The Nov. 15 day of action comes hot on the heels of the Occupy Cal protest Nov. 9, when police used force — actions for which both the campus administration and UCPD have pledged review — to deal with protesters. Tuesday’s protest — which will see rallies, a march and the Occupy Cal general assembly before UC Berkeley Professor of Public Policy and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’s evening lecture — was intended to lead up to a large protest at the Wednesday UC Board of Regents meeting, but that meeting was canceled amid fears for public safety.
Jamie Applegate, Alisha Azevedo, Weiru Fang, Chloe Hunt, Sara Khan, Curan Mehra, Victoria Pardini, Aaida Samad, Anjuli Sastry, Amruta Trivedi, Oksana Yurovsky and Mihir Zaveri of The Daily Californian reporting from the field.
A UCPD officer has warned Occupy Cal protesters again that setting up tents and lodging on UC property is unlawful. Again, no official dispersal order given.
The assembly has decided to use linking arms as their primary tactic to protect the encampment in the event of a police raid, rather than sitting in the tents. The assembly also voted to take down some tents in order to make the encampment smaller.
Protesters are talking tactics in the event police raid the encampment. Some protesters are advocating reducing the number of pitched tents to “what (demonstrators) can actually defend,” while others argue that the demonstrators are “here for visibility, so what is wrong with getting arrested? Let’s get arrested and released and do it again.”
Another speaker added: “Even if there is a raid, we will win the political war. We have just gotten the endorsement of Robert Reich and all the other speakers.”
Other protesters are concerned that there are not enough activists present to defend the tents.
The general assembly is meeting to discuss what to do if police raid the encampment tonight. One demonstrator said it is not likely because “the administration is embarrassed by what happened last Wednesday.”
Another protester said, “It is important to know that whatever happens tonight is much bigger than Berkeley … We have shown today that we can reoccupy.”
The assembly has started a forum to educate protesters about what they should do if they are arrested.
According to UCPD Lt. Eric Tejada, while UCPD is not required to give a dispersal order prior to raiding the encampment, the police department would “probably do so.”
A UCPD officer has come down to the encampment on the steps of Sproul Hall and reminded demonstrators that the encampments are unlawful. However, the officer did not give an official dispersal order.
UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya said that while police are still trying to determine the appropriate course of action for the Occupy Cal demonstration, he stated that “the Chancellor was, I thought, pretty clear on the encampment issue.”
The dance party continues on Sproul Plaza as the Campanile bells chime midnight. Bubbles float across the Sproul steps and drum beats echo off the buildings lining the plaza.
According to UCPD Lt. Alex Yao, the police department is still formulating its plan handle the protest for the night and is working with the administration to devise a strategy.
Demonstrators are playing music and dancing in front of Sproul Hall as a festive mood grips the plaza. At least 20 tents are in the plaza.
Demonstrators have decided to obey a city ordinance and refrain from playing amplified music.
Freshman Dilip Ravindran, who has set up a tent, said he was a lot more worried at the Occupy Cal protest last Wednesday than at the rally tonight.
“There are a lot more people here this time and no riot police,” he said.
Freshman Gregory Bell — camping in Sproul Plaza in a tent he received from his parents — said he fears police brutality later tonight.
“(Police brutality) is not my doing, that is their doing,” he said. “I’m staying until they kick us out.”
Activists have begun playing music and blowing bubbles and have moved the tents onto the Savio steps.
Additionally, listen to the audio of Reich’s speech below:
Listen to Lynne Hollander introducing the Mario Savio lecture, delivered by UC Berkeley Professor of Public Policy and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich:
There are about six tents in Sproul Plaza at the moment, but more are said to be on the way.
With large numbers of people leaving Sproul Plaza, the Occupy Cal encampment is set to begin.
Reich’s speech continued: “All of you, right now, understand intuitively that if we allow America to continue in the way it is going … that the bullies would be in charge. You understand how important it is to fight the bullies, to have a voice. I want to thank each and every one of you for what you are doing.”
And Reich’s speech concludes to enormous applause, which gives way eventually to chants of, “Whose university? Our university!”
Reich’s speech continued: “The days of apathy are over, folks. Once this has begun it cannot be stopped and will not be stopped.”
Thousands and thousands of UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff and community members have come out for his speech.
