trees meant that it would
count it as a tent, and so they were allowed
to take it down. It all sounded pretty silly to me,

(18:07):
but students and others on campus property in the library
were left to barricade the area around the library at will.
They started with palettes brought by an anonymous benefactor. Both
sides of the staircases into the library were initially blocked.
This only lasted until Saturday morning, when Anne cud, president
of the university since August of twenty twenty three, visited

(18:28):
the encampment. Different protesters I have talked to related this
event in different ways. Some described her visit as essentially chill.
Others described Anne as quite angry and even threatening them.
I was not there. The end result was an agreement, though,
If protesters allowed students to continue to have access to
the doorway into the library so students could still use

(18:51):
the library, PSU wouldn't send in their cops or call
in the city cops to clear out the occupation. After
what one source described as much heated discussion, protesters agreed
to this arrangement. Now, variations of stuff like this are
common in occupations in schools that get this far. School
faculty are often sympathetic to student actions, or at least

(19:13):
to the students taking part in them, and supporting crackdowns
is dicey for the administration at Humboldt State University. The
administration attempted to de escalate and eventually euthanize the movement
by trying to provide a safety valve, a way for
students who'd had enough to leave, along with the suggestion
but not the actual legally binding promise that they wouldn't

(19:35):
be punished if they did. And here's another clip from
that interview. I understand that the school even set up
basically a booth where you could come and officially like
de register yourself from the protests in order to not
get expelled or something like that. Is that a like
I think you're It was unclear to me from what

(19:55):
I read like exactly how that system was supposed to function,
but it seemed kind of shait.

Speaker 6 (20:01):
So they wanted us to So they set up a
table by one of the exits, and they wanted us
to like give them like our information, and they were like,
if you do this, you won't get immediately arrested.

Speaker 3 (20:15):
But keep in mind, they said, not immediately we arrested.
And they even clarified like in their alert about this.
They were like, by the way, this doesn't protect you
from any future consequences, So it was like, why would
we do that? Then? What is that doing for any
of us? I don't think a single person took that opportunity.

Speaker 2 (20:34):
Back in Portland. After the detunt with the school administration,
things continued awkwardly but smoothly. For the next day or so.
Protesters continued to fortify the library defenses while students entered
and exited and used it at will, although the school
did shut it down early on Monday. In the meantime,
protesters use the small space available to them to set

(20:55):
up minimal infrastructure as an humble, small kitchen tent was
put up, along with a large dra medical tent, a
designated smoking area tent, and an art station for people
to make signs to hang from the barricades. Donations began
coming in on Saturday night and flooded in on Sunday,
the point that by Monday protesters had stopped accepting donations
of a lot of stuff like food and water, but

(21:17):
also things like batteries and generators because they just didn't
have room to take any more of them. During these
weekend days and nights, those of the encampment discussed demands,
their plans, and strategy for the future. One topic of
discussion involved the houseless. Would local houseless people be welcome
inside the encampment and would they be welcomed to some
of the donated resources. The ultimate decision, and I hear

(21:40):
that this was not a particularly controversial one, was yes.

Speaker 1 (21:44):
Now.

Speaker 2 (21:44):
I should also note here that the Humboldt students we
talked with claimed that their school's treatment of houseless residents earlier,
like a couple of years ago, was one of the
inciting incidents of this occupation. Obviously, the genocide in Gaza
was the spark and purpose for why why the occupation
it Humboldt happened, and why this occupation at PSU happened.
But nothing happens in a vacuum. And I wanted to

(22:06):
include this bit from the interview because I think it's interesting.

Speaker 7 (22:10):
We're joking that this is like the third strike for administration,
because in twenty twenty two, the La Times released an
article about how administration was kicking homeless students off campus
for living in their vehicles. Jesus, and I believe our university,
out of all the cal States, has the highest rate

(22:31):
of homeless students. Yeah, and so this kind of this
outrage a lot of people, including people on campus. We
actually had a few days encampment on campus for that too,
I believe, and I feel like that never really got
the It got partially resolved, but Admin was like really

(22:53):
fighting against all the possible options because there was like
a couple of people arguing that, like we keep in mind,
I don't even think these people were from campus, but
apparently the two people like filed complaints about how the
people are living in their cars were like messy or something,

(23:13):
and so one of our requests was like, Okay, maybe
like we could get a few more gumpsters or trash
cans in the area where people are living. Yeah, And
I'm just totally fought back against that, and so that
was like what we're jokingly calling, like, oh, that was
like strike one and then strike two.

