Two people were arrested during a protest on the UC Berkeley campus Thursday, according to Lt. Marc DeCoulode of the University of California Police Department and the Daily Californian.
The demonstration against program cuts and fee hikes began at noon in Sproul Plaza, and ended after UC police officers ejected protesters from a building occupied several hours earlier.
Protesters clashed with campus police officers when they first tried to occupy Tolman Hall on the north side of campus. Here's a video of the scuffle. In another incident, Police say a magazine clip was pulled from an officer's belt, prompting the use of pepper spray.
The Daily Cal posted live updates all day Thursday, with reporter Javier Panzar on scene tweeting pictures. According to the Daily Cal, Thursday marked the first organized "Day of Action" protest against the cuts and fee hikes made by the UC system in recent years. A coalition of students, staff and faculty are demanding a reversal of recent systemwide fee increases and access to the UC for undocumented students.
An opinion editorial by Amanda Armstrong, a grad student at UC Berkeley, explained what the coalition stands for and gave details of the protests and walk outs planned for the coming months.
The coalition released the following statement ahead of Thursday's protest:
We are a broad coalition of UC Berkeley students, workers, instructors and community members who are committed to fighting for universal, free and accessible education.
As members of the campus community, we see university administrators and state politicians abandoning and blocking the realization of this goal. We are facing crushing levels of student debt from massive and increasing student fees, the intensifying exclusion of students of color and working class students, worker layoffs, departmental cuts that have damaged the quality of our education and futures constrained by devastated job markets.
Meanwhile, corporations and the wealthiest individuals — including many UC Regents — continue to rake in increasing bonuses and profits, partly by speculating on our indebtedness. This destructive prioritization of corporate interests is apparent at all levels of society: in our country, state and education system.
We say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We live in the richest society in the history of the world, and yet we always hear that there are no resources for accessible public education and decent public services. We, as a society, generate immense wealth. Trillions of dollars are currently directed towards warfare, incarceration and the enrichment of an already wealthy few. It is through collective actions that we must reclaim and redirect this wealth for the public good and the needs of the people. We support making corporations and the wealthy pay for free public education, health care and social services.
Popular movements against austerity and oppression all across the world have occupied public squares and established popular assemblies where ideas can be exchanged and proposals debated. From Spain to Chile, these movements have revealed how education and consciousness-raising are far more effective when combined with a strategy of impacted communities mobilizing in the streets.
As members of the UC community, we demand a complete reversal of recent fee increases; a revision of current admissions policies to lift barriers faced by underrepresented students of color and working class students; the re-hiring of workers fired as a result of budget cuts; a full investigation of the Regents’ conflicts of interest, especially their investments in banks and for-profit schools; an end to UC administrative and police surveillance, violence and intervention in political and academic activities; equal and full access to the university for undocumented students and workers; and the democratic control of the university by students, faculty and staff. In order to pursue these ends, we are committed to uniting with people and movements in all sectors of society who share our commitment to the empowerment of workers, students and the unemployed to create an equitable, compassionate society.