Occupy Cal moves ahead despite UC Berkeley administration’s warnings

A demonstrator sits in front of Sproul Hall as protesters set up tents.
Tony Zhou/Staff
A demonstrator sits in front of Sproul Hall as protesters set up tents.

On Monday, the UC Berkeley administration sent an email to students stating that setting up any encampments on campus property would not be tolerated.

But when Occupy Cal protesters voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to pitch tents on the lawns outside of Sproul Hall despite the warning, clashes with police ensued — the exact result campus officials had said they hoped to avoid.

#occupycal: Read complete Daily Cal coverage

“I think we’re all fighting for the same causes,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande. “We appreciate your concern about the economy and inequality in our country.”

But when Le Grande followed his expression of sympathy with a warning that police would be called if protesters set up an encampment on campus property, the response was vehement. He proposed that protesters remain on site 24/7 for a week as long they avoided setting up tents or sleeping on-site. Protesters responded by chanting “bullshit” as he finished speaking.

The protesters’ opposition to the administration’s proposal came after several violent interactions between demonstrators and police on the UC Berkeley campus since 2009, the most recent of which occurred when protesters and police clashed Sept. 22 in Tolman Hall.

According to the campus Student Code of Conduct, “camping or lodging on University property other than in authorized facilities” is prohibited.

But protesters showed little regard for the code of conduct and Le Grande’s warning, and they voted overwhelmingly to reject the administration’s proposal, instead potentially facing police action.

Occupy Cal organizer Amanda Armstrong, a campus head steward for UAW Local 2865 — a union representing graduate student instructors — said the proposal was simply a reiteration of what administrators had already told protesters prior to the encampment.

“I don’t think there is anything in the proposal that is a compromise,” she said. “Fundamentally, the issue is whether we could establish an encampment, and (the administration and police) are committed to (stopping) that.”

Although campus Dean of Social Sciences Carla Hesse said she understood the protesters’ reasons for being upset, she urged students to consider their actions carefully. She spoke to students directly on Upper Sproul Plaza during the afternoon hours of the protest.

“I’d like them to think about what they’re doing,” she said. “I’m worried if they destroy property, the public isn’t going to be very sympathetic.”

UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya said protesters made a conscious decision to obstruct officers during the afternoon clash with police.

“The officers have a duty,” he said. “They’re in a difficult position.”

Alex Poska, a protester involved in the March Wheeler Hall occupation, said the administration’s stated opinion was irrelevant. He said their ultimate decision was made by their actions against protesters.

“Their actions indicate that they don’t want to support an Occupy movement,” he said. “We’re in a battle.”

Although dozens of protesters stayed at the encampment late into the evening, police forced their way through the line of protesters using batons at around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and confiscated the group’s tents.

Student organizer and UC Berkeley junior Marco Amaral said he would stay at the campus encampment as long as it takes for administrators to make a change to the system.

“The Occupy movement has arrived,” he said. “This is beautiful.”


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  • Cal Realities

    Great. The protesters have successfully taken the target AWAY from the state legislators who have cut state public funds to UC down to a piddily 11% of the total UC budget and have now focused their ire on the police who want to take away their nylon tents.  Nice job, guys.  Keep your eyes on the right prize.

  • Anonymous

    The protesters are lazy.  The right way to solve the problem is to sign up enough new voters to push through tax hikes for UC and CSU operations.  An equally good alternative is to sign up enough voters to overturn California’s prohibitive regulations in order grow our economy.  But the lazy protesters just want to create a raucous scene and hope the chancellor gives in as he usually does.

  • Some person

    The protestors want to break rules without any repercussions. Guess what, kids, that means you have no right to whine when the police push you over.

  • will the police brutality at cal sway public (and media) opinion to favor the Occupiers?

    • Alan Gregory


    • Depends… When’s Game 2 scheduled again? I got $50 riding on the guys with the badges and nightsticks.

  • Guest

    Whether Cal beats Oregon State on Saturday matters more than this issue.


    • I have no interest in collegiate sports and still I agree with you.