Speaker 3 (23:34):
We were saying, is the faculty strike that happened earlier
I think this semester that was I think all over
the state, But it really only lasted like one day,
despite the momentum for possibly lasting longer than that. And
Admin wanted like sent out an email saying like if
your faculty isn't holding classes, put their names here, and

(23:57):
obviously all of us were like, what are you talking
like you want us to, like, you're asking us to
snitch on our professors of faculty right now. So that's
what we're joking his life strike too, because we're like, oh,
we're not doing that. And then this is what we're
calling strike three. And I was like joking earlier to everyone.
I was like, strike three and we're out. Strike three

(24:19):
and they're out, and everyone was like, yeah, I freaking hope.

Speaker 2 (24:21):
So campus occupations like this are always complex things, not
just in the different motivating factors that come together to
make situations like this possible, but in the ways in
which extant student groups and organizations that arise spontaneously due
to the pressures of the moment, interface and interact. When
I arrived at the encampment at about one PM, I

(24:42):
was introduced to several media liaisons for the occupation. They
were extremely careful with what they said. A lot of
it was just kind of repeating the list of agreed
upon demands that the protesters had come up with. I
did ask about a few other things. I wanted to
know how protests in twenty twenty in protests on other
campus had impacted the tactics being seen here. The most

(25:03):
common response, I got to my questions where variations of
that's not something we'd like to talk about. But they
did go into detail in a couple of things, and
one of those was what it would take to actually
conclude this occupation. They noted that if representatives of the
campus administration, including the president, were to come to them
and make concrete steps to divest from Boeing and other

(25:26):
military contractors that the school currently has a direct financial
relationship with, that that could be the basis for moving
forward in some way to start reducing the extent of
the encampment. Possibly, so that seemed to be kind of
their line, if we actually see some real evidence that
the school is divesting from these military investments that they have,

(25:48):
will be willing to negotiate further. But what the school
has done thus far, basically just announcing a pause and
saying we'll meet about the Boeing thing later, that's not enough.
The liaise I talked to also made it clear that
they found the wide wave of campus actions around the
country inspiring and that that had had an impact on
how things were being carried out at PSU. I was

(26:11):
pretty impressed by their message. Disciplined to be honest, As
a journalist, you want people to talk to you, but
actions like this are dangerous, and cops aren't the only danger.
Anytime your movement gets pressed, the attention that it attracts
will also attract grifters, particularly of the right wing variety,
people who want to find someone they can catch saying
something aggressive or dumb, or that just sounds bad out

(26:33):
of context. You, as organizers and activists, want to keep
attention on your goals and message and away from that
kind of bullshit. I should also note that there were
some mentions of their desire that the campus essentially carry
out an amnesty policy for people who had already been
involved in the occupation, so that nobody would get kicked

(26:53):
out of the school as a result of their participation
in this movement. I've heard similar things from the protesters
and Humboldt. Yeah, it was an interesting conversation. And what's
also interesting are these ads and we're back as my

(27:19):
time at the protest on Monday, war On Individuals from
the occupation would occasionally march through the crowd and around
the encampment, which grew at its height of the day
to around five hundred or so people. In the late afternoon.
This was a mix of protesters, including people from a
march that had formed elsewhere and ended up at PSU,
and some bystanders, a lot of whom were students sitting

(27:40):
nearby dorms. People who were members of the occupation would
ask passers by and media not to film protesters and
encourage folks to get involved and help with the occupation.
Pamphlets on their goals were handed out, and pamphlets on
radical political action were passed around. There were also some
people tabling for different causes. There was one group of

(28:02):
people who were taking down folks information in order to
support essentially a ballot measure that would increase the tax
on corporations worth more than twenty five million dollars that
were based in the city of Portland, which sounded nice
to me. And in addition to that, there were people
who were working to organize a you know, you know,
one of those Sorry is very late, but essentially how

