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Cal students vote to set up Occupy camp on campus

General assembly of Occupy Cal protesters on Sproul Plaza on Tuesday evening. Photo: Tracey Taylor

At the Occupy Cal general assembly held Tuesday night on the UC Berkeley campus, protesters voted to set up an encampment in the style of the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland tent-cities both of which have been forcibly dismantled by authorities this week.

The vote to establish a camp was passed by 1,267 people according to the Daily Californian reporting on Twitter.

UC Berkeley administration issued a statement last week saying it would not tolerate an encampment. When tents were erected on the last day of action, on Wednesday November 9th, attempts to remove them by police resulted in violent confrontations.

According to reporters on the ground, tents were being erected immediately after the vote was announced, just after 8:00pm. Concurrently, UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. secretary of labor Robert Reich had begun delivering the annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture on Sproul Plaza.

In his afternoon press conference on the Haas School shooting, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau reiterated that the administration would allow “no encampment”. “If any of you reported on the trees which we had for 19 months,” he said, “we don’t want to repeat that experience.” Tree sitters occupied a stand of oaks outside Memorial Stadium for 19 months in 2006-08 in an attempt to stop building of the Student-Athlete High Performance Center.

Related:
Shaken Cal Chancellor recalls Kent State, Virginia Tech [11.15.11]
Shooting at Cal Haas School of Business [11.15.11]
Rally begins after teach-ins at Occupy Cal Day of Action [11.15.11]
After Oakland eviction, focus shifts to UC Berkeley [11.14.11]
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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  • Heather W.

    Bless Reich for doing the right thing and delivering Mario Salvio’s message right where it should be done, and right when it should be done. 

  • Lhasa7

    Bring back Dumpster Muffin!

  • http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/09/local-recycle-reuse-hits-a-bur.html The Sharkey

    So basically students and evicted Occupy Oakland protesters voted that they thought that getting in more violent clashes with Police that targeted the wrong people and would lead to absolutely no social change was a good idea.

    Awesome.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UTAORC2LANQF2ONEFJYXBSITTA bingo

    Well, similarly motivated ‘occupation protests’ certainly were an effective agent of change with respect to the stadium reconstruction.  Oh, wait.  Sorry if that’s too snarky for some, I am sensitive to tuition and inappropriate police violence.  But I don’t think this is the correct mechanism for doing what is needed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UTAORC2LANQF2ONEFJYXBSITTA bingo

    totally.  best name ever  :-)

  • Anonymous

    This is just what ‘we’ all do not need now, today or tomorrow!  We here in North Berkeley are sick of ‘helicopter hell’.  Enough is enough.  This is not 1967 anymore. Let get some brains working here and elevate this dialog to another level.  At present we are not listening as all we hear are helicopters non-stop all day. The government of Iceland was overthrown in three days time with no violence. Pay attention and look at the long view or at least how this all looks on the 5 pm.and 11 pm. news i.e. “Berkeley in flames, again…. another man shot dead etc.”         

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V6KQTJGAQAZXMNEIKG5LM2IHZU Tizzielish

    I think the Occupy movement is like a baby learning how to walk. Sticking with that metaphor (analogy?), as the baby figures out how to remain upright and then to take steps, she is building muscles and awareness. She is building skill, she is building capacities.

    The Occupy movement needs to build a foundation for itself, build its capacity. These early skirmishes with oppression by authority present the movement with opportunities to build capacity.

    Eventually, sooner rather than later, I’d like to see the Occupy movement give up on camping. Camping violates laws that give the establishment an excuse to take them down. Follow the rules. It is possible to organize long-term protests that meeting all day everyday but comply with the law. Put protestors on swing shifts. Occupy does not have to sleep on public space to occupy it.  Follow the laws about hours the public parks are open, or the campus is ‘open’ (I know the answer to that might be more complex than a posted schedule . . or something, I’m just brainstomring here). 

    I have read that the movement is attracting donations. Use the money to organize. Use laptops already owned by protestors, use protestors who know how to organize data in good spreadsheets.  Connect protestors with beds to sleep in. Provide catered food with donations: it’s great community to cook onsite but if it violates local laws, use catering.  Lots of people who do not want to occupy 24/7/365 want to support the Occupy movement so organize that energy too:  the Occupy movement could organize arrangements to give protestors who need a place to crash a place to crash. Others who support the movement but don’t want to camp at a civic plaza can support the movement in all kinds of ways and with the internet and technology, the protestors have the skills to organize.

    Is it more work to put in eight hours days protesting, and to cover your shfits?  You know there is lots of energy amongst protestors and lots of folks with spread sheet and organizing skills. Make sure the plaza you want to occupy will be filled with protestors all the hours the public space is legally ‘open’. Organize. It’s like building a deep foundation so the skyscraper will stay up when you get to the fiftieth floor. Build out, then up. They don’t have to focus on issues right now:  they have to grow, baby steps, then toddler steps, etc. etc.

