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2 Arrested In Combative UC Berkeley Protests Over Tuition Hikes

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Protesters march against tuition hikes at U.C. Berkeley (CBS)

Protesters march against tuition hikes at U.C. Berkeley (CBS)

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BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Two people were arrested on the University of California at Berkeley campus Thursday night during protests of the UC system’s proposed plan to hike tuition by as much as $10,000 per year.

Students and other demonstrators gathered at noon in Sproul Plaza to express their frustration over the university’s plan to require more money from students because of wavering funding support from Sacramento.

Some 60 sixty protestors later occupied Tolman Hall, which is located on the northern edge of campus near the UC Chancellor’s House.

Both people who were arrested were not students, campus police Lt. Marc DeCoulode said Friday morning.

One person was arrested after a confrontation between demonstrators and campus police in which an officer became penned in by students blocking the building’s doors.

DeCoulode said that the protestors allegedly grabbed the officer’s gun belt and removed the magazine from her service weapon. At that point, officers used pepper spray on the demonstrators in self-defense, according to DeCoulode.

The second arrest occurred as demonstrators exited the campus building at about 9:30 p.m. DeCoulode said the person arrested had attacked an officer from behind.

Callie Maidhof, a UC Berkeley doctoral student speaking for “Resistance Social,” the group that organized Thursday’s protest, recounted the events differently.

The protestors inside Tolman Hall were in the building’s lobby at about 9 p.m. and Maidhof said that she and others noticed police lining up outside the glass doors.

“People started panicking and were trying to leave, but police officers were pushing the doors shut and wouldn’t let us leave,” she said.

About half of the 60 people were able to leave, but she said in the confusion that one person ended up in a chokehold and was screaming “please stop hurting me” before he was arrested on suspicion of obstruction and battery against a police officer.

“They were shouting ‘Leave, the building is closed,’ but they were standing in front of the building with their sticks,” Maidhof said. “I was terrified. If I moved toward them, they would hold up their stick menacingly.”

According to DeCoulode, police never told students that they needed to exit the building.

“There may have been some confusion during the scuffle,” DeCoulode said.

He said that people outside Tolman Hall had been throwing rocks, pieces of concrete and chairs at officers and at the doors so officers blocked the building’s exit “in part for (the safety of the people inside) and for the officers’ safety.”

One officer was hit in the head with a large piece of hard rubber - a traffic cone base—and sought medical treatment at a hospital, DeCoulode said.

Campus police requested aid from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which coordinated the resources for the request, he said. Officers from nearby UC campuses in San Francisco and Davis also responded, as well as Oakland police officers.

DeCoulode said campus police monitored the area for several hours after the protestors vacated the building and that they would remain vigilant Friday.

Last week, the UC Board of Regents met in San Francisco to weigh a proposal on how to close a budget deficit projected to grow to $2.5 billion over the next four years.

The university is seeking renewed assurance from the state that it will provide long-term funding to address $1.5 billion of that deficit. The remaining $1 billion in solutions would be provided through expansion of funding streams—such as corporate sponsorships—and through implementing academic efficiencies.

If the state does not increase funding it provides to the UC system, the $1.5 billion would come from a 16 percent annual tuition hike for the next four years, according to the proposal.

Otherwise, the gap would be patched from a combination of tuition hikes and state funding, depending on how much the Legislature pledges to provide.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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