UC Berkeley protesters want police to apologize

September 23, 2011 12:26:15 PM PDT
All was quiet on the campus of UC Berkeley Friday morning after a long, angry clash on Thursday between police and demonstrators protesting tuition hikes. Some of those demonstrators are accusing the police of having gone too far.

A demonstrator was wrestled to the ground after police say an officer was attacked. Police held a meeting on Friday and determined officers acted reasonably, but demonstrators are demanding an apology.

The protest turned ugly Thursday night around 9 p.m. when police wanted to close Tolman Hall, which had been occupied by demonstrators throughout the day.

Amateur video shot by a protestor shows police wrestling one demonstrator to the ground.

"We had pretty good relations with police throughout the day," said Shane Boyle with the Public Education Coalition. "We were very peaceful. We were productive, we were creative, we were using the space in there for the purposes that we set -- to educate students about the cuts and the tuition hikes."

Police say they showed great restraint, saying the demonstrators threw chunks of concrete at one point. Police say an officer was assaulted from behind by a man who is not a student. Demonstrators are upset over the way he was treated.

"It seemed like some people on the outside were trying to force their way in, or come in, after the doors were closed," said Lt. Marc Decoulode with the UC Berkeley Police Department. "That led to a person being taken into custody, and then numerous people started throwing chunks concrete at the officers."

"We're trying to strategize ways to get UCPD to make an apology to the people they beat, the people they arrested," Boyle said.

The demonstrating was organized by the Public Education Coalition. There had been word that another demonstration would be held at 10 a.m. Friday, but nothing materialized.

The group says it's far from finished.

"We're going to be mobilizing for the November Regents meeting, at which point the Regents are considering a proposal to raise tuition by 81 percent," Boyle said. "Over the next month and a half, we're going to be organizing more rallies."

Boyle said Thursday's demonstration was just day one. The group might be focused and motivated, but the majority of students are too busy with campus life.

"I don't think I'd ever shut down a building," said student Callie Stein. "Most students are just worried about school and athletics and getting through their day."

Another student, Cina Poursheikhani, said he doesn't think the demonstrations help.

"I think, if anything, they should follow around various representatives and hassle them all day," Poursheikhani said.

The protest group said it has a meeting scheduled for next week and that's where they will organize their next event.

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