Hunger Strike Continues as Protest Enters Its Fourth Day

Photo: Hunger strikers meditate during their protest, which began Monday and seeks to have UC officials denounce the passage of SB 1070.
Skyler Reid/Staff
Hunger strikers meditate during their protest, which began Monday and seeks to have UC officials denounce the passage of SB 1070.

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About 70 protesters remained camped out in front of California Hall Wednesday night, 60 hours into a hunger strike aimed primarily at convincing Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other University of California officials to denounce a recently passed Arizona immigration law.

The roughly 20 students, workers and alumni who compose the "Hungry for Justice Coalition" say they will remain in front of the administrative building until their demands are met.

The group had agreed to have an informal conversation with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer Wednesday afternoon, but according to senior Horacio Corona, the talk was called off when campus officials refused to let a union worker join the five students.

"We are going to stay out here until they speak to us in unison," said Corona, who has been fasting since Sunday. "We represent demands that represent the coalition."

The group is also demanding that Birgeneau make UC Berkeley a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, suspend the Code of Student Conduct until students can revise it, drop current conduct cases against activists, stop cuts to low-wage workers and commit to nonviolent means of ensuring safety at demonstrations.

The strikers and their supporters have been camped out in front of California Hall since Monday at noon, taking shifts at night to make sure noone is arrested for falling asleep.

According to UCPD Lt. Alex Yao, if any of the strikers or supporters fall asleep during the night, it is considered lodging and a violation of campus rules.

"Once somebody violates the campus rules, then the campus rules are enforced," he said.

Marco Amaral, a freshman participating in the strike, said though the bill was passed in Arizona, university officials can have an impact if they publicly denounce it.

"Birgeneau and (UC President) Mark Yudof are the direct representatives of the students, at least at the top level," he said Tuesday, 26 hours into the strike. "We want our representatives to represent and reflect our views."

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an e-mail Tuesday that Birgeneau is "sympathetic to the student's cause," but declined to comment on the other demands.

"We respect all forms of peaceful expression, but prefer not to comment further while UC Berkeley is addressing the situation there," said UC Office of the President spokesperson Steve Montiel in an e-mail Tuesday.

As the strikers enter their fourth day-consuming only water mixed with lemon and sugar-Corona said the fast had "taken its toll." But he maintained that the group was prepared to stay outside the hall until their six demands are met.

"People are suffering and they have to look at that," Amaral said.

Read more at our news blog: ASUC Senate Votes to Boycott Arizona.

Tags: ROBERT BIRGENEAU, UC PRESIDENT MARK YUDOF, CALIFORNIA HALL, HUNGER STRIKE


Javier Panzar is the news editor. Contact him at [email protected]



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