In response to recurrent funding cuts to higher education and impassioned by police actions last week, Occupy Cal protesters will vote on whether to set up an encampment again.
A general strike and a Day of Action are set to take place Tuesday on Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, beginning at 8 a.m. and to be followed by various activities including public readings, teach-outs and mass gatherings.
Demonstrations will take place throughout the day — including a rally at 2 p.m. and a general assembly at 5 p.m., when protesters will vote on whether to build an encampment. The day’s events lead up to a speech by UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. secretary of labor Robert Reich, who will deliver his annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture on Sproul Plaza at 8 p.m.
Buses to San Francisco are planned for Wednesday. Because the UC Board of Regents’ meeting was canceled Monday due to concerns about violence, the protesters will rally outside banks affiliated with the regents.
To discuss this week’s events, several UC Berkeley students took to the steps of Sproul Hall Monday, sharing their stories of alleged police brutality at last Wednesday’s demonstration and urging the student body to take part in the protests.
Jessica Schaffer, a graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, said she was hit in the jaw by a police baton, knocked to the ground, then hit in the jaw again when police rushed the protesters a second time.
“After all that, I dropped my bike light, and when I went to pick it up, a police officer kicked it away,” Schaffer said. “Then he told me that if I wanted it, I’d have to leap through his legs to get it.”
Charlie Eaton, a UC Berkeley graduate student and financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 2865 — a union representing more than 12,000 graduate student workers in the UC system — said at the Monday press conference that the union has gathered support for Wednesday’s events.
He said that the union has worked with the ReFund California Coalition to bring students “from Fresno to Santa Cruz” to San Francisco Wednesday.
He said that even though they would not be able to bring their dialogue directly to the regents, they would still find a way to tell the university administration that they should “side with students instead of with the Wall Street banks.”
UC Berkeley graduate student Alex Barnard became emotional while describing how he suffered a fractured rib last week as a result of jabbing from police batons. He said he asked to be arrested so the violence would stop and was subsequently thrown to the ground and punched in the head despite putting up no resistance.
“I was deeply traumatized by what happened,” Barnard said. “I’m unable to sleep, unable to work. I’m afraid to go to class or even be on campus as long as Chancellor Birgeneau is still here.”
Demonstrators at the press conference also discussed a potential lawsuit against UC Berkeley, UCPD and other police departments present at Wednesday’s Occupy Cal protest.
BAMN, a national pro-affirmative action group, announced plans Monday to file a lawsuit against Chancellor Robert Birgeneau as well as the UCPD, the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of injured and arrested protesters.
Fourteen people have come forward to become plaintiffs, according to BAMN attorney Monica Smith.