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UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast
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By Anya Ellis, Berkeley Correspondent
Published 4 weeks ago on
May 24, 2024

Pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment at a condemned building, UC Berkeley’s Anna Head Alumnae Hall, about half a mile from campus last week. The protest eventually turned violent, resulting in 12 arrests. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)

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BERKELEY — A dozen pro-Palestinian protestors were arrested last week after taking up occupancy in a condemned building, UC Berkeley’s Anna Head Alumnae Hall, which is located about half a mile from campus.

The situation here mirrored the tactics adopted by pro-Palestinian supporters at other universities, where encampment leaders agreed to leave campus — or with school winding down for the semester, protesters looked elsewhere to make a visible statement.

However, some protest groups continue starting or re-establishing encampments on college campuses. For example, officers in riot gear descended on UCLA on Thursday afternoon and faced off with pro-Palestinian protesters who had set up a new encampment.

Here in Berkeley, the alumnae hall was taken by about 65 protesters on Wednesday, May 15. That was a day after UC Berkeley’s student encampment, which began April 23 and grew to 200 tents, reached agreements with the school and vacated the area.

Following the actions of students at New York’s Columbia University, Berkeley demonstrators hung a banner unofficially renaming the building “Hind’s Hall” in honor of Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed on Jan. 29.

Palestinian flags and banners were dropped out windows, wooden boards with statements such as “avenge Al Shifa” and “a good soldier is a dead one” were placed at the entrance, and tents were pitched out front.

Twenty-four hours later, police in riot gear from 20 different agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, Oakland PD, and San Francisco PD, moved in to force the protesters out.

Twelve Arrests Made

There were 12 individuals arrested, including an enrolled student, and sent to Alameda County Santa Rita Jail under charges of burglary, vandalism, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Dan Mogulof, a UC Berkeley spokesperson, stated that the standoff between officers and activists turned violent as they blocked the hall’s entrance and resisted arrest. One police officer was hit with a crowbar during this altercation, but remained unharmed thanks to a helmet.

The protest coincided with the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, referring to the displacement of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. Similarly, protesters is other areas, such as UC Irvine, commemorated the day through taking over a building.

Earlier Berkeley Protests Were Peaceful

This latest conflict at Berkley differed from the largely peaceful three-week encampment held on campus, which demanded for the university to divest from organizations that aid or profit from Israel, halt academic collaboration with Israeli universities, and enact policies to protect Palestinian students.

The UC Berkeley administrators cannot independently divest, as high-level investments fall under the jurisdiction of the UC Board or Regents, but Chancellor Carol Christ released a statement agreeing to initiate thorough examinations of the university’s investments.

“To ensure we continue to meet our obligation under the UC Anti-Discrimination Policy, the University will establish a transparent process by December 2024 for the ongoing review of such complaints,” Christ said.

In addition, Christ agreed to investigate discrimination complaints and establish a task force to evaluate the financial dealings of the UC Berkeley Foundation, a private fundraising corporation.

Mogulof emphasized the distinctions between the two encampments, including the Anna Head protestors not sharing a public list of demands. However, students pushed back against these claims.

In a “statement of solidarity” with the group, UC Berkeley Graduate Students for Justice in Palestine declared, “We reject the ‘good protestor’ vs ‘bad protestor’ and ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ dichotomy.” They also urged the administration to continue to keep police officers off campus.

 

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Anya Ellis,
Reporter/Researcher
Anya Ellis began working for GV Wire in July 2023. The daughter of journalists, Anya is a Fresno native and Buchanan High School graduate. She is currently at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in film and media studies and minoring in creative writing. She plans to pursue her masters in screenwriting after graduating. You can contact Anya at anya.ellis@gvwire.com.

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