NEWS BRIEF: UC Berkeley activists join pro-palestinian encampment protests


Beginning late in April of 2024, University of California Berkeley students and faculty set up an encampment protest outside of Sproul Plaza, calling for UC Berkeley to commit to a financial divestment from Israel in response to the war in Gaza. According to UC Berkeley Divest, a coalition of several campus-based organizations “demanding divestment from occupation and genocide,” organizers of the encampment protest call for a complete divestment from Israel and companies that the organization says “(are) profiting from the colonization of Palestine.”

The coalition includes over a hundred signatures from various groups and organizations, including the UAW 4811, the union chapter representing approximately 48,000 UC workers, which plans for an upcoming strike authorization vote in response to crackdowns on Pro-Palestinian encampment protests. The UC Berkeley campus has been a hotspot for student activism, including demonstrations opposed to the Vietnam War and Iraq War, as well as Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement. In some instances, UC Berkeley has divested following pressure from other student-based movements. 

The UC Berkeley encampment protest is part of a broader movement across the country, with numerous US college campuses having similar demonstrations; protests have also spread internationally. Most of the protests have remained peaceful, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project says, “the overwhelming majority of student protests since October, 99 percent, have remained peaceful.” Pro-Palestine demonstrations across the country have been met with significant police response; the Associated Press reports over 2,600 students who have been arrested across the US since protests began, as of Tuesday, May 7, 2024.