UC protesters take message to ledge of campus building
In what is becoming an annual ritual at UC Berkeley, protesters locked arms and precariously planted themselves on a fourth floor ledge of the school’s Wheeler Hall protesting against cuts to public education and increases to college tuition.
The protest ended peacefully and without any injuries late Thursday evening after university officials and the group agreed to end the occupation of the building after more than 6 hours on the roof.
The attention-grabbing demonstration cancelled afternoon classes in the busy campus building where 17 protesters were arrested by University of California Police the day before.
By late afternoon, UC Police arrested one protester from the Wheeler Hall roof and were negotiating with six other protesters who locked arms using cardboard tubing and unfurled a large red banner that read “Our University, Stop the Cuts” off the building’s ledge.
The protesters began their occupation of the 4th floor of the Hall at 2 p.m. when nine protesters climbed through a classroom window to the ledge, according to UC Berkeley officials. Police arrested one protester after he climbed back into the classroom.
UC Berkeley officials said 26 classes were cancelled after the Chancellor decided to evacuate the building for safety precautions shortly before 4 p.m. The university said 27 other student groups had meetings that were scheduled to take place inside Wheeler Hall cancelled.
The university estimated that a crowd of more than 300 people gathered in front of Wheeler Hall observing the remaining protesters on the ledge of the building.
UC Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly at 6:30 p.m. clearing the way for arrests. A large contingent of police wearing riot gear was monitoring the demonstration from around the building.
The demonstration ended when protesters and UC administration officials agreed on a truce that ended the occupation of the building at 8:30 p.m., according to a protester. Part of the conditions of the truce were reportedly the dismissal of previous protesting charges levied by the university against some of the demonstrators who participated in the latest act.
The protests are organized by student groups decrying the continual increase of tuition and deep cuts to funding for the University of California system. The UC system has raised tuition by more than 33 percent in the past three years and implemented a number of money-saving cuts to help solve a multi-million dollar deficit.
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