Police facing growing protest at UC Berkeley
BERKELEY, Calif (AP) – Riot police at the University of California, Berkeley faced off Thursday evening with a growing number of demonstrators angry over state education cuts.
Eight protesters occupied the fourth-floor outside ledge of the university’s Wheeler Hall, with six of them chained together, a university statement said. Police said officers were able to reach one protester through the window and arrested him.
As dusk fell, television live shots showed hundreds of protesters on the ground yelling and chanting, while a line of police in riot gear and carrying batons surrounded the building.
“We are urging them to come down voluntarily,” said UC Berkeley police Lt. Alex Yao. “Our main concern is their safety.”
Yao would not say how many officers were on the scene, but said the “building was under control of UCPD.” He estimated there were about 200 demonstrators outside the building Thursday night
Officers from nearby the city of Berkeley, nearby Emeryville and Oakland were also called in to assist.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau ordered the building closed at 4 p.m., and police began moving students, faculty and staff from the area, according to the university.
University officials said 26 classes were canceled, impacting more than 1,000 students.
Thursday’s protest began at around 2 p.m. It followed demonstrations against state education cuts on Wednesday that led to the arrests of 17 people who university police said refused to leave a campus building.
All 17, including seven students, were cited for trespassing. Police Lt. Alex Yao said three people in the group also were booked at the Berkeley jail on suspicion of obstructing police.
The protest Wednesday was part of a day of action by students around the country opposed to education cuts.
A similar protest was held in Berkeley last year, also in early March. Those demonstrations turned rowdy, and included the rush-hour shutdown of a major freeway in neighboring Oakland.