UC Berkeley protesters march against tuition hikes, occupy classrooms

UC Berkeley (AP file photo)UC Berkeley (AP file photo)

UC Berkeley (AP file photo)UC Berkeley (AP file photo)

Dozens of protesters are occupying Tolman Hall on the UC Berkeley campus today, and there has been at least one confrontation with a university police officer involving pepper spray, according to police and protest organizers.

The protest began around noon today when hundreds of protesters gathered in Sproul Plaza to protest proposed statewide tuition hikes for the University of California system that could increase tuition by as much at 16 percent per year over four years.

“We're protesting the radical change in the structure of the university. The tuition hikes are one very large and one very painful symptom,” said Callie Maidhof, a Cal student and a spokeswoman for “Resistance Social,” the coalition that organized the demonstration.

Students then marched across campus before a large group entered Tolman Hall, the education and psychology building, Maidhof said.

One officer was “penned in” by the protesters when they attempted to block the hall doors, and used pepper spray to escape the situation, UC police Lt. Marc DeCoulode said.

Police estimate that there are 25 or 30 protesters in the east lobby of Tolman Hall and another 25 or 30 in a classroom there. The protesters are meeting with each other, and police were not attempting to remove them from the building as of around 2 p.m.

“Things are fairly stable right now, the protesters are in place, we're monitoring the situation,” Capt. Margo Bennett said.

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