Students from Stanford University joined forces with community members and shut down the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge earlier this evening to protest police brutality in Ferguson, institutionalized racism against Black Americans, and state-sponsored violence in Palestine and Mexico, which the United States government staunchly supports.
No less than 68 Stanford students were arrested by California Highway Patrol officers. Of the 68, 11 were jailed and the rest were released with citations.
The civil disobedience occurred on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. According to participants, the action intended to ‘reclaim MLK’ and to draw valuable connections between struggles against oppression within the United States and around the world. In the words of recent Stanford graduate Kristian Davis Bailey, who was quoted by The Stanford Daily, “it was time to put my body on the line and use my privilege as a Stanford student to elevate the issues of Black Lives Matter.”
Demonstrators blocked westbound traffic for 28 minutes to symbolize the stark reality that a Black American is gunned down by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante every 28 hours.
The atmosphere was high in energy during the action and even on the buses carrying the students to the Redwood City County Jail.
“Rap battles on the jail bus. Think we just got to the jail. We’re laughing, we’re resisting, we’re not afraid,” reads a tweet from the Silicon Shutdown’s Twitter feed.
Demonstrators held signs and banners and waved flags as a show of solidarity with adjacent struggles. The aim of the protest was to publicly challenge police brutality and state-sponsored violence against Black communities in the United States as well as to condemn racial and social injustice against other marginalized community groups here and abroad.
This kind of intersectionality is nothing new.
Earlier this month, organizers and leaders with the Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson Action visited the occupied Palestinian territories to witness firsthand the oppression and abuse Palestinians face on a daily basis.
Last December, the Dream Defenders hosted a national congress that drew a Mexican delegation as well as a delegation of students representing the National Students for Justice in Palestine. Together, community organizers and local leaders learned about one another’s struggles, strengthened their bonds, and worked to produce viable strategies for future social justice organizing.