March 1 Day of Action yields low turnout

Protesters gathered on Sproul for a noon rally, despite occasionally heavy rain. Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
Protesters gathered on Sproul for a noon rally, despite occasionally heavy rain. Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff

UC Berkeley students and other community members took part in a national Day of Action Thursday that garnered significantly less participation than the large-scale Occupy Cal protests of last November.

The day’s protest in support of public education began with small campus demonstrations and culminated in a march through Oakland. Over the course of the day, demonstrators marched down Telegraph Avenue, rallied at Frank Ogawa Plaza and protested in front of the UC Office of the President, among other actions. Later in the day, a small group began a journey to Sacramento in advance of the upcoming March 5 protest there.

By 8:30 a.m., protesters had wrapped caution tape around the perimeter of California Hall — which houses Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office — and about 20 protesters gathered outside the building in the rain. Protesters then shifted their attention to Sproul Plaza, where they convened in small groups and prepared for a noon rally.

Fewer than 200 students and supporters assembled on the plaza for the rally. There, various students and organizers — including protesters from Occupy Stanford — spoke to the crowd.

UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada said in an email that the protest appeared peaceful, though he said “there have been several campus rules violations such as the caution tape strung around California Hall which blocked several doors, banners attached to buildings, and unauthorized structures placed on Sproul Plaza.”

After the rally, a mix of union members, students and other protesters marched down Telegraph Avenue toward Oakland, eventually arriving at Frank Ogawa Plaza, which protesters commonly refer to as Oscar Grant Plaza.

About 100 protesters marched down Telegraph, using a speaker system mounted on a wheelchair to amplify music and chants. Protesters’ chants included criticism of Gov. Jerry Brown, the financial system and cuts to education.

Wendi Felson, a member of the University Professional and Technical Employees, said she was marching because she felt that “the public sector is under attack on all sides.”

At about 3 p.m., the march arrived at Frank Ogawa Plaza, where Occupy Oakland protesters spoke about the importance of education. Several signs displayed at the rally read, “You think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Protesters then marched down San Pablo Avenue but soon split ways as one group began to head toward Sacramento, while the remaining protesters walked to Morgan Stanley’s Oakland offices, where they surrounded the main entrance of the building and unsuccessfully demanded to speak with a representative of the firm.

The protesters soon moved on to the UC Office of the President, where they were met by about 15 police officers. Protesters expressed desire to avoid confrontation with the police and turned around. After returning to Frank Ogawa Plaza for a brief meeting, protesters dispersed at about 5 p.m.

Thursday’s relatively small protest stood in contrast to the large Occupy Cal demonstrations last November, which drew thousands to Sproul Plaza and resulted in police use of force against protesters.

Still, a small contingent of demonstrators is embarking on a “99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice” to the state Capitol in Sacramento, where thousands of students from around the state are expected to converge on Monday.

Staff writers Afsana Afzal, Sara Khan and Amruta Trivedi contributed to this report. 

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  • art

     The rain definitely hurt the turnout. It was pouring from 11-noon.

    • Stan De San Diego

       Were the Occupy people afraid they were going to melt?

  • Calipenguin

    I predict the Occupy Cal protests will slowly sputter out by year-end because Cal students are generally bright and know that as the stock market goes up the wealthy will pay higher income and capital gains taxes which means Cal will get more funding.  The wealthy pay a disproportionate share of California’s revenues and the best way to get more public education funding is not to punish the 1% in Sacramento, but to lower the cost of doing business.

    • libsrclowns

      Wrong again. That extra money will go to deadender social support programs. Moonbeam is going for social justice again. Sorry Cal kiddies…pay up.

  • Carlos

    Support is burning out for several reasons.  1) the Anthro Library takeover may have worked, but it showed that BAMN is now connected to Occupy Cal and when  BAMN is involved with anything, normal not-crazy, honest people don’t get involved.  2)  Occupy Oakland’s black bloc idiocy and violence has tarnished the Occupy name around here.  Even the recent march to the I House was a FTP march, and not all of us think the police should be fuked.   3) Enough with the tents.

  • LAWLS

    Lol: In my technical classes: There’s a protest today?
    In my humanities class: U GUYS SHOULD ALL GO TO THE PROTEST YO!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!

    •  And there lies the fundamental difference in philosophy between the thinkers and the feelers. The thinkers have a plan, the feelers do not. The thinkers view hard work and the acquisition of useful skills as the key to their personal prosperity and well-being, while the feelers have no idea how to get there other than whining, protesting, and demanding that others take care of them.

  • libsrclowns

    Joke time at Cal again.

  • Wawaweewa

    I’d say getting 200 people to come out in the rain, during one of the most stressful times of the semester, when there are actions planned for Monday as well (I know many are opting to do that action rather than today’s) is pretty damn good.

    •  200 out of 30,000 means the 99% was NOT there…

    • Carlos

       Nice try Waw — but at a campus this size, you can get 300 people to support anything.   And why is this week anymore stressful?      Very Orwellian try, but the rally and action was a FAIL.

    • Guest

      Stop your liberal whining, Wawaweewa.

    • Current student

       200 people on a campus with 30,000 students and thousands of unionized employees?

      it’s pathetic.