Last year I had the privilege of meeting the ten UCI students infamously known as the Irvine 11. Their inspiring display of audacity disrupted a campus lecture given by Ambassador Michael Oren over the apartheid policies of the state of Israel and set off a firestorm of controversy.
Prosecuted for their offense, I stood in disbelief with their families, friends and supporters in a packed Santa Ana courtroom as their guilty verdicts sent a chilling message across all American campuses . One could not help but be impressed by the students display of courage and leadership as they were ground up by a system that had no intention of losing.
Now, just over a year later, the Associated Students of UC Irvine (ASUCI) has advanced the cause of the Irvine 11. Last night the student legislative council passed a unanimous resolution urging their administration to completely divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. These companies include Caterpillar, General Electric, Raytheon and Hewlett Packard. This historic action is a first within the UC system and is an admirable example of student organization and activism.
If not vindication for the Irvine 11, it surely demonstrates the lingering power of civil disobedience and protest in the face of organized money and the governments they control. Movements are clearly processes, not events.
This coming year we will have a similar opportunity to make advancements in the fight for the quality of our collective future. The environmental advocacy group 350.org has built a global movement to fight the fossil fuel industry which if not stopped, is committed to the destruction of the earth’s climate.
Like the students of UCI, 350.org has started a grassroots campaign promoting the idea of divestment. The organization is pressuring universities and colleges to eliminate all investments in gas, oil and coal companies. Universities and colleges control close to 400 billion dollars through endowments. Targeting potential fossil fuel investors hits the industry where it hurts, share price. This is a significant step for the growing movement of people fighting to take back our planet. To learn how this campaign can be introduced to your campus, visit here:
As I write this post, American made rockets and bombs once again rain down on the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, the capitalist machine that alters the chemical composition of the earth’s atmosphere for profit is indistinguishable from the one that keeps Americans in a perpetual state of war, or keeps the Palestinian people locked up in a human zoo.
Martin Luther King:
“If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”