Water Jug Goes Viral as Symbol of Gaza Solidarity Student Encampments

In the last week, students and community members across dozens of colleges and universities in the United States have set up impromptu encampments on their campuses in solidarity with the people of Gaza. As tensions escalate, with university administrators calling in police and talks of threats to deploy the National Guard, a viral moment emerged when a student at California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt (Cal Poly Humboldt) repeatedly “bonked” a responding police officer over the head with an empty five-gallon water jug while defending the school’s encampment from encroaching forces.

Much like the folding chair from last summer’s Alabama Riverfront Brawl, the water jug, also known now as the “jug of justice,” became an instantaneous emblem of student resistance in the face of academic suppression and police violence. Equal parts ingenious, disrespectful, and harmless, the act was succinctly summarized by one X user as “0 damage and 100% humiliating.” Because it’s so intrinsically innocuous and genuinely hysterical, the “jug of justice” has once again allowed web users to let their imaginations run wild.

And as we saw with the immediate “I survived the NYC earthquake” t-shirts that were printed and sold less than an hour after the ground shook in New York earlier this month, when there’s a viral event, there will be a shirt about it before sundown.

And what is a shirt without a timely song to accompany it?

The water jug has multiple uses, as evidenced above. When Arizona State University used its sprinkler system against the campus’s encampment, students jammed water jugs over the sprinkler heads to prevent their belongings from getting soaked. Nothing like a good old “reduce, reuse, recycle” moment to bolster the student movement.

Aside from t-shirts, the jug of justice inspired myriad works of art, design, and accessories. At last, we have a PG version of ACAB!

I don’t think the cops will like this one …. Resistance runs on Bonkin’?

The current sweep of encampments popping up all over the country has reignited passionate conversations about historic student-led protests over the last few generations — especially the 1968 Columbia University uprising in response to the Ivy League school’s support for the Vietnam War as well as allegations of a segregated gymnasium being built on campus. Though humorous, this edit shows intrinsic connections between student resistance of the past and present as issues of police violence, US-funded wars, racism, and classism pierce through the veil of progress over the last 60 years.

And as our dear friend Miss Lady Salad sardonically reminds us, though the bonk embodies the plucky, unperturbed spirit of contemporary student activism, it’s critical to remember that the “jug of justice” is not a passing joke, but rather evidence that even against bullets, tasers, pepper spray, and arrests, there’s nothing left to lose as the kids continue to push our institutions to divest from the forces that contribute to and benefit from the destruction of Gaza and its people.

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