Wheeler Hall Occupation

by zunguzungu

Update. I left to get warmer clothes (and rain gear) and then took shelter at a friends’ house when it really turned into a downpour. By the time I got back to Wheeler, what had been an occupation and a protest outside turned into a confrontation. The police have the building and the students are barricaded in a room I used to teach in (known as the “hot dog room” for being long and thin), but the four corners around the building are each blocked by about a thousand to two thousand students. It’s hard to tell for sure. It’s been pretty rough; the police are all wearing riot gear and they keep bringing in reinforcements. Wendy Brown spoke to the crowd for a bit, urgin non-violence, but a lot of students were too angry to listen and shouted her down (“Who are you?”). Those were just the loud voices though; mostly it’s been peaceful. But the dynamic is now pure confrontation; the police are surrounding the occupiers, and the students are surrounding the police. For a brief period, the police tried to force a passage out with billy clubs (I’ll post pictures later) but after a period of shoving, the police gave way. There are barricades everywhere; they brought them in from the main library, which is now shut down (ironically, it’s the police who are occupying the library).

I would stay, but I have to teach a class off campus, ironically. We’ll see who shows up.

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Wheeler Hall is where the English department is located, and it has been occupied by forty or fifty students, demanding (apparently) that a dozen or so fired APSME workers be re-hired. And they have a twitter feed at @ucbprotest! Let’s hope they have an endgame planned for this. The cause is a good one, but I’ve already seen the cops get rough with protesters outside, and the rumor is that the Berkeley police were beating on people inside. The entire building is surrounded by police tape and there are cops everywhere. It’s a scene. I’d have pictures for you, except the battery on my camera died… but here’s a picture before the rain started pounding on us: