Hundreds gather in Sproul Plaza in protest of UC Berkeley bake sale

Opponents of the Increase Diversity bake sale raise their fists and cheer on Upper Sproul Plaza. - Randy Adam Romero
Opponents of the Increase Diversity bake sale raise their fists and cheer on Upper Sproul Plaza. - Randy Adam Romero

Hundreds of students and community members convened on Upper Sproul Plaza Tuesday to protest the controversial “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans, peaking in a demonstration that saw hundreds of protesters lie on their backs in front of Sproul Hall.

The bake sale, which was first announced on Facebook Thursday night, was intended to satirically protest SB 185 – affirmative action-like legislation that is currently awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. The time and location of the bake sale coincided with an ASUC-sponsored phone bank where students called the governor in support of the bill.

The event triggered campuswide condemnation for the campus Republicans’ group’s tiered pricing system for baked goods based on race and sex. Ultimately, the group allowed students to name their own price.

The most dramatic protest of the day began when a group of about 200 students dressed entirely in black marched from Lower Sproul Plaza to Upper Sproul Plaza at about 11:30 a.m. chanting, “It’s our duty to fight for our freedom” and “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

As the Sather Tower clock struck noon, the group of demonstrators — which introduced itself as “The Coalition” in brochures members handed out — laid down on their backs on the ground in front of Sproul Hall and were silent. Aside from a few protesters standing among the group and holding signs with messages including “Don’t UC Us” and “UC Us Now,” the only other coalition members not lying down handed out free sunscreen and cups of water to those on the ground.

Several coalition members were stationed at intervals around the perimeter of the protesting group to hand out brochures and keep passersby from walking through the lying-down crowd. These members were instructed to decline comment to the press.

Although the coalition protesters had initially planned to lie down in protest until 2 p.m., they were forced to cut their demonstration short by about one hour due to the hot weather.

Meanwhile, a group of about 20 protesters from BAMN and the Revolutionary Communist Party held signs saying “Defend the Right to Public Education for All!” and chanted “They say Jim Crow, we say hell no” right across from the bake sale table.

“They should have called it a white supremacy bake sale,” Revolution supporter Larry Everest said. “They are mocking people of color. There is nothing funny about the years of oppression faced by African-American people.”

To counter the protests, about a dozen members of the campus Republicans stood next to the bake sale table holding up signs with messages including “Read the fine print, name your own price” and “No on 185.”

The campus Republican group engaged in debate with students and community members throughout the day about affirmative action and equal opportunity.

BAMN National Organizer and Bay Area Coordinator Yvette Felarca said she had proposed to the campus Republicans’ group to schedule a formal debate between BAMN and the student group.

Shawn Lewis, president of the campus Republicans group, said he is excited about the possibility for debate, while adding a note of caution.

“I don’t want debate that will foster divisions between racial groups,” he said.

As an alternative form of protest, groups of UC Berkeley students offered free baked goods to people on Upper Sproul Plaza, among them a “Conscious Cupcake Giveaway” and another bake sale advertising free hugs as a method of opposing the Republicans’ bake sale’s implications.

“We gave away about 2,000 baked goods — now we’re giving out free hugs,” said Haley Kitchens, a third-year UC Berkeley student. “We’re arguing against the way they went about this in a discriminatory and hateful way.”

Although several policemen were present around the perimeter of Upper Sproul Plaza, no major police action was necessary during the protests.

“We really appreciate the behavior of all people involved,” said UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode. “Several groups reached out to us regarding their activities today, and they all showed respect for each other but still got their message out. It was a very positive experience for everyone.”

Despite the presence of protesters, the Berkeley College Republicans sold out of cupcakes and cookies. According to members of the group present at the bake sale, all proceeds will be donated to an undisclosed charity.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Larry Everest as saying “There is nothing funny about the years of oppression faced by African-American slaves.” In fact, he said “There is nothing funny about the years of oppression faced by African-American people.”

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  • Affirmative action supporters are racist.

    • White guy alum

      Racist = expression of power and privilege to oppress a group without power… Your statement is false.

      • Except not: OED, the definitive dictionary, says: 
        ” prejudice and antagonism towards people of other races, esp. those felt to be a threat to one’s cultural or racial integrity or economic well-being; the expression of such prejudice in words or actions. ”

        Considering how much prejudice (i.e. the assumption that all whites are rich and powerful) and antagonism was expressed towards whites over the course of this debate, it is clear who the real racists are.

  • Mike

    If you can’t meet the standards to get into CAL then apply to Morehouse.  Nobody owes you anything – try earning what you receive – and this goes for WIC, WELFARE, and all the other BS entitlement programs that you seem to think are coming to you.  And don’t talk about slavery you idiot.  My relatives came to this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  They learned the language, worked hard, sacrificed, and didn’t bitch.  They raised 5 children who are all college graduates (4 with advanced degrees).  That’s what this country was built on.  Not snivelling whiners who complain how the process isn’t fair or how they need some extra consideration because their great-great grandmother was a slave.  BS.
    There are plenty of bright, hard-working African-Americans who qualify for and are admitted to CAL every year.  You mock their achievement by wanting to gain admittance over a more qualified applicant due to the color of your skin.
    Get over it.

  • Guest

    “years of oppression faced by African-American slaves.”
    There were never any African-American slaves.  The slaves were Africans; they had no recognized citizenship here.  Read your history.

  • Guest

    “handed out free sunscreen and cups of water to those on the ground.”
    This is choice!  No one should experience any discomfort or anxiety about participating.

