People Righteously Resist Attack on Berkeley’s Historic People’s Park—Beating Back Attempts to Convert to Dorms

After over 50 years of efforts—legal, police, University of California (UC) and the city of Berkeley—police and construction crews swooped into Berkeley’s historic People’s Park in the middle of the night on August 2, on a mission to destroy the park and build student dorms. Crews put up fences, cleared a way for bulldozers, cut down trees and started to tear up the park.

Peoples' Park, cop on a tree


Peoples' Park, cop on a tree trunk    Photo: Revolution Books, Berkeley

Peoples’ resistance to these assaults began before dawn, when people were arrested sitting and blocking the construction machinery. By later in the day, larger crowds gathered, including youths, UC students, and older people, including some veterans of the original battle in 1969. “Whose Park? People’s Park!” rang out. The fences around the park started to come down. Authorities were forced to retreat, and pulled back the police. A few days later, a court blocked further construction on the park until October.

Peoples' Park the fence comes down


Peoples' Park, the fence comes down    Photo: Revolution Books, Berkeley

The university has been trying to get rid of People’s Park before the park—as the historic People’s Park—was even forged in huge battles in 1969 in which the battle for the park became a kind of concentration of battles against the system at that time. In his Memoir, Bob Avakian gives this characterization of the battle at that time:

This developed into a major battle because the university was completely unyielding and was determined to “pave paradise and make it a parking lot,” as the Joni Mitchell song says. The university administration threw down the gauntlet, and the people who were building People’s Park refused to back off and carried forward what they were doing—and it became a gigantic struggle.

People’s Park has been a reminder of and living monument to the struggles of the 1960s and stands as a symbol of resistance up to today—continuing to be an inspiration and beacon for those resisting the powers that be and their efforts to erase this legacy.

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