A broken light in front of chancellor's home (Courtesy Noah Berger, AP)
A broken light in front of chancellor’s home (Courtesy Noah Berger, AP)

State and university officials are condemning a Friday night attack on the home of the UC Berkeley Chancellor.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the 11:15 pm incident, in which eight people were arrested, “an act of terrorism”.

“California will not tolerate any type of terrorism against any leaders, including educators,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement released Saturday.

A crowd of 75 people swarmed the campus home of UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau around 11:15 pm Friday night, breaking glass fixtures, overturning planters and deeply frightening the chancellor and his wife.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace,” and began smashing planters, windows and lights. Several hurled their torches at the building,” said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Birgeneau was sleeping at the time and was awakened by his wife, Mary Catherine, Mogulof said. They were frightened, but unharmed, he said.

“These are criminals, not activists,” Birgeneau said in a statement. “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 emphasize that they represent an extreme minority of our students.”

The attack came after police arrested 66 people Fiday morning for occupying Wheeler Hall.

UC President Mark Yudof, who has also been confronted many times by protesters, also criticized the attack.

“The attack on Chancellor (Robert) Birgeneau’s residence late last night was appalling,” Yudof said in a prepared statement. “The behavior as described went far beyond the boundaries of public dissent, and such lawlessness cannot be tolerated.”

It was the most violent attack on the chancellor’s home since 1992, when an woman broke into the home and was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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  1. $3 Million Extravagant, Arrogant Spending by UC President Yudof for UCBerkeley Chancellor Birgeneau to Hire Consultants – When Work Can Be Done Internally
    These days, every dollar counts. Contact Senate (Ms. Romero 916.651.4105) & Assembly (Ms. Brownley 916.319.2044) Chairperson’s Education Committees or your representatives.
    Do the work internally at no additional costs with UCB Academic Senate Leadership (C. Kutz/F. Doyle), the world – class UCB faculty/ staff, & the UCB Chancellor’s bloated staff (G. Breslauer, N. Brostrom, F. Yeary, P. Hoffman, C. Holmes etc) & President Yudof.
    President Yudof’s UCB Chancellor should do the high paid work he is paid for instead of hiring expensive East Coast consults to do the work of his job. ‘World class’ smart executives like Chancellor Birgeneau need to do the hard work analysis, and make the tough-minded difficult, decisions to identify inefficiencies.
    Where do the $3,000,000 consultants get their recommendations?
    From interviewing the UCB senior management that hired them and approves their monthly consultant fees and expense reports. Remember the nationally known auditing firm who said the right things and submitted recommendations that senior management wanted to hear and fooled the public, state, federal agencies?
    $3 million impartial consultants never bite the hands (Birgeneau/Yeary) that feed them!
    Mr. Birgeneau’s accountabilities include “inspiring innovation, leading change.” This involves “defining outcomes, energizing others at all levels and ensuring continuing commitment.” Instead of deploying his leadership and setting a good example by doing the work of his Chancellor’s job, Mr. Birgeneau outsourced his work to the $3,000,000 consultants. Doesn’t he engage UC and UC Berkeley people at all levels to examine inefficiencies and recommend $150 million of trims? Hasn’t he talked to Cornell and the University of North Carolina – which also hired the consultants — about best practices and recommendations that will eliminate inefficiencies?
    No wonder the faculty, staff, students, Senate & Assembly are angry and suspicious.
    In today’s economy three million dollars is a irresponsible price to pay when a knowledgeable ‘world-class’ UCB Chancellor and his bloated staff do not do the work of their jobs.
    Together, we will make a difference.

  2. I’m a pacifist, and never support violent action of any variety for any reason (no, not even in self defense). That said, the high and the mighty are going to have to get used to these sorts of actions–and worse–unless there are major structural changes made in the way the United States and other neo-liberal democracies manage their affairs. The ruling classes have two choices: either throw the rest of us some not entirely insignificant crumbs in exchange for their continued safety and comfort, or further embrace a corporate-fascist police state.

  3. re: “Overturned PLANTERS? Oh god, is nothing sacred?”

    These appear to have been large, heavy planters that will cost hundreds of dollars to replace (some were broken in the process). Incendiaries were thrown at the place. A window was broken. Suppose you are in bed or enjoying the evening and that kind of stuff happens where *you* live?

    Of the eight arrested, six were not Cal students, five are not identified as students anywhere, and three are over 30. In footage of the arrests on TV news I recognized one of the arrested from street life around Telegraph going back almost 20 years.

    Describing the action as criminal, life-endangering, and yes, even terrorist does not seem out of proportion to me.