Several students who barricaded themselves inside of a vacant University of California at Berkeley building last night to demand support for minority programs on campus have ended their occupation, according to protesters.
Banners were hung from the building at the sixth floor of Eshleman Hall, where the protesters were barricaded for roughly six hours yesterday while police stood outside of the building.
Protesters also gathered in the plaza outside of the occupied building, lighting candles and cheering on the demonstration inside.
At one point the barricaded protesters threw a message from the window to the crowd waiting below. "This is what anti-racist solidarity looks like," the letter said, and was signed, "Students for Equity and Efficacy."
They emerged peacefully last night shortly after 9:30 p.m. and none were arrested.
A statement of demands distributed by protesters over the Internet and in printed fliers said that the six protesters who locked themselves in Eshleman Hall are seeking increased support from the administration for minority recruitment and the Multicultural Student Development offices.
Protesters in Sproul Plaza also said they were concerned that minority representation on campus was diminishing following the 1996 passage of Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action programs at California public universities.
Protesters said that the protest began with a rally outside UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's home yesterday afternoon, and six protesters then broke off and barricaded themselves in Eshleman Hall.
Protesters said that Eshleman Hall used to be the home of the university's multicultural center.
The building is slated for demolition this fall to make way for planned improvements for the Sproul Plaza area of the campus, according to university officials.