Live Blog: March 2 Day of Action for Public Education

Randy Adam Romero/Staff

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March 2nd: National Day of Action

March 2nd marked a National Day of Action as teachers, students, and supporters rallied together to speak and march against budgets in order fight for their right to a public education.

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March 2nd: BFT and BUSD Rally

The Berkeley Federation of Teachers and Berkeley Unified School District joined in a rally outside of Old City Hall on March 2nd as part of the National Day of Action.

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March 2nd: Wheeler Sit-in

March 2nd marked a National Day of Action as teachers, students, and supporters rallied together to speak and march against budgets in order to fight for their right to a public education. They ended the day with a sit-in in Wheeler where some were detained.

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March 2nd: Summary

Katie Nelson and Jordan Bach-Lombardo summarize the events of March 2nd.

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March 2 Day of Action for Public Education
A series of photos from the March 2nd Day of Actio...

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Correction Appended

Alisha Azevedo, Jordan Bach-Lombardo, Rachel Banning-Lover, Jeffrey Butterfield, J.D. Morris, Katie Nelson, Javier Panzar, Kate Randle and Jessica Rossoni of The Daily Californian reporting from the field.

For real-time updates, check

12:10 a.m., Thursday

Those detained inside Wheeler Halls were led out of the front entrance of the building in zip-ties, loaded into two vans which drove off and down Bancroft. At least 10 Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputies ran alongside the vans as they headed down Upper Sproul Plaza, chased by the protesters who had been waiting outside the hall.

Now, about 25 protesters remain outside Wheeler, talking.

11:58 p.m.

About 20 to 30 protesters are gathered on the back side of Wheeler Hall, awaiting the release of the 17 detained inside. Police are telling about five protesters to back away from a police van and three cops cars parked there, but protesters are refusing to move. Officers are threatening arrests.

Surrounding protesters are shouting "Whose university? Our university."

11:20 p.m.

UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya has confirmed that 17 protesters were detained inside of Wheeler Hall after they refused to leave. Unless they have pending criminal actions, he said they will be cited for trespassing and released. Those who do have pending criminal actions will be booked and must appear before Alameda County Superior Court tomorrow.

On the outside of the hall, nearly 70 other demonstrators are gathered.

10:23 p.m.

About six have been arrested so far and are being taken to rooms on the east side of Wheeler. There are about 20 police officers present. Ten other protesters remain inside who have not yet been arrested.

Outside, about 30 supporters are yelling at a some 14 officers lined across the front doors of the hall, blocking entrance. A few ASUC senators are also outside, including Student Action Senator Farrah Moos and Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein.

Three officers had gone to the other side of Wheeler to make sure those doors were locked.

10:10 p.m.

About 15 of the protesters are about to be arrested, among them is protest organizer Marco Amaral. Police are securing the doors from the inside.

10:00 p.m.

The Campanile chimes. It is now 10:00 p.m. Wheeler Hall is officially closed. The roughly protesters who have chosen to stay are linking arms and sitting on the floor. Police officers are addressing them, telling them that the building is closed and they must leave.

9:46 p.m.

Some 20 protesters remain inside Wheeler Hall, listening to the band, while a group of about 15 has stepped outside to plan what to do. About 25 police are inside the building. Less than 15 minutes remain before the protesters must leave or face arrest, according to campus officials.

9:23 p.m.

About 25 police from UCPD and Alameda County Sheriff's Office are now heading into Wheeler Hall with riot helmets in hand.

Inside, a new five-person band - The Blind Willies - has started to play blues and jazz music, as protesters try to make a decision of whether to stay.

9:20 p.m.

The protesters inside Wheeler Hall have now broken out into three groups of about 10 to 15 people in order to discuss how people feel about staying past 10 p.m. and risking arrest, or leaving.

9:11 p.m.

UCPD Sgt. LeRoy Harris told the ASUC Senate at their meeting that there are about 24 police officers in and around Wheeler Hall as protesters remain inside.

"The campus administration has made it very clear to the police department that that building is closed at 10 and nobody is supposed to be there," Harris told the senate. "Anyone remaining there will be subject to arrest."

8:52 p.m.

