Activists take over UC Berkeley building near People's Park

UC Berkeley put out a WarnMe alert urging people to avoid the area around Anna Head, at Channing Way and Bowditch Street.

Activists take over UC Berkeley building near People's Park
Protesters outside Anna Head at Channing Way and Bowditch Street in Berkeley on May 15, 2024. Emilie Raguso/The Berkeley Scanner

UC Berkeley advised community members to avoid an area near People's Park on Wednesday where protesters had taken over an unused building owned by Cal.

Activists put out several alerts on X at about 2:30 p.m. calling for support and saying that a building had "been taken on the corner of Channing & Bowditch next to People's Park in Berkeley to avenge Al-Shifa Hospital" in Gaza.

They called for "medics, bikes, & bodies to join & support in all capacities."

UC Berkeley initially put out a WarnMe alert at about 1:50 p.m. urging people to avoid the Anna Head complex and 2538 Channing Way (near Bowditch Street) "until further notice."

The brief alert said only that there was police activity near Bowditch and Channing.

Just after 3:20 p.m., UC Berkeley put out a second alert saying that the police activity was ongoing and that people should continue to avoid the area.

Police arrest protesters who took over UC Berkeley building
From the start, UC Berkeley made it clear that the occupation would be treated as a crime scene rather than First Amendment activity.

Over the radio, UCPD officers described individuals vandalizing the Anna Head property by breaking windows and cutting fences, among other activities.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said activists were occupying an unused building in the Anna Head complex. He described the structure as "an unsafe, boarded-up … building next to People's Park.

"This is an active crime scene," Mogulof said. "It is not nonviolent civil disobedience."

As of 4 p.m., there had been no violence and no arrests, he said.

Protesters outside Anna Head at Channing Way and Bowditch Street in Berkeley. Scanner Insider

There were also reports that a nearby building had been evacuated earlier in the afternoon due to the protest and that activists had stopped PG&E from planned work in the area.

Mogulof said activists affiliated with People's Park had recently announced plans for unsanctioned activity in the area.

He said campus officials had confirmed that the "nonviolent protesters with whom the campus reached an understanding yesterday" had not initiated the activity at Anna Head.

Preservationists worry about fate of occupied Cal building
Paul Chapman’s group is asking UC Berkeley to take action to minimize damage to Anna Head and move swiftly to end the occupation.

On Tuesday, UC Berkeley reached an agreement with Gaza protesters who had set up tents on campus in April.

"The agreement hailed the end to a tent village around Sproul Hall that had swelled to nearly 200 tents at its peak," the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

As a result of the agreement, the protesters had agreed to break camp in exchange for university concessions, according to media reports.

Read more about crime near UC Berkeley.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the creation of People's Park and May 15 is the anniversary of "Bloody Thursday," the infamous day in 1969 when police and protesters clashed violently over the park's fate.

One man was killed, one was blinded and many protesters and police were injured in the conflict.

"It is precisely 55 years since Bloody Thursday and People's Park is not over," one woman wrote on X on Wednesday. "The revolution in Palestine is not over. Show the fuck up Bay Area!!!"

Another X user, @CallaWalsh, who posted video from inside the occupied building, wrote that, "This escalation comes after the official Berkeley encampment agreed with admin to shut down for weak concessions."

Graffiti inside the building included phrases such as "Avenge Al-Shifa," "Pigs R best dead," "Zionism=Nazism" and "Our martyrs never die."

This story was updated after publication due to the developing nature of events.