Occupy activists to converge at UC Berkeley

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators face off with police at an encampment in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
November 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Anti-Wall Street activists intend to converge at the University of California, Berkeley for a day of protests and another attempt to set up an Occupy Cal camp, less than a week after police arrested dozens of demonstrators who tried to set up tents on campus.

ReFund California, a coalition of student group and university employee unions, has called for a campus strike Tuesday, when protesters plan a large afternoon rally and march to protest banks and budget cuts to higher education.

The Berkeley protesters will be joined by Occupy Oakland activists who said they would march to the UC campus in the afternoon. Police cleared the tent city in front of Oakland City Hall before dawn on Monday and arrested more than 50 people amid complaints about safety, sanitation and drug use.

Occupy Cal activists will try again to establish an encampment Tuesday night, when UC Berkeley professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich is scheduled to deliver a speech on class warfare on the steps of Sproul Hall.

Last Wednesday, baton-wielding police clashed with protesters who tried to set up tents and arrested 40 of them as the university sought to uphold a campus ban on camping. A group of students and protesters who say they were beaten by police last week announced plans Monday to sue the university and campus police for police brutality.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has launched an investigation into allegations that campus police used excessive force. He said videos he watched of the protests were "very disturbing" and plans to grant amnesty to all students who were arrested and cited for attempting to block police from removing the tents.

"The events of last Wednesday are unworthy of us as a university community," Birgeneau wrote in a campus letter Monday.

UC Berkeley officials were determined to avoid a repeat of last week's violence, said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

On Monday, the UC Board of Regents canceled its scheduled meeting this week after law enforcement officials warned about possible violence and vandalism at a planned anti-Wall Street demonstration.

The regents had been set to hold its bi-monthly meeting Wednesday and Thursday at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus, but will reschedule and possibly hold it at another venue.

The move came after law enforcement officials received information that "rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers" were planning to join a demonstration by students and university employees at the meeting, UC officials said.

ReFund California had reserved 20 buses to take students and other protesters to the regents meeting Wednesday and had expected several thousand demonstrators to show up, said Charlie Eaton, a coalition organizer and graduate student at UC Berkeley.

The protesters now plan to head to Justin Herman Plaza near San Francisco's financial district, where protesters initially planned to go after the regents meeting, Eaton said.

Oakland estimates that it has spent more than $2.4 million in month-long efforts to contain the protests.

Police staged a previous raid on the Oakland encampment Oct. 25, but Mayor Jean Quan allowed protesters to re-establish their tent city. On Monday, however, Quan said officials could no longer ignore the problems the camp posed.

"We came to this point because Occupy Oakland, I think, began to take a different path than the original movement," Quan said. "The encampment became a place where we had repeated violence and last week a murder. We had to bring the camp to an end before more people got hurt."

Demands increased for Oakland protesters to pack up after a man was shot and killed Thursday near the encampment at the City Hall plaza. Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said a strong police presence would remain at the plaza around the clock to make sure protesters didn't roll out tents and sleeping bags again.

Several hundred people regrouped Monday night at the city's library and marched to the cleared plaza. The police chief said they would be allowed to assemble as long as they remained peaceful and did not try to re-establish the encampment.

Shon Kae of the Occupy Oakland media committee said it was still unclear what demonstrators would do next.

"There is no secret plan," Kae said. "We all have to just keep on with the struggle."


Load Comments