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Protesters Rally for Students Facing Discipline for Sit-In

October 17, 2002|From Associated Press

BERKELEY — About 100 pro-Palestinian protesters at UC Berkeley took their case to the steps of Sproul Plaza, rallying in support of 32 students facing possible suspension for an April sit-in.

Calling for "Free Speech, Free Palestine," speakers at the rally Wednesday said the case recalls memories of the Free Speech Movement, which began 38 years ago this month at Berkeley.

"This is our university. It's our freedom of speech," said Chris Cantor, a graduate student and member of the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Free Speech Movement was about students' right to conduct political activity on campus. The current debate is over how far students can go.

The 32 students facing disciplinary hearings were among 79 people arrested April 9 for taking over Berkeley's Wheeler Hall in a demonstration demanding that the University of California system divest from companies doing business with Israel.

Prosecutors later dropped trespassing and other charges against the protesters and a judge issued a factual finding of innocence. But Berkeley administrators are going ahead with the hearings, saying students broke school rules by disrupting classes.

Most of the students face sanctions up to and including suspension.

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