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1. WWI through the 50's
In the World War I era, an autocratic University president, Benjamin Wheeler, rode about campus on horseback as he issued edicts to the campus community. This in a generally progressive community. The faculty rose up in rebellion against Wheeler, forced him out of office and established the Academic Senate with powers over curriculum and faculty hiring. At least formally, the Academic Senate still provided a measure of democracy lacking at many major US campuses.
In the 30's, the student left at Berkeley helped the labor movement on the picket lines in the general strike in San Francisco in 1934. Other students became scabe. Students also campaigned for radical Upton Sinclair in his bid for governor and pushed educational reform. In 1933 students organized the first co-op student house, which evolved into the United Students Cooperative Association, still around today.
The largest upsurge on campus was over the spread of fascism in the world. Many leftists went to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. While American industrialists traded extensively with Hitler who in turn armed the Spanish fascists, leftist Americans took up arms in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain. Berkeley was also a center nationally for the peace movement before the war.
Berkeley continued to be active after World War II. When radical Henry Wallace ran for President for the Progressive Party in 1948, the first Young Progressives in Support of Wallace club in the country was formed at Berkeley.
2. Civil Liberties And Civil Rights
In 1950, the low point for leftist activity in this country because of the ~McCarthy witchhunts, the faculty began a several year struggle against a mandatory "loyalty" (anti-communist) oath, one of the major acts of faculty resistance to ~McCarthyism on any American campus. Although receiving a majority of student support, the faculty chose not to include students, working people and minorities in their fight so that their 'role as gentlemen' would not be compromised. To the faculty's rude surprise, the Regents weren't so gentlemanly in their successful strategy of isolating the more outspoken faculty and setting the demoralized remainder at each others' throats. This marked the end of a tradition of faculty initiation of university reform.
For students, Berkeley lacked most civil liberties during the 50s. No off campus speakers were permitted, political groups couldn't meet and the Daily Cal editor met with the administration to plan the paper. The chief administrator of student affairs had been on record for over a decade declaring that moves to racially integrate fraternities were part of a communist plot.
In 1956, Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson was not allowed to speak on campus and had to address 20,000 from the gutter of Oxford street. In the wake of this, students organized to get rid of Rule 17 hich barred off-campus speakers.
The bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama opened the Civil Rights Movement in 1956. In Berkeley, the graduate representatives on the Academic Senate raised the issue of racial discrimination at Greek letter houses in early 1957. This became a major issue on campus and led to the establishment of SLATE, a student political party and action group.
In the spring of 1958 SLATE campaigned for an end to racial discrimination in Greek letter houses, fair wages and rent for students and protection of academic freedom, which at the time mean free speech and an end to political firings of faculty members. The administration responded by throwing SLATE out of the ASUC election. A petition was circulated to get SLATE back on and in one day the petitioners collected 4000 student signatures.
In 1960, as lunch counter sit-ins began in the south against racial segregation, students organized support demonstrations.
3. Confrontation With HUAC
In May, UC students were angered when a UC student was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Several hundred noisy demonstrators were kept out of the hearings which were being held in San Francisco. Without warning police opened up with fire hoses washing the students down the steps of city hall. 12 were injured and 64 arrested.
The next day, 5000 demonstrators showed up and things were peaceful. The press around the country was horrified and gave the event great play. HUAC made a propaganda movie of the event and sent copies around the country. But the movie's message about the subversive menace was ignored by students. Rather, they identified with their fellow students and in the end it attracted leftist students to Berkeley.
During the summer and fall of that year the administration attacked activism on campus by throwing graduate students out of the ASUC and censoring the Daily Cal. In 1961, Malcolm X was barred from speaking on campus because he was a minister - even though ministers had spoken before. SLATE sponsored a speech by anti-HUAC leader Frank Wilkinson before 4000; the administration responded by throwing SLATE off campus.
From 1961 to 63, there was constant conflict between students and the administration over civil liberties issues. The administration was steadily forced back. In effect, the campus was opened up to all outside speakers and compulsory ROTC for all men was dropped.
In 1963 and 64 most campus political activity in Berkeley focused on a fight for job opportunities for blacks. The civil rights movement was at full swing nationally at this time. Protestors staged shop-ins at Lucky Supermarket in which large numbers of people would fill their shopping carts and then abandon them inside the store to protest racist hiring policies. Students picketed downtown merchants, a restaurant chain and Jack London Square to protest racial discrimination.
Sit-ins and picketing of the Sheraton Palace Hotel and the Cadillac agency in San Francisco brought industry-wide agreements to open up new jobs to blacks. The last in this series of actions was the abortive attempt to make the Oakland Tribute increase black hiring beyond the 2 percent level of that time.
4. The Free Speech Movement
From 1960 to 1964, students had greatly strengthened their political rights and civil liverties and had become involved in off-campus as well as on campus struggles. The Free Speech Movement (FSM) in October of 1964 was the most famous demand for student civil rights at Berkeley.
Traditionally, students had set up political tables on the strip of land at the Telegraph/Bancroft entrance to the university since this was considered to be public property. However, the Oakland Tribune (which students were then picketing) pointed out to the administration that this strip of land actually belonged to the university.
