Protesters who had occupied Tolman Hall yesterday left the building voluntarily last night at about 9 p.m., its scheduled closing time. Two men — neither of them UC Berkeley students — engaged in violent confrontations with police, and were arrested for felony assault on police officers and resisting arrest. Both were in custody this morning.
According to campus officials, the first incident involved protesters with makeshift shields pinning and blocking a UCPD officer when the officer tried to enter the east doors to Tolman. In the ensuing scuffle, one protester pulled the magazines out of the officer’s ammunition pouch. The second confrontation came as police were assisting with the closure of the building, when a protester inside the building approached an officer from behind, hitting and bumping him and pulling him to the ground.
The arrest of the man involved in the second confrontation prompted demonstrators outside Tolman to throw rocks and other objects at the officers stationed on the east side of the building. A glass door pane was shattered, and one officer was hit in the face with the rubber base of a traffic cone.
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said today that many of those participating in Thursday’s rally and march in support of higher education were looking for a peaceful and constructive way to call attention to the state’s continued disinvestment in higher education.
“I very much sympathize with the protesters’ concerns about the effects of the loss of state funding on public higher education, and will continue to do all I can to seek restored funding,” he said. “But the occupation of classrooms is not productive. Our efforts can be more effectively directed by appealing to our legislators locally and in Sacramento. Ironically, at the actual time of the protests, I and two of my colleagues were meeting with Governor Brown advocating for public higher education.
“Regrettably, the incidents that occurred at Tolman do not reflect our values as a community,” Birgeneau added. “While no one can control the actions of all individuals involved in a protest, I encourage all protesters to do what they can to encourage and promote peaceful demonstrations that honor what we stand for as a community, respecting the rights of others and engaging in civil and peaceful discourse. “