DATE: Sept. 16, 2011

CONTACT: Graham Archer, National Lawyer’s Guild – graham@garcher.com


OAKLAND — A group of 9 students and pro-education activists are beginning trial today at 9 a.m. for charges relating to their involvement in pro-education demonstrations last March 2nd at Wheeler Hall on the UC-Berkeley campus.

The demonstrators – who nonviolently protested escalating tuition hikes that are making a UC education unaffordable for countless Californians – are pleading not guilty to charges of trespassing for staging a sit-in within a campus building. The trial is being held in Alameda County Superior Court at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, 661 Washington St.

On March 2, a coalition of campus and community organizations staged a demonstration against budget cuts to the UC and CSU system that would drastically raise the cost of higher education in California and impact ethnic studies. Near the end of the night-time demonstration, 17 students were arrested when they staged a sit-in in the lobby of Wheeler Hall. Of those, 14 face charges of charged with trespassing, and three others are additionally charged with peacefully delaying an officer, otherwise known as peacefully resisting arrest.

These demonstrations are part of an ongoing movement among the students of UC Berkeley and around the world in the fight for affordable education. As politicians race feverishly to cut social programs from already strained state and national budgets, tuitions at public universities have reached a record high, leaving many low income students unable to attend. Despite the firings, the furloughs, and the fee increases, administrators continue to receive regular wage increases and bonuses while those who use the university clamor for justice. As demonstration after demonstration, op-ed articles, and a growing chorus of bloggers have warned of the long-term consequences of neglecting higher education, UC students have received nothing but another 9.6% fee hike. And those students who raised a peaceful but insistent call for quality affordable education are being prosecuted in an attempt to silence their walk to the debt-guillotine.

The defendants—representing Laney Community College, UC Berkeley, San Jose State University, San Jose Community College, Diablo Valley College, San Francisco State, and local high schools—have asked for anyone who stands in solidarity with affordable education, free speech and against the repression of peaceful protest to attend the trial and spread the word!

The Blind Willies have put together a video of their performance at the Wheeler Hall demonstration that includes a lot of footage from the actual demonstration/police action.

Blind Willies – Soon My Work Will Be Over

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