Thousands gather for Occupy Cal protest

(Jonathan Bloom/ABC7)
November 16, 2011 12:11:12 AM PST
Thousands of students and protesters gathered on the UC Berkeley campus Tuesday for a day-long general strike involving teach-ins, marches and a general assembly where the Occupy Cal group decided to try again to put up tents in Sproul Plaza. Last week, 40 people were arrested after they set up tents on campus.

Although the university has said that it will not allow protesters to set up tents on the campus, Tuesday afternoon, UC Berkeley's chancellor said that some tents might be allowed as a form of political expression.

Tuesday afternoon, Sproul Plaza was filled with an assortment of items that had not been explicitly banned by the unversity including a piano, a wagon wheel and a sculpture of a dinosaur, an apprent toungue-in-cheek nod by protesters.

The tent issue was one of three items on the agenda for the general assembly that got underway around 5 p.m. The other items to be discussed and voted on were whether the group would send an open letter to UC Regents about the rising cost of education and whether they should try to organize a public debate with UC officials about what it costs to go to school and how so few people can afford it.

The general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor to put up the tents and several could be seen being set up in the center of the plaza around 8:30 p.m.

Speeches were scheduled throughout the day, with UC Berkeley professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich delivering a speech on class warfare on the steps of Sproul Hall to a crowd of about 5,000 people Tuesday evening.

People participating the Occupy Cal general strike Tuesday said they felt like they were taking part in a significant moment in history.

"I think to see people coming together; we're at a very special time with social networking, with the iPhones out, the media's here, everyone's here and taking a part in it; we all have a voice and I think it's really exciting, it's something that hasn't happened in this country in 40 years," UC Berkeley student Lex Nalley said.

Jonathan Bloom and Alan Wang contributed to this story.

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