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A Quick Overview of the 2009 UC Berkeley Protests:
Due to the poor economy and a large decrease in state funding, the University of California campuses have been forced to cut back services and raise tuition 32% over two semesters. At UC Berkeley, the campus instituted a hiring freeze, laid off some staff, and cancelled three days of classes before finals, in addition to the system-wide fee hike. In the age-old tradition, Berkeley students began protesting and clashing with police.

Here's the photo story.

On September 24, 2009, campus staff and students staged a "walkout." Groups picketed at the entrances to campus, making it difficult to enter or leave. At noon, a crowd of 5000 gathered in Sproul Plaza to hear speakers.

For some reason, very few math/science/engineering classes were cancelled, while a vast majority of humanities classes were. None of my classes were cancelled, but I know people who had no classes that day.

Staff and students picket at Bancroft and Telegraph, near Sproul Plaza. Note the news vans on the right in the photo above.


Some professors staged "teachouts" and held their classes outdoors.


Following the rally in Sproul, the crowd marched around campus and into the surrounding neighborhoods.


That was the "Walkout" in September. However, it proved ineffective as UC Regents moved ahead with plans to raise tuition and cut services. Below are the photos from the much more intense and violent protests of November and December.

On the week of November 18, students and staff organized three days of strikes. On the first day, Wednesday, they rallied in Sproul Plaza (pictured below), but the crowds were smaller than the "Walkout" protest of September. On Thursday, another rally was held, again smaller than before. According to posters put up around campus, "escalation" would occur on Friday.


And escalation did occur.

During the night between Thursday and Friday, about 50 protestors broke into Wheeler Hall and barricaded themselves inside. The police realized what was happening around 5:30-6:00 AM, came into the building, and arrested several people on burglary charges. However, most of the protestors escaped and barricaded themselves in on the second floor of Wheeler. UCPD formed barriers around the building as news crews and rowdy crowds quickly gathered.


Protesters chanted anti-education, anti-police, and anti-democracy slogans, unstopped by the pouring rain.


After more than a few minutes, everyone was totally soaked. I had to make frequent trips indoors to dry off my camera gear.

Students repeatedly pulled the fire alarms in all the major buildings on campus, making class all but impossible, overwhelming the fire department (which had to inspect every building), and generally creating chaos. People also defaced a wall of student pictures between Dwinelle and Wheeler.



The crowds grew as the day progressed, unimpeded by the rain. The Daily Cal website crashed and was down all day, making their updates almost impossible. News vans lined the streets near campus, and helicopters hovered overhead.


Some of the protestors gathered at a window of Wheeler, yelling to the crowd below about how the police were destroying the inside of the building to get through their barricades and arrest them.




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