To the people of Ferguson:
We are student protesters at the University of California, Berkeley who have been fighting the privatization of our university. Like you, we are enraged by the recent announcement that Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department will not be indicted for his murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. We stand in solidarity with Michael’s family, as well as with all victims of police brutality.
We recognize that the privatization of our university is intimately connected with the criminalization of black and brown youth. The increasingly exclusionary nature of public education, made so by many factors including state disinvestment and tuition hikes, has only increased as more of America’s residents are locked up and thrown away, no longer able to attain an education or contribute to society. A majority of those thrown behind bars are young people of color.
The effects of this increased criminalization of Black and Brown youth is not just explicit. Numerous studies have shown that discrimination of any kind can severely damage an individual’s mental and physical health, further hindering his or her ability to achieve an education and enjoy “the pursuit of happiness.” At its most tragic, as in the case of Michael Brown, discrimination leads to brutal and unjust loss of lives.
The protests in Ferguson and around the country have sparked a flame that shows little sign of withering away. It has galvanized not only Missouri, but people around the world, as well as the students here at Berkeley. Your resistance and determination remind us that we must not back down! We must hold those in power accountable for their decisions, whether those are an unwillingness to seek justice or an intention to destroy public education.
Additionally, we strongly condemn the forceful police response against Ferguson protesters, and recognize that this repression is a daily occurrence for many communities of color. Many of us seek to demilitarize our own campus and local police, who are also guilty of such brutality.
To quote the powerful message sent to us by students and faculty at Cairo University: “We write in solidarity with you who were born into a world of fear, and yet have learned to light fires that cast fear away.”
We, also, stand in solidarity with you with fires against fear.
–Students from the UC Berkeley Wheeler Commons