Image: Demonstrators at University of California, Berkeley
Stephen Lam  /  Reuters
Demonstrators listens as former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich speaks on the steps outside Sproul Hall in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 11/16/2011 5:11:55 AM ET 2011-11-16T10:11:55

Protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, pitched tents Tuesday night in defiance of campus officials a week after police removed a nascent anti-Wall Street encampment.

The late-night escalation by students and other protesters followed a day of peaceful demonstrations against economic inequality and set the stage for a possible showdown with police.

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It also came hours after nerves on the campus famed for its 1960s student activism were jarred by an afternoon shooting in a computer lab that police said appeared unrelated to the rallies in Sproul Plaza, about half a mile away.

Police estimated the size of the crowd reached as many as 3,700 people at its peak a few hours after dark.

The mood was festive as the night wore on, with the crowd diminishing and police keeping a low-key presence at the fringe of the plaza.

A night of re-Occupation at Zuccotti Park

Police Lieutenant Alex Yao said told Reuters that police were "working with university administrators at this point to try to determine a course of action."

The protesters cheered wildly when former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich implored them to take a moral stand against the very rich owning so much of America's wealth.

"The days of apathy are over folks," Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, said to a roaring crowd at Sproul Hall.

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"We are losing the moral foundation stone on which this country and our democracy were built," he added. "There are some people out there who say we cannot afford education any longer, we cannot provide social services for the poor ... but how can that be true if we are now richer than we have ever been before?"

Protesters cheered as at least 10 tents were constructed on the steps, less than a week after baton-wielding police clashed with people who tried to defy a campus ban on camping.

Organizers from student, faculty and labor groups had called for a daylong campus strike featuring teach-ins, public readings, workshops and marches in response to the arrest of 39 people last week.

PhotoBlog: Occupy Wall Street

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has launched an investigation into allegations that campus police used excessive force. He said videos of the protests were disturbing, and he plans to grant amnesty to all students who were arrested and cited for attempting to block police from removing the tents.

Tuesday's rallies were bolstered by members of the Occupy Oakland movement, who were evicted Monday morning from their own camp in that city's Frank Ogawa Plaza near downtown and who marched north to join protests at Berkeley.

'A powerful thing'
Elizabeth de Martelly, a 29-year-old UC Berkeley graduate student, said she was inspired by Reich's comments about social movements born from moral outrage and planned to spend the night in the new encampment.

"That said, I want to see the movement to expand beyond encampments," she said amid the music, light shows and dancing. "But this is a powerful thing for the time being."

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Shortly after 8 p.m. local time, activists huddling in a "general assembly" meeting voted overwhelmingly to re-establish an encampment in defiance of campus rules.

Within about 90 minutes, at least 15 tents were erected and many other protesters pulled out sleeping bags.

"We will not be moved!" shouted a speaker who announced the vote. "Power to the people. We are here to stay."

In other developments Tuesday:

  • In New York, a judge upheld the city's right to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters from a park after baton-wielding police in riot gear broke up a two-month-old demonstration.
  • Anti-Wall Street protesters marching from New York to Washington have made their way into Delaware. Organizer Kelley Brannon said the "Occupy the Highway" march arrived in Wilmington Tuesday. The protesters plan to arrive in Washington by Nov. 23.
  • About 50 protesters gathered on the steps of City Hall in downtown Atlanta on a rainy  evening, holding banners reading, "Take Back Wall Street" and "Oakland, Wall Street, Atlanta, Chapel Hill: Our Passion for Freedom is Stronger Than Their Prison."
  • A sit-in outside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office to try to stop health care cuts ended Tuesday night after several hours.
  • Detroit City Council has given Occupy Detroit protesters a one-week extension on their right to hold out at a city park.
  • A group of key Occupy Portland demonstrators say they're breaking off ties with the city and police amid allegations by demonstrators that police used excessive force when they broke up a downtown camp that protesters had held for five weeks. Protester Justin Bridges was hospitalized Sunday after police dragged him away from the camp, and he now claims officers beat and brutalized him. Police said Bridges was simply pulled away from a dangerous situation when he fell to the ground between protesters and riot police.
  • Five people were arrested Tuesday evening following an Occupy Pittsburgh protest at the city's convention center, authorities said.
  • Members of Occupy Richmond say they'll take up a newspaper publisher's offer to encamp on his property next door to the mayor's residence. The protesters said they'll accept the offer from Raymond Boone, editor and founder the Richmond Free Press.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: NY judge upholds eviction of ‘Occupy’ campsite

  1. Transcript of: NY judge upholds eviction of ‘Occupy’ campsite

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Another story in the news. All day today here in New York , the NYPD moved into Lower Manhattan before dawn and they emptied the park of those Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been living there for two months, where it all started. Here's what Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan looked like just yesterday, before the police raid, and afterward. Everything, everyone out and a power washing by sanitation workers. Late today, a judge ruled they can go back, but not with their tents, sleeping bags and other camping gear. It's a developing story here in New York tonight. NBC 's Mara Schiavocampo covering for us. Mara , good evening.

    MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO reporting: Brian , good evening. Protesters began re-entering this park about an hour ago, streaming in joyously. This after a tumultuous day when they were evicted from the park, their camp dismantled completely. Shortly after midnight, hundreds of officers in riot gear stormed the protesters' camp. Those who refused to leave were forced out.

    Unidentified Man #1: Cops came in there six at a time, pulling people, pulling kids up by their arms, by their shoulders, by their hair.

    Unidentified Woman: I think it's an outrage what they're doing.

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: Up to 100 were arrested. Every single tent and sleeping bag hauled away. Then, before dawn , the park was scrubbed clean.

    Unidentified Man #2: Well, it was unsanitary. It broke all the rules that the park was about.

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: City officials said while they support the right to protest, it's time for the occupation to end.

    Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York City): The First Amendment protects speech. It does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: New York joins a growing list of cities cracking down this week, from Oakland ...

    Unidentified Man #3: All right. We got everybody out.

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: ...to Portland...

    Group of Protesters:

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: ...to Berkeley just this afternoon. The protest began in New York two months ago. The anger at corporate greed and wealth inequality gaining traction and national attention.

    Unidentified Man #4: I'm just letting my friends, you know.

    Unidentified Man #5: ...doesn't want you anymore. All right?

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: But now, many communities are fed up with the cost and inconvenience of around the clock protest camps.

    Mr. LARRY SABATO (University of Virginia Center for Politics): People were sympathetic to at least some of the goals as expressed by the early occupiers, but lately it seems, because of crime and sanitation and ideological disputes, this seems to be degenerating in a way that reminds people of the worst of the 1960s .

    Group of Protesters: The whole world is watching.

    SCHIAVOCAMPO: In New York , protesters spent the day trying to get back into Zuccotti Park , fighting not just for access to one park but the future of their movement. Though protesters have been allowed back into the park, this is far from a victory for them. They can no longer camp here, which completely changes the

    nature of their occupation. Brian: Mara Schiavocampo , after a long day, in Lower Manhattan . Mara , thanks.

    WILLIAMS:

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