Police arrest 39 in UC Berkeley Occupy protest
Dozens of riot-gear clad police officers prevented an Occupy Wall Street campsite from forming in front of the UC Berkeley administration building Wednesday during a day-long series of protests by students who said they were fighting double-digit tuition increases in the University of California system.
UC Police and sheriff’s deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office arrested 39 Occupy Cal protesters, seven from an afternoon raid of the campsite, and 31 more during a contentious nighttime skirmish between an estimated crowd of more than 1,000 protesters.
Campus police officers cleared a lawn area in front of Sproul Hall where students who identified with the Occupy Wall Street movement had planned to set-up their own tent city in protest of UC tuition hikes. Police raided the site in the early afternoon, provoking allegations from protesters that the officers were too heavy handed when they attempted to clear the lawn of students.
The first raid proved to be unsuccessful after several protesters replaced tents that were confiscated by police.
In a meeting with protest organizers, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande warned the group that they were allowed to peacefully assemble but ordered that participants not set up tents, sleep at the site or occupy the area.
Protesters rejected Le Grande’s offer in a General Assembly vote.
The university ordered police into the campsite at 9 p.m. to clear six tents that had been set up, but the confrontation evolved into a violent melee between law enforcement and some protesters who refused to clear the site. Police ended up arresting 31 protesters for a variety of charges, according to UC Police.
Those arrested were taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin for processing, police said.
By midnight, police reduced their presence significantly and allowed a group of almost 1,000 protesters was to assemble on the front steps of Sproul Hall to plan additional protests, including a demonstration against tuition hikes planned for the Nov. 17 UC Board of Regents meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus.
Beat Reporter Steven Luo contributed to this story. Contact the Beat News Service at email@example.com.