Demonstrators Stage Protest Atop Wheeler Hall

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Less than 24 hours after 17 people were arrested for a sit-in at Wheeler Hall Wednesday night, nine demonstrators took to the fourth floor ledge on the front of the hall to continue protesting the deterioration of the state's higher education system.

The demonstrators - who have been identified as students by several other protesters on the ground below - were first spotted on the ledge shortly before 2 p.m. and were being observed and supported by a crowd of around 300 people by 3 p.m. this afternoon. UCPD Lt. Alex Yao confirmed around 4:15 p.m. that one of the nine rooftop protesters was arrested.

Banners hanging from pillars on the front of the building display the protesters' four demands, which remain the same as those of the March 2 protesters - to stop budget cuts, end Operational Excellence, democratize the regents and end all charges against student protesters.

Around 4 p.m., three women who had attempted to hang banners from the east balcony of the second floor of the building were detained for about 10 to 15 minutes and then released. Two of them, UC Berkeley seniors Suzy Babb and Noa Kornbluh, will receive student conduct charges, while Christine Vertiz, a freshman at Laney College, was told that she will most likely be cited on trespassing charges.

Though many in the crowd have turned out in support of the protesters on the ledge, sophomore Jose Palomo said he agreed with their intent but was angry with the protesters because his political science midterm was interrupted when the fire alarm was pulled in Dwinelle Hall around 2:30 p.m.

"This reaction is appropriate because public education is getting more and more expensive," he said. "But do it on a Saturday or Sunday. Don't screw up midterms."

ASUC President Noah Stern said he approached officers on scene at the request of students and conveyed the message that students should not be approached by police in any way that could compromise their safety.

"Obviously I'm very concerned for the demands of the students in terms of the fee increases and the budget cuts, but right now my immediate concern is the safety of the students," Stern said.

Seeking to gain more insight into the day's events, Stern said he will continue to speak with students and police officers as well as try to communicate with campus administrators.

Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard said around 4:15 p.m. that the protesters on the ledge had been visited by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry LeGrande, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Jeff Prince and Associate Chancellor for Government, Community and Campus Liaison Linda Williams.

As protesters attempt to block the entrances to the building around 5 p.m., all those inside Wheeler have been evacuated. UCPD is beginning to lock the doors.

Emma Anderson, Jordan Bach-Lombardo, Adelyn Baxter, Javier Panzar, Claire Perlman and Amruta Trivedi of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


Contact J.D. Morris at [email protected]

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