Occupy Cal sleeps out on Sproul Plaza

Taryn Erhardt/Senior Staff
By 9:30 PM, around 100 protesters gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall to listen to music and prepare for the Mass Sleep-Out.

In contrast to last week when police raided the Occupy Cal encampment on Sproul Plaza, a sleep-out Monday night marked a relatively tranquil night for the approximately 50 protesters who occupied the plaza in sleeping bags.

The sleep-out began at 9 p.m. with more than 200 demonstrators but eventually dwindled to about 50 people. Before settling down to sleep, the demonstrators listened to poetry readings and musical performances and watched a documentary.

Although there were at least four tents pitched on the plaza, there were only about two UCPD officers on the scene throughout the night.

UCPD Corporal Lawrence Green said that the police would not have intervened unless there was a hostile or violent situation, especially with non-affiliated UC Berkeley students. He added that during the sleep-out, the protesters — who maintained a minimal noise level throughout the night — were “chill enough” that the event had a pleasant atmosphere.

According to Green, the peaceful manner in which the protesters conducted the sleep-out was a conscious effort to have a constructive and open dialogue with UCPD. In the past, he said the main issue was encampments.

“We are really staying away from tents, which is a different tactic and more low-key,” said Joe Finton, a junior at UC Berkeley who participated in the sleep-out. “This gives people a chance to sing, express themselves, do spoken word or art and just get to know more people.”

Although Green said the protesters were not allowed to sleep in sleeping bags around Sproul Hall, he said the police did not intervene Monday night because of the calm nature of the protest.

Finton said the Occupy Cal general assembly chose not to put up tents because members wanted to try a different tactic that was more low-key in hopes of attracting more people.

Despite these tactics, Finton attributed the smaller crowd of actual sleep-out protesters to the nearing holidays, finals and the cold weather.

Although there were only a few tents out last night, Zack Aslanian-Williams, a senior at UC Berkeley, said that the general assembly will most likely bring tents back to Occupy Cal because tents are central to the Occupy movement.