Protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, pitched tents 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.
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.”