Police force Occupy Cal to clear out

Taryn Erhardt/Senior Staff
A protester raises his arms in front of a line of police wearing riot gear on Sproul Plaza.

Demonstrators packed up tents and disbanded the Occupy Cal encampment early Thursday morning after police officers forced the encampment’s clearing, resulting in two arrests.

At approximately 3:30 a.m., around 50 police officers in riot gear arrived in Sproul Plaza and told demonstrators to begin packing up the tents which were on the Sproul Hall steps.

Police told demonstrators that students would be allowed to remain on-campus but would not be allowed to camp. Non-students were forced off-campus. Demonstrators were told that anyone who camps on-campus would be arrested.

Photo Gallery: Police clear Occupy Cal encampment

By 4:30 a.m., no tents were left on the Sproul Hall steps. As of 5 a.m., police still surrounded the encampment site and the approximately 35 protesters in Sproul Plaza milled about and shared testimonies via a megaphone. Protesters also tried to rally more support by calling and texting friends.

Two demonstrators, including one UC Berkeley student, were arrested during the encampment’s clearing, according to UCPD Lt. Alex Yao. Yao said the arrests were “done peacefully.” The arrestees were charged with illegal lodging and failure to disperse when given a dispersal order and transported to Oakland’s Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility for processing.

Taryn Erhardt/Senior Staff

Protesters gathered for an impromptu mic check as their encampment was disassembled.

“Just like New York, just like Oakland, just like Occupy locations everywhere, we are coming back, we are winning,” said junior James Chang. “Whose university? Our university.”

Junior Jameson Reeves, who was sleeping when police arrived in the plaza, said he packed up and left when police appeared because at that point “there was no reason to be arrested.”

“Hopefully (the Occupy Cal movement) stays strong, we have a lot of energy so we will keep trying, keep it going,” he said. “This is just a bump in the road, really.”

Along with the encampment tents, police also removed artwork which had been placed on the Sproul Hall steps, including a 10 foot-tall paper mache T-Rex.

“At about 3:30, I looked outside my tent, and I saw what looked like hundreds of police officers coming up the steps (from Lower into Upper Sproul Plaza),” said freshman Aly Maun. “Now they’re tearing down the art, and the art is beautiful. I don’t think this was necessary.”

Around 5:15 a.m., a backhoe and trucks were brought into the plaza to clear the remains of the encampment.

UCPD, Emeryville Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Newark Police Department and Union City Police Department officers and Alameda Country Sheriff’s Office Deputies were among the police force in Sproul Plaza, according to Yao.

Taryn Erhardt/Senior Staff

Amruta Trivedi and Christopher Yee of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Jordan Bach-Lombardo is the university news editor.