Following Wednesday’s daytime Occupy Cal protests on campus, which drew a crowd of 3,000-plus, and the subsequent flare-up between protesters and police in the evening, Thursday saw a relatively calm day as demonstrators regrouped and planned further action.
There was one arrest on campus this morning, according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore, who said an individual not affiliated with the campus interfered with a police officer taking down a tent.
“It has been fairly peaceful all day, individuals just gathered around the plaza, teach-ins held, and so on. We are hearing word of some sort of gathering on the plaza at 5 or 6 today,” she said.
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau expressed support for the Cal Occupy cause. In a message to the Cal community he spoke of yesterday’s demonstrations: “We compliment the organizers and speakers for setting an example of peaceful protest and mobilization. As we informed the campus community earlier this week, we understand and share the concern of the Occupy movement about the extreme concentration of wealth in US society and the steady disinvestment in public higher education by California and other States.”
He also reiterated the university’s policy against encampment.
Echoing his view, Gilmore said: “Our experience (People’s Park decades ago, to the tree sitters a few years ago, to the Wheeler occupation of Dec. 2009) shows us that what may seem like a small encampment or occupation can quickly grow in size and lasts for many days, weeks, months, longer. We have also been watching what has occurred in San Francisco and Oakland with the encampments in those locations.
“We regret that the injuries to protesters and police occurred. Police were seeking to remove tents (enforce campus policy) and while some individuals complied with police and got out of the way, some others interfered with the officers.”
The Daily Californian reports that Marco Amaral, a UC Berkeley junior and an organizer of Wednesday’s Day of Action and Occupy Cal demonstrations, will be interviewed by Keith Olbermann on his show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, tonight. Amaral told the Daily Cal: “To say that students clashed with police is wrong,” he said. “It is correct to say that police were the aggressors and they clashed with students — with peaceful students.”
Berkeley councilmember Jesse Arreguin said he was horrified by the violence he witnessed on a video of the altercations between protesters and police from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department (published on Berkeleyside Wednesday). In a post on Facebook, he wrote: “I was appalled when I saw this video and I call on the UC Berkeley Chancellor and the UC Police Department to denounce this unwarranted police brutality and to stop using force as a way to remove protestors who are non-violents exercising their constitutional rights. The University should initiate an investigation into the use of force on demonstrators.”
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