Reich’s speech continued: “I want to tell you something and that is how proud I am to be a member of this wonderful community. Berkeley has for years dedicated itself to the principles of free expression … You must also feel in your gut that the occupy movement are ways in which people are beginning to respond to the crisis of our democracy.”
Reich’s speech continued: “Over the last three decades, this economy has doubled in size but most Americans have not seen this gain.”
Reich’s speech continued: ‘The fundamental problem is that we are losing equal opportunity in America. We are losing the moral stone upon which this system and our country are built.”
Reich’s speech continued: “I will believe that corporations are people when Georgia and Texas execute them … The 1st amendment right to free speech is not always convenient. It becomes doubly important that we are willing to pay the price for free speech or the price for a democratic system of government. It is doubly important that our democracy give people the ability to speak up about what needs to be done.”
UC Berkeley Professor of Public Policy and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has come on stage. His first words: “Forty-seven years ago we were graced with the eloquence and power of Mario Savio’s words from these steps. These words continue to live on. The sentiments Mario Savio expressed 47 years ago are as relevant now as they were then.”
The third recipient of the young activist award, Josh Healy, begins his speech with rousing words to the masses in Sproul Plaza: “Berkeley, you look fucking beautiful.”
The Mario Savio lecture portion of the evening has begun, beginning with the recitation of excerpts of Savio’s speeches, including his famous 1964 speech on the steps of Sproul Hall prior to occupying the building.
The general assembly has voted to establish an encampment, which will begin with tents in the middle of the crowd in Sproul Plaza, which has now swelled to several thousand people. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority, with over 88.5 percent of participants voting in favor of setting up tents.
“Without tents, this assembly is a mere show,” said activist and graduate student instructor Amanda Armstrong.
Dr. Ron Lorentz, a 1972 Cal graduate who led an occupation of California Hall in late May and early June of 1972, sees parallels between the Occupy Cal movement and the anti-war and People’s Park movements of the late 60s and early 70s.
“I’ve been waiting for 40 years for something like this to happen on the Berkeley campus,” he said. “This is very similar in terms of the energy and the composition of students and faculty an workers against the administration.”
But Lorentz said the current movement is more disciplined in the way speeches are made and the audience responds.
Robert Reich’s speech will be moved to 8:30 p.m.
As the time approaches for votes to be counted on the encampment and tent issue, Lee Hetelson, a 1996 Cal grad, said that students using public safety as an argument against encampments “makes them sound like the politicians who talk about public safety.
“I support the tents not because they’re fundamental to the movement, but because it’s what got our movement started.”
The general assembly is still debating the encampment and tent issue.
“I’m in support of students camping out here,” said Zac Taylor, a 2010 graduate with a degree in urban studies. “I’m frustrated as an alum with regards to the administration’s response to protesters. Especially the police response.”
Zachary Manfredi, a graduate student in the department of rhetoric and a main announcer at the assembly, said activists should not be able to assume that they will be able to camp or establish an encampment.
Listen to an interview with sophomore Dee Mauricio about her experience with Occupy Cal:
Participants are talking about encampments in their small groups.
“It has to be clear what happens next, where we are going and what our strategies are,” said one activist. “Tents are a vehicle, but we need to keep our eyes on the prize.”
Talk at the general assembly has now turned to tents and a potential encampment. Rob Tidmore, a landscape architecture graduate student, carried one past UCPD officers on the way to Sproul Plaza and said he was “a little bit nervous that we would get it confiscated before we reached the plaza.”
Tidmore said he will respect the majority opinion, whatever the outcome.
A group of volunteer medics is on campus, prepared for potential conflict between protesters and police. Supplied with Maalox and water, they are prepared to tackle severe situations including the use of tear gas and pepper spray and to treat more basic needs such as dehydration. Katie Rapp, who volunteered after seeing people injured at last week’s Occupy Cal protest, said that if a situation such as last week’s arose again she “wanted to know how to help someone.”
“They told us how to keep people calm and how to pick them up and get them out of a dangerous situation,” she said. “I hope we don’t have use (our training).”
The second proposal presented to the general assembly – to send a letter to the UC Regents, CSU Trustees, state government officials and education administrators — passes the assembly with 92 percent of the vote. 1,055 votes approved the proposal while 82 votes went against the proposal.
