UC Berkeley has joined in a nationwide protest action on college campuses in which students are pitching tents in prominent plaza spaces, as a sort of "sleep-in" in solidarity with displaced Gazans and in protest of investments in war-profiting corporations.

You may have seen the headlines about the ongoing tensions on the Columbia University campus in New York — in which the president of the university, shortly after testifying about antisemitism on the campus before Congress, unleashed the NYPD on the protesters and had 100 of them arrested, only to see the protest encampment grow and calls for her ouster increase.

The encampment on the central quad of Columbia's campus threatens to disrupt the final week of classes at the school and mar commencement events that are beginning within weeks. It was established in the pre-dawn hours before University President Dr. Nemat Shafik's congressional testimony last Wednesday, and dubbed the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment."

Similar encampments have now sprung up at the Boston campuses of Emerson College, Tufts University, and MIT, as well as Yale, Vanderbilt, and the University of Michigan, as Mother Jones reports.

And calling itself the Free Palestine Encampment — though they also had a banner saying Gaza Solidarity Encampment — one sprang up Monday on the steps of Sproul Hall on the Cal campus. It was established by the group known as the UC Berkeley Divestment Coalition.

"Just like they did at Columbia, we will continue to be here," coalition member Malak Afaneh, the co-president of Law Students for Justice in Palestine, tells the Daily Californian. "You can arrest us, you can expel us, you can suspend us, but we will continue to be here. That’s always the ultimate plan. We’re not moving."

Afanah also told the student paper that this was the first such encampment to be established in solidarity with Columbia on a UC campus.

The group is demanding that the University of California divest itself from any investments in weapons manufacturers who are profiting from the war in Gaza, and they name the companies BlackRock, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing.

"As a Palestinian, as a human being, I feel like standing in the face of one of the most well-documented genocides with one of the most well-documented mass killings of people because of their identity, it's essential that we stand up," said Zaid Yousef, a Berkeley law student, speaking to KTVU.

It's unclear how many students are involved in the encampment as of Tuesday, and while the university sounds tough in its statements, no action has yet been taken to remove the protesters.

"We will take the steps necessary to ensure the protest does not disrupt the university’s operations," said university spokesperson Dan Mogulof in a statement. Mogulof added, "There are no plans to change the university's investment policies and practices."

Elsewhere in California, a similar protest that took over a building on the campus of Cal Poly's Humboldt campus has led to the cancellation of classes through Wednesday, as KCRA reports.

While Columbia University has been the scene of numerous significant protests over the last few decades, the intensity of the animosity between students and the administration in this protest has many comparing it to an infamous 1968 series of protests in which campus buildings were fully occupied and shut down. That protest stemmed from the discovery of the university's connection to a weapons research think tank linked the Vietnam War.

On the Cal campus this week, the protest involving around a dozen tents has not interrupted any classes, and as KTVU reports, the encamped students "didn't yell chants, they didn't make any noise, nor did they create conflict; they just flew flags and hung banners."

It remains unclear whether the university will take any action at all — especially in light of the uproar that is ongoing at Columbia.

"We believe deeply in the First Amendment, we believe in the right that every American citizen has to express their views, we believe in diversity of perspective," said Cal spokesperson Mogulof. "But we also believe in supporting the rights of students who want to go to class, who want to complete their studies this year, and most importantly, we want to avoid any violence."

Previously: US Congress Targets UC Berkeley With Antisemitism Probe In Wake of Pro-Palestine Protests

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