Keeping with UC Berkeley campus policy, UCPD cleared the Occupy Cal encampment on Upper Sproul Plaza early Thursday morning, removing all tents and making two arrests.
The decision to clear the encampment was made late Wednesday night between campus officials and the UCPD, said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
Mogulof said that the encampment was cleared with consideration for when it could be implemented in a safe and effective manner, which is the reason why the encampment was not taken down earlier, despite frequent dispersal warnings from UCPD.
“Campus policy regarding encampments and camping on the campus would be implemented at a time when we could do it safely and effectively, and the decision was early in the morning was when we could do just that,” Mogulof said.
Unlike other encampment clearings throughout the nation, there was noticeably little resistance from demonstrators on Sproul Plaza Thursday morning, and of the two arrests, both were voluntary.
“We didn’t have the numbers last night to put up a substantial passive resistance to the eviction,” said Shane Boyle, campus head steward of United Auto Workers Local 2865 and a UC Berkeley graduate student involved in Occupy Cal. “I think the call was among those who were there that it would be best just to pick up their belongings.”
Mogulof said that though the UC Berkeley administration supports the public higher education-related goals of the Occupy Cal protests, their tactics were not only in violation of campus policy but also a drain on the administration’s resources.
Though the current costs for this encampment have yet to be tallied, the most recent encampment — the Memorial Stadium tree sit-in that ended in 2008 — lasted 19 months and cost the administration about $1.5 million. Though Mogulof said that this encampment has yet to go that far, costs were already being accrued between police overtime and the clean-up crews.
He added that the campus also has to make sure that the encampments do not disturb the “thousands of students (who) will not elect to participate,” as well as avoiding setting a precedent for future encampments because though this protest may have popular support, this might not be the case for future encampments.
“How would the campus feel if we allowed an encampment of people demanding privatization or promoting a racist ideology?” he said.
Regardless, many demonstrators said they hope the tents and the encampment would continue.
“No matter how many times they try to bring it down, people are going to be super resistant,” said UC Berkeley senior Mena Haroon. “This whole movement has a different vibe than ones in the past.”
Despite the administration’s unchanging position on encampments, Mogulof said discussions are under way to settle the matter so that the demonstrators and the administration can avoid a back-and-forth struggle of encampments being set up and then torn down.
The general assembly voted 77 to 65 Thursday night to meet with campus administration Friday. After a lengthy debate, the general assembly came to a 68 to 40 vote in favor of sending representatives who will express the demands of the assembly without giving the administration any other information that they would want.
As of press time, the general assembly was still debating who to send to the meeting, with various members of the assembly making nominations.