Debates over racism, diversity and affirmative action have taken Sproul Plaza by storm as the highly controversial “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” is now under way.
The bake sale began at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning near Sather Gate and is being held by the Berkeley College Republicans in protest of SB 185 — affirmative action-like legislation currently awaiting signature from Gov. Jerry Brown. Nearby, an ASUC-sponsored phone bank is encouraging students to call for the governor’s signature of the bill.
Since the kickoff of the events, crowds of hundreds of activists, students and community members have swarmed the plaza. The bake sale has garnered national media attention and heavy negative backlash from the community due to the pricing structure it publicized, in which the cost of a baked good varied according to the consumer’s race and sex.
“Yeah, it’s racist, but more importantly, SB 185 is racist,” said former UC Regent Ward Connerly, who has been sitting behind the campus Republicans’ table.
But the Republican group has not been enforcing its pricing structure, instead choosing to let consumers pay what they wish.
Demonstrators in support of SB 185 — including activist group By Any Means Necessary — and the bill’s opponents have clashed throughout the afternoon.
A group of about 300 students — mostly dressed in black — gathered on Lower Sproul Plaza and began to move silently at about 11:30 a.m. The group assembled on Upper Sproul Plaza, and as the clock struck twelve, the line of protestors lay down on the ground.
Slightly after 1:00 p.m., the protesters stood up and chanted, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom.” They subsequently dispersed and left the plaza. Members of the protest said it finished early because of the heat.
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