The activists attending the Occupy Cal general assembly span generations, the older acting on behalf of the younger.
“This is not for me,” said Jeani Schumacher, a 47 year-old senior with a five year-old son. “This is for my five year-old because I’ll make it through but will he?”
The proposal to have state officials and education administrators come to campus passes with 84 percent, or 1,065 approving votes.
Nicholas Calderon, who had never attended a general assembly meeting before tonight, said the voting process “is great for how large the crowd is.” He plans on participating in more assemblies in the future.
Beth Sager, an activist who has been to both Occupy Oakland and Occupy Berkeley, said her eight year old son Zan spurred her and her partner to attend Occupy Cal, where she found herself at odds with the proposal to bring state and higher education officials to campus.
“Initially I was for it,” Sager said, who said she thought the potential encampment was a good idea. “But after hearing the speakers I thought it was just an opportunity for them to spread more propaganda.”
The assembly is currently counting votes on the first proposal, with an activist circulating between groups to make sure the votes are counted.
“This movement is evolving and it’s finally at the stage where it can be recognized as a real movement,” said senior Harry Cooper, a cognitive science and Arabic major.
Several activists have expressed their excitement surrounding the burgeoning Occupy Cal movement, and its potential to affect change.
“I’m hopeful that it will be a safe night and that we will see change,” said Khalid Kadir, lecturer in the department of international and area studies. “I’m disappointed that the administration has been hiding from the problem.”
Other activists have said they feel the same enthusiasm, but the pace of the assembly is dragging.
“I’m excited to be a part of this but I think it is a little slow,” said Kristin George, a third year sociology graduate student who is attending her first general assembly.
The first proposal has been presented to the general assembly. Occupy Cal, if it adopts the proposal, would seek to hold a forum on campus with UC President Mark Yudof, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and state Gov. Jerry Brown.
Newcomers to the occupy movement’s brand of decision making are learning the ropes at Occupy Cal’s general assembly.
“This kind of direct democracy is not what we see in a lot of the country,” said senior Miles Ten Brinke, a society and environment major.
Students are also learning occupy’s tools of decision making.
“We are learning hot to communicate again using the human microphone,” said junior Ambrosia Krinsky.
Listen to an interview with United Auto Worker Local 2865’s Financial Secretary Charlie Eaton below:
In one of the small groups, activists discuss issue of of student debt and student loans.
Read a copy of the letter to state government officials and education administrators — including UC and CSU officials — that will be proposed to the general assembly for adoption tonight.
The crowd is now breaking into groups of 20 to get to know each other for about 10 minutes.
An announcement from Chancellor Robert Birgeneau was made at the assembly:
“We all share the stress and anger at the state of California’s divestment in higher education. In the spirit of today, I am calling on the political leadership in Sacramento to come to campus and engage with me and student representatives.”
Given the number of general assembly attendees tonight, organizers have suggested modifying the voting process. The assembly will break into groups of 20, which will appoint one member to raise his or her hand to ensure the group’s vote is counted.
“We’ve prepared much more for this general assembly,” said activist Amanda Armstrong. “We imagined the crowd might be this large.”
The general assembly is now listening to a reading of Mario Savio’s famed 1964 Free Speech Movement speech, which was also delivered on the steps of Sproul Hall.
A speaker at the general assembly express the hope that Occupy Cal will have a general assembly daily at 6 p.m. “indefinitely.” Additionally, the speaker announced that buses for San Francisco — where demonstrators will protest the UC Regents and the banks with which they are associated — will leave from Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
The Occupy Cal general assembly has begun on Sproul Plaza with announcements. BAMN has announced the lawsuit it plans to file against the campus — stemming from the Occupy Cal protest on Wednsday — and Occupy Oakland activists, who recently arrived from Oakland, announced a Saturday march.
UC Berkeley student Marco Amaral asks protesters on steps to sit, get to know each other before 5 pm general assembly. It appears that there are a little over one thousand people in attendance.
A group from Occupy Oakland has now also joined protestors on Sproul. Thousands now gather there.
Group of protestors has now joined those who remained at Sproul Plaza. An cheer can be heard from the crowd as those marching make their way through Sather Gate.
Sather Tower is in sight for Occupy Oakland protestors who are approaching campus to join demonstrations here.
