Occupy Berkeley protest starts one week early

Occupy Berkeley protesters crowded outside of the Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street to show support for the Occupy Wall Street movement on Saturday afternoon.
Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
Occupy Berkeley protesters crowded outside of the Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street to show support for the Occupy Wall Street movement on Saturday afternoon.

Over 200 participants met for the first meeting of Occupy Berkeley at noon today in Downtown Berkeley, where they voted to begin the occupation tonight rather than wait until next Saturday as they had originally planned.

Community members toting signs and flags as well as students from UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College gathered outside Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street to show support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and decide through the democratic process how their own occupation would proceed.As of 8 p.m. Saturday, at least 15 protesters were planning to spend the night outside the bank.

Occupy Berkeley joins movements in Oakland, San Francisco and other cities across the country with encampments showing solidarity with Occupy Wall Street — a movement that began several weeks ago in New York City with thousands of Americans taking to the streets to protest what they see as a lack of accountability displayed by large corporations and to demand an end to corruption and government bail-outs.

UC Berkeley juniors Eden Foley and Lark Omura attended the meeting to distribute information for AgainstCuts.org. They both said they plan to participate by spreading the word about the movement in Berkeley.

According to organizers, there is no single group leading Occupy Berkeley, although those leading the discussion were mostly UC Berkeley students and graduate students. All of the Occupy Berkeley participants comprise the general assembly, which makes decisions together by discussing and voting on motions and proposals.

“We are the people, and we decide when and where to occupy as a group,” said UC Berkeley senior Elizabeth Graham.

She added that the protesters currently have the support of the Berkeley Police Department to assemble peacefully. The group plans to remain peaceful throughout the occupation.

During the course of today’s two-and-a-half hour meeting, the general assembly made three decisions: They will begin the encampment tonight instead of the following Saturday, they will remain camped outside of Bank of America for the time being and they will hold daily meetings of the general assembly at 6 p.m.

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington was present for most of the meeting to show his support for the protesters’ cause. Worthington said the organizers had applied for a permit to occupy the space for next Saturday — which is currently being processed by the city — but not for today. Still, Worthington said he does not expect any problems as a result, adding that Berkeley tends to be fairly accommodating to protests and occupations.

“I see this as the beginning of a beautiful grassroots movement built around a collective revulsion to corporate control,” Worthington said. “I hope this movement succeeds in creating demands and in energizing a new generation of activists.”

UC Berkeley senior Joseph Harder stopped by the protest to see what was happening. Harder has been interested in Occupy Wall Street and said he may participate in Occupy Berkeley on weekends.

“I see this as an analog to the Tea Party,” Harder said. “Hopefully in the next few months and years, this will radicalize the left and lead to the election of more progressive politicians.”

Protesters may eventually decide to set up a second encampment elsewhere in Berkeley if enough people join. At the moment, however, a group of occupiers will continue to camp out on the site in front of Bank of America for as long as the movement persists — which some expect to last well into the coming months.

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  • Ebrecon1970

    How about buying items that are made here in the USA instead of China? 

  • Ebrecon1970

    Hey, why dont you protest against companies sending our jobs overseas?

  • Anonymous

    Occupy UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s office for discriminating against Californians at asmission.

    Need for transparency at University of California
    Berkeley has never been so clear. Chancellor Robert
    J Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) displaces qualified for public university
    education at Cal.
    instate Californians for a $50,600 payment and a foreign passport.


    UC Berkeley, ranked # 70 Forbes, is not increasing
    enrollment.  Birgeneau accepts $50,600
    FOREIGN students at the expense of qualified Californians.


    UC Regent Chairwoman Lansing and President Yudof agree to discriminate
    against instate Californians for foreigners. Birgeneau, Yudof, Lansing need to answer to Californians.


    Opinions make a difference; email UC Board of Regents   [email protected]

    • Tim

      “for a $50,600 payment and a foreign passport”
      I can understand why he wants the fifty grand.  Why does he need a foreign passport?

  • Rights_They_Do_A_Body_Good

    “She added that the protesters currently have the support of the Berkeley Police Department to assemble peacefully.”
    The very fact that Ms. Graham felt compelled to make the above statement to the DailyCal is a sign of the sorry state of our society.
    The right to free assembly; it’s in the 1st Amendment.
    BPD is compelled to support it, the officers have each sworn an oath to uphold the law.

    “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the
    United States… that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation
    or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon
    which I am about to enter.”

    • an actual feminist

      I was at the GA yesterday and that was a MAJOR issue. Many people wanted to move camp to city hall, where they had support from the city council, and a temp check indicated most of those gathered agreed. After a long discussion, though, this point–that we have the right to occupy the area in front of BofA, Chase, and Wells Fargo–is the reason why the camp is still there. 

  • This is not about the left, though many think it is. At OccupySF there are many End the Fed signs. There are signs for Ron Paul. This is going to be a difficult concept for Berkeley! But although the Occupy movement contains leftists, the movement is not leftist. It’s populist. Big big difference. Open your minds and find out what’s going on. The moment this movement sells out to “the left” they’re toast. The brilliance of the Occupy movement is that it has refused to define itself.

    • PeacefulProtester

      I most certainly agree; we are not an analog to the Tea Party, as they too are part of this movement. Solidarity to all the people who are out there tonight! Stay in peace my brothers!

      • Pointed

        I’d just like to say that the Tea Party is not as grassroots as it seems, having been infused by a lot of corporate money. That said, there are still good people within that movement, so we shouldn’t demagogue them.

      • The Tea Party people aren’t out fighting with the cops, defecating on police cars, and breaking things.