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As arrests, tensions rise at other schools, UC Berkeley Gaza protest encampment still peaceful

Pro-Palestinian protests grip school campuses across Norther California and the nation
Pro-Palestinian protests grip school campuses across Norther California and the nation 02:49

On Monday, while police confront protesters at university student actions over Israel's war in Gaza from Texas to New York, a sprawling student encampment at UC Berkeley has remained calm. 

The UC Berkeley campus once again became a place of occupation last week. Cal students protesting the bloodshed in Gaza created the encampment in solidarity with the large occupation happening at Columbia University and other demonstrations at campuses across the country.  

There have been additional protest encampments and building occupations at Stanford and Cal Poly Humboldt that started last week as well as more recent protests developing on Monday at Sonoma State and Sac State.

The camp is set up in the plaza in front of Sproul Hall, on the very spot where students were gassed during free speech rallies in the 1960s.    

UC Berkeley Gaza protest encampment
UC Berkeley Gaza protest encampment KPIX

So far, there have been no police clearing the area and no arrests at the encampment. 

On Friday, there was a khutbah, a type of public preaching in the Islamic tradition. It was led by Dr. Hatem Bazian, a continuing lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies and a decolonial Islamic scholar. He spoke to a Muslim audience seated on the ground. He was surrounded by a human wall of supporters, which created an atmosphere of security for worshipers.  

Dan Mogulof, spokesperson for UC Berkeley, said in an email Monday that the university has no updates and there will be no change in its approach, objectives, or priorities. UC Berkeley is still planning its campus-wide graduation ceremony on May 11 at the California Memorial Stadium. The speaker is Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. 

"Berkeley graduation ceremonies have been venues for all sorts of protests for many years," said Mogulof. "This year, like every year in the past, our efforts will focus on ensuring the ceremony can be successfully held, and on supporting the right of graduating students, their friends, and families to safely enjoy and take part in an incredibly meaningful day in their lives." 

The Berkeley student camp-in was called by a coalition of groups, including the Black Student Union, the Jewish Voice for Peace at UC Berkeley and the Indigenous Graduate Student Association. 

In an online statement, they are demanding: "an immediate end to the Zionist colonization of Arab lands, including the genocidal siege of Gaza; full freedom and equality for Palestinians, from the river to the sea; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties." 

They are also asking the University of California to boycott, divest and sanction "from all companies profiting from the colonization of Palestine."

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