Occupy Cal protest continues on steps of Sproul Hall

Yuqing Jiang/Staff
Protesters gather on Upper Sproul and resume their occupation.

A group of Occupy Cal protesters continued an encampment on the steps of Sproul Hall as of Sunday afternoon, extending a protest that began Thursday on the three month anniversary of the Nov. 9 campus protests.

Around 3 p.m. Sunday, 30 to 40 protesters gathered on the steps for a potluck, and seven tents remained set up. So far, UCPD has not issued a dispersal order to the protesters, and they plan to continue the occupation, according to UC Berkeley senior Navid Shaghaghi.

“We have someone out there every few hours, to check up on the situation,” said Claire Holmes, associate vice chancellor for public affairs. “The dean of students spoke to the students Thursday night to make sure they were aware that they were violating school policy. They have not asked to speak to us, and we have been trying to keep our exchanges going well.”

The protest originally started when demonstrators set up five tents Thursday afternoon and subsequently held a 6 p.m. general assembly, according to protesters. Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard arrived at the assembly around 6:15 p.m. with two police officers. Protest organizers then asked him to leave, requesting that he come back without the officers, according to Berkeley resident Ergoat Oneiric.

Poullard left but returned about two hours later with four officers to tell the protesters that they were in violation of campus policy, stating that those who chose to remain may be subject to “disciplinary action under the university code of conduct or arrest.”

Protesters said they were disappointed that Poullard brought officers to the meeting.

“You can’t be civil with guns,” Oneiric said. “It is worth noting that even barbarian hoards had a code of honor in sending unarmed emissaries and messengers.”

Thursday night continued peacefully, interrupted only by a visit from one UCPD officer at 3 a.m., according to Shaghaghi. Students passed the time with frisbee games, soccer, singing and storytelling.

“Our goals right now are visibility and dialogue,” Shaghaghi said. “The more people see us, hopefully the more support we get.”

As protesters were setting up a rally on the steps at noon Friday, Assistant Director in the Center for Student Leadership Jeff Woods informed them that they would not be able to use speakers because they did not receive approval from the campus administration to reserve the space, according to UC Berkeley junior Sarah Frasco.

“We are in conversation with students and groups to use this space,” Frasco said. “It’s unfortunate that the administration doesn’t see the value we add to this community. Right now they see us as a threat.”

Friday and Saturday evenings saw little incident, protesters said.

“At midnight last night, a police officer came by and did a tent count,” said UC Berkeley senior Alex Kim at Sunday’s potluck. “We work to self-police and diffuse any conflict. As long as we’re not breaking anything and aren’t violent, the police know we’re not a threat. We don’t want to distract them from real crime occurring.”

According to Kim, at least a dozen protesters were on site over the course of the weekend. He added that the protesters are discussing the idea of moving around, but where and when has not been determined.

Shaghaghi said the protesters also plan to attend demonstrations that will take place March 1 to March 5, including a march from Berkeley to Sacramento which is currently being coordinated between multiple UC and CSU campuses.