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CONTACT: UC Berkeley Students and Community Members
Berkeley Students, Community Members Blockade Main Administrative Building to Support Hunger Strike
Protestors urge Chancellor to end the 170 hour fast by meeting demands of strike
BERKELEY, Calif. - May 10 - Protestors are now engaged in civil disobedience at the main administrative building at UC Berkeley. Police threatened hunger strikers with arrest early this morning after issuing an order to disperse from the front lawn facing the California Hall . Students and workers on hunger strike have occupied the location since last Monday. There was no physical confrontation as officers removed tents, bottled water, and sleeping bags.
George Breslauer, Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost at UC Berkeley, announced the end of the hunger strike, but hunger strikers later reconvened on the lawn and ten new students joined the hunger strike for the day. They join the 17 students who have not eaten for one week and two UC employees. The UC employees are Maricruz Manzanares, a custodian and Abel Salas, a gardener, who are members of AFSCME Local 3299 and who on the sixth day of the hunger strike.
Mananares will speak at a 3:30 p.m. rally today in front of California Hall. They will talk about the UC administrators' continued insistence on giving out executive increases while conducting layoffs and cutting hours for essential front line workers.
"These cuts have been devastating for low-wage workers," said Lakesha Harrison, president of AFSCME 3299, "Layoffs and reduction in hours are only the tip of the iceberg. UC executives are now proposing massive cuts to our retirement. We may be facing a double whammy - a depletion of our savings now and a gutting of the income we were counting on for our future."
A committee representing the student and worker alliance spoke to the chancellor over teleconference during the weekend. The students and workers have several demands (full list is attached below) including that the UC Berkeley administration:
- Denounce changes in Arizona's immigration laws that targets undocumented residents
- Stop the reduction of hours for the lowest-paid workers on the UC campuses
- Bring back laid off workers
As dozens of graduation ceremonies are slated to begin on Friday, AFSCME 3299 has called on keynote speakers to cancel appearances at UC campus graduations. A list of speakers who have canceled will be released this week. They include current and former members of the California State Assembly, and a U.S. Congressperson.
For up-to-date information
on the hunger strike visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/group.
The demands to end the hunger strike are:
1. Publically denounce Arizona's SB1070 Law and ask President Yudof and other UC Chancellors to do the same. We urge you to bring this up at tomorrow's UC system-wide meeting with other Chancellors. Blatantly racist and xenophobic laws run counter to the values of the UC education system.
2. Make UC Berkeley a Sanctuary Campus and provide extensive protection for undocumented students.
3. Drop all student conduct charges related to protest actions that occurred during the academic year 2009-10.
4. Stop cuts to low-wage workers on campus and stop attacks against union activists; rehire all AFSCME service workers and UPTE union activists and Cal performances employees.
5. Suspend the Student code of conduct and initiate a democratic student-led process to review the code. Those participating in this process should be charged with attending particularly to concerns about students' due process rights and to free speech considerations. If, through this review, it is determined that a new code can be written in any way that adequately addresses these concerns, a new code should be written by a democratic, student-led body. If not, the student code of conduct should be abolished.
6. Accept responsibility for the violence and escalation of the confrontation surrounding Wheeler Hall on November 20th and December 11th 2009 that resulted in injuries to many students and jeopardized the safety and security of AB540 students. Additionally, commit to using non-violent means of ensuring safety at student demonstrations in the future.