    I have thought all along that the camping move was the wrong move. I don’t remember tents in Egypt. I don’t remember tents in Tiannamen Square.  The beauty of self organization is that the Occupy movement can, and will I predict, self organize as it adapts to the challenges that arise. It seems like a waste of energy to start out with relatively mickey mouse clashes about camping where it is illegal to camp. Focus on bigger pictures.  I am not saying stop occupying public space:  I am just saying if you can only be in the park from 6 a.m. to 10 pm, then organize yourselves so there are large groups of protestors present every minute between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Don’t waste energy on fighting the camping fight:  focus on exercising your free speech rights.

    If only the world would listen to me!!  Just kidding with that last sentence. But I do think my suggestion that the Occupy movement let go of camping where local ordinances forbid camping just gives the establishment excuses to oppress them. Let go of the camping issue and move on: organize. Don’t miss the forrest by only seeing trees .. or something like that.

    In a way, it would be a lot harder for the establishment, esp. our increasingly militaristic police departments, to emotionally cope with hordes of thousands of protestors showing up day after day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (or whatever the legal hours might be). And the support system that would emerge to make this shift in strategy effective would build organizational capacity. Teams working together to feed a couple thousands folks in Oscar Grant Plaza and to make sure enough protestors were on the job during legeal hours builds great organizational capacity. The stronger the movement’s organization, the stronger the movement, the longer the staying power. And then, by the time they are in a position to actually insist on systemic changes, they will have a support system ready to hel implement.

    It’s all good. Trust folks. Trust that everything that happens is the only thing that could or should. The right thing happens to the happy man (to quote the deceased poet Ted Roethke). And love is the answer. Again, I veer into cheerful silliness. . . . but trust, love, faith, hope,  . . this is the real power of the people.  Corporations don’t have trust, love, faith, hope, etc. etc. etc. People do.  And tents don’t have a lot of staying power either. But people do.

    Just thinking out loud. ;-)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V6KQTJGAQAZXMNEIKG5LM2IHZU Tizzielish

    another thought I omitted:  I suspect that if the Occupy movement shifts away from encampments, some of the social problems, such as attracting homeless folks who come for the free food and, I bet, the socializing (it must be hard to have much healthy social life when homeless, and I bet the crowds at the encampments are fun and attractive to some homeless).  And the anarchists would, I hope, be less intrigued.  I have a hunch that bypassing the camping focus would eliminate some challenges besides giving the establishment relatively petty justification for evicting them.

  • http://berkeley.accountableschools.com/ Berkeley Accountable Schools

    Helicopter noise is audible in neighborhoods all around campus, not just in North Berkeley.

  • chris

    So 1300 people (students and nonstudents) get to make a decision for the entire student body (35,000+).  That speaks for itself…

  • http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/09/local-recycle-reuse-hits-a-bur.html The Sharkey

    Not to mention that the tree sitting was significantly different, in that the agency that was being protested (UCB) was the agency responsible for the behavior that they wanted changed (tree chopping & stadium construction). But UCB is not responsible for the funding cuts that are leading to tuition hikes, hence an occupation of UCB to protest activity being done in Sacramento isn’t as similar to the tree sitting as the protesters would like to pretend.

  • Charles_Siegel

    It does seem irrational that it takes people camping out in the street and getting bashed by police to draw attention to an issue.  I would rather see the political process influenced by facts and debate. 

    Yet the fact is that the Occupy movement has already succeeded in calling attention to increased inequality in America, by camping illegally and holding signs saying “We are the 99%.”

    For example, I am sure that the Congressional Budget Office was influenced by the Occupy movement, when it decided to produce a recent report showing that the income of the top 1% of Americans increased by 275% from 1979 to 2007, while the income of middle-income Americans increased by less than 40%, and the income of the lowest 20% increased by only 18%. 

    See the graph at http://abcnews.go.com/Business/income-doubles-top-percent-1979/story?id=14817561

    In the 1970s, America’s inequality was about average for the industrialized nations.  Now America is the most unequal of all the industrial nations.

    Think about how many people are hurt by that increased inequality.  Then think about how little success we had in drawing people’s attention to increased inequality before the Occupy movement began. 

  • Bruce Love

    Charles, what are your notions for what kinds of change can fix the inequities?

    Another family of statistics worth looking at here, by the way, are the various measures of unemployment among young people.   And while college graduates fare better in those, they fare increasingly much worse in terms of the debt load they bring to the market.   I think that helps drive a lot of Occupy:  a large critical mass of people who see no good prospects — America’s broken promise.

