Occupy Oakland protesters march to International House

Katherine Chen/Staff
Occupy protesters gathered on the steps of International House and set up tents on the lawn.

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Update, Monday 9:15 p.m: At a general assembly meeting Monday evening, protesters continued to discuss how to better organize and increase attendance at Occupy Cal events. As of the meeting, there were no plans to set up tents again.

Protesters from Occupy Oakland converged on UC Berkeley Saturday evening, the day after 18 Occupy Cal protesters were detained when their encampment was cleared from the front of Doe Library.

About 40 protesters from Oakland marched down Telegraph Avenue, eventually reaching the International House on Piedmont Avenue at around 11 p.m. An “Occupy the Truth” conference was held this weekend at I-House, and protesters set up five tents to show solidarity with the conference.

House administrators agreed to let the encampment remain on the lawn overnight as long as the steps leading up to the entrance were kept clear for traffic, according to Shirley Spiller, chief financial officer for the house.

“We just talked to one of the event managers at I-House,” said UC Berkeley senior Navid Shaghaghi. “We just want a peaceful night.”

At the height of the protest — when the Oakland group first reached the campus and about 60 people congregated on the steps in front of I-House — eight UCPD officers wearing helmets guarded the doors at the entrance of I-House.

UC Berkeley junior Cody Boutilier, who lives in I-House, said the congregation of protesters on Saturday evening showed an “utter disrespect” for I-House residents.

“I think at this point, it is not a question of whether one agrees with the message,” Boutilier said. “There is no message.”

According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, UCPD maintained its presence throughout the night to monitor both the Oakland group and campus group and to help ensure the events “concluded without incident.” Six officers and about 15 protesters remained at I-House overnight.

At about 11:48 p.m., protesters began an “anti-repression tour” around campus to places where police and protester confrontations have occurred, which included a visit to Wheeler Hall, Upper Sproul and the oak trees in which Berkeley community members — including Zachary RunningWolf, who was at the march — held tree-sits in 2007.

This began a dialogue between members of Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland about how Occupy Oakland could become more involved with movements on campus.

The earlier Occupy Cal encampment began in front of Sproul Hall Feb. 9, the three-month anniversary of the contentious Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protest, and ended Friday morning when police cleared the encampment in front of the library.

“There has always been tons of interaction between Occupy Oakland and Occupy Cal. We’ve sent tons of delegates to (Occupy Oakland) marches,” said graduate student Ian Saxton. “It has always been an important for Occupy Cal to be connected with the marches.”

As of 1:20 a.m., six UCPD officers maintained guard at the entrance of the house while the remaining approximately 15 protesters ate pizza in preparation for spending the night on the lawn.

After attending the conference on Sunday, members of Occupy Cal cleared their encampment Sunday afternoon around 3:30 p.m.

The overnight encampment was created to show solidarity for the conference, and protesters cleared it after the conference ended because according to Shaghaghi, there was no reason to prolong the encampment.

“Our goal was to have a good relationship with I-House managers (throughout the encampment) and we did that,” Saxton said.

He added that because members of Occupy Oakland and Occupy Berkeley joined Occupy Cal protesters in camping overnight and in attending the conference, this created an environment that could foster future collaboration between the movements.

The group is now focusing on planning events for a March 1 nationwide Day of Action and a subsequent rally in Sacramento on March 5 to protest decreased state funding for public education.

Staff writer Curan Mehra contributed to this report.