UC Berkeley strike and Day of Action swells to more than a thousand

Gracie Malley/Staff

UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza became packed with more than a thousand protesters Tuesday around 1 p.m., as the crowd attending the campus strike and Day of Action in solidarity with the Occupy movement continued to swell.

The crowd steadily grew in size as students from the UC Berkeley School of Law marched onto the Sproul steps and students walking from class joined the protesters. Rather than having a series of speeches on the Sproul steps as is customary at noon rallies on the plaza, the protesters listened to a few short messages from protest organizers before beginning to listen to a student choir and attending various teach-outs.

Protest organizers including UC Berkeley junior Marco Amaral, campus graduate student and head steward for United Auto Workers Local 2865 Amanda Armstrong and senior Ricardo Gomez used the “human microphone” system to encourage protesters to continue attending the day’s events, stating that the rally was only the beginning of the Day of Action.

“What we see today and what we feel today is our creative power,” Armstrong said. “This is the return of the repressed, and it is beautiful.”

The UC Berkeley Gospel Choir began its performance after the organizers spoke, encouraging protesters to take a seat on the Sproul steps and clap along to songs adapted for the Occupy movement.

Meanwhile, groups including the East Bay Solidarity Network and the American Studies Undergraduate Alliance held teach-outs in the plaza on topics from Proposition 13 to workers’ rights.

The police violence which marked Nov. 9’s Occupy Cal protest has so far been absent from Tuesday’s demonstration.

“We are assessing the situation throughout the day,” said campus Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and University Communications Claire Holmes. “Our highest objective is that we do not repeat the events of last week, so we are taking it on an hour-to-hour basis and supporting the students that are out there as well as faculty and staff.”

Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri said that though it is difficult to speculate what will happen tonight, he has been in touch with student government leaders regarding the protest.

Events planned for later today include a 2 p.m. rally on Sproul Plaza where UC Berkeley students, faculty and workers will address police use of force to quell protests, a 2:30 p.m. march, a 5 p.m. general assembly organizing meeting and an 8 p.m. lecture by UC Berkeley public policy professor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Alisha Azevedo is the lead academics and administration reporter.