Late-night protest at UC Berkeley turns violent
Associated Press Writer
BERKELEY, Calif (AP) – A late-night demonstration over budget cuts turned violent in Berkeley when protesters broke into a campus building, torched trash cans, smashed windows and threw rocks and bottles at police, authorities said Friday.
Police arrested two people near the University of California, Berkeley campus, said Officer Andrew Frankel, a spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department.
The unrest began around 11 p.m. Thursday after a crowd of more than 100 people gathered on campus for an open-air dance party to build support for an upcoming statewide protest over education funding cuts.
Students and activists have staged demonstrations in recent months at public colleges across California to protest deep budget cuts that have led to steep tuition hikes, enrollment cuts, faculty furloughs and reduced course offerings.
In Berkeley, about 50 people broke through a fence surrounding Durant Hall, which is closed for renovation, and about 20 entered and occupied the building, said Cpt. Margo Bennett of the UC Police Department.
The group smashed windows, sprayed graffiti, damaged construction equipment, knocked over portable toilets and hung up a banner promoting the March 4 rally, UC officials said. Others blocked police from entering the building.
UC police is investigating the incident, Bennett said. It’s unclear how many of the people involved were UC Berkeley students.
The crowd later marched to nearby Telegraph Avenue, where protesters broke the glass doors of a Subway restaurant and set fire to trash bins, Frankel said.
More than 40 police officers from several local agencies arrived to subdue the crowd, which pelted the riot gear-clad officers with rocks, beer bottles and other projectiles, Frankel said. Two officers suffered minor injuries.
The two people arrested were 28-year-old Marika Goodrich and 26-year-old Zachary Miller, Frankel said. They were booked on charges that include resisting arrest and inciting a riot.
Goodrich is a UC Berkeley student, and Miller was a Berkeley student last semester but is not registered this semester, according to UC officials.
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau condemned the vandalism and violence, saying it “does incredible damage to our advocacy efforts with Sacramento and with the California public to preserve public higher education.”
At UC Santa Cruz, officials have sent summons to 45 students accused of occupying and damaging a campus building in a November protest against fee hikes. The students have been ordered to appear before the director of student judicial affairs, who has the authority to issue sanctions ranging from a warning to expulsion, said spokesman Jim Burns.
Rallies, marches, teach-ins and class walkouts are planned at college campuses and public spaces in California and other states on March 4, which is being called a “National Day of Action for Public Education.”