A group of students briefly occupied a classroom building at the University of New Orleans yesterday morning, then staged a larger walkout that culminated in a confrontation with university police.
Local media reported that eight students staged the occupation of UNO’s Milneburg Hall, which appears to have begun overnight. Campus cops forced their way into the building at about 8:30 am, removing the occupiers but making no arrests. University officials said that the students did no damage to the building, and “helped clean everything up” as they left, while an activist blog claims that the removal was conducted by “violent, angry campus cops wielding batons and pepper spray.”
After the occupation, some 150 students walked out of classes and made their way through the campus carrying banners that read OCCUPY, STRIKE, and RESIST. University officials had set up microphones for a rally at an amphitheater, but the students instead marched on the administration building.
Two protesters were arrested in the course of the day’s events, and video from the scene shows several physical altercations between protesters and campus police. UNO chancellor Tim Ryan later said that the campus police chief suffered a twisted ankle while trying to prevent students from gaining access to Ryan’s office.
More than $14 million has been cut from UNO’s budget since early 2009. Yesterday’s protesters intended, the blog Occupy Louisiana said, to “to take back control of their university from big business and little bureaucrats.”
Thursday Afternoon Update | The arrested students — one grad student and one undergrad — have been released from jail on their own recognizance. They face felony charges of resisting arrest and battering a police officer. Campus police say each of them punched two cops while attempting to gain access to the chancellor’s office.