9-hour protest ends at UC Berkeley
BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A small, but loud group of protesters took over a classroom at UC Berkeley over the threat of increasing tuition fees. Demonstrators stayed in the building for nine hours. The protest ended in an intense confrontation with police officers.
The protest, which started at noon Thursday, ended in a very chaotic way. Video from protesters shows what happened after 9 p.m. when UC Berkeley police attempted to close Tolman Hall.
Dozens of protesters were inside the building throughout the afternoon. All was peaceful until protesters moved to the lobby. That's when officers shut the doors as it was closing time, but protesters say as several of them tried to get out, officers were preventing them from leaving. They say at least four officers pinned one protester to the floor and he was arrested, but for what exactly remains unclear.
"We were trying to leave and then the police just attacked him. He didn't do anything. He didn't do anything. This is an injustice and I think people should know about it," said protester Stephanie Benitez.
"The cops were jumping on people who were just trying to get out. They keep telling us, 'If you want to leave, leave,' but then the cops are surrounding the doors. They basically held us inside," said protester Don Holzinger.
"It seems like some people from the outside tried to force their way in or come in after the doors were closed and then that lead to a person being taken into custody and then numerous people in the crowd started throwing chunks of concrete at the officers," said UC Berkeley Police Lt. Marc DeCoulode.
Later, as things calmed down, protesters were allowed to leave Tolman Hall. They left holding hands in solidarity. None of them were arrested.
Earlier in the day, there were some tense moments when students entered the hall. Several of them had pinned in at least one officer. That officer and another used pepper spray on the students in order to get out. One student also grabbed an officer's magazine clip and that student has since been arrested.
Protesters promise there will be many more of these protesters to come.
It all began as a noon-time protest rally on the other side of the campus. Then, a couple of hundred students marched from Sproul Plaza to this building on the north side of campus. The group rallied against the state budget cuts to California's public college and university system.
"We don't want 81 percent fee hikes, we don't want to see our class sizes increased, we don't want to see workers on campus get laid off," said graduate student Munira Lokhandwala.
"The plan is to stay here until either as a collective we decide to leave or until essentially we are beaten and dragged," said graduate student Callie Maidhof.
A university spokesperson said the administration is sympathetic to the student's cause and that no one wants to see the budget cuts.
berkeley, UC, uc berkeley, tuition, protest, education
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