6 – If UC Berkeley was a woolly mammoth, People’s Park would be its La Brea tar pit

By P. Wingnut

When 100 police raided People’s Park in the middle the night August 3 to fence it so the University of California could build an 1,100 bed, $312 million dorm, no UC bureaucrat could have imagined in their worst nightmares that 6 months later the Park would remain — construction stalled indefinitely by a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit. 

But those of us who love and inhabit the Park knew that any attempt to develop the park would be a long, strange trip. The Park is coated in a form of revolutionary teflon so powerful that no one can grab hold very tightly — including us! 

Construction vehicles that were destroyed by Park supporters after the police raid had blocked the Park’s basketball court for months, but they’ve recently been removed — which is great because we need the Park to be more functional if we’re to have any chance of saving it. The Park is still cluttered with a bunch of tree rubbish from the slaughter when the University cut down 47 trees during the 12 hours they controlled the Park — so let’s do a Park makeover this spring. Stay tuned for a day of action to fix the stage, clean the bathrooms and plant trees!

A decision in the CEQA lawsuit might be announced by the time you read this article, but an appeal is expected. The appeals court’s preliminary ruling was in favor of Park supporters, and during oral arguments the 3 judge panel was openly skeptical of te University lawyers’ silly arguments. Even if the University were to win in Court, police are unlikely to attack again until the University’s 30,000 students are out of town — so maybe the middle of the night in June or July? 

The City and the University have spent years trying to isolate the Park by framing it as an outdated vestige of the 1960s or just another homeless encampment that should be “cleaned up” to make way for progress. The only way to protect the Park long-term is to make it a wonderful Park full of life and beauty right now in 2023— not just a tattered nostalgia trip. There are a lot of events and activities at the Park these days you can plug into — gardening, Food Not Bombs, Open Air Temple … you can add your own. 

The Park has always been about seizing institutional land, returning it to the commons, and operating it through user development. Since it was constructed in 1969 without University permission on land where UC had razed houses, UC has always claimed to own the Park, but has never been able to control it. Thousands built the Park in a communal eruption of freedom, love and joy, only to have UC destroy it weeks later, with police shooting randomly into crowds, killing bystander James Rector and wounding over 100. The National Guard occupied Berkeley for a week. Their land title is dripping in blood. 

Those of us who use, enjoy, occupy and love the Park are unstoppable. UC Berkeley and their lackeys had better get out of the way if they can’t lend a hand. 

The 54th anniversary Park concerts will be April 22 and 23. Park co-founder Michael Delacour is currently in hospice so send him and his nephew Dusk your thoughts and loving energy. Join the Park email list for legal updates and event announcements by emailing: info@peoplespark.org. Text SAVETHEPARK to 41372 to join the bulldozer alarm text alert. For more info peoplespark.org