    • I hope you’re being sarcastic…

  • Anonymous

    Identity politics are used by the Democratic party as cover for the Dems’ own embrace of neo-liberal economic policy. The inexorable slide of the Democratic Party’s Apparatchiks into the abyss of moral bankruptcy, the selling out of the party’s own ideals and partisans.
    For the record, Yves Smith ain’t no conservative hack, if you know anything about this blog, you know she’s all about exposing exploitation, lies, and BS, strictly non-partisan. (yes, “she”, its a pseudonym)

    Where’s that public option? Sold out to PhRMA lobby behind closed doors at the WH.
    Where’s that expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy?
    A dude from JP Morgan is Obama’s Chief of Staff, and another from GE – who off-shored tens of thousands of positions – is his go to guy on jobs!
    Debt Ceiling? Obama is the one calling for cuts to social security.
    Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson on Obama’s Debt Commish! Good Lordy!
    Why won’t Eric Holder prosecute anyone responsible for the biggest fraud in human history?
    Holder serves at the pleasure of the president… call it how you see it.
    Obama’s mortgage modification program has been systematically abused by the banks to push homeowners into foreclosure. Where’s he at to correct that?
    Immigration? The DoJ and ICE lied to all 50 states about the “secure communities” program.
    Drug War? Obama Promised not to bring DEA upon those who obey their state medical marijuana laws – but the raids and prosecutions continue in full swing. Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter and others call for the end of the Drug War – Obama won’t even talk to them.

    Hilarious, BCR pulled out a tired worn out move – done on this campus just 8 years ago – and created a firestorm self-righteous indignation from students who can barely write their own names.

  • As I posted in the other post, much of the opposition to the bake sale was organized by one Salih Muhammad, a proud and active member (as per his public Facebook) of the black supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-homosexual, and violent Nation of Islam (don’t believe me, even the radical left Southern Poverty Law Center will confirm this.)

    Sorry for spamming, but people should know who the real racists and bigots are in all this. Hint: Not the BCR.

  • Guest

    “They are mocking people of color. There is nothing funny about the years of oppression faced by African-American slaves.” 

    I don’t really see how this even remotely correlates to protesting SB-185…   This whole ordeal has been blown far out of proportion.  If anyone should be pissed off, it’s Caucasian males.  They had to pay $2.00 for a freaking cupcake. 

    • Whatitlooklike

      it’s not about the cupcakes! the point is the there is correlation between people of color essentially “paying less” to correlate with this false assumption that when it comes to admissions, they will not have to work as hard or do as much for the same product (admission) and the PROBLEM with this entire thing is that no one wants to pay attention until it is about college admissions how about as a white male, you’ve received multitude of privilege in this nation for the 12 years BEFORE college. 

      as one article said: If you’re going to compare the Bake Sale to Affirmative Action…the only way it would be comparable is if the flour, oven, and all baking materials were stolen from the people that are required to pay the lowest prices. And if the baked goods from all prior bake sales were made for free by the minorities while white students reaped all the profits…which resulted in unequal opportunities to purchase baked goods in the current sale.”

      • Even if we accept your premise that affirmative action is okay because it makes up for being “privileged” (oh, how I hate the distortion of this word by the left), how does that make the bake sale not analogous? If blacks and Hispanics get compensated for the privilege they do not experience through preferential admissions, why can’t they get compensated for this privilege through preferential pastry prices? Presumably, they’re poorer because of the EVIL WHITE MALE REPUBLICAN, so they should get benefits to make up for that, such as reduced pastry prices.

        Also, your idea that anything was stolen from certain groups is misleading, if correct in a narrow manner. Rather, minority groups have, over the long-term, benefited from living besides European-Americans. The proof of this is that all minority ethnic groups live better in the US than their relatives in their ancestral homes. Yes, whites have benefited enormously from the labor of disadvantaged minority groups over the history of this country, but the disadvantaged minority groups have also benefited from working for the whites of this country.

        That’s the beauty of capitalism. The “exploited” in a capitalist society are usually better off than the celebrated proletariat of a socialist country. The oppressed American black, despite all the injustices that have been heaped upon him for centuries, lived better in absolute terms than the celebrated worker of Cuba or the Soviet Union.

        • Guest

          “whites have benefited enormously from the labor of disadvantaged minority groups”
          This supposes that white Americans were all wealthy.  Nonsense.  White immigrants were cruelly exploited as well.

          • Good point. I was over-generalizing.

      • anonymous dude

        This bake sale pokes fun at Affirmative Action’s flawed way of predicting one’s disadvantage-ness. In Affirmative Action, the 3 constants that are looked at are being Black, Latino, or Native American. As a result, poor Asian Americans as well as poor white people are totally disregarded in this processTo remedy this, Affirmative Action should be split into two things: Race Action and Poor Action.Race Action would give people who are discriminated via racism extra points in the college admissions process. The list of such races should be: Asian Americans, Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans.Poor Action would give people who had less recourses growing up (poor people) extra points in the college admissions process.

        • Guest

          How about No Action?  Higher education is a limited and expensive resource that shouldn’t be wasted.  The people who show the highest aptitude to benefit should receive the highest priority for admission.  If that means the campus becomes 80% Asian, so be it.

      • Anonymous

        The real PROBLEM is that people really are like cupcakes.  We are carbon based life forms of the same species, we are made of the same muscle, bone, and blood cells.  We come from different bakeries and some are tan, some are white, and some are chocolate.  However, some are underbaked so what SB 185 does, instead of re-baking the underprepared cupcakes, is adds extra icing on top and sugar around the cupcake to make it look more competitive.  However, once customers taste the cupcakes they will reject the underprepared ones.  That’s real life.