Eight Protest Bystanders Charged with Multiple Felonies after UC Demo

Eight protest bystanders charged with multiple felonies after UC demo

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

Contact:
UC Berkeley student, Marika Iyer — marikaiyer@gmail.com
Other student Organizers of Live Week:
Laura Zelko, student organizer with Live Week: laura_z@berkeley.edu
Callie Maidhof, student organizer with Live Week: callie.maidhof@gmail.com

UC Police arrested 8 more people – many whom eyewitnesses say had not been engaging in any illegal activity – on the final night of a 5-day, 24-hour-a day “Live Week” open university, held by Cal students and faculty to protest and provide an alternative to the “dead week” at the end of the semester resulting from recent furloughs and budget cuts. The final event of the week, a free performance featuring Boots Riley, a hip hop artist from The Coup, had to be moved at the last minute after a morning police raid on Wheeler Hall, the primary site for “Live Week” activities.

Some 200 students gathered for the concert at the UC Berkeley campus from UC Davis, SF State, UC Santa Cruz, and UCLA as well as Berkeley. Following the concert, which had been interrupted by police cars constantly circling the area, some of the attendees joined a night march that left campus for the residence of UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. Some of the protesters carried torches to light up the path, they said. Some dragged newspaper boxes into the street.

“Regardless of what one thinks about the events of last night, the minor vandalism that occurred cannot be viewed outside the context of the physical violence inflicted by police on student activists and the broader assault on public education,” said Callie Maidhof, a student organizer with Live Week.

Many of the marchers were upset about the arrests that had been made earlier that day, when police stormed into a building where students had been holding Live Week events since Monday. Sixty-five people who had been sleeping or studying were loaded onto Alameda County Sheriff’s buses during the cold pre-dawn hours, some of them barefoot and wearing only their underwear. Most of the students were given misdemeanor trespassing charges and released by the afternoon, but some say they’re fearful of additional charges that either the District Attorney or the UC administration could add on in the coming year.

Police swooped down on the activists in front of University House around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, resulting in pandemonium as the students and other activists dispersed in all directions.

“When everyone is running, you don’t think that clearly. My friends and I were trying to leave because things were getting out of hand,” said Jobert Poblete, a Cal alumni who participated in the march.

Poblete was split up from his friends, who ran into the woods near Strawberry Creek. Police then swept up Carwil James, 34, a visiting Ph.D student from City University in New York.

“Carwil hadn’t been doing anything at the time. Now he’s in jail on his birthday, and they just raised his bail from $50,000 to $132,000. There’s no way we can raise that much money. This is a travesty,” said Poblete.

David Morse, 41, an independent journalist, was filming the demonstration and police response when he was arrested, said witnesses.

“They were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said a student who observed the chaos when police arrived at the chancellor’s house and declined to give their name. “Not all of the protesters were students at Cal – but the issue here is larger than tuition hikes anyway. It’s about the state of public education and neoliberalism in the US and abroad.”

Eleven people arrested at student demonstrations during the past week remain in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, student movements

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