As the Occupy protesters in New York saw their all-access pass to Zuccotti Park expire earlier today, their West Coast brethren at UC-Berkeley saw crowds swell to about 1,200. Of course, the vast majority of the protests were relatively harmless, if inane (the Los Angeles Times story on the demonstration cites, for instance, an art history major irate that she doesn't have a job six months after graduation and wasn't able to graduate debt-free from one of the nation's most prestigious universities). As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, however, there's a dark undercurrent at work:
The University of California regents have canceled this week's meeting in San Francisco, citing "a real danger of significant violence and vandalism."
UC leaders said Monday that university police told them "rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers were planning to attach themselves to peaceful demonstrations expected to occur at the meeting," set for Wednesday and Thursday at the Mission Bay campus.
As the Occupy movement grows across California and UC, protesters had called for a massive demonstration at the Wednesday meeting, claiming that regents with ties to banking "are the 1 percent" responsible for astronomical fee hikes and budget cuts.
The story goes on to note that the regents have canceled only three meetings in the last three decades: one because of an earthquake, one because of 9/11, and one because of the beginning of the Iraq War.
The Occupy movement's blatant disrespect for public spaces is one thing -- an annoyance, to be sure, and one that comes at considerable cost to the taxpayer. But the threat of violence -- and the cowering it is inspiring -- is quite another. The rank and file protesters can carry their placards and gather in their drum circles all they like. But it's time for the state to take a stand against the fringe militarism that the movement threatens to produce.