UC Berkeley students set up 'Gaza Solidarity Encampment' on campus

Like other college campuses across the country, students at the University of California, Berkeley joined the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" protest, calling for the university system to stop investing money in companies that provide military aid to Israel.

Demonstrations against the war in Gaza have long been the center of protests on UC Berkeley's campus. This latest event is an extension of a previous rally on campus.

"As a Palestinian, as a human being, I feel like standing in the face of one of the most well-documented genocides with one of the most well-documented mass killings of people because of their identity, it's essential that we stand up," said Zaid Yousef, a law student at UC Berkeley.

Students pitched tents on the steps of Sproul Hall. As of Monday morning, they didn't yell chants, they didn't make any noise, nor did they create conflict; they just flew flags and hung banners.


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Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of public affairs at UC Berkeley, said the student protesters were informed that they were in violation of the university's time, place, and manner rules. Mogulof said the university's stance is "we're going to do whatever it takes to ensure the protest doesn't interfere or disrupt the university's operations."

The scene at the Bay Area university is not nearly as intense as other incidents at U.S. colleges. There are no clashes with the administration or police and there are no reported arrests. No classes were canceled or forced to remote learning.

"We believe deeply in the First Amendment, we believe in the right that every American citizen has to express their views, we believe in diversity of perspective," said Mogulof. "But we also believe in supporting the rights of students who want to go to class, who want to complete their studies this year, and most importantly, we want to avoid any violence."

The group, which identifies as UC Berkeley Divest, claims the UC System pays about $2 billion to companies that provide military arms to and aid to Israel. One of their demands is for school leaders to divest.

A spokesperson for the president of the University of California system opted not to comment on the investment claim.

In addition, the group is asking for an end to the war, enacting policies to protect Pro-Palestinian students and ideas, as well as severing academic ties with Israeli universities.