The University of California, Irvine contingent of Occupy held a modest event on campus this morning attended by about 20 people. The group, though mostly students, represented a diverse cross section of OC society and included visitors from Occupy OC, which is currently camped in front of Irvine's City Hall. They were on hand to distribute fliers attempting to attract Irvine students to the intersection of Alton Parkway and Harvard Avenue. Also in the crowd was at least one person claiming to be from the Occupy Oakland protests.
After forming a circle near the flag poles located on Ring Road, people took turns describing their reasons for being involved with the protest. Stories abounded of being inundated with student debt despite access to grants as well as the dismal job market following graduation.
Others talked about outsiders' perceptions of the movement, notably media types who have fumbled with the lack of a singular message. Chris Koo, a 20-year-old life science major mentioned the media's focus on the movement as a bunch of hippies, sex freaks, and radicals with no clear goal. “Everything is so interconnected and everything has gotten so messed up at the same time,” said Koo, “You can't say what [Occupy] is with one sentence.”
The group's Occupy Oakland visitor also spoke about his recent experiences up north, which he said included seeing people shot with golf-ball size rubber bullets while fleeing from police. “Get your military minds together and prepare for an attack,” said the Occupier, who only identified himself as Tim. “Orange County police aren't any different from Oakland police.” The man then recommended people buy gas masks and protective vests.
After the open-floor session the group marched through the campus.
Though today's event featured moments of eloquent indignation at corporate greed and its influence over government agencies, it's safe to assume UCI students are still a ways away from lobbing half-exploded tear gas canisters back at police lines. Too busy at Langson, I guess…