It started as a dance party in the streets. Within hours, trash bins were burning, windows were smashed and riot police were swinging their batons.
It was an ugly scene, even for a university best known for its fever-pitched politics.
Late Friday night and early Saturday morning, the streets of Southside became a battleground as tensions over budget cuts, tuition hikes and the recent discovery of a noose hung in the UC San Diego library boiled over.
After the discovery of the noose, students organized by several Web sites, including Reclaim UC, occupied UC Berkeley’s Durant hall as a show of solidarity to San Diego students facing escalated racial tensions over the noose incident. The next step in the protests was to be a series of dance parties in the streets, which resulted in several occupied buildings at UC Santa Cruz, according to the blog Occupy California.
The overall goal of the dance parties was to raise support for the March 4 statewide protests over the state of public education, The Daily Californian reported. Tensions on all UC campuses have been on the rise since some students staged a “Compton Cookout” on President’s Day, as a mockery of Black History Month.
The paper noted that UC Berkeley’s Durant Hall was vandalized during the occupation, with locks cut and windows smashed. The Californian added that protesters also smashed the windows of a Subway sandwich shop on Bancroft Way.
Officers from six different departments responded to the crowd, which had grown to approximately 250 in size according to organizers.
“The tone of the gathering changed at about 1:55 a.m. when a dumpster was pushed into the center of the intersection and set on fire by members of the crowd,” the Californian continued. “The Berkeley Fire Department responded as people danced on top of the dumpster and shouted, ‘Whose street? Our street!'”
Two protesters were arrested and charged with assaulting police. Two officers suffered minor injuries and have been released from the hospital.
This video was published to YouTube by The Daily Californian on Feb. 26, 2010.