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Occupy Cal Camp and Police Low Key on Friday Morning

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2011 - 12:48:00 PM
Steven Finacom

The “Occupy Cal” encampment seemed at an early morning ebb on Friday as I arrived on the UC Berkeley campus for work. After the police action on Thursday night that had cleared away the tents and most of the other objects and art—from pianos to sculpture—that had accumulated on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Mario Savio Steps of Sproul Hall displayed only a few signs, some black and white balloons, and perhaps a dozen Occupiers. 

For the first morning this week the parking areas around Sproul Hall weren’t filled with news vans. 

I spoke to one of the protestors who said that the Thursday night General Assembly had continued for four hours discussing, in part, a request from the University administration that the encampment send two “representatives” to meet with them on Friday. 

“That’s not our structure”, said the young man. The Occupy Cal movement, he said, doesn’t have leaders. He said the General Assembly finally agreed to send two people, but emphasized that administrators would need to come speak to the General Assembly as a whole if it wanted the movement to take any action. 

He added that a “Nap” protest was being considered for Monday. The Daily Californian reported in its Friday morning edition that students at Cal and Stanford were discussing a combined support march or event for the Occupy movement, to coincide with Big Game celebrations on the weekend. 

For the time being, the protesters on Sproul Plaza seem to be regrouping, while the University Police pursue a policy of low-key attrition. While I was there around 7:30 AM, a police officer came up the steps, inspected a sign and banner taped to the wall of Sproul Hall below a banner advertising this week’s Big Game Bonfire Rally. He apparently told the protestors to take the Occupy signs down, which they did. 

Elsewhere on the steps there were a number of signs propped up, most written on cardboard. Their messages included: “Since when has ‘force’ or ‘violence’ become the driving force of our demands? It Hasn’t! We, This Occupation, Are PEACEFUL.” “Books, Not Batons”. “You Just Bulldozed Mario Savio On His Own Steps.” “Speech Acts”. “OccupyoCAL-ypse”. “I am the committee.” “Lead 

Yourself.” “99.9999 percent.” “Occupy As Long As It Takes.” “Why Are You Afraid of Our Tents?” “Dissidence is the Greatest Form of Patriotism”. “This is just the Beginning.” “Money Can’t Speak, But It Can Shut the Other Person Up.” “My Student I.D. Is My Badge.” 

A cardboard tombstone reading “RIP Regentosaurus Rex – Another Victim of Police Brutality” stood where, during the large day-long demonstrations on Tuesday, protesters had constructed a red-painted dinosaur they dubbed “Regentosaurus”. 

Lower in the Plaza someone had started to re-construct a set of decorations on the Free Speech Monument, a wheel of granite set into the Plaza surface and commemorating the 1964 demonstrations that gave the Plaza its character as a protest site. 

An elaborate multi-part Mandela had been created there on Wednesday, then largely swept away Thursday morning. The new structure included a heart constructed of flower petals, grass clippings, and bark mulch, edged with bits of orange peel. It sat next to a sign that read “Welcome Home”, another one reading “Occupy Cal – For the Students, Teachers, Staff, The Next Generation”, and a dog-eared copy of “A Tale of Two Cities.” 

The balloon filled tents that protestors had brought to the Plaza Thursday evening, floating above the ground to avoid the restriction on erecting tents, were not in evidence. One protestor told me the owners of the tents had taken them home. There was a single teepee-like structure of white poles and white plastic sitting atop part of the Chavez Center. 

As I went on to the office a gentle rain began to fall over the Plaza. The Occupy demonstrators clustered in the slight protection of the doorways on Sproul Hall, above the steps. 


Scenes and signs from the “Occupy Cal” protest site early Friday morning.