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Today is a national day of action on American college campuses, a day of coordinated student protests, teach-ins, and occupations from coast to coast. I’ll be keeping tabs on the day’s events as they occur — scroll down to read everything from the beginning.

Note: Liveblogging continues here.

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4:05 pm | I’ve resumed liveblogging in a new post.

1:23 pm | Very quickly, before I go: about two hours ago, a man driving a Ford Mustang accelerated through a crowd of students and others who were blocking access to the UCSC campus, striking several of them. The driver and a passenger were removed from the scene by police, but it is not yet clear whether either has been arrested. An hour later, a heckler at the protest took a swing at a student.

1:17 pm | Actions are heating up across the nation, but I have to go up to campus to teach. Follow #M1 for all the latest, and I’ll tweet as I can from @studentactivism. Liveblogging will resume by about four o’clock Eastern, and continue through the afternoon and evening.

1:04 pm | As noted at the 10:43 am update, President Obama is scheduled to speak at a New Hampshire community college within the hour.

1:00 pm | PA banner drop reads “KEEPING STATE IN PENN STATE.”

12:41 pm | Hashtags for the day’s actions are proliferating, but #M1 is drawing an ever-growing share of the total traffic. That’s the tag to use, and follow.

12:30 pm | Students from New York City campuses are holding a roving rally on and around the campus of NYU. Journalist Allison Kilkenny is tweeting from the march.

12:04 pm | The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that UCSC student activists are setting up a “Tent University” not far from  about a hundred students are participating in a blockade of the campus’s two entrances. University officials and police have not yet interfered with either the blockade or the tents.

11:44 am | Update on Berkeley admin building: Daily Cal reporter Chloe Hunt tweets that one of two entrances has been locked from the inside, but the other is still in use.

11:34 am | UC Berkeley has apparently shut down its administration building preemptively this morning. Activists have wrapped the building in crime-scene tape.

11:19 am | Inside Higher Ed’s Allie Grasgreen has a piece up on today’s actions, and it’s a solid one. One place of disagreement: Grasgreen says 2012 has been a “down time” so far, but in fact there have been nine campus occupations since the start of the spring semester, and that’s not counting such actions as the UVA hunger strike for a living wage, which began thirteen days ago and is still going on.

11:06 am | UCSC has shut down several campus cafes for the day, and administrators are urging faculty “to make accommodations, as appropriate, for students who are unable, through no fault of their own, to attend class.” No move yet to shut down the campus completely.

10:48 am | Rain is expected in the Northeast, Northwest, and parts of the Deep South today. But Northern California and the NYC region should be clearing up by early afternoon.

10:43 am | As it happens, President Obama is going to be speaking on a college campus today — he’s scheduled to give a speech at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire at 1:40 pm.

10:29 am | The UCSC blockade isn’t a new tactic. Santa Cruz students closed campus entrances to vehicles during the March 4 national protests in  2010, forcing the university to shut down the campus for the day.

10:23 am | UC Santa Cruz website confirms that “the campus is currently blocked to vehicular traffic,” and has been for nearly three hours. Buses are being rerouted to drop passengers at university entrances.

10:12 am | I’m compiling a Twitter list of folks who will likely be livetweeting M1 events. If you have suggestions for additions, let me know.

10:04 am | Tweet says activists will blockade UC Berkeley’s administration building, California Hall, at 7:30 am Pacific Time.

9:55 am | Twitter hashtags to follow today are #M1 and #OccupyEducation.

9:37 am ET | The day’s first major development comes from California, where students at UC Santa Cruz rose before dawn to shut down vehicular access to the campus. Activists say they will allow emergency services, childcare and health workers, and residents of on-campus housing through their barricades.

For the last three years, the first week of March has seen a national day of co-ordinated student action in support of accessible, democratic higher education.

The 2010 day of action came as the nation’s most active year of student protest in decades was in full swing. Building on the California protests and occupations of Fall 2009, March 4 saw more than 120 actions in thirty-three states, and drew a level of media attention that was, for its time, astonishing. A year and a half before Occupy Wall Street was launched, eleven months before the Wisconsin statehouse occupation began, #March4 was for many the first sign that something big and new was bubbling up from the campuses.

March 2, 2011 was a bit smaller than March 4, 2010, at least in part because of administrators’ success in quieting student protest in California the previous fall. But it did produce three campus occupations — again, this is well before Occupy Wall Street — including a feminist protest in Pennsylvania, a statehouse solidarity occupation in Wisconsin, and the audacious (and chilling) occupation of the ledge of a building on the Berkeley campus. A week later, high school students staged their first nationally co-ordinated day of protest in recent memory, and the momentum of the campus movement hasn’t subsided since.

So what can we expect to see tomorrow, in the first day of campus action of the OWS era? The Nation has a piece up offering a taste of what’s brewing, while the coordinating group Occupy Colleges lists 64 campuses that they expect to be acting up in one way or another. In California, March 1 is the kickoff of a planned week of action that’s slated to culminate in a state capitol occupation, and there’s a lot of other interesting stuff in the pipeline.

