An Hour At the Ashe Building

When I arrive just after 10pm, there’s a crowd of about 75 or so at the back door of the Ashe building, about half look like members of the would-be bargaining unit, and the other half are students and other hangers-on (“I’m an outside agitator” the retiree I find standing next to me says).

There are more Coral Gables police cars here than I have ever seen in my life. Who knew they had 18 cars (including K9, a paddy wagon, and one labelled “Lieutanant”)

Apparently, just before I got here around ten pm a large number of cops entered the building to get the students out (“Shalala goes around the front to give a thumbs up,” the outside agitator says bitterly, “and they bring the paddy wagon ‘round the back”).

Rumors run rife: Shalala is coming back when the arrests start.

“We thought she’d wait until early in the morning” says another, “but I guess they want a show for the 11 o’clock news”.

There is press, and they’re prepared to wait, and the crowd consensus is that the university figured there was no point in delay. Arrests any minute.

But maybe not. Off to the side I find Lt. Paul Miyares, a bluff well-spoken man who is happy to speak for attribution. “The last thing we want to do is arrest anyone” he says. Why so many police? They’re just here, at the University’s request, to “monitor” things and make sure no one does anything they shouldn’t. Just like at any other demonstration. Why so many cops going in and out of the building? It’s just the night shift coming on to relieve the day shift. Why not tell the people milling around that you are not arresting anyone? But what if I have to later for some reason, he responds, “then the trust is gone.”

Some of the other cops are bit more cynical. For one thing, this comes on the heels of real policing–talking out the US 1 gunman without injuries to himself or others as they did earlier today. “Notice that there’s no one from the union risking arrest” says one hard case. “It takes real smarts to get arrested for someone else”. Some might call it altruism, but this uniformed (and unionized) gentlemen sees it as rich spoiled kids being irresponsible. What will mommy and daddy think, asks another.

***

Around at the front of the Ashe building there’s a lot of chanting going on (in Spanish). What do we want? JUSTICE. When do we want it? NOW.

There’s a tent pitched on the lawn for no obvious reason. Maybe supporters plan to sleep here, and are afraid of rain although none is forecast.

At the table where I’m writing this, undergrads are trying to do their homework. One student is obsessing – I can’t go home, what if they arrest my roommate, I have to be here to get her out of jail.

A guy doing his math explains why I can’t seem to get a wireless connection near the Ashe building – the administration turned off this part of the wireless cloud that covers the campus so that the students couldn’t communicate via Internet.

***

So it looks like a standoff.

Or does it? One of the chaplains outside the front says that the reporter from Telemundo told her that the cops have orders to arrest everyone as soon as Shalala leaves.

Donna Shalala? Yes, it seems UM’s President has come back in and is meeting with the remaining dozen or so students. And, judging by what we can see through the large glass doors, Father Frank has agreed to leave the room.

A young woman is passing out the lyrics to the star spangled banner urging everyone to get ready to sing it together .

***

11pm. Back to the back door. The cops swear up and down that they don’t have any instructions to arrest anyone. The Lieutenant has gone home. “It’s private property,” the cop in charge outside says. “The kids can stay as long as they like. Of course, if the University tells them to leave, and they refuse, then they are trespassing, and then they can be arrested.”

So we really don’t have any idea what’s going on. Shalala came in this way, her car is parked back here, will she address the folks out front before leaving or skulk out the back?

***

Over to the front again. They say they spotted Shalala leaving the ground floor room where the students are and going upstairs towards the President’s office. “She gave us a wave and a smile” a student says.

Not much to go on, is it?

+++

(Posted from Richter library)

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2 Responses to An Hour At the Ashe Building

  1. Brad DeLong says:

    “Paddy Wagon”? Such anti-Irish prejudice in this day and age! Sheesh!

  2. Michael says:

    “Large van” just doesn’t have the same umph.

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