Back on Sproul Plaza, some students have their laptops out. They appear to be doing homework less than one hour before the scheduled general assembly meeting.
Protesters veer from Tolman Hall, past Giannini Hall. It is unclear where the group is heading.
Protestors have now returned to campus and are now past Mulford Hall.
“I think Occupy Cal is much younger. It’s much headier, ” said UC Berkeley alumnus Vita McDommel, who had stopped by Occupy Cal this morning before joining the Occupy Oakland march. “But I think the issues are definitely connected.”
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates discusses ongoing march with bystander near city hall.
As the demonstrators approach Berkeley High School, its students look on.
The group of protesters are returning to Berkeley High School. Their chants continue.
Back on Sproul Plaza, one protester is playing the piano while others are reading books from library bookshelf. Incense fills the air.
Demonstrators stop their march briefly outside of Berkeley Police Department. They chant: “You are the 99%.”
Students chant “Banks got bailed out we got sold out” in front of Berkeley High School.
The shooting at the school of business has been confirmed. Please refer to this story for further information on the shooting. This live blog will focus solely on the day of action.
The Haas School of Business building is being evacuated. The reason for this is unclear as of yet. We will update with information as soon as we have it.
The rally has started marching towards Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, chanting, “Whose university? Our university!”
The rally has turned its focus towards speakers talking about police violence.
Paul Goodwin, a second-year student at UC Berkeley School of Law, said he is protesting in direct response to the police action at last week’s Occupy Cal protest.
“I am personally protesting police brutality against protestors,” he said. “In particular, I am protesting (Chancellor Robert) Birgeneau’s response claiming linking arms was not not non-violence.”
Senior Andrew Elkhoury is participating in the protest today in support of his friends who participated in last week’s Occupy Cal demonstration.
“I am here in solidarity with my friends who were beaten last week at the protest,” he said. “I am also here to protest against the privatization of the UC.”
At the Sociologists for Public Education teach-out, graduate student Barry Eidlin said now is a special opportunity for the labor movement.
“This 99 percent identity has created a space for labor and the left to unite again,” he said. “There’s a revitalization of labor stemming from the occupy movement.”
Charlie Eaton, financial secretary for United Auto Workers Local 2865 — a union that represents graduate student workers across the UC system — said he is “excited” about the day’s events.
“There are great teach-outs to talk about the diverse ways we are feeling the violence of the 1 percent against the rest of us,” he said.
At a teach-out on the prison industrial complex and the crisis in California seeks to educate listeners on the student debt bubble, which the teacher says is about to burst.
“The average student after obtaining a bachelors degree is indebted $24,000 to $25,000,” the teacher said.
— Gracie Malley/Staff
The Cal Gospel Choir sang during the rally. Listen to their performance below:
Additionally, a Daily Californian reporter spoke with the UC Berkeley senior Daniele Violi about the “Regentasaurus.”
An undergraduate petition is circulating through the crowd demanding campus Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s resignation. It would require 1,000 signatures before it could go to the ASUC spring election as a ballot measure.
“I was here on Nov. 9 and I saw what happened,” said William Skewes-Cox. “I was here in Sept. 2009. After that the (police review board) came out with their report condemning the use of force on protesters but look where we are now. I am worried about future students.”
Meanwhile, graduate student instructor Jocelyn Rodal — who plans on joining the rally and general assembly afterwards — is holding a sign bearing the words, “Oops, didn’t see the broken ribs. I was in Tokyo.”
A group of about 100 UC Berkeley School of Law students have walked from the school to Sproul Plaza.
“We are here in solidarity with the movement,” said third-year student Seph Peta.
“It’s really great that people are coming out,” said Nikolas Soelter. “I just hope people aren’t just here to see but to actually participate. This is engaging a lot more issues…it’s more than just budget cuts.”
People are carrying signs with slogans that include “Beat Budget Cuts, Not Students,” “Tuition Free UC,” “The Regents are the 1%” and “Shame.”
The choir continues to sing.
Another convergence has been set for 2 p.m. at Sproul Hall. A faculty member, staff member and student will be presenting in response to the violence. The General Assembly meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m.
A concert is now being held on Sproul Hall steps. There is a gospel choir performing, along with piano accompaniment.