As the clock ticks down towards 10 p.m. when Wheeler Hall closes and the protests must leave or face arrest, about 30 demonstrators remain within. Their stay is being accompanied by the blaring music of an two-person surfer rock band called Surf Shit made up of a guitarist and drummer, who have been inside the building for several hours and have been performing for about 10 minutes.

8:03 p.m.

Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard said at tonight's ASUC Senate meeting that protesters in Wheeler will be cited if they do not leave and arrested if they refuse to leave after 10 p.m.

"If at 10 p.m. folks decide to stay in that space, it will not go well," he said at the meeting. "If they refuse to be escorted out they will be arrested, period. It's not a hard issue, it's very black and white."

7:31 p.m.

Four visitors from Stanford University - two graduate students, one undergraduate student and a spouse of one of the graduate students - came to support the efforts of the protesters. They said that because Stanford is not affected by budget cuts they want to show solidarity with UC Berkeley students.

6:58 p.m.

UC Berkeley alumnus Zachary Miller, who was charged with but not found guilty of misdemeanors for his involvement in the Feb. 26, 2010 riot, urged those remaining in Wheeler to stay until the building closes at 10 p.m.

"We are in this place because it belongs to the University of California and we've reclaimed this space," he said.

He added that at 10 p.m., depending on who is still inside the building and how much support the protesters have, some may decide to stay overnight.

6:31 p.m.

Some protesters are saying that the group may stay in Wheeler as long as possible - a suggestion that was greeted with cheers from the crowd.

6:21 p.m.

About 100 people have just entered Wheeler, some said because it is expected to rain. There are officers inside the building.

About four police officers are on either side of first floor within the main entrance of Wheeler and one officer is guarding the stairwell leading to the basement. Students not involved in the protest are walking in and out of classrooms and the building. Another officer is standing outside.

Members of Food Not Bombs are on the scene, offering free food to people. Student organizer Marco Amaral is encouraging people to stay inside the building and said there is a possibility that they will form a tent city somewhere on campus.

5:49 p.m.

About 150 demonstrators have gathered on the steps in front of Wheeler Hall and speakers are addressing the crowd.

"We cannot be blind to the fact that the regents and executives who aren't accountable to us as students and workers are making decisions that don't represent our values," said Megan Wachspress, a Ph.D student and representative of the United Auto Workers Local 2865. "We need to fight within the university and at the state level and demand accountability from those who take our tuition and take our taxes."

Senior Julian Martinez, who was cleared Tuesday of all his student conduct charges he faced for his involvement in the Nov. 20, 2009 occupation of Wheeler Hall, said student attitudes have changed since the 2009 occupation.

"I think the mood has changed a lot (since the occupation) and that could be because of the administration trying to sneak small increases in every semester, unlike before," he said. "I don't want students to believe the administration when they say it's all the government's fault."

5:20 p.m.

About 50 demonstrators are now on the steps of Wheeler Hall, chanting "No cuts, no fees, education must be free," as about six officers remain inside.

Some students are holding a sign which reads "This system has no future for the youth. Communist Revolution does."

5:05 p.m.

About 20 to 30 protesters have congregated in Wheeler Hall while about five UCPD officers stand by. The protesters are encouraging students exiting their classes to stay inside the building, but officers are making sure the protesters do not enter the classrooms. The majority of students left the building anyway.

4:53 p.m.

Over 200 students, parents and Berkeley Unified School District community members are now standing on the west side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in in front of a district administration building, chanting in the rain for support of public education.

3:36 p.m.

An announcement was just made by student organizer Marco Amaral that campus event staff said the protesters must leave Eshleman Library and people are now beginning to vacate the room, slowly.

2:01 p.m.

The approximately 50 protesters that came to the seventh floor library of Eshleman Hall for food have been told that they did not technically have a space reserved within the library because they did not complete the reservation process properly. However, a compromise was reached with the campus's student event services staff and the group is allowed to remain in the room until 3:30 p.m. If protesters do not leave by 4:00 p.m., event staff agreed among themselves that they will call police.

The group is being monitored by the event staff as they finish their carrots, bananas, celery and other snacks and discuss what to do next.

