The UC Berkeley campus was calm this morning after a night of protests and altercations with police that resulted in 39 arrests, including one faculty member, and several injuries, although as yet there have been no reports of protesters being taken to hospital.
A couple of dozen protesters with placards, and one tent, could be seen in front of Sproul Hall at around 9:00 am Thursday.
Captain Margo Bennett, spokesperson for the UCPD, said two of the 39 arrests were made for battery of a police officer. The remainder were for interfering with police officers, failure to disperse/unlawful assembly. Capt Bennett confirmed that UCPD police officers were joined by officers from the Alameda County Sheriff department and, late on Wednesday night, by officers from the Oakland PD.
The Berkeley Police Department managed the protest when it went onto Berkeley streets, including Telegraph Avenue, Wednesday afternoon, but were not involved in any on-campus activities, according to BPD Sgt Mary Kusmiss.
The Occupy Cal Day of Action on Wednesday was held to to demonstrate against public education budget cuts and tuition hikes, and to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Protesters voted Wednesday afternoon to set up an encampment on the campus, despite a warning issued by Cal’s administration on Monday that any encampments on campus property would not be tolerated.
On Wednesday afternoon protesters began erecting tents on campus. Police officers moved in to dismantle them and were met with a wall of students. Video footage (published on Berkeleyside yesterday) shows officers beating protesters back with batons.
Berkeleyside readers expressed differing opinions on viewing the video clip. One wrote: “Looks like raw footage of the campus cops doing their job and shutting down an unlawful assembly and encampment”. Several others shared “Berkeley Citizen”‘s view, who said: “What I see are a bunch of police gleefully brutalizing college students who are lawfully assembled. The punishment for peacefully assembling and erecting symbolic tents justifies police brutality?"
News helicopters hovered over the campus for many hours Wednesday and only left at around 11:00 pm. Several Berkeleyside readers complained about the noise pollution and said it felt like living “in a war zone”. ”Lhasa7″ wrote: “The only thing I am enraged about here are the ‘news copters,’ which are making Berkeley completely uninhabitable by sentient life.”
Several writers covering the events of yesterday, including Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, drew parallels with the Berkeley Free Speech demonstrations of 1964. Allison Kilkenny, writing for In These Times, said: “… if yesterday’s police actions are any indication of things to come, the 1960-style riots may very much be back in vogue.”
At 11:15 pm Thursday morning, Capt Bennett said there was little activity on campus. “There is a small group on the Sproul Plaza steps, two teach-ins and a couple of speakers,” she said. “We are waiting to see how the day unfolds.”
According to the Daily Californian which has been covering the events live on its website and through Twitter, protesters are said to planning for a possible rally this evening on campus. Another push may occur on Saturday, according to KQED California Report, where rallies for student debt reform are being organized as part of Operation Cash Back.