Student protest ends at SFSU business building

December 10, 2009 2:17:24 PM PST
A nearly 24-hour siege at San Francisco State University ended early Thursday morning. Police arrested dozens of people who were protesting fee increases. Nobody was hurt and nothing was vandalized.

The end of the business department takeover began at about 4 a.m. Thursday. University police broke a ground floor window and piled in.

Outside, dozens of protest supporters were told by police that they had five minutes to disperse their unlawful assembly. Most did not disperse.

A university spokeswoman says 13 people occupying the building were arrested.

"They came in guns drawn, cleared the room and we just kept on singing," said protester Wes Vasquez.

Eleven protesters outside were also arrested.

"This is ridiculous, this is freedom of speech," said a protester.

Later, still more were arrested when they started to block traffic on 19th Avenue. But soon dozens more protesters moved onto the busy street and San Francisco police took over, working out an exit strategy with protest leaders.

"No, nobody is being booked. Everybody is going to be given a ticket and gone," said SFPD Capt. Gary Jimenez when asked by a protester if anyone was arrested.

The group marched to the Stonestown parking lot about a half-mile away, where police were citing and releasing those who had been arrested. In the light of day, some protesters returned to grab the belongings they had left inside the business building and assess what they had accomplished.

"The mindset created within the students is truly a victory. It is truly something that we can work with," said protester Gio Alonzi.

Some students ABC7 spoke with said the protest had changed little in their lives.

"It hinders other students from getting their classes and getting what they need done and I don't think any protest is worth that," said SFSU student Samantha Mathews.

The janitorial staff says there was virtually no vandalism by the building's occupiers.

A university spokesperson said they are looking into how many of those arrested are students and how many are outsiders. They don't have that information yet. Protesters are meeting later on Thursday to plot their next move.

The protest is over the skyrocketing cost of education. San Francisco State received a $38 million budget cut from Sacramento this year and in turn hiked tuition 30 percent. The protesters believe they deserve to have a say in how the crisis is handled.


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