  • Anonymous

    The protesters are basically lazy. They have a list of things to be angry about, but offer no real ideas or solutions. They want to hang out, make some noise, skip classes, play games. Maybe get a little bruise they can show off. They want tents and sleeping bags. That’s pretty lazy. Show a little effort. Propose meetings with the decision makers. Reason, judgement, thinking. 
    The protest is a blunt tool. It’s unlikely to change much. I look at the photos of the protesters and don’t see too many thinkers in the crowd. Furthermore, the budget for California is drawn up in Sacramento. State school- state budget. Get the hell up there. 

    In short, do something that matters. 

  • David

    Go Bears! Beat the Beavers!

  • Kimberly Langon

    Go Cal!

  • Emmalouise

    UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya said protesters made a conscious decision to obstruct officers during the afternoon clash with police.“The officers have a duty,” he said. “They’re in a difficult position.” A slightly biased report, is this american police officers duty? 

    • guest

      I don’t understand your point. The protesters are breaking the law and you want the police to do nothing?

      • Emmalouise

        They are protesting, an important pillar of a fully democratic society is the right to protest.  In a Democracy,When the Government and the Law are out of step with the will of the People, the People have a duty to make their views known through the medium of protest. The protestors were young, non violent students. Watch the you tube clip and imagine you were watching these images from another country.

        • Guest

          They got busted for setting up tents after being forbidden to do so, not for protesting.

          You can protest without a tent you know.

          • Magpiesage

            You sound completely ignorant and out of touch with reality.

          • Alan Gregory

            out of touch with reality? everything you’re replying to was 100% accurate. the violence occurred because of the tents, and stopped as soon as they were taken down.

          • I know this comes as a complete surprise to you, but you CAN protest without setting up tents, rioting, vandalizing building, or crapping on police cars. The Civil Rights protesters of the 1950’s and 1960’s were able to achieve a victory for their cause with peaceful, nonviolent protests. Then again, most of the so-called “protesters” these days are more interested in the use of force and violence a la radical Marxism than using logic and reason to persuade others to their point of view…

        • [They are protesting, an important pillar of a fully democratic society is the right to protest.]

          Not questioning their right to protest (which is of course different from trespassing, vandalism and assault) but do any of you protesting types realize that our country is based on a  CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC  and NOT on a democracy?

        • Anonymous

           You forget though that in our democracy the majority of the people, as well as their legislators and unionized police, all agree that camping on campus is not allowed.  If you claim to represent “the People”, then have them vote in legislators to change the laws.  That’s how a democracy works.

      • []

        Incorrect. They’re breaking school policy. HUGE difference. Second of all, getting the shit beaten out of them because of a violation of policy is not only inappropriate, but juvenile and corrupt. Single out the people who are violating policy and arrest THEM on behalf of the school, don’t start beating students with fucking batons.

        Too hard to just punish the people actually doing something wrong? Too bad you pieces of shit, it’s your job. Suck it up or do all of us a favor and quit.

        • Alan Gregory

           students blocking the police from removing an unlawful encampment are all breaking the school policy/law. camping in public is illegal

          • Magpiesage

            Really?  It’s a resistance movement, which by nature breaks laws. 

          • Alan Gregory

            shit, then. if you can’t find a way to protest within the law and
            insist on breaking the explicit laws set forth, expect to get beaten
            they could have protested 24/7 and slept on campus in sleeping bags
            without clashing with the cops as
            long as they didn’t set up tents or break into buildings. the whole
            point of this protest was to instigate a clash with the police so
            anti-police protesters could whine about police violence.doing something that you know will lead to a violent clash and then crying about the inevitable violence is stupid.

          • Some person

            And which by nature should face the consequences instead of whining

          • Touche…

        • guest

          No.  UCPD would not be able to cite or arrest people because of “school policy.” Lodging is illegal.

          Or, maybe we should allow lodging.  I would love that.  I’m moving in with my tent to the backyard of that newly built house on Grizzly Peak.  There is a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and, well, I want to set up my tent there.  Screw the homeowners, and when the police come?  “Don’t touch me!  Police brutality!” when they want me out.