At Berkeley, a literal meaning for ‘Beat Poets’


Robert Hass, former poet laureate of the U.S., describing how non-violent students and teachers were brutalized by UC Berkeley cops on the very site where the Free Speech Movement was born 50 years ago:

… None of the police officers invited us to disperse or gave any warning. We couldn’t have dispersed if we’d wanted to because the crowd behind us was pushing forward to see what was going on. The descriptor for what I tried to do is “remonstrate.” I screamed at the deputy who had knocked down my wife, “You just knocked down my wife, for Christ’s sake!” A couple of students had pushed forward in the excitement and the deputies grabbed them, pulled them to the ground and cudgeled them, raising the clubs above their heads and swinging. The line surged. I got whacked hard in the ribs twice and once across the forearm…

… One of my colleagues, also a poet, Geoffrey O’Brien, had a broken rib. Another colleague, Celeste Langan, a Wordsworth scholar, got dragged across the grass by her hair when she presented herself for arrest…

Hass stopped recounting the assault by police long enough to note it was related to other unresolved social problems:

… I won’t recite the statistics, but the entire university system in California is under great stress and the State Legislature is paralyzed by a minority of legislators whose only idea is that they don’t want to pay one more cent in taxes. Meanwhile, students at Berkeley are graduating with an average indebtedness of something like $16,000…

Arguably, the condition of the education and law enforcement systems in most other states is just as bad. Put another way, anyone who says our rights and opportunities are more secure now than they were 50 years is either wealthy, related to a cop, or just plain stupid.

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This entry was posted in arts, economic collapse, Great Recession, New York Times, Politics, The New Depression and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to At Berkeley, a literal meaning for ‘Beat Poets’

  1. Pingback: Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » At Berkeley, a literal meaning for ‘Beat Poets’

  2. Tom says:

    Only $16,000? Wow. The pepper sprayed, unjustly arrested, beaten and hand-tied students are getting a real lesson in American history – full of violence for the powers that be to “get their way” by any means necessary (bribery, fraud, corruption, non-prosecution of fraud, rigging elections, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, pollution, buying Congress, the Judicial system and the Presidency, militarization of police, brutality, murder – it goes on and on).

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