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Protesters Occupy UC Berkeley Classrooms, Demand End to Tuition Hikes

UC Berkeley students walk by Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus April 17, 2007
//yeti-cir-test.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/images/2010/9/uc-berkeley-campus/original/73909596.jpg
UC Berkeley students walk by Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus April 17, 2007
 

UC Berkeley students walk by Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus April 17, 2007
Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
https://citizen-media.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/images/2010/9/uc-berkeley-campus/original/73909596.jpg?Signature=nIxejLUAdI4JnJhdhGhtoeCXjrs%3D&Expires=1359073236&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAICY2ZBGLHCXTSKJA
UC Berkeley students walk by Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus April 17, 2007
Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Updated Sept. 22, 2011 at 6:55 p.m.

Around five dozen students are continuing what they call their open occupation of Tolman Hall on the University of California at Berkeley campus Thursday afternoon in a protest against the UC system's proposed tuition fee hikes.

Since the protest began around noon in Sproul Plaza, organizers and university police said there has been one confrontation between police and protesters involving pepper spray.

Callie Maidhof, a Cal student speaking for "Resistance Social," the group that organized Thursday's protest, said she saw police spray at least four students with pepper spray Thursday afternoon.

University police said earlier in the afternoon that one university police officer had been "penned in" by students blocking the building's doors and used pepper spray to escape the situation.

Cal spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said campus personnel continue to monitor the protest without incident.

"We've been reaching out to [protesters] in hopes of engaging in conversation and in hopes that this will end peacefully, and will continue to that tonight," she said.

"We absolutely share their frustration over the state's divestment in public education, and we support their right to free speech," Gilmore added.

Nonetheless, university officials said protesters would be expected to leave Tolman Hall at around 9 or 10 p.m. Thursday night when the building closes.

Anyone who refuses to leave would then be subject to citations or arrest, she said.

Just before 5 p.m., Maidhof said about 40 protesters were sitting inside an empty classroom, while about two dozen others gathered in the hallways or walked around outside.

She said she and her fellow protesters have passed the time speaking with students in Chile via Skype and will likely "decorate" later, posting signs and banners inside the building, Maidhof said.

"It's a very chill atmosphere," she said, noting that organizers do not have a set plan as to how long the protest will last.

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