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Occupy Cal Protesters Stay Defiant, Police Yet To Take Action

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Occupy Cal Protest on the UC Berkeley Campus on November 15, 2011. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Occupy Cal Protest on the UC Berkeley Campus on November 15, 2011. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

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BERKELEY (CBS SF) — A festive and calm atmosphere prevailed Wednesday on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California at Berkeley, where Occupy Cal protesters have erected about 15 tents in violation of the university’s ban on camping.

Late Wednesday afternoon a musical group that included two pianists, a fiddler, a drummer and a man drumming on a bottle held a jam session on the steps of Sproul Hall.

Elsewhere, two small groups held meetings and a food table was set up.

A general assembly was planned for Wednesday evening.

Occupy Cal protesters began setting up the tents around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday after the group’s assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of doing so.

A previous attempt to set up an encampment last week was foiled by university police, with the assistance of Alameda County sheriff’s deputies.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “The university’s long-standing policy against camping on campus will be implemented” but the university won’t take action until it has sufficient resources to remove the tents safely.

Mogulof said campus police have had to divert many officers to investigating an incident at the Haas School of Business on Tuesday in which an officer fatally shot a student who allegedly threatened the officer with a gun.

In addition, four of the officers who were involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation into it, Mogulof said.

Referring to the small encampment that was set up Tuesday night, when thousands of people gathered in Sproul Plaza, Mogulof said, “We’re monitoring it hour by hour and have a variety of channels of communication” with the protesters.

Capt. Margo Bennett of the university’s police department said officers have issued “multiple” notices to campers that they’re violating the university’s policy against camping.

“We’re putting them on notice,” Bennett said.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, a university police officer used a bullhorn to issue a verbal notice to the campers, telling them their actions are “unlawful” and they are “subject to citation and arrest.”

Another officer videotaped some of the campers and several Occupy Cal protesters responded by videotaping that officer.

A student named Mitchell, who is majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies, was one of the protesters sitting on the steps of Sproul Hall, although he’s not one of the people who has set up a tent.

Mitchell said Occupy Cal protesters plan to continue staying on the steps.

He said one of his big concerns is money and he thinks, “If people don’t want to be held down by money they don’t have to buy anything.”

Mitchell said, “There’s a lot of rallying” but he thinks a more meaningful action for people who support the Occupy Wall Street movement would be to stop buying things and stop using public transportation.

He said such an action would harm rich and powerful forces and “would level us out.”

Mitchell said students who are concerned with rising tuition at the university and “feel oppressed” should simply stop paying tuition.

If the students stopped paying and still showed up for their classes the university would have a hard time dealing with them, he said.

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

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