A noontime anti-war rally and march from Sproul Plaza ended at the north side of Eshleman Hall Thursday, where protesters, upset over an editorial cartoon planned to spend the night.
About 30 people, mostly students, prepared to sleep below the windows of the Daily Californian’s sixth floor offices to protest the printing Tuesday of a cartoon the protesters called “blatantly racist.”
The protest marks the second time this week the newspaper’s offices have been ground zero for demonstrators. Approximately 150 people occupied the sixth floor Tuesday to demand an apology for the cartoon; 17 were arrested early Wednesday after they refused to leave.
The cartoon, by syndicated cartoonist and UC Berkeley alumnus Darrin Bell, depicted two middle-eastern men standing in the palm of a large hand in hell, apparently rejoicing at their good fortune for having achieved a massive terrorist attack on the United States.
About 2,500 people attended Thursday’s “National Student Day of Action” rally on Sproul Plaza.
The rally was followed by a march that ended at Eshleman Hall, where roughly 500 people remained to show support for the newspapers’ protesters. By evening approximately 30 protesters were preparing to spend the night to keep pressure on the newspaper.
“Our demands have not changed,” said mechanical engineering graduate student Abdul Zahzah. “Right now they’re merely allowing letters to the editor” in the newspaper. “That’s not enough.”
Daily Californian Editor in Chief Janny Hu stuck to her earlier refusal to issue an apology. The cartoon was one person’s commentary, she said, and did not constitute an endorsement of racism or hatred. “It goes down to freedom of speech,” she said. “Obviously freedom of speech comes with responsibilities, but we feel (publishing) the cartoon is within that responsibility.”
Zahzah argued, however, that “Freedom of speech has boundaries. It’s not (about) saying everything you want. The cartoon doesn’t fall into freedom of speech because it incites violence, harassment and hate crimes.”
The Daily Californian’s website was hacked into Wednesday night, when someone posted a fake apology.
Police as yet have no suspects. Film and English major Maryam Gharavi, a Stop the War Coalition member, said protesters had nothing to do with the hacking. “This is definitely not endorsed by the coalition,” she said.