UC Berkeley faculty members prevented a police crackdown of Occupy Cal protesters who took over a library Thursday evening in the school's anthropology department.
The protesters decided to take over the anthropology library and camp for the night in Kroeber Hall after its hours were cut about 50 percent after winter break.
"We are here to stand between you and the administration who might do things that would be unwise," Anthropology Department Chairman Terry Deacon told about 80 Occupy Cal members gathered in the library.
UC Berkeley and UC Davis police made national headlines late last year when they were taped mistreating Occupy protesters at their campuses. UC Berkeley police were taped beating students and UC Davis police were taped spraying passive protesters with pepper spray.
Deacon said when he heard about the planned occupation of the library, he made a deal with UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor George Breslauer to keep police away from the occupation with the understanding that he and other faculty members would stay the night with the occupiers. The deal is good only through Friday morning, he said.
"I negotiated with the administration to prevent police action because dragging students out of here would be detrimental to this space," Deacon said.
Anthropology Professor Stefania Pandolfo, who addressed a meeting of the occupiers, said she was speaking to clarify the role of the faculty in the protest.
"We are here as participants in the occupation," Pandolfo said.
Deacon said the hours at the library were cut because one librarian quit his job there over the winter break and the school had not yet hired a replacement or moved another school employee into the position. He said the cut in hours were not due to budget cuts in his department or in the wider school budget.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.