(28:24):
people are a lot of people are attempting to get
people to organize to like register is unaffiliated and the
primaries especially in order to like, you know, make a
statement to the Biden administration about their support of Israel.
There were folks who were trying to raise and get
people involved in that as well. So again, you know,
it was like many protests of this size involved a

(28:46):
lot of people. Sometimes in the past, especially in Portland,
I have seen kind of more extreme and yeah, let's
say extreme activists get angry at stuff like this, particularly
when it's asking for folks to fill out or sign petitions.
There's some concern obviously that that could effectively dos people

(29:07):
who were there. I've always found that concern a little silly.
I think people can be trusted to kind of measure
their own threat matrix and decide am I going to
be doing anything at this protest? That means I shouldn't
put down on a piece of paper that I was
around here that issue I didn't notice at this protest.
Everyone seemed pretty copasetic and as a general rule, it

(29:27):
was quite peaceful. Folks seemed more or less on the
same page. The mostly masked protesters that I met were
a pretty diverse lot, and this included a number of
Muslim students, at least one of whom I watched prey
before taking their place on the barricade. I also noticed
numbers of students in his jobs watching from nearby windows
and eventually from the park out in front of the occupation.

(29:50):
From conversations I had on the ground, I became aware
of the fact that several student organizations were hesitant to support,
particularly the weekend occupations, as they had had concerns for
the safety of their Palestinian members. One particularly salient fear
was that foreign students who participated and were arrested might
risk not just their academic status but their ability to

(30:12):
stay in country. And I know that a number of
the protesters I met there who were particularly you know,
white folks, felt like one reason they needed to participate
was that they could participate without taking that kind of risk.
On for the largest portion of the day Monday, I
watched as activists reinforce the barricades on one side of

(30:33):
the library, and the crowd grew quite large in the park.
Some signs I saw among the crowd and on the
barricade included mass college protests are always on the right
side of history, and fuck your homework. People are dying.
There were speeches, but not much in the way of
action until very late in the day, when all but
maybe one hundred and fifty or so of the crowd

(30:54):
had filtered away. My notes at the time say the
big change happened around fifty five pm. By this point
in the early evening, I had seen very little of
the police. Every now and then, a few PSU cruisers
would come by circling the area, and small groups of
four or five hecklers carrying makeshift fishing poles with donuts

(31:15):
on them would run beside the squad cars, basically trying
to like tempt the police officers to go grab the donuts.
This seemed to demoralize the campus officers enough that they
mostly stayed away. I believe that at this point the
city's plan and the administration's plan was to avoid doing
anything fucked up and violent in front of such a
large crowd, because that would be to risk restarting the

(31:39):
whole twenty twenty Portland protest cycle. Again. Remember, it's not
just as simple as can we crush this protest? But
if we go kick all these people out now and
a bunch of them get seen in broad daylight getting
beaten and gassed, does that mean we have to deal
with thousands of people in the street tomorrow. Honestly, staying
away was the smart play on behalf of the police,

(32:00):
and as a result of them making the smart play,
protesters in the encampment were themselves confronted with a choice.
The space that they had been allowed by the school
to occupy in the sort of weird Dayton situation had
been filled both with donations and just the number of
people who were inside the occupation. There was no room
to make it any bigger. So their next options were

(32:22):
either number one, expand the occupation to the park and
the Portland Police Bureau has the ability to legal ability
and obviously the gear to clear out the park. In addition,
just from a tactical level, it's difficult to defend an
encampment in that park the way that it's set up.
You really don't have. You know, you're kind of surrounded

(32:43):
on all sides. The police can really mess with you.
I've been gassed in that park a few times, I'm
quite aware. The other option they had was take the
entire library building and force a response from both PSU
and the city government. This would obviously give them warm
boom to mendover, give them more room to take in
more people, and it would force an escalation with the

(33:06):
city government and with the school, which is you know
what they were looking for. Again, this is overall about
particularly their school, not divesting from companies that they see
is complicit in the genocide in Gaza, and about you know,
wanting to force a response from that school's leadership. You know,
there's a lot more to it than that, but that's

(33:27):
what they were trying to do, and that's what they
chose to do. A little before seven pm, someone on
a bullhorn came out and began asking all of the
people who were still there who was willing to engage
in real militant action, and for those people to come
help occupy the library. Those who were less willing to
risk charges but still down for the cause should form
ranks out in front of the property. There were people

(33:49):
with shields, etc. They were looked like little bitty phealanxes.
You know, people had a mix of umbrellas and shields
and you know, usually two lines thick or so of
people linking on arms. And I thought at first they
were just kind of getting ready for the police to
come in to sort of resist the charge if they
occupied more of the library, But that's not what happened.

