Police, protesters clash at 'Occupy Cal'


Latest Developments:

Arrests: There were 32 arrests this evening, 7 people were arrested earlier in the afternoon.

3:49 a.m. Update: Things still remain peaceful and the crowd seems to have shrunk down considerably. The police are still standing by monitoring things.

2:40 a.m. Update: Two new tents went up around 1:45 a.m. and they might be people from the "Occupy SF" protest that had just arrived at the time. Things are currently still peaceful.

1:45 a.m. Update: "Occupy Cal" protesters held a general assembly to discuss what their next actions are and have voted amongst themselves to hold a strike and not show up to class on Tuesday, Nov. 15. They also plan to meet every day until Tuesday at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. to have a general assembly meeting to prepare for the strike.

One person set up a tent and police have not yet gone after it, but many others are sleeping in sleeping bags, which is in violation of the university rules. The police are still present and silently monitoring the demonstration. The crowd is down to about 1,000 people and earlier tonight there were 1,500 at the height of the demonstration.

12:46 a.m. Update: The crowd is talking with each other and considering a strike sometime next week. Earlier reports we have received today said the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night not to send mutual aid officers to assist in the Occupy protests.

12:04 a.m. Update: 1,500 Occupy Cal demonstrators are now sitting in front of Sproul Hall. Things are peaceful.

Around 11 p.m. Wednesday night we reported that a protester took a beating at the end of a baton on the UC Berkeley campus. Police there were trying to put a quick end to an occupation, just as it was getting started. Police said people can protest outside Sproul Hall, just not camp out. So when the tents started going up, the law started moving in.

Around 9 p.m. there was a crowd of about 200 people and riot police moved in on them to take away their tents. The police swept into the plaza from two sides and immediately engaged the students who were three-deep with arms linked around the eight Occupy Cal tents that they were protecting.

The crowd of spectators immediately rushed in to meet the police face-to-face and began chanting "peaceful protest, peaceful protest." As the tension escalated, plenty of people started feeling the business end of a Billy club as the officers bull-dogged their way toward the tents and began tearing them down.

The crowd stayed in their face the whole time chanting, "shame, shame" and several of them were wrestled down and placed in plastic handcuffs.

Earlier Wednesday night, vice chancellor Harry Legrand warned the crowd they would be arrested if they camped out, used sleeping bags, cooked, or even slept in Sproul Plaza. He was booed off by the crowd and about two hours later the police marched in with a strategic plan to pinch off the protesters and regain the tiny patch of grass that was "Occupy Cal."

"I think is a really horrible effort at crowd control if you want to call it that. I also think there's some really bad tactical decisions being made by the administration towards peaceful protesters. So how is this going to end and what is the positive for the administration, the university? It's certainly not positive for the community?" asked Greg Levin from the Cal history department.

"I thought it was excessive force. I think there's some tents on the lawn, I get that they're breaking a rule, but I think that the force that we saw was far in excess of what any were committed, if any were committed at all," said Cal student Ralph Boniello.

"I just think it really wrong when students can't assemble peacefully. There's no space on campus for us to assemble 24 hours in this magnitude. So UCPD, when we're just standing here and UCPD is shoving students out of the way, is beating students with batons, that's unacceptable," said student senator Andrew Albright.

In the afternoon, SKY7HD was over the crowd at U.C. Berkeley's Sproul Plaza when a large group of people gathered earlier in the day. Most of those people had cleared out, but an encampment similar to ones found on other Occupy sites has started to form.

It was not a surprise when students made the formal announcement of the occupation. They promised it would be peaceful and non-violent. Sproul Plaza was chosen because of its association with the freedom of speech movement and peaceful demonstrations.

Before the announcement of the occupation, there was a rally and then a march where demonstrators stopped in front of a Bank of America branch.

Tuition hikes are the reason the demonstrators are at Sproul Plaza. Students have been hit with several fee increases and face even more tuition hikes.

"There is no system of accountability, therefore things fall through the loopholes of irresponsibility," one student said.

The chancellor of U.C. Berkeley sent out an email to students saying the school stands "ready to support our campus community in leading the movement in a way that is productive, dignified and consequential." The letter goes on to say the university will not allow students to set up tents or encampment structures.

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