‘Standing Ground’ is a phrase with two meanings. First it means to stand one’s ground-to have a defiant spirit. Second it means to have a physical space around which a community unites. The University seldom has either and needs both. The streets of Eugene become a physical place and the unruliness is an embodiment of a resistance to oppression. If you were at the riot, you were yelled at by authority figures who had neither respect for you nor your friends. They gassed you, they arrested nine of you and they would not have hesitated from killing you. In a drunken revelry you may have realized what many politically savvy folks already know, that we live in a horribly cruel and violent society, that cruelty and violence was unleashed upon you. You made a Standing Ground and you defied the police- if only for a short time. Well done.
One University head-shed- Sheryl Eyster is quoted as saying the situation was a “disappointment…we would have certainly liked to have been trying to prevent”. Right, Ms. Eyster, lets placate students and calm them into living submissive lives. To hell with that, lets hope everyone learned that the state, at all levels is oppressive- officers were called out from Lane County Sheriff’s Office, the Springfield Police Department and the Oregon State Police (in addition to EPD). One police agent – Lt. Scott Fellman is quoted as saying “It shouldn’t be happening because it’s illegal and dangerous”. I got news for you Fellman- your organization a greater danger to any student than any other organization and if your laws weren’t so repressive, this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place. One student is quoted as saying “It was like a war zone”. Who made that war zone? Who fired tear gas and dove a car into the crowd- the police. So let’s question who was doing the more serious damage, the gang running around with guns like a snatch-squad, or the people drinking and having fun?
Students did throw bottles, rocks and even eggs. But come on, who had the majority of force- the Police, so who’s ethical responsibility is it to let people go free- the Police. When students get together in a public space, that is challenging to authority figures, because control of space is power. People aren’t allowed to have power. That is why students will take Standing Ground, as they should, because the police oppress us all and that is just plain wrong. Let us all stand in solidarity with the students the next time they stand their ground.