Over a thousand participate in Occupy Cal protest
The campuswide day of action in support of affordable higher education and the Occupy movement has grown throughout the day to over a thousand students at its peak in the early afternoon, from teach-outs in the morning to a noontime rally that was attended by about 1,000 people.
The protest activities thus far have mirrored past protests with teach-outs and a rally on Sproul Plaza, but in addition to a focus on state budget cuts and the affordability of higher education, the protest has strongly identified with the national Occupy movement and included a march to Bank of America on Telegraph Avenue.
The noon rally — whose attendees included the UPTE-CWA 9119 union, Raza and members of the Against Cuts organization among others — featured a variety of speakers, from a satirical UC regent to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman.
Freeman urged students to work with the ASUC to repeal Proposition 13 to reform property taxes, support a progressive tax measure and lobby state legislators in Sacramento.
"This is a conversation that we need to continue, and this is a conversation that will continue," he said.
The protesters then marched down Telegraph Avenue to Bank of America chanting slogans such as "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" before marching down Durant Avenue back to Sproul Plaza for a general assembly around 1:30 p.m. to plan for an encampment this evening, despite warnings from administrators that doing so would violate the campus code of conduct.
Occupy Cal protests sees melee between police and protesters
Chaos ensued after protesters agreed in a general assembly vote to establish an encampment outside of Sproul Hall, which led to police officers beating students and at least six arrests.
When students set up camping tents on the lawn outside Sproul Hall, they linked arms around the encampment in an attempt to protect it. UCPD announced three dispersal orders, claiming that the encampment was unlawful and that the protesters risked arrest if they did not follow the orders.
In reply, protesters chanted, "We're just standing," "The whole word is watching" and "What law are we breaking?"
Approximately 50 officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and UCPD arrived when protesters did not disperse. Although police — dressed in riot helmets and carrying batons and zip tie handcuffs — used their batons to attempt to break through the protesters' line, the protesters resisted.
"Cops pushed forward, continuously jabbing me in the leg and stomach with the baton," said Erick Uribe, a 22 year-old UC Berkeley senior, as he lifted up his shirt to show a bruise on his side. "I did see people being grabbed and pulled across the line," Uribe added.
Amidst chants of "You are the 99 percent" and "What's your badge," the police left the lawn at around 4 p.m.
Another general assembly meeting was held at around 5 p.m., this time around the encampment of tents with ASUC President Vishalli Loomba and ASUC External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman in attendance.
Freeman, CalSERVE Senator Andrew Albright and Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab, among others, met with Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande and UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya to discuss concerns about encampment, according to Freeman.
Le Grande and other administrators will come to the Sproul steps to speak with protesters around 5:40 p.m., according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore.
On November 23rd, the Congressional Deficit Reduction Super-Committee will meet to decide on whether or not to keep Obama's extension to the Bush tax-cuts – which only benefit the richest 1% of Americans in any kind of significant way. Luckily, a group of OWS'ers are embarking on a two-week march from Liberty Plaza to the Whitehouse to let the committee know what the 99% think about these cuts. Join the march to make sure these tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans are allowed to die!
One of the most notable characteristics of the "Occupy" movement is that it is just what it claims to be: leaderless and antihierarchical. Certain people have of course played significant roles in laying the groundwork for Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations, and others may have ended up playing significant roles in dealing with various tasks in committees or in coming up with ideas that are good enough to be adopted by the assemblies. But as far as I can tell, none of these people have claimed that such slightly disproportionate contributions mean that they should have any greater say than anyone else. Certain famous people have rallied to the movement and some of them have been invited to speak to the assemblies, but they have generally been quite aware that the participants are in charge and that nobody is telling them what to do.
Marine Scott Olsen made it through two tours in Iraq without an injury, but back home in the United States he was critically wounded by a police riot. Heavily-armed police injured Olsen and other unarmed citizens on Oct. 25 when they attacked the non-violent Occupy Oakland. Olsen, 24, had his skull fractured by a police projectile and is experiencing traumatic brain swelling.