1:45 p.m.

The protesters at California Hall are now gone and only some high school students remain in front of Sproul Hall. Other protesters have moved to the seventh floor of Eshleman Hall for food.

1:15 p.m.

While some remain in front of California Hall, others from the rally went through Doe Library, exited through an emergency exit, sounding off an alarm, and then marched through Wheeler Hall. The group of about 100 is now circling around campus.

"No cuts, no fees, education must be free," they shouted.

At Bank of America on Telegraph Ave., a group of about 15 Berkeley residents and others from US Uncut have formed a protest of their own, stating that big banks are the reason why the United States government as well as educational and social programs currently have financial troubles. They say they want to join up with student protests because they feel they are all working towards a similar cause.

"Without public education, there is no education in this country," said Sheila Goldmacher, a 77 year-old resident of Berkeley since 1985. "Money was stolen by Bank of America and their cohorts and criminals on Wall Street."

1:01 p.m.

The rally at Sproul Hall is now turning into a march of about 100 people through Sather Gate, heading to California Hall as protesters chant "We will march, we will fight, education is our right." About five police officers are present among the demonstrators as well as people who appear to be a group of anarchists.

Before the march began, a protest organizer announced that the food that ASUC External Affairs Vice President Ricardo Gomez had had at the student union building is being moved to the seventh floor of Eshleman.

Those who had been as Doe Library are also heading to California Hall.

12:43 p.m.

Before the campus administrative building of Sproul Hall, student organizer Marco Amaral addresses the small crowd of now about 100, gathered beneath gray clouds that forebode of rain.

"This is our university and there is no power like the power of the people," he said. "Until our demands are met, we will not stop. We will succeed."

Meanwhile, ASUC External Affairs Vice President Ricardo Gomez has brought food intended for a planned protester picnic on Memorial Glade to the Martin Luther King, Jr. student union building for fear of rain.

12:11 p.m.

The noon rally in front of Sproul Hall has begun, with about 50 people now gathered - scores fewer than the hundreds that turned out for last semester's protest on higher education on Oct. 7.

At Doe Library, members of the Coalition of University Employees union - which represents clerical employees within the UC - are hanging their ideas for a new contract with the UC on a clothesline and students are hanging their own thoughts about public education. Members from the UPTE union as well as the Student Worker Action Team are there as well, eating pizza from La Val's on Northside.

A teach-out is also ongoing here with about 16 students listening to their instructor. And as these various forms of activism take place, guides are leading high school-age students and their parents around campus for tours.

"It's good to see that people are excited about something they believe in," said Markayla Cozzoli, a freshman from Dixon High School, near Davis, who is on a tour. "Our guide has been talking about the Free Speech Movement, so it's cool to see Berkeley doing that."

11:44 a.m.

Protesters are starting to set up for a noon rally in front of Sproul Hall. Meanwhile, BAMN organizer Yvette Felarca said that some 200 students from Skyline High School in Oakland are on their way, heading towards the UC Berkeley campus. And at San Francisco State University, people on Twitter are saying that about 200 have gathered in their own protest about higher education.

"Today is pivotal. A lot of schools around the state are fighting, it's a continuation of what happened in Sacramento with the UCSA lobbying conference," said UC Berkeley junior Romeo Ferrer.

"I worry about my brothers and sisters coming to the institutions, if it's hard for us how much harder will it be for them?"

10:45 a.m.

While the rest of the UC Berkeley campus has been fairly quiet on what is to be another campus day of action focused on public education, about 10 to 15 students are gathered outside the Free Speech Movement Cafe for a teach-out, listening to French graduate student instructor Blanca Misse discuss the impact of budget cuts on campus classes."

"We're talking about the privatization of the UC, priorities of the federal and state budgets and what's happening in Egypt and how to do it here," Misse said. "We want it to be as big as possible and we want to link our struggle to the students in Wisconsin."

Misse also said that others have decided to hold their classes inside due to the weather.


Correction: Thursday, March 3, 2011
A previous version of this article misquoted Sheila Goldmacher as saying "Without public education, education in this country."

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact The Daily Californian at [email protected]

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