Occupy Cal demands criminal charges be dropped

Taryn Erhardt/Senior Staff
Two tents were set up by members of Occupy Cal on the steps of Sproul Hall.

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Occupy Cal protesters held a press conference Monday and set up two tents on Sproul Plaza to demand that criminal charges against Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protesters be dropped.

Members of Occupy Cal set up “cellphone stations” urging students to call District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office and demand that all 13 protesters be cleared of criminal charges filed as a result of the Nov. 9 protests. They then held a press conference around 11:15 a.m. which drew about 40 people.

Some criminal charges against the protesters include resisting arrest, remaining at the scene of a riot and obstructing a public place.

At their arraignments, 12 protesters were issued stay-away orders. Six of the orders — which prevent them from stepping onto UC property, except to fulfill class- or work-related duties — were lifted over the past two weeks.

“We’re here to lead a campaign to call the district attorney and demand that the charges be dropped and hopefully tie up those phone lines for the next 72 hours, if possible,” said graduate student Beezer de Martelly.

At the press conference, graduate students called the charges a strategic move by the administration to suppress the campus’ student movement against the privatization of education.

“The irony is that the district attorney is a public official … but she has no public accountability,” said Honest Chung, Students for a Democratic University ASUC presidential candidate. “All we can do is mobilize our strength to say that these charges are BS.”

Occupy Cal members then set up two tents on the Sproul Plaza steps.

Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard met with the protesters to notify them that the tents violate the campus policy against encampments and asked that they be taken down, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

UC Berkeley senior Navid Shaghaghi said the protesters would not take down the tents unless O’Malley dropped the criminal charges.

UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada said UCPD is monitoring the situation. As of press time, the tents remained.

A Nov. 9 reenactment will probably occur Tuesday, de Martelly said. Phone banking will go on for several days.

“If a serious number of people from the community cry out about how pathetic these charges are, it’ll create enough political pressure to at least give us some grounds to mobilize a mass movement,” she said.

Afsana Afzal covers academics and administration.