By 7:30 am, there was little trace of the dozen or so tents erected in Sproul Plaza. A university custodian powerwashed the steps of Sproul Hall. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel

About 50 UC police officers dressed in riot gear descended upon the Occupy Cal encampment Thursday morning and rousted sleeping students and protesters from the steps of Sproul Hall.

The police arrived at 3:30 am and issued an order for those in the encampment to dismantle their tents. Some students willingly complied with the command, but others moved too slowly, prompting police to take down some tents and cart them away.

“They came in and gave us five minutes notice and then took over,” said Shawndeez Jadali, a freshman in Peace and Conflict Studies. “We got a good number of tents out. We need them and we are going to bring them back.”

Two students were arrested in the early morning raid, including one with a cat, according to other students.

UC Berkeley students who were rousted from their encampment lingered in Sproul Plaza on Thursday morning.

Officials then closed Sproul Plaza for a few hours to remove the rugs, chairs, and pianos that had been set up on the steps as part of the encampment.

When the plaza was reopened around 7 am, a small group of students that had spent the last two nights in front of Sproul Hall returned to the area.  Police told them they could return to the steps – without the tents – after a university custodian cleaned the area. The students planned to reconvene at 10 am and determine what they would do next.

Navid Shaghaghi, a senior majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, said that the Occupy Cal group wants Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to come to one of its daily 6 pm general assemblies. The group sent Birgeneau an email with an invitation and an explanation of how Occupy Wall Street groups work, but got an email back from his assistant saying he was too jet lagged to attend. While much of the Occupy Cal movement has focused on tuition and fee increases, which are decided by the UC Board of Regents, there are issues specific to UC Berkeley the group would like to talk to Birgeneau about, he said.

“We want an end to police brutality on this campus,” said Shaghaghi. “We want a policy that says peaceful protesters don’t get jabbed by batons.”

He was referring to a Nov. 9 protest in which UC police repeatedly jabbed students and faculty with batons and even pulled one professor by her hair to the ground.

A UC police officer tells Occupy Cal protestors that they must stay off the steps of Sproul Hall until custodians finish cleaning the area

After night of camping, weary Occupy Cal protesters settle in [11.16.11]
Cal students vote to set up Occupy camp on campus [11.15.11]
Rally begins after teach-ins at Occupy Cal Day of Action [11.15.11]
After Oakland eviction, focus shifts to UC Berkeley [11.14.11]
Councilmember’s open letter re. police force on campus [11.12.11]
Police use of force at Occupy Cal gets national attention [11.11.11]
Occupy Cal arrests total 40 as protesters plan next moves [11.10.11]
After protests and arrests, calm returns to Cal campus [11.10.11]
Protesters vote to set up Occupy Cal camp at UC Berkeley [11.09.11]

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...