(34:09):
For a few minutes, different organizers kind of put these
groups of people together and drilled them, walk them through
basic tactics, talked about what they should expect, and not
long after this, two different PSU police cruisers began to
approach from two different streets both of these different groups
of people. These little platoons split up and one would
confront each vehicle. The officers were badly outnumbered in both cases,

(34:33):
and they pulled back and essentially left the library without
anyone really watching over it. The activists who were inside
the library used this as an excuse to occupy the
rest of the building. Once the police cruisers had been
forced back, the protesters from these platoons started grabbing heavy
objects that were just around them on the campus and

(34:54):
dragging them back to fortify the entrances and exits to
the structure. Much of this took the form of bl
black clad activists swarming onto a sports field behind the
library and grabbing soccer goals, football training sleds, and other
heavy pieces of equipment and using them to wall off
exits and entrances to the ground floor of the building.
I watched one group of protesters cut through locks to
liberate a pair of dumpsters, which quickly found their way

(35:17):
into the barricades in the front of the structure. I
did not enter the library, fairly certain that would have
been illegal, but I did see numerous people running around
on floors above ground level setting up the space for
a proper occupation. I was told by at least one
person that activists were purposely keeping the interior space accessible
to those with wheelchairs, and there were a number of
folks with wheelchairs who I saw outside at the occupation.

(35:40):
I did not see any specific people inside. I left
after nine pm, having been on the ground and wearing
my armor for about eight hours the day after landing
back in Portland. That was all I had in me,
but quite a few people were still present, both outside
and inside the library when I left. Roughly an hour
after I got home and started writing this episode at
about eleven pm PST, a series of frantic late night

(36:04):
phone calls resulted in the president of PSU, Portland Mayor
Ted Wheeler, the Chief of Police for Portland and the
City DA Mike Schmidt, holding an emergency press conference. Local
KTU reporter tan vy Varma summarized the conference message this
way on Twitter. Quote. PSU president said the protesters have
damaged property and have broken into the library. She says

(36:25):
she cannot entertain property damage or breaking an entering. She
asked them to choose to engage civilly. She says they'll
be asking PPB to remove the trespassers from the library.
PPB Police chief says he'd like to resolve this with
no force or arrests. He has asked those who are
breaking the law in the protest to stop. It's unclear
to me at present how many of this is going
to shake out. As I type this, the occupation at

(36:48):
Humboldt is under heavy attack and it sounds like it's
going to be quite ugly. Hey everyone, so you know
again this is a little messy because I wrote this
late last night. I woke up in the morning to
listen to the edit of it and some things that
happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning. About twenty
five people were arrested after more than a hundred riot

(37:08):
officers arrived at the cal Poly Humboldt campus and cracked
down on the Gaza protest occupation. Riot police arrived around
two thirty am. Legal observers say, no injuries. It's kind
of really unclear to me how bad it was. What
actually happened. But you know, quite a few people have
been arrested, and at this point it looks like they're

(37:29):
being charged with some pretty narly crimes conspiracy, I think,
assault on a police officer. So this is one of
those things that's going to be an ongoing story. The
university accused the occupiers of doing more than a million
dollars worth of damage to university property. I'll actually just
read a quote here from an MSN article. Those arrested

(37:50):
faced a range of different charges depending on individual circumstances,
including unlawful assembly, vandalism, conspiracy, assault of police officers, and others.
In addition, students could face discipline for conduct violations, while
any university employees arrested could face disciplinary action. That's them
quoting a university news release. So that's kind of where

