* Festive mood, police keep low-key presence
* Former Labor Secretary Reich salutes protesters
By Laird Harrison
BERKELEY, Calif., Nov 16 Protesters at the
University of California, Berkeley, pitched tents on Tuesday
night in defiance of campus officials a week after police
removed a nascent anti-Wall Street encampment.
The late-night escalation by students and other protesters
followed a day of peaceful demonstrations against economic
inequality and cuts to higher-education spending and set the
stage for a possible showdown with police.
It also came hours after nerves on the campus famed for its
1960s student activism were jarred by an afternoon shooting in
a computer lab that police said appeared unrelated to the
rallies in Sproul Plaza, about half a mile (1 km) away.
Police estimated the size of the crowd reached as many as
3,700 people at its peak a few hours after dark.
The mood was festive as the night wore on, with the crowd
diminishing and police keeping a low-key presence at the fringe
of the plaza.
Police Lieutenant Alex Yao said told Reuters that police
were "working with university administrators at this point to
try to determine a course of action overnight."
UC Berkeley police said they shot and wounded a man who
drew a gun from his backpack in the lab at the Haas School of
Business and displayed it in a threatening manner. The man, who
was not identified, was taken to a hospital for surgery, the
university said, but no one else was hurt.
News of the shooting spread quickly on campus as the
university transmitted text alerts to students advising them of
the incident. Protesters sent out their own Twitter message
declaring they would not be deterred from rebuilding an "Occupy
Cal Encampment" torn down by police the previous week.
Organizers from student, faculty and labor groups had
called for a daylong campus strike featuring teach-ins, public
readings, workshops and marches in response to the arrest of 39
people last week after demonstrators briefly tried to "occupy"
the campus with tents.
Tuesday's rallies were bolstered by members of the Occupy
Oakland movement, who were evicted on Monday morning from their
own camp in that city's Frank Ogawa Plaza near downtown and who
marched north to join protests at Berkeley.
In New York on Tuesday, a judge upheld the city's right to
evict Occupy Wall Street protesters from a park after
baton-wielding police in riot gear broke up a two-month-old
demonstration that inspired similar movements throughout the
United States and the world.
ACTION SHIFTS FROM OAKLAND
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich hailed the
Berkeley protesters in a late-night speech from the steps of
Sproul Hall, invoking the leaders of the 1964-1965 "Free Speech
Movement" at Berkeley.
"The Occupy movement is beginning to respond to the crisis
in democracy," he said. "You are already succeeding. ... The
days of apathy are over, folks. Once this has begun, this
cannot be stopped and will not be stopped."
Shortly after 8 p.m. local time, activists huddling in a
"general assembly" meeting voted overwhelmingly to re-establish
an encampment in defiance of campus rules. Within about 90
minutes, at least 15 tents were erected and many other
protesters pulled out sleeping bags.
"We will not be moved!" shouted a speaker who announced the
vote. "Power to the people. We are here to stay."