Hundreds protest outside UC Regents meeting

November 17, 2010 3:04:54 PM PST
Hundreds of students and workers are protesting outside the UC Board of Regents meeting at the Mission Bay campus in San Francisco.

The board is considering raising student fees again and changing retirement benefits for employees.

There's been a lot of pushing and shoving and some arrests. The trouble started when protesters started surging towards the UC police line. A few protesters grabbed barricades and took off with them. Police pushed back and used their clubs on students who were not moving fast enough and then broke out the pepper spray to disperse the crowd. A short time later there was a second surge of protesters and more pepper spray.

In the front of the first confrontation was UC Berkeley graduate Alejandro Lara-Briseno. He was hit by an officer using her baton. Moments later he was sprayed at close range.

"I told them I was a non-violent activist. The officer started hitting me more and then an officer came over, took a pepper spray canister and just sprayed us all," said Lara-Briseno.

"I understand that there is a real passion and emotion, but all we can hope for is that everybody behaves and that they can contain themselves," said UC spokeswoman Lynn Tierney.

Police felt some protestors did not contain themselves and several were arrested. All of this to protest a proposal that would raise student fees by 8 percent for those whose families make more than $120,000 a year. Students came from campuses in Berkeley, Santa Barbara, L.A. and Santa Cruz to protest.

"My classes are so big and the professors can barely handle it -- 400 students in a classroom. And there are so many students trying to get into the same class and it is so hard," said UC Santa Barbara student Rosalinda Garcia.

It's a proposal not even on Wednesday's agenda; regents will take it up Thursday. Students say regents changed the agenda after hearing of plans for Wednesday's protest. Tierney says that's not true.


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