The hunger strikers on the UC Berkeley campus who are protesting Arizona's new immigration law were ordered to disperse by UC police early this morning.
This press release was sent out by spokesperson Dave Graham-Spires:
"At 6am UC Police arrived at the site of the 7 day-old hunger strike with an order to disperse the encampment or face arrest.
This all comes as UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who has been traveling in Europe during the duration of the strike, returns today to face the strikers for the first time. Many had criticized the Chancellor for not returning earlier to work to resolve the situation, though it appears the administration’s techniques have taken a more forceful turn as with the Chancellor’s return. Hunger strikers, visibly weak after fasting for over 170 hours, are currently struggling to take down the camp.
“They say they’re doing this for our health and for the good of the students” says Marco Amaral, a freshman who is one of the organizers of the strike. “But if Chancellor Birgeneau really cared about the health of the students he wouldn’t be forcing those on the strike to leave in this manner. If the Chancellor truly cared about the students and workers of this campus he would meet our demands and end the strike.”
Students, workers, and community supporters have been protesting on the front lawn of California Hall since last Monday. The 19 individuals on the hunger strike have demands of denouncing racist legislation in Arizona, creating a sanctuary campus and ending retaliation against student and worker activists (see next page for complete demands).
“Our demands are very reasonable and the Chancellor could meet them at any time”, continued Amaral. “We are not ending this strike until they are all met. The Chancellor needs to decide if he’s going to stand with the students, workers, faculty and supporters at the Berkeley campus, and the people of California, or if he’s going to stand with the racists who are passing these laws in Arizona and perpetuating violence against people of color”.
A rally has been planned today at 3:30pm to increase the pressure on the administration. In addition, regularly scheduled demonstrations each day with an 11am mass and prayer service and a 7pm rally.
More information on the hunger strike can be found on the strikers' Facebook page.