(38:11):
we are with cal Poly Humboldt. I wanted to note
that the folks that we talk to, who I hope
are doing well, had requested that we send people to
donate to a bail fund if at all possible. If
you want to find that and support the Humboldt protesters,
you can go to rally dot org slash arc bailfund.
That's rally dot org slash AARC bail fund, so that

(38:35):
would help out with those folks who currently need it.
There has also been a request to call the university
and request the release of Humboldt protesters for Palestine. The
CPH University police phone number is seven oh seven eight
two six five five five five. There is a suggested
script which I'm going to read here. Hi, my name

(38:57):
is blank, and I demand the immediate release of the
arrested Humble student and faculty protesters for Palestine. They should
not be charged, let alone rated an attack for being
on the right side of history. They include, but are
not only, Fern McBride, Olivia Fox, Jared Cruz, Ruhala Agacella,
Lana Word, Alison Merton, Isaiah Morales, and Adelmi Ruiz. So

(39:19):
that's where things are with Humboldt University. My thoughts are
with the people who are arrested, the people who were
forced out of the occupation. As of the recording and
airing of this episode, the occupation at the PSU library
is still in progress, and what will happen there is
less clear. Throughout today Tuesday, the police and city government

(39:42):
have made some pretty aggressive statements about clearing out the
occupation about you know, criminal behavior there being unacceptable about
their suspicion that there's been significant damage done to university property.
For their part, protesters have promised they will not damage
any books. You know, We're going to see what's going
to actually happen. What is clear to me at this

(40:04):
point is that in the last day or so, the
situation has gone from managed something where the police were
every now and then clearing out tents and it was
relatively under control, to something so out of control that
it necessitated a late night press conference by the whole
city government. So we will see where everything concludes with
the PSU occupation, if the police come in and carry

(40:27):
out a raid as was done an Humboldt, or if
the university administration is willing to actually come to the
table and make some of these solid steps towards divesting
the university from companies like Boeing, which is what the
protesters are demanding. All really unclear, but yeah, we will
continue to cover this and you all continue to be

(40:50):
angry about bad things, and yeah, I don't know, I'm
still very tired. Good luck to everybody who is out
there in the streets. Robert Evan, and I wanted to
give an update on Wednesday night. I'm recording this around
four point forty pm on Wednesday, but a day after
I recorded the original ending to this, some more stuff

(41:11):
has happened. The occupation has continued. You know, on Monday night,
only a small number of people stayed behind. I think
there may be something like a dozen I was told
who actually slept in the library that night. There was
kind of an anticipation that the cops could come at
any minute. The next day, word spread about the occupation
and there were a lot more people in the library

(41:32):
on Tuesday night, and as a result, it seems as
if plans that had initially been down for the police
to rate on Tuesday night were canceled. The Government of
Portland published an article today and I'm going to quote
from it here. The Portland Police Bureau places an emphasis
on de escalation and time is a key de escalation

(41:52):
tactic that we use whenever possible. That has not been
my experience with them. If police action can be delayed
to a time when conditions are safer, we will do so.
An example of this occurred Tuesday evening. A plan was
in place to resolve the library incident. However, conditions changed
and the incident commander made the decision to delay for
the well being of all concerned. My guess is that
the conditions that changed largely were how many people were

(42:14):
on the ground, as well as the fact that they
didn't feel comfortable with their understanding of how much access
students had gotten. You know, they didn't have a full
operational plan involved. The police publication notes that there was
a rumor circulated that the planned operation was scuttled due
to a decision made by the DA's office. This is
because the current District Attorney, Mike Schmidt, is considered a progressive.

(42:37):
He made a decision not to prosecute all of the
acts that he could have prosecuted in twenty twenty and
has been kind of consistently attacked by the police and
by conservatives in the city for this decision ever since.
Schmidt did prosecute quite a few people in twenty twenty
and beyond, and his from the beginning of all of
this said that his office will prosecute students and anyone

(42:58):
else involved with the occupation. I think this is just
election you're messaging by the police going after Schmidt because
they want more of a hardliner in. In either case,
nothing was done Tuesday. The occupation continued to spread on
Tuesday night. Students had a movie night. On Wednesday night.
As I basically, as I record this, there's a barbecue

(43:20):
and a lot of this is occurring kind of outside
of the library and like the law and area around it.
The idea basically being to keep numbers up in and
around the library occupation to make it more politically costly
and just harder for the police to actually force everyone out.
While all this has been going on, faculty and student
organizers have been meeting with the president of the university.

