119 Arrested in Sproul TakeoverNate Tabak is a staff writer for the Daily Californian. Amelia Heagerty, Andrea Hernandez and Martin Ricard are contributing writers.
Friday, March 21, 2003
One hundred nineteen protesters were arrested yesterday afternoon after they refused to leave an anti-war sit-in in the main lobby of Sproul Hall.
More than 30 UC police officers were present, with two to five officers removing each protester.
Ninety-eight of those arrested were UC Berkeley students. The majority of the demonstrators were escorted out of the lobby without incident, but several had to be carried.
The students at the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition-organized sit-in had three requests-the same demands they made at their earlier peace rally.
They asked UC Berkeley to declare the University of Baghdad its sister school and not increase student fees or cut staff wages during the war.
They also demanded the university not give student records, especially those of international students, to federal agencies.
Once the arrests began, it took police less than 90 minutes to empty Sproul's lobby of sit-in participants.
Sproul Hall, which houses most of the university's administration, was closed down for more than four hours yesterday. This came at a time when admissions staff were one week away from mailing out acceptance letters.
Officials said they lost valuable time yesterday because the sit-in brought their daily business to a halt.
The protesters who refused to stand were dragged, carried or forced to stand with "pain holds."
Police forced protesters to comply with orders by twisting their arms behind their backs or pressing the pressure points on their necks, said UC police Capt. Bill Cooper.
After they were removed one by one, all 117 were cited on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing by the UC Police Department and released.
The demonstrators entered the building shortly after rallying on Sproul Plaza at noon.
The arrests started three hours later, after protesters had been addressed by both Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell and UC police Lt. Jim West.
"We certainly recognize your right to express your opinions about the war," Mitchell said to the crowd. "For those of you who decide you want to be arrested, we ask that you continue to do this in a nonviolent way."
West told the Sproul occupants if they did not leave the building, they would be subject to arrest and or campus disciplinary action.
The demonstrators filled the main lobby of Sproul, sitting cross-legged and chanting anti-war sentiments.
"One, two, three, four, we're students, we're anti-war. Five, six, seven, eight, stop the violence, stop the hate," they chanted as they continued to occupy the lobby.
"This is the only way to stop (the war) and cause pre-emptive peace," said UC Berkeley freshman David Born.
UC Berkeley staff and administrators stood on the sidelines but said they could not accommodate the students' demands.
"There's no way that any of us here can meet any of those demands," Mitchell said. "Those are different decision-making bodies."
A large group of students watched from just outside the door, spilling onto the steps of Sproul Hall and chanting along with those inside.
They pounded on the windows and chanted frantically in support of the sit-in participants.
"This was our first time doing this," said UC Berkeley senior Chris Goslow. "We've never participated in a cause before since we've been here (at UC Berkeley). Now we're activists."
UC Berkeley graduate student Snehal Shingavi, an organizer of the sit-in, led the crowd in chants and blasted sentiments on a loudspeaker.
As the students were taken from the lobby one by one, those remaining continued to rally, chanting loudly.
When police used pain holds and other techniques to remove individuals from the scene, protesters screamed "Shame! Shame!" at the police angrily and chanted, "The whole world is watching."
Although police reported no injuries, Shingavi said some protesters sustained injuries to their eyes, arms and heads.
"People were going limp so police had to drag them," said UC Berkeley junior Azadeh Amani, who was arrested in the protest. "People were banging their heads on the stairs."
Many protesters returned to continue protesting on the steps of Sproul.
Other campus activities were affected by the commencement of the war.
Many teachers canceled classes, and many students walked out at noon in protest.
The day took a less confrontational turn when hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Berkeley in the evening.
Led by community leaders including Mayor Tom Bates and several City Council members, an estimated 325 rallied in Civic Center Park before making their way to Shattuck Avenue.
Gretchen Lemke, 47, a history professor at St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., said she joined the protest because she had a duty as a Catholic to oppose the war.
"The pope has said this is an unjust war," Lemke said. "I'm here as a good Catholic."
Holding up signs like "Impeach Bush" and "Let's bomb Texas, they have oil!" the protesters clogged Shattuck Avenue, Dwight Way, Sacramento Street and University Avenue.
The throng halted traffic, but most cars gave honks in support, with many passengers waving peace signs.
The demonstrators were very peaceful, said Berkeley police Sgt. Steve Odom as he stood at the front of the three-blocklong convoy. Police followed the crowd and blocked traffic.
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