New: UC Berkeley Strikers Still On Campus

By Bay City News and Online Sources
Monday May 10, 2010 - 06:38:00 PM
via Alejandro Garcia: Students march to Chancellor's house.
via Alejandro Garcia: Students march to Chancellor's house.

Hunger strikers at the University of California at Berkeley tried to block the school's administration building today but people could still get inside, according to a university spokeswoman. The students held a rally today at 3:30 p.m, and then marched to the Chancellor's residence. A twitter message at about 5 pm said "Admin has contacted us: there will be a meeting only if we end up the hunger strike." Strikers posted this video of the march on their Facebook page on Monday night. 

Claire Holmes, the university's assistant vice chancellor of public affairs, said about 40 people tried to block the doorway of California Hall late this morning but campus police made sure the building is still accessible. 

However, Holmes said the situation at the front entrance to California Hall is "awkward" so people are entering and exiting the building at other entrances. 

The attempt to block California Hall came several hours after campus police moved students who have been on a hunger strike for the past week to leave the spot in front of the building where they have been camped out since last Monday.  

About 17 people have been refusing to eat until the school agrees to publicly oppose Arizona's new immigration law that empowers local law enforcement to question people they believe may be in the U.S. illegally.  

Police woke the demonstrators at 5:45 a.m. and told them to disperse within 20 minutes or they would be arrested, according to Rufino Romero, who is one of the students on strike.  

The students moved their things, but then returned to their spot, Romero said. Holmes said police helped the demonstrators move their things this morning and the university had a physician on hand to make sure the demonstrators were healthy. 

She said the move was peaceful and there was no arrests, but confirmed that the demonstrators returned to the lawn in front of the building soon after they were moved.  

Holmes said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau strongly denounced Arizona's immigration law Friday, which is one of the protesters' demands. 

Holmes said Birgeneau, who is out of the country on university business, talked to the hunger strikers by phone on both Saturday and Sunday and has agreed to some of their other demands but not all of them.  

She said, "We're trying to work with them" and "there's been quite a bit of back and forth."