Protesters damage Calif. university leader’s home
BERKELEY, Calif (AP) – Eight people were under arrest Saturday after protesters broke windows, lights and planters outside the home of the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
University spokesman Dan Mogulof said 40 to 70 protesters also threw lighted torches at police cars and the home of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau late Friday. There were no fires or injuries.
The protest at the chancellor’s home came late the same day that police arrested 66 protesters at a campus classroom building that was partially taken over for four days.
The demonstrations are against state funding cuts that have led to course cutbacks, faculty furloughs and sharp fee increases.
“The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives,” Birgeneau said in a statement.
The eight were arrested on suspicion of rioting and several other charges.
They include two Berkeley students and two from the University of California, Davis, Mogulof said. The remaining four were from Oakland, San Francisco, Fullerton in Southern California, and Brooklyn, N.Y. Their ages ranged from 20-41. At least three are women.
An Associated Press freelance photographer saw at least four broken decorative light globes, overturned vases and plants, and shattered terra cotta planters. At least two windows were broken, one boarded over, the other shattered in a spider web pattern. Birgeneau was in his living room, but did not speak to reporters.
“Most of what you have here are people from outside the university,” Wendy Brown, co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association and a professor of political science, said in criticizing the violence.
The eight were being held in lieu of $132,500 bail, with orders not to return to campus if they were released, Mogulof said.
The protesters shouted “no justice, no peace” as they attacked the home, he said.
The two incidents are the latest in a series of demonstrations in which students have taken over buildings at California State University and University of California campuses.
“I’m shocked that it happened,” said Chengwin Saephanh, a sophomore bioengineering major who earlier participated in two peaceful classroom walkouts. “I’m pretty upset about the fees, but I don’t know what the goals are of those who were at the house. I wouldn’t go into anything violent, I just participate in the peaceful ones.”
Agnes Balla, a junior public health major, said she walked out of classes weeks ago and joined peaceful protests that united the campus community and brought attention to a serious problem.
“With this turn of events, that’s not what’s going on anymore. It’s people retaliating against what’s going on, and that’s not going to bring change,” Balla said. “I’m in support of bringing attention to this, but it’s gone too far.”
UC system President Mark Yudof, in a statement, called the latest attack “appalling” and “far beyond the boundaries of public dissent.”
The violence may force the universities to increase security statewide, said Yudof spokesman Peter King.
“Certainly an event like this doesn’t go unnoticed,” King said. “We endeavor to keep our people secure, not only for their sake but for the sake of everybody in the community.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature cut spending for California’s two public university systems by 20 percent to help balance the state’s budget. Community colleges were cut about 8 percent.
“California will not tolerate any type of terrorism against any leaders, including educators,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Debate is the foundation of democracy and I encourage protesters to find peaceful and productive ways to express their opinions.”
The UC system, with about 220,000 students, raised student fees 15 percent since January and plans another 15 percent increase. The CSU system, the nation’s largest with 450,000 students, and the community college system also raised fees.
“Obviously, the faculty don’t advocate for violence,” said Alice Sunshine, spokeswoman for the California Faculty Association that represents most CSU professors. “We try to steer them into protests that express how to make things better, but I think some of the students are really angry.”
Neither Mogulof nor Sunshine could say why so many non-students were among those arrested.
“It’s a big public issue for the entire state,” Sunshine said. “There’s wider interest than just the students themselves. The future of higher education in California is at stake.”
Police ended the occupation of the campus’s Wheeler Hall earlier Friday. They arrested 65 people inside on misdemeanor trespassing charges, including about 24 who were not students, Mogulof said. One person was arrested outside the hall on suspicion of inciting.
The protesters were cited and released at the university’s request, but those at the chancellor’s home “will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Birgeneau said.
Mogulof urged students to return to nonviolent protests.
“There’s no place in our community for such extremism,” he said.
Associated Press freelance photographer Noah Berger in Berkeley and AP Writer Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this story.