Shooting at UC Berkeley

About an hour ago, at 2:55 PM, a shooting was reported at the Haas Business School at UC Berkeley. The SF Chronicle is reporting that the police shot a man with a gun, who is alive and off site ( The Contra Costa Times is linking the shooting to the Occupy movement, with a timeline of what was going on with the march on campus today, but no word how they think that it might be even remotely related.

More information to come, although I won’t be updating minute by minute.


Fred Korematsu Day

This Sunday, January 30, 2011, is the FIRST EVER Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution (at least in California)!

In 1942, when the US government was rounding up Japanese Americans and sending them to internment camps, Fred Korematsu refused to go and was convicted for defying the government. He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, only to be told that the US government had every right to imprison its citizens in the name of national security. It wasn’t until 1983 that the Supreme Court vacated his conviction, although the pardon stopped short of determining that interning entire ethnic groups is illegal.


And Fred Korematsu didn’t stop. After his conviction was overturned, he continued to fight for reparations for the Japanese American community, to share his story, and to defend those whom the government detained and mistreated in the wake of 9/11. He passed in 2005. You can read a full biography here.


You can also join the celebration of his life and fight for civil rights at UC Berkeley this Sunday. Check the invite here.

The Latest from Desmond Tutu

The archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, speaking to UC Berkeley students (Read the whole letter.):

I suggest, with humility, that the harm suffered from being confronted with opinions that challenge one’s own pales in comparison to the harm done by living a life under occupation and daily denial of basic rights and dignity. It is not with rancor that we criticize the Israeli government, but with hope, a hope that a better future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the resulting violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, and where one people need not rule over another, engendering suffering, humiliation, and retaliation.

For some time now, UC Berkeley students have been fighting for the university to divest from Israel. (Remember that UCB also led the fight to divest from South Africa to protest apartheid.) It’s been a difficult road. The bill that Tutu praises in his letter has been vetoed by President Smelko and students are again working to get the bill recognized. For those of you in the Berkeley area, you can support them at the ASUC meeting this week.

I know that complicated feelings are attached to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, but for me, it comes down to this: the suffering of the Palestinian people is real. The abuses by the Israeli government are real. We work towards peace, and there is no peace without justice.

Update: UC Berkeley

Went to check my mail this morning, and found this from the weekend:



Contact: Elias Martinez (559) 999-4964 and Ianna Owen (570) 977-0487

This morning, on the fifth and final day of a weeklong “Open University” held at UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall, University of California Police stormed into the building around 5am, arresting 65 people without provocation, witnesses said.

“People were not given a final warning – police burst in while people were sleeping and immediately started locking doors and arresting people. Many students have papers due today, and finals to take starting tomorrow,” said Elias Martinez, an undergraduate from Political Science. “There had been cops in here all week, they were acting like it was okay. We had no idea.”

The police raid at UC Berkeley came one day after students participating in an occupation at San Francisco State University, also railing against budget cuts to public education, were arrested by SFSU Police at 3am.

Douglas Virgos, an undergraduate student, spent the night in the UC Berkeley building but then left on a food run in the early morning. “I got back and saw that the police had put handcuffs on the doors. I was there all night and never heard police tell us we had to leave.”

Students and faculty supporters who gathered on the scene shortly after raid alerts went out say they saw the students, some of them without shoes and wearing only their underwear, being loaded onto Alameda County Sheriff’s buses headed to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

“We’ll be shuttling people out there all day on caravans to do jail support and camp out there until the protesters are released,” said Melissa Barker, an undergraduate of Interdisciplinary Studies and parent. “The fact that the cops drove 65 people all the way to Dublin makes me think that the charges will be way more than misdemeanor trespassing. We’re worried, but we’ll do everything it takes to support our folks. We’ll be there all weekend if it takes.”

Students have been holding public events, including teach-ins on the UC budget, study-ins, and live music shows as part of a “Live Week” of Open University events since Monday.

The week of events was scheduled to end with a free concert in Wheeler Hall, where the Oakland-based political hip hop artist, Boots Riley, would perform tonight.

“We are going to proceed with the event today, and this show will be larger than ever. We’ll continue to organize with students from other schools and build a worldwide movement of students fighting to retain and expand public education,” said a student who withheld their name, fearing university reprisals. “The police attack only makes us angrier.”

