Students, community members rally against police brutality

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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About 50 UC Berkeley students and community members rallied on Sproul Plaza on Wednesday to demonstrate against police brutality and mass incarceration as part of a nationwide anti-police brutality day.

The noon rally was part of the 19th annual Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Similar movements occurred in more than 70 cities throughout the nation. Demonstrators marched from campus to join a larger group of about 300 in Oakland.

The ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President and IGNITE — a student organization advocating investment in education rather than incarceration — hosted the campus rally, which included members from the Revolution Club, Cal Black Student Union and Cal Progressive Coalition.

“The rally is being held to draw attention to the movement and to educate UC Berkeley students,” said Laura Douglas, director of state affairs for the ASUC and campus junior. “Students need to vote and be aware.”

At the start of the rally, members of the Revolution Club, among others, made speeches, led chants and handed out signs and whistles. The topics of the speeches ranged from mass incarceration to Proposition 47, which would reduce the penalties for some crimes.

Caitlin Quinn, ASUC external affairs vice president, led a moment of silence to honor the victims of police brutality. Shortly after, demonstrators participated in a “die-in.” Demonstrators laid on the ground while Rafael Malik, a member of the Revolution Club and a lead speaker at the rally, read off names of victims of police brutality.

According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, the administration expected the rally to be peaceful and did not make more preparations than usual.

Around 1 p.m., the group marched down Bancroft Way and Shattuck Avenue and took BART to join other demonstrators at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland.

“It was great for UC Berkeley students to join the rally because of the Berkeley’s history of resisting social injustice,” Malik said.

After joining the Oakland rally, participants from the UC Berkeley rally and other demonstrators marched to the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building on Clay Street. The demonstrators continued to the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility and were met by Oakland Police officers, who formed two lines near Washington and Jefferson streets.

Demonstrators peacefully marched from the police line to the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway after an hour of negotiations regarding concerns about the ability of rally leaders to control the crowd. The rally ended around 5 p.m. in front of Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, where the Oakland rally began.

“The rally was powerful,” said Kelechi Emeziem, UC Berkeley junior and member of the Cal Black Student Union. “The rally made sure that the message got out.”

Contact Sierra Stalcup at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SierraStalcup.