Friday, November 20, 2009

Wheeler Hall is occupied

Reports are that Wheeler Hall is occupied by about 40 students. Police are apparently using maximum force to break the occupation.

Quick story here.

From the barricades, the cops cordoned off the building and hundreds are still out in the pouring rain supporting the occupation. There are occasional scuffles with the police, but students are not backing down.


The building was occupied all day and thousands of students showed up to support the occupiers. Without this support, the students inside would have experienced physical brutality at the hands of the police--just as the supporters outside experienced--and been taken away in handcuffs. Instead, because students militantly barricaded all access to Wheeler Hall for about 12 hours, the police and UC administrators were forced to negotiate a reasonable release for all the students. Many thanks goes out to those that choose to occupy and reclaim the property of an increasingly corporatized UC Berkeley and the students outside that refused to step down.

Police arrested demonstrator outside, attacked people without provocation, and severed a woman's finger. Despite this violence perpetuated with UCB's good graces, Chancellor Birgeneau sent the following lie:

The Wheeler Hall protest ended peacefully this evening when 40 protestors who had occupied the second floor of the building were cited for trespassing by UC Berkeley Police and released. Thanks to the efforts of ASUC student leaders and faculty who worked with Vice-Chancellor Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, Executive Vice-Chancellor & Provost George Breslauer, and me, our police were able to diffuse the situation and end the protest.

Throughout the day, the large crowds that gathered around Wheeler Hall necessitated significant police presence to maintain safety. It is truly regrettable, however, that a few members of our campus community may have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement officers. Overall, the officers who managed the day's events did very well under difficult circumstances.

I understand that our students are justifiably angry over the fee increases and reductions in staff necessitated by the egregious disinvestment by Sacramento in the University of California. They are not alone in this. Clearly, we cannot allow illegal occupations of our buildings and disruption of our academic programs. Today 3800 students were unable to attend class in Wheeler Hall.

We have a strong tradition of free speech on campus. Let us not forget that we are all fighting for the same cause: to maintain the public character of our university by sustaining Berkeley's excellence and accessibility. Taking over our classroom buildings is not a productive way in which to advance our shared interests in gaining support for public higher education. Let us work together, not in opposition, to move forward our cause.

I wonder if Birgenau is thinking of the time police surrounded Sproul Plaza and tear gassed it during a funeral when he references the '. . . strong tradition of free speech on campus.' Frankly, the only group on campus with a commitment to free speech is the students.

Youtube videos.
NY Times.
LA Times.

Nov. 20 at UC Berkeley
Video of Police Brutality at UCB
KTVU -- Very good TV coverage -- Strong Images of Police Brutality
The Daily Cal -- Good Article and Footage of Protest/Chanting in Rain
San Francisco Chronicle - Good article
The Daily Cal- Great Photo Slideshow
NYTimes coverage<%20>

Nov 18-20 Protests Throughout the State
UCLA Video Coverage (Check out poll: 79% of public are against fee hike!):
UCLA Indymedia Coverage:
CSU Fresno Library Study In:
UCSC Occupation of Kerr Hall:
UC Davis Protests after 52 Arrested:
UC Davis - Good Student TV coverage of Occupation
SF State Nov. 18 Action -


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