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Police arrest pro-Palestinian demonstrators occupying building near Cal campus

BERKELEY -- Protests at an occupied building near University of California, Berkeley were winding down Thursday night after a dozen pro-Palestinian protesters were removed and arrested from a building they had taken over for a day.

The UC-owned Anna Head building on Haste Street was taken over by protesters on Wednesday. The structure has been abandoned and boarded up since a fire in 2022.

UC assistant vice chancellor Dan Mogulof said that a dozen protesters had been arrested, revising an earlier estimate of 15. Charges may include trespassing, vandalism and destruction of property, he said.

"We are treating this as what it is and it's a crime scene," Mogulof said.

Protesters Arrested
Law enforcement officers watch over detained pro-Palestinian protestors that were occupying the abandoned Anna Head complex near People's Park in Berkeley on May 16, 2024.  Grace Marion / Bay City News

As of 10 p.m. Thursday, police activity at the scene was wrapping up, he said. There were no reports of injuries during arrests and protests.

Shortly before 7 p.m., dozens of law enforcement officers from about 20 agencies around the Bay Area surrounded the building and set up barriers.

A dispersal issue was ordered and a short time later, police broke down the door of the building and began ushering protesters from the building. Some protesters behind barriers chanted and taunted police officers holding the line, while many others just filmed the scene on their cellphones.

Protesters Arrested
Law enforcement officers watch pro-Palestinian protesters after setting up barricades in Berkeley on May 16, 2024. A group of protestors were occupying the abandoned Anna Head complex near People's Park.  Grace Marion / Bay City News

Some neighbors stood behind the protesters watching, while others asked police for directions to get home around the barricades. Chants of "free, free Palestine" filled the air periodically as the sound of a battering ram rung out from the entrance of the building.

On Wednesday, some protesters entered the building through square holes in the surrounding fencing to occupy it, while most protesters occupied the grassy area outside of the fence. Protesters inside the fence erected banners and spray-painted slogans on the building in red paint.

"This is Hind Hall [sic]," one piece of graffiti read, referencing the occupation of Hind's Hall at Columbia University. Hind's Hall was unofficially renamed from Hamilton Hall during April protests in New York City by pro-Palestinian protesters in honor of a 6-year-old girl, Hind Rajab, who was killed in the conflict in Gaza.

The building's occupation Wednesday sparked a response from both police and UC Berkeley, who released a WarnMe notification at 7:06 p.m. stating that several dozen people with sticks, pry bars, and bolt cutters broke into the building and broke windows, cut fences, and spray-painted walls.

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