Following the controversial events of the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protests, March 1 begins another Day of Action in support of public higher education at UC Berkeley. Protest events are scheduled to occur across the state at the UC campuses, and campus faculty and administration have endorsed protesters’ plans to march from UC Berkeley to Sacramento in a four-day “99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice” to the Capitol which will begin this afternoon. Before marching to the Capitol, protesters have planned teach-outs and workshops in the morning, followed by a noon rally.
Staff writers Afsana Afzal, Sara Khan, Geena Cova, Sam Buckland, Daphne Chen, Weiru Fang, Chloe Hunt, Charlie Smith, Christopher Yee and Oksana Yurovsky reporting from the field.
The marchers have just passed Albany Bowl.
The marchers have turned onto Sacramento Avenue.
The marchers have left the rally in front of Old City Hall and are heading West on Allston Way — toward Richmond — in the first stretch of their journey towards the Capitol.
Marchers have reached the rally in front of Old City Hall. About 100 people are there now.
After a short rally at the UC Office of the President, the Occupy Oakland and Berkeley protesters returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza before dispersing. Berkeley protesters are on their way back to campus.
The protesters have split into two groups. The first group has committed to marching to Sacramento, and Berkeley High School protesters have stated that they are waiting for the group to arrive at the high school before continuing on its way toward the Capitol. The other approximately 40-person group, after a cursory visit to Morgan Stanley offices in Downtown Oakland, has begun marching toward the UC Office of the President.
About 200 Berkeley High School students remain at the rally in Berkeley.
The protesters that went to Oakland from UC Berkeley has left Frank Ogawa Plaza. A group is now surrounding the entrance to Morgan Stanley offices in downtown Oakland.
The crowd at Frank Ogawa Plaza is dispersing as those who intend to march to Sacramento assemble.
Berkeley High School students are rallying in front of Old City Hall in support of public education.
“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” some chanted.
Speakers at the plaza address the crowd on education and community medical training during protests.
The protesters have arrived at the plaza chanting “Here comes Berkeley,” and are being welcomed by Occupy Oakland protesters.
Most Occupy Cal protesters plan to return to campus after rallying at the plaza, though further actions for the evening will likely be decided at a general assembly meeting this evening, according to UC Berkeley graduate student Justin Chung.
The protesters are now only a few blocks away from their intended destination, Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. Protesters commonly refer to the plaza as Oscar Grant Plaza.
After experiencing some confusion over the route to Oakland, the marchers are passing 34th Street and Telegraph Avenue on their way to meet with fellow protesters.
The protesters have crossed the city line into Oakland, and are continuing to march down Telegraph Avenue. UC Berkeley graduate student Justin Chung said the rally has had a lower turnout than originally expected.
The group has dwindled down to about 70 protesters and they have passed Telegraph and Stuart Street.
“I’m worried about the effect of cuts on my students and on future students,” said Herbert Docena, a graduate student instructor in sociology.
Marchers chant “this is what democracy looks like” as they march down Telegraph Avenue toward Oakland. Traffic cones were set in place to divert traffic on Telegraph to Dwight Avenue. Around 100 people are marching.
The rally has ended, and protesters are now preparing to march to Oakland.
Earlier, a speaker mentioned an Occupy-related party that is being formed for the upcoming ASUC election.
Josh Healey, a poet and Occupy Oakland protester, is reading a poem he wrote called “Superman,” which revolves around privatization of public education. He will be followed by Joshua Clover, a UC Davis English professor.
The rally has begun with a statement of solidarity from the Occupy Stanford students.
“We vow from the bottom of our hearts to fight alongside you in the upcoming months, and we thank you for your hospitality,” one student said.
Around 10 students from Occupy Stanford have arrived on campus. The group plans on addressing the crowd at today’s rally, with a message of solidarity in the face of a greater movement.
About 50 protesters on Sproul Plaza have assembled into groups, discussing how to reconcile differences and mediate conversation when confronted by others.
Thirty to 40 students, a couple of them high school students, gathered next to the Cal Student Store to protest alleged racism in UC Berkeley’s admission process, while demanding that affirmative action is reinstituted. After two speeches by students, the crowd died down, and protesters are now planning and preparing for the noon rally on Sproul Plaza.
Eight murals painted by high school students from Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland have been set up on Sproul, as protesters prepare for the noon rally and march. Andy Brodie, a parent of a UC Berkeley student, said the chances for local high school students of lower income to attend a UC are “closing up above them.”
“It’s grim, and they can see that,” he said.
Protesters have mostly dispersed from outside of California Hall. Only a few protesters remain, holding caution tape.
Still, physics professor and chair of the campus division of the Academic Senate Bob Jacobsen said he wants “to applaud them for trying to address the issue” of budget cuts and rising tuition. He added that if he could find someone to teach his classes, he would have participated in the four-day march to Sacramento.
The same group of protesters remains outside of California Hall, and no teach-outs are taking place on Sproul Plaza as of yet. For Bruce Miller, a financial planner who works inside California Hall, today’s events are not too out of the ordinary.
“It’s Berkeley,” he said. “There is always a protest.”
About 20 demonstrators continue to gather outside of the building. Freshman Elena Kempf, who was walking by the protest, said the march to Sacramento scheduled for later this afternoon is “a good idea.”
“It targets the state as the cause,” she said.
Two campus police officers are monitoring California Hall from the outside while the number of protesters outside the building stays around 20. Protesters say they will participate in the scheduled noon rally on Sproul Plaza and subsequent march to Oakland.
The March 1 protest at UC Santa Cruz also appears to be progressing, as the campus entrance is currently blocked from vehicular traffic, according to the campus website.
Caution tape now extends around the entire California Hall building, and the front door has been locked from the inside. People who work in the building are now entering via the West entrance.
“The only way we can change the direction that public education is going is to send a clear message to the politicians who have defunded education and the administrators who have mismanaged funds and mismanaged priorities,” said UC Berkeley junior Isaac Kreisman.
The side of California Hall facing Doe Library now has crime tape around it, but people who work in the building are still entering it.
Around 20 demonstrators are currently outside of California Hall — the campus administrative building that houses Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office — and are beginning to wrap crime tape around the building in the first protest action of the day.
“This is is supposed to be a public university, but the university has been privatizing it,” said UC Berkeley senior Honest Chung. “If we treat education as a commodity to be sold, that is not a foundation for democracy.”
Protesters are scheduled to gather outside of California Hall to begin the protest.
— Ergoat (@Ergoat) March 1, 2012
Alisha Azevedo and J.D. Morris are the university news editors.
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