Day of Action begins at California Hall, continues with noon rally on Sproul Plaza

Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
A crowd of protesters gathered for a rally on Sproul Plaza.

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As part of a nationwide Day of Action, protesters began demonstrations at UC Berkeley early Thursday morning that culminated in a rally on Sproul Plaza at noon before some protesters marched to Oakland.

The demonstrations began around 8 a.m., when about 20 protesters began encircling California Hall and wrapping caution tape around the front of it — a move which protesters said aimed to raise awareness about the upswing in private donations to the university and a decrease in state funding.

“This is is supposed to be a public university, but the university has been privatizing it,” said UC Berkeley senior Honest Chung. “If we treat education as a commodity to be sold, that is not a foundation for democracy.”

Campus staff and administrators with offices in the hall entered through the west entrance during the demonstration.

Bruce Miller, a financial planner who works inside California Hall, said today’s demonstration was nothing unexpected.

“It’s Berkeley,” he said. “There is always a protest.”

Protesters also set up a demonstration on Sproul Plaza with murals by local students illustrating concern about how decreased state funding is affecting public education in the state.

“No Education, No Jobs, No Future,” one mural read.

Due to rain, teach-outs began under the overhang in front of the Cal Student Store, demanding that affirmative action be re-instituted in the university’s admissions policies.

Police officers continued to monitor the demonstrations and teach-outs on Upper Sproul Plaza in anticipation for the rally at noon, according to UCPD Lt. Eric Tejada.

The rally, which drew about about 150 people in the drizzling rain, featured speakers from Occupy Stanford, union workers and UC Berkeley student protesters.

“Occupy is not dead — occupy is still here,” said campus graduate student Blanca Misse at the rally. “We are not going to wait for the wealth to trickle down, we are going to trickle down ourselves to occupy the capitol.”

Following the rally, a group of protesters left campus to march to Oakland. Later, some plan to march to Sacramento in preparation for demonstrations scheduled at the capitol on Monday.

Staff  writers Oksana Yurovsky, Chloe Hunt and Sam Buckland contributed to this report.