About 500 demonstrators against apartheid, President Reagan’s “Star Wars” defense proposal and nuclear weapons staged an “April Fools’ Rally” on the University of California campus Tuesday after the early morning arrest of 61 protesters and the removal of a symbolic shantytown.
Those arrested about 2 a.m. had barricaded themselves in 13 makeshift shacks of plywood, cloth and cardboard that they said represented the homes of blacks in South African townships. They were arrested by university police and booked into Santa Rita Jail on suspicion of trespassing and resisting arrest. All but two had been released by 9 a.m.
There were no injuries reported.
University spokesman Ray Colvig said only 21 of those arrested were believed to be UC students.
The arrests came after Assistant Chancellor John Cummins warned the demonstrators late Monday that the shanties, erected in front of the chancellor’s office, were considered a fire hazard by the university fire marshal.
Speakers at Tuesday’s rally included physics professor Charles Schwartz, who is resigning at the end of the year to protest what he says is an educational system that is the foundation of nuclear weapons development.
He praised the protesters, noting that students elsewhere were enjoying their spring break, while “at this campus, students are setting up shantytowns to protest the outrageous behavior by members of the Board of Regents.”
The regents have adopted a plan to make a case-by-case review of the university’s $2.4-billion holdings in companies that do business in South Africa. They have agreed that the university will invest only in companies adhering to the so-called Sullivan Principles, which call for equal treatment of blacks in the workplace and efforts to improve life for blacks in South Africa.
Protesters, however, contend the plan is inadequate because it fails to call for divestiture of current holdings.