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UC Berkeley Jewish students successfully march without confrontation

By Gloria Rodríguez and Leslie Brinkley

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    BERKELEY, California (KGO) — Jewish students at UC Berkeley were able to successfully march and rally on campus Monday just two weeks after violence interrupted a previous gathering. University officials also forced supporters of Palestinian justice to take down tape across Sather Gate.

Jewish students at Cal along with supporters from the community gathered in front of Zellerbach Hall, many of them dressed in white.

“All we’re asking of the administration is that they enforce their own policies and make sure that Jewish students can walk through the gates to campus every day and feel welcome and have equal rights to free speech,” said Charlotte Aaron, a UC Berkeley Jewish student organizer. “The gate is still blocked in violation of school policy.”

For weeks, Justice for Palestine supporters have blocked the middle section of Sather Gate with yellow tape. This week the university took it down. And instead, a massive banner was put up.

“We found an alternative that would not be taken down immediately,” said an organizer with Graduate Students for Justice for Palestine who declined to give her name.

UC Berkeley did not remove it.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof explained why.

“The banner is up and it too represents a violation of time, place and manner rules, but we assessed that using law-enforcement to clear it would create turmoil,” Mogulof said.

At noon, the Jewish students marched onto Sproul Plaza and instead of passing through Sather Gate and past the banner, they avoided a confrontation by literally fording the creek to get to the other side on a foot path.

The crowd of 200 Jewish supporters ended up in front of California Hall where faculty members offered their support, commenting on the Feb. 26 disturbance that forced Jewish students to move off campus.

Sophie Hahn, Berkeley city councilmember said, “When we see the kind of despicable violence that we saw here on campus just a few days ago, it is totally in completely unacceptable and we are here to stand with you and to work with the university to make sure that never happens again.”

Hannah Schlater, a UC Berkeley Jewish student organizer said, “The administration’s continued complacency only emboldens those who want to hurt Jews.”

Meanwhile, UC Berkeley Professor Ron Hassner is staging a sleep-in protest at his office, even teaching all classes on Zoom.

He says the university needs to address what he is calling antisemitism on campus. He says many students have faced harassment.

After the peaceful rally, a woman who appeared unaffiliated with the march tore through the paper banner at Sather Gate.

UC Berkeley is currently on a US Department of Education list of campuses under investigation for discrimination.

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