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UC Berkeley police raid protest on 50th Anniversary of Mario Savio's speech
by Berkeley NewsWire
Wednesday Dec 3rd, 2014 12:35 AM
At 2AM, Dec 2nd - the morning of the 50th anniversary of a historic Berkeley free speech protest, a protester was removed from Wheeler Hall on UC campus. Wolfie, a houseless protester who has been assisting OccupyWheeler, was asleep inside Wheeler Hall with the supplies (art material, pamphlets, snacks). Wolfie chose to sleep indoors because of the rain and to maintain the continuity of Wheeler as an open space. At 2AM, UC Berkeley police came, and removed Wolfie from the building, without sleeping bag and rain gear. Wolfie was taken in a police car, and escorted off campus, to sleep out in the rain without protection, on the morning of the 50th anniversary of Mario Savio's famous "bodies upon the gears" speech.
As midnight approached, the UC Berkeley police gave no indication that a group of protesters inside Wheeler Hall were considered to be in violation of trespassing regulations. The UC Berkeley police, and the administration headed by Chancellor Nick Dirks and President Janet Napolitano (former head of the Dept of Homeland Security), were very well aware that the occupation of Wheeler Hall was part of a free speech and pro-democracy movement, and that there was a valid political point to the occupation. Those inside Wheeler represented a coalition of students, residents, and houseless travelers working to democratize the University of California. Also in Wheeler, were miscellaneous students working on projects and having social gatherings as semester draws closer to ending. The UC police made no attempt to lock any doors.

At 1AM, there were 2 members of the UC Berkeley police department in Wheeler Hall, along with non-police security. As time progressed, the police remained silent, saying nothing to the group of protesters in Wheeler. No warnings about curfew or trespassing were given. No notices that the building needed to be vacated.

As early morning progressed, the majority of the protesters left the building to sleep. Wolfie chose to stay inside to sleep, enjoying the warmth of Wheeler. The protester, even at this hour, was not the only individual in the building; students were still present to work on projects. Wheeler Hall was still unlocked. At 2AM, Wolfie was handcuffed, and escorted off campus to sleep in the rain. Wolfie received a 7 day exclusionary order: banned from all UC property until the order expires. After Wolfie was removed, the police took all the fliers, art supplies, and food. Today, police were saying that all the materials were taken as evidence of criminal trespass, even though the UC is well aware that the protest has no criminal intent - it is a political, free speech movement.

Along with fliers pertaining to the fee hikes, the UC Berkeley police took a sign that read "Support Edward Snowden, Barrett Brown, Chelsea Manning". The UC Berkeley police took all copies of a flier pertaining to UC Berkeley police's connections to DAPRA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). All copies of a flier pertaining to UC Regent Monica Lozano's ties to Bank of America and the Rockefeller Foundation were taken by police, along with all copies of a flier pertaining to regent Norman Pattiz's ties to US media ventures in the Middle East. All copies of a communique from Cairo protesters were taken by UC Berkeley police. A large sign in solidarity with Ferguson was taken. All these materials were taken as evidence for the purposes of investigating the occupation of Wheeler Hall.

As Wheeler opened for the school day of December 2nd, no police were present. Security was on staff, forcing out protesters, threatening that police would come to arrest anyone who entered Wheeler for any purpose other than going to class/lecture. However, as protesters started to trickle into Wheeler, security and the arriving UC police relented the space. People starting using the main foyer to congregate. At noon, a larger group of protesters held a rally inside the main foyer, with guest speakers and media present. At 3PM on the steps of Sproul Plaza - on the other side of the creek from Wheeler Hall - there was yet another rally with other speakers, in commemoration of Mario Savio's speech. The events of the day developed from various pockets of organizers working towards common goals.

Also present on campus were 3 llamas, who were being lead around by their caretaker during the afternoon. The llamas had no direct correlation to the 50th anniversary event, or the protest. The timing of their presence on campus was just happy circumstance, a coincidence that some protesters used as stress-relief.

As the day ends and the anniversary passes, the protest is focusing on the next steps for future rallies and events, as well as focused on maintaining Wheeler Hall as an open university: a space for open social and political discussion and information sharing. To maintain the continuity of space, campers have been sleeping inside and outside Wheeler Hall. For most nights, campers have actually been sleeping around a California Coast Live Oak tree outside Wheeler, kept dry from the rain by tarps.

The camp outside the tree is just one facet of the protest movement. Different people with different perspectives and different hobbies are finding other ways to contribute to a shared protest. Some people make signs, others have given teach-ins or made fliers. One group of students are distributing a new edition of a Cal tradition: the Disorientation Guide - an alternative counterweight to overly reverent student orientation material. The different facets of the protest movement share common goals, and share common oppression by the campus police.

Protesters would like to build a movement whose goal would be to democratize the administration of the University of California. Currently, the UC regents - who have ties to corporations, big banks, big oil, and military research - are appointed, not elected. Not only is the future of higher education shaped by unelected officials, but so is research that effects all of California (and the greater world). Furthermore, the UC system is a large landowner, and decisions made by the regents effect California's ecology. And the regents have been tone deaf on public outcry over continuously rising cost of a UC education. Given the wight of the power held by the UC regents, there is an argument to be made that the people of California should be electing the leadership of the university. As an added aside, the concept of regency is not a progressive idea, and there are those who feel like the leadership of the UC system should be renamed as to not be referred to as 'the regents'.
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Examining Errors in DailyCal ArticleBerkeley NewsWireWednesday Dec 3rd, 2014 3:58 PM
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