Fwd: SFGate: UC Berkeley fee protest turns rowdy
The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
Saturday, February 27, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
UC Berkeley fee protest turns rowdy
Kevin Fagan,Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writers
(02-26) 12:35 PST BERKELEY -- Bay Area students, faculty and organizers
revving up for a series of protests and rallies next week over fee
increases and cutbacks to public education condemned the destruction and
violence at UC Berkeley late Thursday by demonstrators promoting the March
What started as a nighttime, open-air dance party in Upper Sproul Plaza
with up to 200 people quickly soured into a riot as protesters vandalized
a vacant university building and then lit trash cans on fire and clashed
with police on Telegraph Avenue.
Two people have been taken into custody in connection with the riot. More
arrests are possible, police said.
"This casts a shadow on the majority of our students who are working
constructively toward budget justice," said Phil Klasky, an ethnic studies
professor at San Francisco State University who is helping organize a
March 4 picket and rally. "We do not condone violence in any form."
Klasky said frustration is understandable given the increased fees
combined with the unavailability of courses for students - but not
The clash began at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, when police responding to
complaints of loud music found dozens of people dancing and drinking in
Upper Sproul, with about 30 individuals surrounding nearby Durant Hall.
Another 10 or so people had cut the locks of the south gates of a fence
surrounding the hall, and were inside the building dancing as they left a
trail of graffiti and broken windows, said UC Berkeley spokeswoman Janet
Some in the group strung up a banner reading "March 4th" on the outside
wall, a reference to Thursday's national Day of Action. In the yard out
front, others overturned portable toilets and tossed construction
equipment, Gilmore said. Police can't get in
University police officers called to the scene were prevented by
protesters from entering the building, but made no arrests as they waited
for more officers to arrive, she said.
Before the other officers arrived, the crowd, including those in the
building, moved south to Telegraph Avenue to chant protest slogans and
dance in the street.
At around 1:30 a.m., arguments turned tense between the protesters and
Berkeley police who were monitoring the gathering, and within 20 minutes
some in the crowd lit a Dumpster trash receptacle on fire and shoved it
toward officers, police said.
That's when a full-out riot erupted. As officers pushed the crowd back so
firefighters could get at the flaming garbage bin, protesters flung
bottles and rocks at police, authorities said.
A half-dozen local police agencies were called in to help contain the
crowd, including the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and the California
"The crowd got out of control," said Berkeley police spokesman Officer
Andrew Frankel. Two arrests
The protest was finally quelled by 3:06 a.m., leaving debris and
still-flaming trash cans all over Telegraph Avenue near the university's
entrance, officers said.
Cal student Marika Goodrich, 28, and former student Zachary Miller, 26,
were arrested and booked into Berkeley City Jail on suspicion of inciting
a riot and resisting arrest. Goodrich, held on $32,500 bail, was also
booked for allegedly assaulting a police officer, and Miller, held on
$22,500 bail, was booked on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.
Nobody was seriously hurt, officials said.
The takeover of Durant Hall was the first planned building occupation
since last semester, when students seized campus buildings at UC Berkeley,
UC Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University. Students said they
seized the hall - a shuttered library being turned into an administration
building - because it symbolizes wasteful spending.
Renovation crews who have been working on Durant arrived Friday to find
makeshift barricades of lumber and debris left by protesters inside the
chain-link fence, and graffiti reading "I'm pissed off," and "This is our
university," said Joe Salow, supervisor for West Coast Construction, the
general contractor for the renovation project.
"Such action does incredible damage to our advocacy efforts with
Sacramento and with the California public to preserve public higher
education," Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in a statement Friday. Damage
Noah's Bagels manager Gina Tooley said a trash can in front of her store
at Telegraph and Durant avenues was still on fire when she got to work at
5 a.m. "I was scared," she said. "I thought someone had robbed the store."
The store that appeared to suffer the worst damage was Subway at Telegraph
and Bancroft Way, where several windows and glass doors were broken.
First-year student Andrew Albright walked through Sproul Plaza Friday
morning, where there was no visible evidence left of the night's events,
but he had heard about the damage.
"It's ridiculous," he said. "I think it's not a conducive way to state
Chronicle staff writer Nanette Asimov contributed to this report. E-mail
the writers at kfagan@... and jtucker@.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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