“Find a teach out and go learn,” said Ricardo Gomez at the rally.
“What we see today and what we feel today is our creative power,” said Amanda Armstrong. “This is the return of the repressed, and it is beautiful.”
UC Berkeley students Marco Amaral, Amanda Armstrong and Ricardo Gomez all lined up to speak soon at the noontime rally in Sproul.
Speaker on Sproul steps declares, “Welcome to the open university.”
Hundreds of people gathered in Upper Sproul and crowded onto Sproul steps. Rally will begin soon.
Demonstrators march through Sather Gate, chanting and holding signs.
Protesters crowding onto Sproul steps begin to chant, “hey hey ho ho police violence has got to go.”
“This is the calm before the storm,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Skyler Hogan-Vansickle in regards to this morning’s events.
About 50 people gather around UC Berkeley professor of linguistics George Lakoff, who is sitting on a bench in Upper Sproul. Democracy is at its worse in California right now, he says, “one way to (fix that) is to vote out enough Republicans.”
Crowd begins to form in Sproul Plaza as people wait for the 12 p.m. rally to begin.
Activist group BAMN is asking for people to step forward if they saw anyone beaten or arrested last week.
According to CalSERVE Senator Andrew Albright, three buses have been rented to take 150 people to Sacramento Wednesday. He added that External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman will send out a campuswide email sometime today.
A library bookshelf has been set up on Sproul Plaza.
“We are trying to make this an open university and this was a way to facilitate that,” said senior Nick Lake. “We asked the (Occupy Cal) general assembly for each person to bring one book to have a carefully curated library.”
Ken Kabb, who has been passing out leaflets on the plaza, said activism in itself is part of the solution to the problems facing society today:
“When people (participate) you see the system react in ugly ways — it’s because the system doesn’t know how to deal with us. The problem is the system. This is being attacked 1,000 different ways. Each of these teach-outs takes a different angle at it,” referencing the schedule of events for the day.
Katie Cantrell, a 2009 UC Berkeley graduate teaching a lecture on Sproul Plaza on the corporate control of the U.S. food system, lauded activists’ enthusiasm.
“I thought there might be more people, but people are enthusiastic about what is going on,” she said.
At an LGBT discussion, junior Kyle Temple spoke about the irony he sees of protesting on campus:
“Berkeley has been a dream for me. I wanted to be liberal, I wanted to protest. But it feels weird being here and wanting to protest and then protesting the administration who let me in.”
As the outdoor room on the Sproul steps grows, freshman Sara Kei said activists are planning on making it into a makeshift home of sorts.
“The idea is to make this place more like a home,” she said. “This is our space — make it livable.”
Alex Kennedy and Edward Median, two students who started the Occupy Phoenix movement, have come to Cal for the day. They drove the 7 hours from Arizona and plan on being on the front line against the police.
“This is where the real stuff is happening,” they said.
10: 11 a.m.
Nilomi Shah, a student in an Art 14 class which has brought sculptures to the protest on the plaza, said her class decided to use their artwork as a way to contribute to the demonstration.
“(The sculptures) are based on what we’re passionate about,” she said.
Art students have brought sculptures out to the Sproul steps to add to the outdoor education area that has been set up.
“We’re just trying to show that this place is historically known for (free speech),” said Marika Hirsch. “We’re not crazy.”
Junior Cecily Gardner, who participated in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protest, and has come to support the open university educational space for today’s protest.
“Education should be widely available for anyone and everyone who wants it,” she said. “But unfortunately, it is not.”
In the spirit of combining education and activism, freshman Maura Chen, said her French 3 section had read an article — in French, naturally — that related to the occupy movement.
Approximately 100 people are already on Sproul Plaza, along with two pianos and the outdoor room activists have set up.
Furniture, rugs, a piano and some bookshelves have been moved out onto the Sproul Hall steps.
“It’s more hospitable and comforting,” said freshman Shawndeez Jadali. “It looks more welcoming. We can’t have tents and we’re cooperating. We have lots of art sculptures and possibly a teepee coming soon.”
Three teach-outs are in progress in the plaza, while other teach-outs are in front of Dwinelle and Wheeler Halls. Classes include Sociology 5, Sociology 1, Spanish 1 and a German section.
The first teach-outs have begun on Sproul Plaza, kicking off the day of action.