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Former Clinton Cabinet member Robert Reich speaks to huge crowd at Berkeley
The Bay Area's Occupy movement was centered in Berkeley Tuesday with a general strike on the Cal campus. The protest spilled into Wednesday after about a dozen people pitched tents, defying orders not to be there and stayed the night.
Tuesday's strike was called by a coalition of students and university employee unions. It was part march, part walk-out, part teach-in and part occupy.
Demonstrations took place throughout the day, with a general assembly that started at 5 p.m.
Thousands of people crowded Sproul Plaza by nightfall. During the evening meeting, protesters called for a vote if an Occupy Cal encampment should be set up on campus. They approved that plan by an overwhelming vote in the 8 p.m. hour.
"We don't know what's going to happen now -- there are no guarantees we won't be arrested tonight," one protester said. Several people started putting up tents shortly after the vote. There was no immediate response by surrounding police in the overnight or early morning hours.
University polce told reporters they had no plans to remove the tents Tuesday night. The issue of whether they would be able to stay or be forced to leave appeared to be pushed to Wednesday.
UC Berkeley leaders told reporters they were determined to avoid a repeat of last week's violence on campus that included police in riot gear using billy clubs to break apart human chains. The violence broke out after protesters tried to set up tents on the campus the first time.
"In the long run we won't allow an encampment that's the equivalent of Occupy Oakland or Occupy San Francisco," UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said ahead of the vote. However, he said the university might allow a symbolic structure, like a sculpture of a tent.
The general strike also included a planned speech by UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. secretary of labor Robert Reich. Reich plans to speak at Sproul Plaza at 8 p.m
The protest was joined by many other groups, including the former Occupy Oakland encampment.
Also on the minds of the students is Tuesday's decision by UC regents to cancel meetings scheduled for this Wednesday and Thursday. The regents blame the cancellation on a threat of "significant violence and vandalism."
Bay City News contributed to this report.