BERKELEY, California – Today, October 8th, is the opening day of the UC Berkeley Blum Poverty Center. Richard Blum, husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein, is a current UC Regent who donated $15 million to help start this anti-poverty center in order to, “[create] innovative solutions to global poverty”. Richard Blum is the founder of Blum Capital, an investment firm with $4.5 billion in total assets. Although not the only UC Regent surrounded in controversy, Blum was the chair of the regents until last year and held stakes in several businesses that suggest he has a conflict of interest, including a construction firm involved in several UC building projects and private educational companies.
Around 12:15pm, some demonstrators began a sit-in at the poverty center. This action follows yesterday’s events at the Doe Library where around 600 demonstrators held a sit-in. There is also a simultaneous AFSCME 3299 picket at the site.
AFSCME local 3299 is the union representing service workers and health care workers in the UC system. In 2007, workers in the union began a campaign to raise service workers out of poverty level wages (as according to AFSCME, around 96% of service-workers qualify for public assistance). The irony of Blum holding the chair of the UC Regents during this contract struggle and founding an anti-poverty center, is not lost on workers and students at the university; and while service-workers were able to negotiate a new contract in 2009, the situation for workers at the UC continues to be a struggle.
Information about the grand opening was posted here in a UC Berkeley Press Release.
This video appears to be from the sit-in, in front of the Poverty Center:
More updates will follow here.
1:35pm: Protesters are being taken from the entry of the Poverty Center by police.
1:44pm: Around 11-13 protesters reportedly arrested.