Tomorrow is going to be  a very interesting day.

Evening Update | As I reported last week, there have been 37 campus occupations in the US and Canada so far this academic year. (That’s not protests, occupations.) It’s safe to say that number will be higher by Friday. Huffington Post also has a good overview of what’s in store (posted yesterday).

March 1 Morning Update | I’ll be liveblogging the day’s events here.

As the map below shows, students have staged more than three dozen campus occupations across the United States and Canada during the 2011-12 academic year. Starting with the University of New Orleans at the end of August, more than two weeks before Occupy Wall Street kicked off, the movement has grown to encompass at least thirteen states and one Canadian province.

Campuses hosting occupations have been public and private, urban and rural. They have included university centers and no fewer than four community colleges. Students have occupied indoors and outdoors. They have been rousted by police. They have been beaten. They have been arrested. They have been pepper-sprayed. And in many cases they have come back from such treatment to re-establish occupations larger and more lasting than those that were cut short.

Some occupations have won concrete victories, others have refused to articulate demands. Some have been mounted by students alone, others have been supported by faculty, staff, and community members. Together, these actions represent a new phase in American student organizing.

And it’s only February.

This map presently includes detailed information about all 37 campus occupations of which I’m aware. It will be updated on an ongoing basis for the rest of the academic year — please disseminate it widely and forward any additional data you may have.

Nineteen students and former students at UC Davis have filed a federal lawsuit charging the university’s chancellor, chief of police, and other officials of violating their civil rights in the November 18 pepper spray incident that made headlines around the world.

The lawsuit argues that “campus policies and practices” that led to the incident “offend both the state and federal constitutional guarantees of the rights to free speech and assembly.”

Five of those named in the suit are Davis administrators, including Chancellor Linda Katehi and Chief of Police Annette Spicuzza. The suit alleges that the five promulgated an unlawful dispersal order and failed in their duty to properly train the campus police in handling peaceful protests. It further alleges that the five were negligent in hiring and retaining campus police officer John Pike, who was “unqualified” for his job.

The nineteen plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and an injunction barring similar responses to student protest in the future.

Thirteen of the plaintiffs say they were pepper sprayed on November 18 “without legal cause or justification.” Four say they were physically mistreated in other ways. Eight say they were wrongfully arrested, and one says he was denied medical assistance while in custody.

Some highlights of today’s court filing:

  • Seventeen of the nineteen plaintiffs in the case were UC Davis students last November. The other two were recent graduates, one of whom was teaching classes at Davis at the time. (The other was visiting the campus.)
  • Eight of the ten protesters arrested at Davis on November 18 are parties to the lawsuit.
  • The plaintiffs claim that the pepper spray used on the students carries a manufacturer’s recommendation that it be used from a distance of at least six feet. The lawsuit estimates that the students were sprayed from a distance of 1-2 feet.
  • The suit alleges that “neither the University nor the police provided adequate medical attention on the scene to any of the students who had been sprayed.” It further claims that one defendant was taken to a hospital in an ambulance for treatment of the effects of the spray.
  • Fifty-one campus police officers are cited in the suit, of whom all but John Pike are unnamed.
  • The lawsuit alleges violations of the plaintiffs’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as their rights to free speech and assembly, medical care when in police custody, and freedom from arrest without probable cause, under California law.

Update | Key quote: “In prior years, Defendants … as well as their predecessors in their positions, permitted assemblies, demonstrations and protests on campus which included the erection of structures such as tents and domes, when the message and speakers were less controversial. In contrast, Defendants and each of them took the actions to disperse the lawful assembly on November 18, and to pepper spray and arrest students because of the demonstration’s message and who was delivering it.”

Also: “Certain plaintiffs were targeted by the police for forcible arrests based on their past political activism and associations at the University.”

And this: “The pepper spraying and arrest of peacefully assembled students on their college campus was so clearly in violation of established state and federal law that no inference other than that the Defendants acted maliciously with intent to injure and to deprive plaintiffs of their constitutional rights can be drawn.”

Second Update | The ACLU of Northern California is assisting with the lawsuit. Their press release can be found here.

What you see below is the first step toward a comprehensive interactive map of all American campus occupations during the 2011-12 academic year. It’s not close to done — I’ve got a lot more data to add, for starters — but it’s a beginning.

Fall 2011 occupations are marked in yellow. Spring 2012 (most of which aren’t on the map yet) are in blue. Occupations that saw arrests or other police violence are in red.

Each marker contains at least one link to the occupiers’ blog/Twitter/Facebook info and/or to media coverage of the action. Click here for the full map with a complete explanation and chronological list of occupations.

If you have info about occupations not listed here, or more data about occupations that ARE listed, please share. Include links if you can.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall
StudentActivism.net is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

To contact Angus, click here. For more about him, check out AngusJohnston.com.

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