A Look at Chancellor Birgeneau

A couple of comments on the emails that Chancellor Birgeneau sent out.

First, the length of each message. Whoever wrote those emails knew a thing about people’s attention spans. The great drawback of many activist emails is the way they pack in tons of important information, until the reader is on overload and misses important details.
Second, the sterility of the language. Whoever wrote those emails wrote them dispassionately, as if writing about facts. The idea is to make the emails sound, well, factual. “A few campus members may have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement officers (who)… did very well.” How different would the email sound if we rewrote it to say “Campus administration sent police officers to deal with members of the campus community. There are reports that the officers threatened and hit students with batons.”?
Third, the choice of individual words. Whoever wrote those emails very subtly paints the people inside and outside of the Hall as two different camps: the campus police and administrators working to protect the campus and the rights of faculty and students to teach and be taught; the protestors as misguided and disruptive; illegal but understandable.
The police and campus administration are: working to resolve, striving to end the occupation, reaching out, encouraging the protestors, and diffusing. In everything they do, they are working on the side of the faculty and students outside Wheeler Hall. The faculty and students are addressed as passive, and told to wait for instruction, as if the protesters have no support outside. The faculty and staff are: asked to remain, advised to leave, affected contacted, and unable to attend. Compare this with the protestors who are: demanding, taking over, and trespassing.

From Chancellor Birgeneau

While a group of protesters occupied Wheeler Hall, Chancellor Birgeneau sent these emails to the campus community:


The campus police are working to resolve a protest action that is
occurring in Wheeler Hall.  Staff, faculty and students who would
normally be working in Wheeler Hall are asked to remain out of the
building until further notice. Employees who can contact their
supervisors should talk to them if possible to determine whether
telecommuting or relocation to another work area is an option.  Those
in the building right now are advised to leave until the situation has
been resolved.   Employees who remain on campus may check in at Dwinelle
Plaza at 10am. for further information.  Thank you to all of the members
of the campus community for your patience in this matter.

Campus police continue to work to resolve the protest action at Wheeler
Hall. Campus police are striving to end the occupation of Wheeler Hall
with the safety of our campus community, including all those involved
in this action, as an uppermost priority.  Wheeler Hall will remain
closed until further notice.  Instructors who teach in Wheeler Hall will
be contacted shortly by e-mail.


Since 3:00 p.m. today a group of senior administrators, faculty, and
student leaders have been reaching out to the protesters inside Wheeler
Hall. Attempts to engage in a conversation with the 15 to 30 protestors
estimated to be in the building have been refused.  The protesters are
demanding reinstatement of 38 AFSCME custodial staff who were recently
laid off and amnesty and the dropping of charges against any of the
protestors.  Today's takeover of Wheeler Hall has affected 3800 students
who were not able to attend classes in Wheeler Hall, as well as many
others who have offices and work in the building.  Activities in many
other campus buildings were disrupted by falsely activating fire alarms.
We continue to attempt to resolve the situation and encourage the
protestors to leave the building of their own accord.


The Wheeler Hall protest ended peacefully this evening when 40 protestors
 who had occupied the second floor of the building were cited for
trespassing by UC Berkeley Police and released.  Thanks to the efforts of
ASUC student leaders and faculty who worked with Vice-Chancellor Student
Affairs Harry Le Grande, Executive Vice-Chancellor & Provost George
Breslauer, and me, our police were able to diffuse the situation and end
the protest.   Throughout the day, the large crowds that gathered around
Wheeler Hall necessitated significant police presence to maintain safety.
It is truly regrettable, however, that a few members of our campus
community may have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement
officers.  Overall, the officers who managed the day's events did very
well under difficult circumstances.  I understand that our students are
justifiably angry over the fee increases and reductions in staff
necessitated by the egregious disinvestment by Sacramento in the
University of California. They are not alone in this.  Clearly, we cannot
allow illegal occupations of our buildings and disruption of our academic
programs.  Today 3800 students were unable to attend class in Wheeler
Hall.    We have a strong tradition of free speech on campus.  Let us not
forget that we are all fighting for the same cause:  to maintain the
public character of our university by sustaining Berkeley's excellence
and accessibility.  Taking over our classroom buildings is not a
productive way in which to advance our shared interests in gaining
support for public higher education.  Let us work together, not in
opposition, to move forward our cause.