Note of solidarity with the students of the University of Pittsburgh

At the last plenary session, held October 6th, the students discussed recent events at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, during which a large number of the University of Pittsburgh’s students found themselves seriously mistreated by the police, exposed to sound cannons, tear gas and arrested even though they did nothing but stood in the streets. The plenum has written a letter of support to Pittsburgh students, condemning the actions of the police.

Note of solidarity with the students of the University of Pittsburgh

We too have witnessed the arrogance of the brute force you have been submitted to. We have witnessed it via the internet and through personal messages sent to us by our American friends. At first sight, it may seem as a reversal of the accepted logic of distribution of places in the world: students from Croatia – a country still at war hardly more than a decade ago, then figuring as the window into the past the West convinced itself it had left behind forever – witnessing with disgust and disbelief the violence enacted upon their American colleagues.

Yet, the scenes of special police forces thrashing on peaceful and confused students may be something even more worrying than a flashback into what allegedly has no place in any democracy worthy of the name. It may be a window into a future held in store for all of us. The United States is still the privileged state where the fate of the rest of the world is being rehearsed. The scene of unarmed and peaceful young people being swept aside by force to protect the powerful with paranoid ferociousness – even where no visible challenge to their power has been put forward – is more than just an opportunity to express anger and disbelief. If we do not want such scenes to become a regular part of our collective future, it also has to be understood and accepted as a call to struggle. Passivity in the face of uncalled-for violence is a step towards its passive acceptance and normalization.

So we do as we must and we speak out on this occasion! Both in solidarity with what you have suffered and in the firm belief that this challenge will not frighten you into passivity and silence. We too would be losing in the latter case.

The Plenum of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, October 8, 2009

You can watch here the video depicting students who are being treated by the police as rioters and subjected to tear gas, rubber bullets and sound cannons and even arrested, even though they are not causing trouble but mostly standing in the street and watching.


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