Wednesday’s national Day of Action for Public Education brought gray skies and small crowds to the UC Berkeley campus during the day, followed by an evening rally in which protesters refused to leave a campus building and were arrested.
Dozens of student protesters, bolstered by delegations from at least two Oakland high schools, rallied at midday on Sproul Plaza in an effort to head off planned cuts to education spending in California. Union activists gathered separately in front of Doe Library before relocating briefly to picket at California Hall.
Teach-ins also were being held around campus Wednesday, touching on topics including the state and national budget crises, the political standoff in Wisconsin, and the recent popular uprisings in Egypt and across North Africa.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. about a hundred protesters gathered in front of Wheeler Hall to hear from a series of speakers. As night fell, the crowd moved inside the lobby to continue the rally, which included more speeches and chanting, native dancers, and free food.
At Wheeler Hall’s 10 p.m. closing time, some of the remaining protesters refused police orders to leave. In all, 17 people were arrested for trespassing in a public building after closing time, according to Alex Yao, spokesperson for the University of California Police Department. Campus police are still confirming details, but preliminary reports indicate that seven of the individuals arrested were UC Berkeley students and 10 were not affiliated with the campus. All were transported to the Berkeley Policy Department, where most were scheduled to be cited and released.
Three individuals who resisted arrest, and who police believe are not UC Berkeley students, face that additional charge and were expected to remain in custody pending a court appearance.