Protesters vote to set up Occupy Cal camp at UC Berkeley

Protestors met for a general assembly at around 1:45 pm today at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Update, 7:52pm: Video footage of police beating protesters at today’s Occupy Cal demonstrations has emerged. The following video was uploaded to YouTube by Miles Mathews [Hat-tip: Bruce Love]:

Update, 4:36 pm: Protesters have been attempting to set up tents and clashing with police at the Cal Occupy demonstrations on campus, according to various media reports. UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore confirmed to the Daily Californian that there have been six arrests over the course of the day. UCPD have issued dispersal notices and have been taking down tents erected by protesters. Shortly after 4:00 pm, protesters were attempting to convene another general assembly.

This afternoon, Berkeley councilmember Kriss Worthington sent a letter to the UC Chancellor and the UCPD Chief complaining of what he says appears to be the suppression of free speech by the UCPD.

Here is the text of the letter:


Dear Chancellor Birgeneau and Chief Celaya,

I wanted to bring to your attention that banners with Free Speech content appear to have been seized by UCPD in front of Sproul Plaza. The banner was not attached to any tent so should not be in any questionable legal territory as validly permitted. It is hard to imagine that such an act could occur at the exact location of Berkeley where the Free Speech Movement began.

I respectfully request that you promptly inform your officers to STOP seizing banners that are legitimately in the hands of students and protesters. I also request that you return the banners that were inappropriately seized. You can imagine that the sense of irony will not be lost on the public, that the UCPD violated the Free Speech rights of protesters at this particular location.

I understand that there are lot of people at the Occupy Cal event and that such an event can cause a lot of stress on you and officers. Nonetheless, in the United States and in Berkeley, we have clearly established parameters that allow posters and Free Speech banners. We request your prompt attention to this negative blotch on the UCPD on the very first day of Occupy Cal.

These students have made a firm commitment to no violence and no vandalism . The University should be commending the thousands of students that are participating. For many, this could be their very first political protest of their life. They are protesting specifically for additional financing for the University of California. The University should support this enthusiasm and help encourage this to be an effective protest that helps the University and our country.

It is unfortunate and unacceptable that the UCPD are vandalizing and removing free speech banners from the event. Please stop this behavior now.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue.

Sincerely Kriss W.

…………………………….

At a general assembly held this afternoon at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, several hundred protesters voted to establish an “Occupy Cal” encampment, starting today, both to show allegiance to the Occupy Wall Street movement and to demonstrate against public education budget cuts and tuition hikes.

The Occupy Cal day of action began with teach-outs beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, and was followed by a rally at noon on Sproul Plaza, then the general assembly.

At around 1:20 pm a group of protesters marched off campus and down Telegraph Avenue and attempted to put caution tape around the Bank of America building at 2347 Telegraph, according to the Daily Californian, which has been live-blogging and tweeting the events throughout the day. Crowds were heard chanting, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”

UC Berkeley administrators have said they will not tolerate an Occupy Cal encampment in the style of Occupy Oakland

Protesters will discuss plans for what they said would be a peaceful encampment — including potential locations and prevention of fire hazards — later today.


Campus administration has made it clear it will not tolerate an encampment in the style of Occupy Oakland, and the UCPD has said that it will take “appropriate actions” to enforce campus policy, according to the Daily Cal. Follow the Daily Californian on Twitter and through its live blog for developing news.

Related:
A mom goes to Occupy Oakland with her 7-year-old twins [11.08.11]
Occupy Berkeley consolidates camp, supports Oakland [11.02.11]
BPD lent support to OPD at Occupy Oakland demonstration [10.26.11]
All quiet at Occupy Berkeley camp at MLK Park [10.26.11]
Berkeley joins 900 cities to condemn corporate greed [10.16.11]