Friday, December 11, 2009



Contact: Elias Martinez (559) 999-4964 and Ianna Owen (570) 977-0487

This morning, on the fifth and final day of a weeklong “Open University” held at UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall, University of California Police stormed into the building around 5am, arresting 65 people without provocation, witnesses said.

“People were not given a final warning – police burst in while people were sleeping and immediately started locking doors and arresting people. Many students have papers due today, and finals to take starting tomorrow,” said Elias Martinez, an undergraduate from Political Science. “There had been cops in here all week, they were acting like it was okay. We had no idea.”

The police raid at UC Berkeley came one day after students participating in an occupation at San Francisco State University, also railing against budget cuts to public education, were arrested by SFSU Police at 3am.

Douglas Virgos, an undergraduate student, spent the night in the UC Berkeley building but then left on a food run in the early morning. “I got back and saw that the police had put handcuffs on the doors. I was there all night and never heard police tell us we had to leave.”

Students and faculty supporters who gathered on the scene shortly after raid alerts went out say they saw the students, some of them without shoes and wearing only their underwear, being loaded onto Alameda County Sheriff’s buses headed to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

“We’ll be shuttling people out there all day on caravans to do jail support and camp out there until the protesters are released,” said Melissa Barker, an undergraduate of Interdisciplinary Studies and parent. “The fact that the cops drove 65 people all the way to Dublin makes me think that the charges will be way more than misdemeanor trespassing. We’re worried, but we’ll do everything it takes to support our folks. We’ll be there all weekend if it takes.”

Students have been holding public events, including teach-ins on the UC budget, study-ins, and live music shows as part of a “Live Week” of Open University events since Monday.

The week of events was scheduled to end with a free concert in Wheeler Hall, where the Oakland-based political hip hop artist, Boots Riley, would perform tonight.

“We are going to proceed with the event today, and this show will be larger than ever. We’ll continue to organize with students from other schools and build a worldwide movement of students fighting to retain and expand public education,” said a student who withheld their name, fearing university reprisals. “The police attack only makes us angrier.”

From liveweek.

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