Protesters stage occupation outside Bank of America

Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
Occupy Berkeley protesters crowded outside of the Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street to show support for the Occupy Wall Street movement on Saturday afternoon.

The Occupy Berkeley protest, which began Saturday, saw few protesters stay overnight outside the Bank of America in Downtown Berkeley and smaller numbers attending the daily meeting on Sunday in comparison to day one.

After deciding on Saturday afternoon to start the protest that night — rather than a week later, as originally planned — participants began the occupation outside of the Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. About seven or eight people stayed for the duration of the first night, according to Berkeley resident Russell Bates, one of the participants who camped outside the bank Saturday night.

Around 40 people attended the general assembly meeting Sunday night. According to Stephen Kessler, participant and member of the Berkeley Commission on Labor, it was estimated that at one point about 300 people were present at the occupation the day before.

The protest in Berkeley is part of a larger movement taking place in several cities throughout the country. The original demonstration, Occupy Wall Street, began in New York City last month with thousands of Americans taking to the streets to protest what they see as a lack of accountability displayed by large corporations and to demand an end to corruption and government bail-outs.

Currently, Occupy Berkeley’s general assembly plans to meet at 6 p.m. daily.

According to UC Berkeley junior Bo-Peter Laanen, one of the facilitators of the meetings, the general assembly discusses its proposals for how to organize and proceed in the occupation in a democratic form — which he explained means that everyone in the group must agree.

As of Sunday afternoon, the assembly had formed three different committees — the facilitating committee, the health and safety committee and the food security committee, according to Laanen. None of the committees, nor the occupation as a whole, have designated leaders.

Both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Berkeley aim to support “people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world” and believe “that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power,” according to the Wall Street protest’s demands, which Occupy Berkeley has posted on its Facebook page.

“We want evolution, not revolution,” said Albany resident Craig Lucas. “We want to evolve into a more equitable and compassionate society.”

According to Berkeley police Sgt. Mike Dougherty, the Berkeley Police Department currently has no issue with the protest as no laws have been broken.

Adelyn Baxter of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.