Protesters Vow to Close Offices at UC Berkeley
Setting the stage for another showdown with University of California officials today, anti-apartheid demonstrators once again marched across campus here Monday as a beefed-up police force watched quietly.
Monday’s protest was peaceful, but the mood remained tense as protesters vowed to lock hands to form a human blockade around California Hall at 7 a.m. today in an effort to shut down UC Berkeley’s administrative offices.
“We will close down the administration,” said Alice Bell, a leader of Campaign Against Apartheid, one of three campus groups spearheading the protest.
“We are ready to be arrested around that blockade,” said Mark Min of another protest group, United People of Color.
Officers From Other Campuses
More than 40 police officers from other UC campuses have been transferred to Berkeley on temporary duty to respond to the escalating demonstrations.
Ray Colvig, UC Berkeley spokesman, said university officials will respond to the blockade “with a lot of talking and attempts to negotiate.” He added, “We’re going to try to keep California Hall open. We won’t have a large police presence. We hope it isn’t necessary.”
Asked if university officials were willing to close California Hall for the day, Colvig said, “There’s no final decision on that. Obviously it couldn’t be closed for a very long time.”
Under gray skies and an intermittent drizzle, more than 1,000 people gathered in Sproul Plaza not only to call on the UC regents to divest the system’s $2.4-billion worth of investments in companies doing business with South Africa, but also to protest U.S. government policies regarding American Indians and support the principles of free speech.
Monday’s protest was the largest demonstration gathering on the campus since last Thursday, when demonstrators defied a court order and re-erected a shantytown to symbolize oppression in South Africa.
That demonstration erupted into a violent clash between protesters and baton-swinging campus police and officers from local law enforcement agencies. Twenty-nine people were injured and 91 were jailed in that encounter. Twenty-five of those jailed also were later banned from the campus under a 1960s state law, the Mulford Act, which was described by Colvig as a law that enables the university to ban from the campus for as long as two weeks any person believed to have willfully disrupted the orderly operation of the campus. It was the first time the law has been used at UC Berkeley, Colvig said.
The most emotional moment on Monday came when a group of people who had been barred defied the order and marched onto campus chanting anti-apartheid slogans and holding aloft their Mulford Act citations.
“The banned people,” as they were referred to throughout the rally, then set fire to the citations.
One of those protesters, Whitney Jones, decided to keep his citation, saying, “I didn’t burn mine, since it’s suitable for framing.”
“The banned people,” with hundreds of sympathizers in tow, then marched to California Hall to present appeals of the order to Chancellor I. Michael Heyman. The protesters were refused entrance by police guarding the doors. Heyman’s secretary came out a side door to accept the appeal.
Police stood aside and watched protesters impassively. “We’ll arrest them (the banned people) at our own convenience,” said Lt. Bill Foley of the UC Berkeley Police. “Right now, it wouldn’t be smart.”