New group of protesters occupy UC Berkeley-owned vacant building

One day after pro-Palestinian protesters began to dismantle their encampment on UC Berkeley's campus, another protest popped up at a vacant building owned by the school that is near campus. 

UC Berkeley confirmed to KTVU that this is a different group from the UC Berkeley Free Palestine Encampment that had set up camp at Sproul Plaza for weeks. The university has been in talks with the previous group for weeks and came to an agreement with them on Tuesday night. 

The university said they do not know who this group is that began to overtake the Anna Head complex at 2538 Channing Way on Wednesday. However, their message appears to be pro-Palestinian. 

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof released the following statement: " Today is the 55th anniversary of People's Park and action was first announced on platforms controlled by People's Park activists. They are vandalizing an unsafe boarded-up, fire-damaged building next to People's Park."

UC Berkeley officials said they consider this to be an active crime scene and that what's happening, including breaking windows, is not a form of nonviolent civil disobedience. Our KTVU crew said the demonstration has largely been peaceful. 

California Highway Patrol cars have been at the scene. UC Berkeley police continue to monitor the situation into the night. City of Berkeley police have not had a major presence at the scene. 

The university would not say if they would be taking action against the people inside the building or in the surrounding area. 

UC Berkeley police had earlier estimated that 10 to 20 people are inside the building that burned in 2022. But the number of protesters has grown throughout the course of the day. The condition of the three-story building with boarded-up windows, is not exactly clear, but it is in some form of disrepair.  

A protester sprays the side of a vacant UC Berkeley-owned building near campus. May 15, 2024. 

The campus alert system: UC Berkeley WarnMe notified the community to avoid the area due to police activity that was underway at 3:20 p.m. 

Tents are going up at the campus-owned complex and Palestinian flags are present. There are also couches on the property's lawn. Demonstrators who have occupied the building have been peering out from a skylight. 

Protesters asked our camera crew not to film them and declined to be interviewed. Our crew could also hear broken glass being cleaned up inside the complex. In the evening, a number of vehicles arrived to the scene to drop supplies including toilet paper, water and 2x4 planks of wood. 

Some students we spoke with said they don't agree with this style of demonstration. 

"I also think it's about striking a balance. Gathering the most attention is the primary objective and depending on, you know, the magnitude of circumstances, there's more leeway with this type of thing. In general, I think it's not good to vandalize private property," said Kaden, a UC Berkeley student who did not give a last name. 

Another student, who only gave the first name of William, said he was moving in across the street from the protest and received the police activity alert, but was not too alarmed by what he witnessed. "I'm really glad people are like expressing their opinion and they're able to voice their beliefs in like everything, especially like in peaceful manners." 

Meanwhile, some of the original pro-Palestinian protesters who set up camp near Sproul Plaza headed to UC Merced for day two of the Board of Regents meeting. There, UC's investments and long-term funding are being discussed. Protesters are calling on the Regents to divest from companies who provide support to Israel during the war in Gaza. 

UC officials said they have no plans to divest. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified this building as an alumnae hall. A correction has been made in this revised version.