UC Berkeley

After Oakland eviction, Occupy focus shifts to UC Berkeley

Peaceful demonstrations at Occupy Cal on November 9th. Photo: Tracey Taylor

With the dismantling by police of the Occupy Oakland camp early this morning, the Occupy focus has shifted to UC Berkeley where students are preparing to hold a general strike on Tuesday. Reports suggest that Occupy Oakland protesters may march to Berkeley to join Occupy Cal demonstrations tomorrow too.

But plans by protesters to demonstrate at a Regents’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week at Mission Bay have been foiled, as the meeting has been rescheduled at the advice of law enforcement officials.

Meanwhile, the violence used by police on November 9th continues to draw comment. Writing in the Huffington Post, cultural commentator Jesse Kornbluth points to reports that say several UC Berkeley faculty were assaulted in the clashes, as well as students. They included 70-year-old former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Hass, and English Professors Celeste Langan and Geoffrey O’Brien.

Cal professor Robert Reich, who is delivering the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture tomorrow, has agreed to move its venue from the Pauley Ballroom to the Mario Savio Steps in Sproul Plaza at the request of the Occupy Cal General Assembly.

“This is in protest against the use of excessive police force against non-violent demonstrators who were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech in a symbolic encampment,” wrote Lynne Hollander Savio in an email release co-signed by the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture and the directors of the Young Activist Award Board. The lecture is scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

At least five of the protesters who attended Wednesday’s Occupy Cal demonstration have said they will file a civil suit against UC Berkeley and the UCPD, according to the Daily Californian. And a group of Cal students is calling for the resignation of four senior CU Berkeley officials, including Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, for what it calls “their betrayal of the people’s trust” during the Day of Action.

The administration has promised to investigate the police behavior. Today, Chancellor Birgeneau released a message to the campus community saying he had asked Professor Jesse Choper, UC Berkeley’s former Dean of Law, and current Chair of the Police Review Board, to launch an immediately review of the police actions. (Read his full message here.) A 2010 investigation into how UC Berkeley police and university officials handled the November 20, 2009 occupation of Wheeler Hall, concluded they did a poor job.

UC Berkeley may be joined by more college campuses over the coming weeks as Occupy strongholds, as camps on city property are increasingly being disbanded for health and safety reasons. The New York Times reports that tents have been erected in a “gated” enclave at Harvard. Natalia Abrams, an organizer with Occupy Colleges, a national group coordinating college-based protesters, said, “We are trying to get mass numbers of students out.”

Meanwhile, the off-campus Occupy Berkeley group is taking a low-key approach. On Sunday, it canceled its plans to try to shut down downtown Berkeley’s Chase Bank and instead held an informal information session outside the bank. One of the men involved, Nick Dominguez, told the Daily Californian that the Occupy Berkeley general assembly did not want to be associated with the image of the “more physically aggressive protests”.

One stalwart Berkeley protester is determined to carry on the fight, however — even if he’s doing it solo. At the time of writing, Zachary Running Wolf remained perched on a wooden pallet in a tree on the sidewalk of 14th Street at the former Occupy Oakland site. Authorities are looking into whether tree-sitting constitutes “lodging” and whether he could therefore be forcibly removed.

Councilmember’s open letter re. police force on campus [11.12.11]
Police use of force at Occupy Cal gets national attention [11.11.11]
Occupy Cal arrests total 40 as protesters plan next moves [11.10.11]
After protests and arrests, calm returns to Cal campus [11.10.11]
Protesters vote to set up Occupy Cal camp at UC Berkeley [11.09.11]

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  • Bruce Love

    It was considerate of Mayor Quan et al. to free up the schedule of Occupy Oakland in time for tomorrow’s events at Cal.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “At least five of the protesters who attended Wednesday’s Occupy Cal
    demonstration have said they will file a civil suit against UC Berkeley
    and the UCPD”

    They should also sue the individual police officers who beat non-violent students and faculty members.  Police officers will begin to obey the law only if they are held personally accountable for their actions.  They will think twice before battering non-violent protesters again, if they face punitive damages of $200,000 or $300,000 each.

  • EBGuy

    Charles, I have to admit, at this point, I’m interested in how you would
    have handled the situation as you seem pretty riled up.  I suppose
    there is something to be said for a late night or early dawn raid to
    remove the tents and minimize physical confrontation.  Don’t know if the AC
    Sheriffs get triple time at that point… 

  • LuvSet

    The poet’s name is Robert Hass (not Haas, which is the name of the business school).

  • Yeah, there will probably be even more non-student anarchist trouble-makers who intent on starting a riot than usual.

  • It’s startling how so few of the rabidly angry people seem to have reasonable suggestions for alternate solutions to the problem. You’d think that people who were so worked up would have their much better solution at the ready, but I guess not.

  • Tracey had it right. I “corrected” it to Haas, wrongly. 

  • Please let me know if you think this is a reasonable suggestion for alternate solutions to the problem of students setting up tents where the UC had forbidden them to set up tents:  how about the police persisted in removing the students who were blocking them from taking down that one tent without using violence?  They could have peacefully, nonviolently arrested hundreds of students, even if it took them all day and all night, without pulling out batons and hitting studnets and Pulitzer Prize winning poets. They could have arrested and arrested and arrested without pulling a nonresistant English professor down by her hair when she offered her arms.

    The police can take down a tent that is block by any number of students by just arresting and arresting and arresting until all the students blocking them from their goal of removing a tent are gone. No violence. It is a longer solution but nonviolent. The police had a choice.  You make it sound, The Sharkey, like the police had no choice.

    What does a civil society do when parties persistent in disagreement?  Militaristic police forces impose their will by forcing compliance. I realize that is an accepted tenet, at least among many in this society, that the police have a right to force their will on others no matter what . . . . but they can insist on removing encampments wihtout hitting anyone, without hairpulling.

    You make it sound, The Sharkey, like those cops had no choice but to assault nonviolent demonstrators. The cops had a choice. They chose speedy brutality over more time-consuming nonviolence persistent removal of the tent.

  •  Have you ever tried to “peacefully” remove someone from a human chain, Tizzie?

    It’s not possible.

  • EBGuy

    “how about the police persisted in removing the students who were
    blocking them from taking down that one tent without using violence?”

    Hindsight it always twenty-twenty, but here’s my take after reading
    several of the accounts and watching some of the video footage. 
    Corrections welcome if the timing of events are off.  I think it really
    comes down to this: the police should have let the final tent stand. 
    They had already removed the encampment and made the point that
    permanent camping would not be tolerated.  That is, I believe, the main
    reason they were called in.  The last bit of ugliness could have been

    “just arresting and arresting and arresting until all the students
    blocking them from their goal of removing a tent are gone”

    That is impractical (which is the point of the OWS protests).  Clearly though, police must pick their battles
    wisely; otherwise, you’re left with the ugliness that happened last
    week. The students, from what I can tell, have a strong focus on non-violence; the police were geared up for the worst (and treated folks like they were BlocBlockers bent on destruction).