US: Students violently attack Berkeley leader's home

The protests over budget cuts to higher education in California have repeatedly featured civil disobedience in recent weeks, with numerous building takeovers and sit-ins, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. But the protests took a more violent turn last weekend with an attack on the home of the chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley.

Dozens of protesters - apparently a mix of students and non-students - rushed the home on 11 December, smashed planters, and threw various objects, some of them aflame, at windows. Robert J Birgeneau, the chancellor, issued a statement in which he said: "These are criminals, not activists. The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives. The people involved in this action will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I want to emphasise that they represent an extreme minority of our students."

Authorities arrested eight people, including two identified as Berkeley students, and charged them with rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, felony vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. Many others who were present ran away. The arrested students could not be reached, but Occupy California, a blog affiliated with the protest movement, published an apparent defence of the attack on the chancellor's home. The statement noted arrests earlier on the day of participants at a peaceful protest at Wheeler Hall, which Berkeley officials said needed to be broken up to avoid disruptions of academic operations.
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site