Occupation of Durant Hall at UC Berkeley turns into Riot

Anne Marie Schuler|Staff Photographer

By Emma Anderson, Javier Panzar and Zach E.J. Williams
Date Added Friday, February 26, 2010 | 12:39 am

Daily Californian – UC Berkeley

Several protesters occupied Durant Hall in support of the statewide day of action on March 4, according to a statement given by Asaf Shalev, a spokesperson for the occupiers. Shalev is a former employee of The Daily Californian.

About 15 occupiers occupied the hall since around 11:15 p.m, according to Callie Maidhof, a student organizer and UC Berkeley graduate student. People appeared to be moving in and out of the building and some were on the roof.

Around 1:30 a.m., people appeared to be leaving the hall and marching to Upper Sproul Plaza. Protesters marched onto the intersection of Telegraph Ave. and Bancroft Way throwing over trash cans. One individual broke the window to Subway.

Police in riot gear and at least six police vehicles responded to the scene.

Police appear to have formed a line across Telegraph Ave. at Durant Ave. Protesters are dancing in the middle of Telegraph Ave. near Durant Ave., and appear to be moving closer to the police line at around 1:50 a.m.

A trash can appears to be on fire in front of Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food restaurant.

At 1:55 a.m., a dumpster appeared to be on fire in the middle of Telegraph Ave. An individual pushed the dumpster on its side as people appear to be dancing around and on top of it.

At about 2 a.m., Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene. Another individual, who said he was undercover security at Blake’s, appeared to be attempting to put out the fire.

BFD extinguished the fire.

At about 2:05 a.m., a fight appeared to have broken out in the middle of Telegraph Ave. and Durant Ave. Berkeley police responded to the scene, pushing people away south on Telegraph Ave.

Police appeared to be using batons to disperse people.

Protesters appeared to be throwing what appeared to be trash and buckets at police officers.

Police appeared to be using batons to push protesters southbound on Telegraph Ave. away from campus.

At 2:10 a.m., protesters appeared to have formed a line across Telegraph Ave. in the Durant Ave. intersection chanting “whose street, our street.” Police appeared to have formed a line opposite the protesters near Bank of America.

At around 2:15 a.m., both the UCPD and BPD line and protesters appeared to be pushing each other near the intersection of Durant Ave. and Telegraph Ave. Protesters appeared to be throwing glass objects at the police.

At about 2:25 a.m., protesters appeared to be throwing glass jugs of wine at the police.

At least one individual was reportedly arrested, but police could not be reached to confirm.

At about 2:45 a.m., the crowd of protesters appeared to be moving up Durant Ave. to Bowditch Ave. turning over trash cans and banging against windows.


At about 2:50 a.m., protesters lit approximately the sixth trash can on fire.

At about 2:55 a.m., protesters had halted at the intersection of College Ave. and Durant Ave. Some individuals pushed dumpsters onto the street and pushed them down Durant Ave. towards Telegraph Ave.

At about 3:05 a.m., about five police cars blocked off the intersection at College Ave. and Durant Ave. Several protesters appeared to be marching down College Ave.

About four police cars appeared to be driving eastbound on Channing Ave.

BART Police also appeared to have responded to the scene.

After protesters propelled dumpsters at the police, police appeared to have cleared the sce

Maidhof said the occupation was not planned.

“But if you get all the people here what they decide to do is what matters, it is not whoever may or may not have planned it, that is irrelevant at a certain point,” she said.

Maidhof said occupiers are attempting to rebuild the energy from last semester.

About 100 people had gathered, dancing and talking, outside the hall.

Maidhof said the occupiers were originally at a dance party on Upper Sproul Plaza, which began at 10 p.m.

Why Durant Hall?

This communique was issued by organizers of the event….

Architecture has, like other growing phenomena, to go to school before it can wisely be emancipated. It is a distinctly promising sign of future power, for a young people . . . to forget self for the time being in the quiet, assiduous acquisition of knowledge already established by others. The time for fresh personal expression will come later.

–John Galen Howard, 1913

Accelerate: we are here to help architecture make the leap to emancipation. The architect John Galen Howard, who designed and oversaw the construction of what is now called Durant Hall at the beginning of the last century, was a hesitant man. We say: the time for fresh personal expression is now! There is no question that we are already the product of other people’s assiduously accumulated knowledges, so many that they become impossible to catalog exhaustively. The accumulation of knowledge is a library, perhaps, but it is also a struggle, a movement, a tactic. Likewise, the acquisition of knowledge does not have to be quiet — next to the sound system, self is forgotten and the commune emerges. The dance party: a distinctly promising sign of present power.

Future power too. On March 4, UC Berkeley students, workers, and faculty will march in solidarity with those from other UCs, CSUs, community colleges, and K-12 schools across California and the country as a whole. Like this building, reclaimed from the graveyard of financial speculation, we will reclaim the streets of Oakland in conjunction with an international day of action for public education to be free and democratic.

For the last two years, Durant Hall has been little more than a shell, surrounded by piles of rubble and heavy machinery, themselves surrounded by uneven rows of chain-link fencing. No longer is there any trace of the library it once was — the East Asian Library, now moved across campus to a new building named after an insurance mogul who founded the notorious AIG. Language has been uprooted, pruned, and replanted as well. The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures went with the library, and in the process lost half its Japanese, Korean, and Chinese classes as well as the faculty that taught them — over 1,500 curious students will be turned away this year. Subtracted from the flow of campus life, Durant Hall has existed only as a barrier, an inconvenience, a silent witness to the frustration of the thousands of students, workers, and faculty protesters who surrounded the neighboring Wheeler Hall and clashed with police last November.

But apparent emptiness conceals the movement beneath the surface, behind its fenced-off walls: capital flows through its veins. “Capital Projects,” the administration of the University of California calls them. As we now know, the UC administration has used not only students’ tuition, but also the promise of future tuition increases, to secure the bonds and bond ratings necessary to channel ever increasing resources into construction projects. They will always need more money, and it will always be our money. A general concern that changes the way we see the campus that surrounds us. But if there is one building in particular that exemplifies this process, it is Durant Hall: its renovation was halted in 2008 for lack of funds, and only started up again after the administration sold $1.3 billion in construction bonds last May backed by our fee hike as collateral. Its melancholy fate is to become yet another administration building. Durant Hall will be inhabited by deans and staff of the College of Letters and Science, but it has already been occupied by a bloated administration with private capital on its mind.

Capital, like architecture, is a growing phenomenon, but one that never matures. It pushes outward continuously in all directions, always presupposing an endless, spiraling expansion. New endpoints replace old ones in smooth succession, projecting themselves onto the grid of the future, erasing languages, knowledges, and histories that do not fit easily into the right angles of its blueprints. But we will not let their future bulldoze our present. We have our own bulldozers: dance parties to reclaim dead buildings, marches to reclaim the streets. On March 4, fight back!


The College of Debtors in Defiance.


2 responses to “Occupation of Durant Hall at UC Berkeley turns into Riot

  1. Pingback: Emeute universitaire à Berkeley, Californie – février 2010 « anthropologie du présent

  2. The real problem with lack of state money for UC, CSU and community colleges, not to mention social services in general for Californians, is lack of tax revenue. The people need to storm Sacramento and demand changes to the Prop 13 tax laws and the absurd voter initiative process that makes it impossible for
    CA elected officials to do any actual governing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s