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Occupied Wheeler - UC Berkeley - November 20th, 2009
This is a hi-res copy of the video produced by Brandon Jourdan and David Martinez that was first screened at Wheeler Hall on November 23rd, an extended version of what was shown on Democracy Now! on November 24th.
On November 20th, 2009 students occupied Wheeler Hall at the University of California, Berkeley campus. They locked themselves into the second floor of the building and called for an end to the continued fee increases, the re-hiring of laid-off workers, and other demands stemming from the University's ongoing assault on the very nature of a public education.
Before long hundreds and then thousands of supporters had gathered outside the building to support the occupiers, forming picket lines and challenging the police at every opportunity. All exits to Wheeler Hall were blockaded by supporters to prevent the occupiers from being arrested, while inside the police hammered the barricaded doors and threatened the students with arrests, beatings, and felonies.
However, after twelve hours of occupation it had become clear that the University had to back down. If the UC police had attempted to drag the student activists out of the building a riot surely would have ensued, and the police were forced to allow the occupiers to walk out into the cheering crowd after only being cited with misdemeanors.
While their specific demands were not met, students are hailing this as a major victory, the first round in a new movement for free education and in opposition to the government's policies of forced austerity and privatization.