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Police Break Up ‘Occupy Cal’ Encampment At UC Berkeley

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Occupy Cal, UC Berkeley

Students gather at Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley for a ‘Occupy Cal’ protest, November 9, 2011. (CBS)

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BERKELEY (CBS / AP) — Police moved in to break up a demonstration at the University of California at Berkeley that started when anti-Wall Street protesters tried to establish an encampment on campus.

Videos from outside the university’s main administration building Wednesday night showed officers in riot gear pulling people off the steps as the crowd chanted, “We are the 99 percent!” and “Stop Beating Students!”

The university reported earlier in the evening that an administrator had told the protesters they could stay around the clock for a week, but only if they didn’t pitch tents, use stoves or other items that would suggest people were sleeping there.

The protesters voted not to comply with the demand.

A campus spokeswoman had said officers would give people a 10-minute warning before moving in to arrest people who did not comply.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande addressed the protesters who had erected tents in front of Sproul Hall Wednesday afternoon after a noon rally and march to protest tuition and fee increases for university students and funding cuts to all levels of public education.

Grande told the protesters they could use the site as a gathering spot 24/7 for this week with several conditions, including that protesters do not camp out—tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping are not allowed.

One protester said the vice chancellor’s address Wednesday night was not a proposal or a compromise. “These things imply there’s some sort of negotiation going on, which there’s not,” protester Callie Maidhof said.  “There’s no negotiations, it was a threat.”

“They didn’t offer to negotiate and we didn’t come to negotiate,” she said.

Maidhof said the group plans to stay there all night and are seeing support from “Occupy Oakland” in the form of people, tents and supplies.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon at 3:40 p.m., dozens of police in riot gear pushed their way through the human chain using their batons and began taking the tents down, leading to scuffles between police and protesters.

Six people had been arrested as of 7 p.m. and protesters were reporting that some demonstrators were injured during the police raid.

Shortly before 4 p.m., police withdrew and the protesters quickly reestablished an encampment.

At 8 p.m. there were about nine tents set up on the lawn and hundreds of protesters were gathered. Speakers were calling on the crowd to create a “permanent soft blockade” around the tents to protect the encampment and a lawyer gave out the number for the National Lawyers Guild in case of arrests.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of UPTE-CWA 9119, a union of health care workers, researchers and technical employees, said her union supports the protests.

“We passed a resolution supporting the Occupy movement and supporting their basic needs,” Smith said.

“At least a couple of members have talked about camping out,” she said. “We want to help students with resources to the extent that we are able, we certainly will be around them and with them.”

On Monday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent a letter to students, faculty and staff saying that while the university supports the principles behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, camping will not be allowed on campus.

“Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt with anyone’s ability to conduct regular activities—go to class, study, carry out their research, etc.—will not be tolerated,” the letter stated.

Smith said she objects to the characterization of an encampment as disruptive.

“This is not intended to disturb anyone’s education, it’s intended to broaden education,” she said.

Protests are also planned for the Nov. 16 UC Regents meeting at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus.

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

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