U.C. Berkeley Protest Ends Peacefully

By: Brian Shields - Fri, 06 Apr 2012 19:56:11 -0800

BERKELEY (BCN) --  About 20 people who were occupying a University of California at  Berkeley building Friday to protest what organizers say is a lack of minority  students enrolled at the university left of their own accord late Friday afternoon, a school spokeswoman said.

      Campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore, when reached by phone confirmed that there were about 20 individuals inside the office and that they left of their own accord at around 4:30 p.m.

      "They all got up as a group, chanting, clapping and marched right  out the door," Gilmore said.

      The group of Berkeley students, high school students and community  supporters were occupying the registrar's office on the first floor of Sproul  Hall, the school's administration building.

      The occupation, organized by the civil rights group By Any Means  Necessary, or BAMN, comes one week after the school sent out admission  decisions.

      According to protesters, even though minority students comprise  about 50 percent of the state's high-school graduates, they make up about  only 18 percent of UC Berkeley freshmen.

      BAMN attorney and organizer Ronald Cruz said that about 75 people  participated in a noon rally preceding the occupation.

      Cruz said that protesters presented university officials with a  petition and list of demands that had garnered 6,000 signatures.

      The protesters are demanding that UC Berkeley immediately double  underrepresented minority student enrollment for this fall's class and that  the university and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office drop charges  against Occupy Cal demonstrators from a November action.

      "We are demanding an end to discrimination in UC Berkeley's  admissions policies," BAMN organizer and UC Berkeley student Matt Williams  said this afternoon.

      On Monday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco rejected a  challenge by BAMN and 46 minority students to a voter-approved ban on  affirmative action in UC admissions.

      According to a written ruling issued by the court, the three-judge  9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel was bound by a 1997 decision of the  same court upholding the ban, which was part of the voter initiative  Proposition 209, enacted in 1996.

      The proposition bans state and local government preferences for  minority groups and women in public education, employment and contracting.

      BAMN said it plans to file an appeal to the decision by April 16.

      "We cannot wait for the courts to bring justice," Cruz wrote in an  email.  "BAMN will continue the fight to ensure that Latina/o and black  students have access to the University of California."

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