State Senator Leland Yee urges Berkeley Chancellor to meet with hunger strikers, end the 9-day fast
After 190 hours without food, strikers have yet to have face-to-face meeting with UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau
BERKELEY, CA, May 11th— California State Senator Leland Yee (D – San Francisco/San Mateo) is joining faculty, student groups, employee unions and political organizations in calling for UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to meet with hunger strikers to end the 9-day fast. “I urge the Chancellor to stop his refusal to meet with the negotiators. He has not yet held a face-to-face meeting and the actions yesterday by the Berkeley Administration did not show a good faith effort to resolve the situation. The Chancellor should meet immediately and begin a dialogue before anyone is hurt”.
The return of Chancellor Birgeneau on Monday, after his travels in Europe during the first week of the strike, coincided with a much more forceful approach to the non-violent demonstration. Early Monday morning, UC Police arrived at the encampment of the hunger strike with an order to disperse or face arrest. Hunger strikers, visibly weak after fasting for over 170 hours, were captured on TV struggling to take down the camp. In the afternoon a group of students responded by blockading the entrance to the main Administrative building and in the evening a gathering of over 200 supporters appeared at the Chancellor’s Mansion requesting that he meet with negotiators.
“They say they’re doing this for our health and for the good of the students” says Marco Amaral, a freshman who is one of the organizers of the strike. “But if Chancellor Birgeneau really cared about the health of the students he wouldn’t have forced us to leave the encampment in this manner. If the Chancellor truly cared about the students and workers of this campus he would meet our demands and end the strike.”
Students, workers, and community supporters have been protesting on the front lawn of California Hall since last Monday. The 19 individuals on the hunger strike have demands of denouncing racist legislation in Arizona, creating a sanctuary campus and ending retaliation against student and worker activists (see next page for complete demands).
A rally has been planned today at 3:30pm in front of California Hall.
For a list of student groups, political organizations and faculty calling for immediate negotiations between the Chancellor and those on the hunger strike go to: https://hungryforjustice.wordpress.com/supporters-of-negotiations/
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.