(43:44):
Students refused initially to come to a negotiating table unless
the demand their demands for full amnesty were guaranteed for
students and non students who were taking part in the occupation.
This is something when I talked to folks on Monday night,
the focus was on There was some time talk of amnesty,
but a lot of the primary thing I was told
about was that the school needed to divest from Boeing

(44:04):
and other arms manufacturers. The demand for amnesty has grown
as the occupation has become more of a real thing,
which it had started to be by the end of
my time there. On Monday, there was some initial talk
from the university president that she was willing to not
press charges if the students who were involved agreed not
to violate the student Code of Conduct for the rest

(44:25):
of their time at the university and basically handed all
of their names over to the university. That was not
an agreement that wound up coming through, very similar to
what we saw at Humboldt right where you've got this
the school being like, well, we'll offer some sort of amnesty,
even though we can't really promise full amnesty because the
DA can choose to prosecute people still, but if you

(44:46):
sign your name up on this list that you were
here in committing crimes, will kind of try to do
something that did not wind up de escalating the situation.
And as I record this, the library at PSU is
still occupied by students. We'll see how all of this goes.
You know, I've heard a number of things from inside
the occupation. It's kind of one of those things where

(45:09):
the full details of what's happening will shake out. It's been,
as these things always are a little bit messy. The
first night I was there, and up through you know,
a sizable chunk of Tuesday. You can find articles from
media who showed up saying that protesters wouldn't let them in.
And then at some point the people at the gates
so to speak, changed and a number of press got
in and took some pictures of the occupation. You can

(45:31):
find those online. There's a lot of local reporters koyn
and whatnot who have published different things about the occupation.
It's been interesting to see like the reactions of different
reporters because they change based on like the kind of
the reporter who's there, and kind of I think, how
personable they are with people and the folks that they
wind up meeting. So you'll you'll find some local reporters

(45:53):
being like everyone was really nice, and some local reporters
being like everybody was really mean. They wouldn't let me in,
And it's you know, these are not uncommon things to
encounter when you're seeing press interact with a protest like this.
One of the things I do find interesting that has
been emphasized to me by some of the older protesters
who have been taking part in aspects of this occupation

(46:16):
is that the student protesters who are organizing and leading this,
who are of course younger and we're too young to
have generally been involved in like twenty twenty stuff, are
really open minded, you know, despite kind of political disagreements
that may exist between people, there's this understanding that like
folks are a lot less ossified and their beliefs about
what constitutes valid action and what constitutes, you know, how

(46:39):
people should proceed with things like generally. That has been
impressed upon me by some of the older activists is
that these younger student organizers seem much more open minded
and optimistic about accomplishing things and trying new things. And
this is definitely a different kind of occupation Portland has seen.
I noticed some of that on the first night earlier

(46:59):
in their core I made that comment about how I
noticed that people were out kind of taking petitions and
whatnot for different bills, taking advantage of the fact that
there was a crowd who had gathered for the protest,
and that in the past I had seen folks like
that have issue with members of the crowd and I
didn't really notice that this time. And I guess maybe
that comes down to some of what some of these

(47:21):
older activists have told me, which is that a lot
of the student organizers here are kind of less set
in some of their ways.

Speaker 4 (47:29):
You know.

Speaker 2 (47:30):
We we'll see as this all continues to develop. There's
a very good chance that by the time you hear
this episode by Thursday morning, the police will have raided.
That's definitely been happening all around the country. You know,
as we have researched and recorded these episodes, there have
been police crackdowns at Columbia University, at UC San Diego,

(47:50):
at UCLA. We've seen, you know, a lot of pretty
hideous things on the news in regards to these student occupations.
And there's a very good chance that Lynd will have
joined that parade of ugly videos by the time this
comes up. But as I record this, there's a barbecue
going on, and I hope that will be the case
tomorrow as well. Bye.

Speaker 1 (48:16):
It could Happen here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
coolzonemedia dot com, or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can
find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated monthly at
Coolzonemedia dot com slash sources thanks for listening.

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