  • Bruce Love

    Tizzielish, I don’t speak for Occupy but I do think I can help give some perspective in response to your thoughtful couple of comments.   I’m not trying to sustain any particular thesis in this response — this will just be a quick “point by point” reply.   The  quotes are stuff you wrote.

    I think the Occupy movement is like a baby learning how to walk.
    Sticking with that metaphor (analogy?), as the baby figures out how to
    remain upright and then to take steps, she is building muscles and awareness. She is building skill, she is building capacities.

    You will sometimes hear people say that Occupy is a “process, not a protest”.  Some people get confused when they see Occupy and think “Why protest in downtown Berkeley?  Why downtown Oakland?  Why not go take it to the doorsteps of the 1% directly?”   A good part of the answer is that Occupy is a process, not a protest:  one function the camps serve is to create a real, physical nexus at which organizing and joining up in common cause can begin to happen.    In that sense, the camps are there to help empower people to self-organize and develop their collective capacity for political and economic action.

    Eventually, sooner rather than later, I’d like to see the Occupy movement give up on camping.

    Each day, so far, I’m surprised the whole thing hasn’t simply fallen apart under pressure from the state and the chaos of views represented at the camps.   Each day, so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to the contrary — yet I still fear it may well fall apart any minute now.

    To maintain or dissolve the camps is a decision for which there is no specific authority.   One way or another, it’s a group decision.   So far the camps have been critical and very surprisingly effective at beginning to create an organized society of dissidents working for change.    If Occupy decamps (voluntarily or not) too quickly, the social networks of organized people will likely dissolve.   (Some, including myself, attribute to that fact the state’s reckless eagerness to shut down the camps in dumb ways — a reflex inherent in the way the state operates attempts to repress organized dissidents, even at irrational cost.)

    . Occupy does not have to sleep on public space to occupy it.

    Occupiers I’ve met are generally not keen on enforcing arbitrary “can’t sleep here” rules.   Additionally, the apoplexy of the state in response to people erecting tents and making mud out of small patches of grass — especially the apoplexy of municipalities who lavish tons of money on this after decades of neglecting much of the city — is a priceless demonstration of why Occupy is happening now, at this point in history.

    donations

    Last I heard, OWS NYC was up to six figures.   I would guess there’s a little on the sidelines, too, should they have good use for it.

    Occupy Berkeley appreciates donations.   Socks, food, cash… that kind of thing.   Today, the word I got — socks and food are good priorities.

    There is a musical performance scheduled for this Saturday for Occupy Berkeley — around the same time as the farmer’s market.   Some folksinger from  out of town and, I’m not sure…. I think there might also be another act scheduled.  I’ve lost track.

    Is it more work to put in eight hours days protesting, and to cover
    your shfits?  You know there is lots of energy amongst protestors and
    lots of folks with spread sheet and organizing skills. Make sure the
    plaza you want to occupy will be filled with protestors all the hours
    the public space is legally ‘open’. Organize. It’s like building a deep
    foundation so the skyscraper will stay up when you get to the fiftieth
    floor. Build out, then up. They don’t have to focus on issues right
    now:  they have to grow, baby steps, then toddler steps, etc. etc.

    Well, jump in!  Go for it!  Bring your spreadsheets!

    It’s not quite that simple because a lot of the people you think of as taking toddler steps have been dropping out in various ways for a long time.    Large swaths of the society of Occupy are already quite organized well beyond basics like “let’s try using a spreadsheet”.   It already is surprisingly organized chaos.

    Don’t waste energy on fighting the camping fight:  focus on exercising your free speech rights.

    That seems like self-contradictory advice to many of us.

    The stronger the movement’s organization, the stronger the movement,

    It’s already pretty darned organized — only, just tenuously.   What you see is the result.

    Organization will get better but, god willing, will never get to the point where there is some Grand Agenda which The Occupy Organization is supposed to achieve.   This is the early stages of a problem solving process more than it is a protest. 

    You wrote this bit that alarms me slightly:

      I suspect that if the Occupy movement shifts away from encampments,
    some of the social problems, such as attracting homeless folks who come
    for the free food and, I bet, the socializing (it must be hard to have
    much healthy social life when homeless, and I bet the crowds at the
    encampments are fun and attractive to some homeless).  And the
    anarchists would, I hope, be less intrigued.  I have a hunch that
    bypassing the camping focus would eliminate some challenges besides
    giving the establishment relatively petty justification for evicting
    them.

    It sounds like you are saying Occupy should or might want to consider taking steps to exclude from participation the homeless who are looking for food and socializing and the anarchists.   It sounds like you are saying that when occupiers work to *help* homeless and otherwise troubled people, that somehow that means they are drifting off message.   Of course, the opposite is the case.

