Encampment remains, despite campus policy

Despite an announcement from Chancellor Robert Birgeneau last week that encampments would not be allowed on the UC Berkeley campus, protesters remained with tents on the steps of Sproul Hall Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Although police officers — who also remained in Sproul Plaza overnight and throughout the day — began announcing hourly at around 3 a.m. Wednesday that the encampment was illegal and that its continuation could lead to police action, no tents were removed, according to Shane Boyle, campus head steward of UAW Local 2865 and an organizer of Occupy Cal.

“We want to keep protesters aware, informed and educated about what’s in policy and out of policy,” said UCPD Lt. Alex Yao, spokesperson for the department. “What they are doing is against the policy (against encampment) and the law.”

He added that the police announcements were not official dispersal orders but rather an attempt to educate the protesters on the potential consequences.

Campus administration and UCPD have received criticism for the actions, which included arrests, taken against protesters who refused to take down tents last Wednesday.

“We don’t want a repeat of what happened last week,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof at a press conference on Sproul steps with campus administration and UCPD Wednesday afternoon.

He said that although there was no further police action against the protesters Wednesday, the policy against encampments is still in place.

“(The policy) remains because we have a dual responsibility to protect free speech rights of those in the protest and those who choose not to participate,” Mogulof said in an interview.

The encampment on Sproul Plaza became largely secondary to the shooting at the Haas School of Business Tuesday afternoon, according to Mogulof. As a result, much of the campus’s human resources were directed to deal with that issue instead of the encampment, according to Mogulof.

“(The policy against encampments) will be implemented at a time when it is safe,” Mogulof said. “The situation is being assessed on an hour-by-hour basis.”

At the press conference Wednesday, there was also a discussion about the various demands that the protesters had made. Mogulof announced that the campus could do little for many of the demands. However, there was one thing he said he could agree with the protesters about — the need for state funding to public education.

In regard to the complaint, Mogulof said the administration was “with you all the way.”

As of Wednesday night, the tents on the steps of Sproul Hall appeared ready to be used for another night by protesters. Boyle said the protesters had received no further messages from the administration and were ready to camp out another night.