December 11 update: The second Wheeler Hall takeover has ended in mass arrests after nearly four days of apparently peaceful occupation.
Before Thanksgiving, student activists snuck into UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall and managed to shut it down for a day before they were rousted and arrested.
Tonight (Monday, December 7) students are back at Wheeler with a more ambitious plan. Instead of shutting it down, they want to open it up.
This week is “dead week” at Berkeley — the study week between the end of classes and the beginning of finals — and the Wheeler occupiers have announced that they intend to turn Dead Week into Live Week. They’re aiming to keep Wheeler Hall occupied and open to all comer from now until finals begin.
In keeping with their plan for a liberated, open building, the activists are reaching out to the campus. Their Live Week website includes the usual manifesto, but it also boasts a Wiki on the occupation and a calendar of events. Earlier this evening, when the occupiers hosted a speaker, they put up streaming video of the event on the site’s main page.
Earlier tonight it was reported on Twitter that administrators had given the students a 7:30 deadline to vacate the building. That deadline came and went with no police action, though, and at a little before nine this tweet was posted from the @anticapitalproj Twitter feed:
#ucstrike TOTAL victory. Space held, cops retreat til morning.
See you then.
5:00 am California time | There was a bit of a scare after I went to bed, but the situation was apparently resolved. (This tweet and this correction are pretty amusing.) Things are quiet now, and the students have settled in.
There’s a live video feed up from Wheeler, just a camera in a dark room. I heard some show tunes earlier, and someone walking around.
The feed has a text chat option, too — it’s quiet at the moment, but I can see it being really valuable once everyone’s awake.
In addition to the live feed, the folks inside have posted a short video tour of the lobby and main auditorium at Wheeler. (The video opens with footage of some guys sweeping and mopping, by the way.) The video gives an introduction to the principles of the occupation, and a view of the way things are being run.
This new occupation has a lot in common with recent UC library study-ins, but it’s far bolder than those actions. Wheeler II is clearly modeled on the large-scale, long-term campus occupations that have swept Europe in the last year — occupations in which students have sought to establish functioning open university communities in campus spaces. A few recent American occupations have attempted to create similar environments, but I know of none which have reached the level of success that we’re seeing at Wheeler right now.
4:00 pm California time | The Wheeler occupation has passed the 24-hour mark with no end in sight. A list of today’s events indicates the group’s ambition and confidence — it includes everything from a scholarly talk and a legal rights training to a poetry reading and a knitting group. (Tomorrow there’s a film screening and a dance class on the agenda.)
9:00 pm California time | Wheeler Hall sources are reporting on Twitter that the Berkeley administration “has given us Wheeler Hall through Friday.” More details when I get them.