    The exclusionary movement you are looking for already exists — it is called the two major national political parties.  That’s one of the “movements” that got us into the present mess.  It is part of what Occupy is reacting against.

    Did the early Occupy leaders in NYC get snagged by the word
    ‘occupy’? Did they think it through?

    They organized for months in advance and were surprised only by the amount of popular support they so easily achieved.   God Bless America.

    I don’t really understand the
    reasoning behind their insistence that they can just take over some
    public space, create new law, declare that space as separate and apart?

    Some people have a lot of abstract theory about why why the encampments are wrong and yet, as you yourself has noted, the state’s response has been startlingly disproportionate.   So one reason for the camps is precisely to materially expose that contradiction — how the state is actually not on the side of the people.

    Another reason is, again, that physical nexus for organizing that brings us right back to your analogy about a baby learning to walk.   It’s not like we’re in a position, here, to just rent out a bunch of hotels for some extended conferences.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I never thought this would be my political bias, but I think the best way to reduce inequality would be to go back to the income tax rates of the Eisenhower era, when the highest marginal rate was about 90%, and add in a stronger Earned Income Tax Credit, to boost the income of low-income people.  In addition, charge the Social Security tax on all income, rather than having a cutoff at just over $100,000, so there is no need to cut benefits.  Pass a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood so we can regulate corporation’s political contributions.  And so on.

  • Bruce Love

    On what should the government spend that money?  For example, what of unemployment?   What of crises in energy, water, and food?   What you are saying with higher tax rates and such says — ok — let’s use the state to seize a bunch of wealth … but then what?   Spend it on what?

  • Charles_Siegel

    Here, I am saying we should redistribute the income.  Raise marginal tax rates on very high incomes, and use the revenues to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for low and moderate incomes.  Extend the Social Security tax to income over $100,000, and use the revenues to avoid cuts in benefits to the middle class.

    The Occupy movement has raised the issue of inequality, and we can easily use the tax system to reduce inequality.

    Where we need more and where we need less government spending is a more complex issue, which I don’t want to discuss at length here. But you might guess that I want less spending on new freeway capacity and more on public transportation, less spending to subsidize big oil and more on clean energy.

  • Bruce Love

    On the one hand, I think that using tax credits that way is an attractive idea but on the other hand, I’m not sure it can really work.

    One problem is that it is very easy for the very rich to avoid having much taxable income.  If you try various wealth taxes or Tobin taxes on financial markets — capital will just flee.   Moreover, the government needs greatly larger revenues just to avoid going down a debt spiral so it is hard to imagine a lot of support for tax credits.

    Maybe the biggest problem here is that what you propose can, if successful, slightly and temporarily reinflate a consumerist economy — but I don’t see how it leads to any material changes in production.  That is, it messes with the accountants heads but — aside from “invisible hand” mumbo jumbo — there’s not any good story there about how it will improve food security, reduce fossil fuel dependency, etc. … it fails the test of producing urgently needed material changes in how we provide for ourselves as a society.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “One problem is that it is very easy for the very rich to avoid having much taxable income.”
    They did take advantage of loopholes in the 1950s, but nevertheless, they paid a much higher percentage of income than they have since Reagan’s tax cuts.  This statement implies that you are against any plan to increase taxes on the rich, and I doubt if that is true. 

    “Moreover, the government needs greatly larger revenues just to avoid
    going down a debt spiral so it is hard to imagine a lot of support for
    tax credits.”

    Tax the rich, spend some of the revenues on reducing debt, and other revenues on tax credits.  The EITC has already been a very successful program, and I think it should be possible to expand it.  In addition, conservatives are using the threat of a debt spiral to cut back on Social Security.  As I said, extending the Social Security tax to all income will let us avoid Social Security cuts.  Is it hard for you to imaging lots of support for preserving Social Security benefits?

    “Maybe the biggest problem here is that what you propose can, if
    successful, slightly and temporarily reinflate a consumerist economy —
    but I don’t see how it leads to any material changes in production.”

    I have written at length about the material changes in production needed to move away from a consumerist economy.  See my book The Politics Of Simple Living, at http://www.preservenet.com/simpleliving/index.html  As you will see if you read the book, changing the tax system to equalize production is just a small part of what I recommend.  I also make a much broader critique of consumerism. 

  • http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/09/local-recycle-reuse-hits-a-bur.html The Sharkey

    Who’s the “we” you’re referring to, Tom? Are you actually out there in the streets camping in the parks or are you just glomming onto a popular movement?

    The ad hoc explanations for why the rudderless mess that is the Occupy movement isn’t actually going to where the sources of power they’re complaining about are located aren’t very convincing.

    The Occupy movement just seems like a really loud vague mess that’s pointing out issues that aren’t new and that most of us already know about, but until someone decides to offer some sort of solution it’s just a bunch of whining and finger pointing.