When the university announced that sudents could no longer set up their tables on "the strip," a broad coalition of student groups -- civil rights, Democrats and Republicans, religious and pacifist, radical and conservative -- responded by forming the United Front to protest the new rule.
The groups responded by defying the ban through direct action. They deliberately set up tables where they were forbidden and collected thousands of signatures of students who said they were also sitting at the tables.
A police car moved up and the police took into custody a man sitting at a CORE(Congress of Racial Equality) table. First one, then two, then thousands of people sat down and trapped the car on Sproul Plaza for 32 hours. While Jack Weinberg sat inside and police officers stood around outside the car, a procession of speakers talked to the issues from the top of the car.
Clark Kerr, then president of the UC system, got the governor to declare a state of emergency and send hundreds of policemen, but the mass support of thousands made Kerr retreat.
In an extremely complex struggle with many tactical phases extending over two months, the FSM exposed and isolated the administration and the regents so effectively that a subsequent notice of disciplinary proceedings against four FSM leaders triggered a sit-in of 800 students and a student strike of 16-20,000.
This forced Kerr to go before a gathering of 18,000 in the Greek Theatre with some pseudo-concessions. When FSM leader Mario Savio attempted to speak, the administration ordered UC police to drag him off stage. But they underestimated the FSM's hold over students. The repression caused increased anger and activated additional efforts on behalf of free speech. The eventual settlement greatly expanded student political rights on campus.
The ability of Berkeley students to win a sustained struggle strengthened the role of students in universities all over the country.
5. Opposition To The Vietnam War
In the years 1965 to 68 the anti-war movement grew and students focused on the draft and the university's role in defense research. the number of troops in Vietnam increased from an initial 125,000 to 500,000 by early 1968 and tens of thousands of G.I.'s came home in body bags. Protesters responded with a gradual increase in militancy.
Spring 1965 saw the formation of the Vietnam Day Committee (VDC). Jerry Rubin used his organizational and public relations talents to spark a huge outdoor round-the-clock teach-in on a playing field where Zellerbach Hall is now located. About 30,000 people turned out.
During the summer of 1965 several hundred people tried to stop troop trains on the Santa Fe railroad tracks in West Berkeley by standing on the tracks. In the fall, 10-20,000 people tried three times to march to the Oakland Army terminal from campus. Twice they were turned back short of Oakland by masses of police.
In the spring of 1966, a majority of students voted for immediate US withdrawal from Vietnam in a campus-wide VDC-initiated referendum. Graduate student TA's used their discussion sections to talk about the war in one third of all classes. Soon after the vote, the VDC's offices were bombed and students responded by marching 4000 strong on Telegraph Ave.
Also in that year, the anti-Vietnam movement ran Robert Scheer for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Berkeley against cold-war liberal Jeffery Cohelan. A thousand students worked in his campaign and he received 44 percent of the vote, narrowly missing the nomination.
In the fall of 66, the focus was brought back to the role of the university by a sit-down protest around a Navy recruiter table. Students for a Democratic Society, the main national organization of the New Left and by this time widely known for its anti-war work, had been refused permission to set up a table on alternatives to military service. They set up the table anyway, a short distance from the Navy recruiter.
Police came to remove the table and as they left with it, students crowded around to obstruct them. A jock started pushing people out of the way, demonstrators yelled at him, and the jock punched a student in the mouth. When the student tried to retaliate, the police arrested four protestors, although they didn't arrest the jock.
Students sat down around the navy table. Some students were arrested and at 1 a.m. the students decided to strike until a number of demands relating to political freedom and participation on campus were met. The strike lasted for a week and the Faculty Senate voted for a resolution that supported the students demands for more participation on campus but also affirmed "confidence in the Chancellor's leadership."
6. Stop The Draft Week
A new level of militancy was reached in the fall of 1967 with the Stop the Draft Week in Berkeley. Actions at the Oakland Induction Center and teach-ins on campus were planned. Hearing of this the Alameda country supervisors went to court for an injunction to forbid the use of the university for "on campus advocacy of off campus violations of the Universal Military Training and Services Act." On Monday evening, returning from Oakland, 6000 demonstrators found that the auditorium which they had reserved was closed and on-campus meetings were banned.
Tuesday morning police broke up a demonstration at the Induction Center with clubs and mace, injuring several dozen including medics and news reporters. On Friday the protestors returned, ready to stop the buses of troops from leaving and ready to defend themselves. They numbered 10,000 and many wore helmets and carried shields. They built barricades, stopped traffic and spray-painted a twenty-block area while dodging police.
7. The Cleaver Controversy
During the summer of 1968, there were riots on Telegraph Ave. The cause wasn't purely political but the basic issue was police harassment on Southside and an underlying spirit of rebellion. Going into the fall, people expected to see some kind of political confrontation. The spark was the decision of the regents limiting guest speakers to one appearance per quarter per class, which effectively stripped the credit from Social Analysis 139x. This was a student-initiated course on Racism in American society, featuring well-known Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver as the principal lecturer.
The initiators of the course had been careful to follow procedures laid down for such classes by the FSM. Thus the entire campus viewed the regents' action as one of political suppression, and took sides according to whether they approved or disapproved. After weeks of meetings, rallies and negotiations, the students in the class, most of whom were not radical, took the initiative. They held a sit-in in Sproul Hall at which about 120 were arrested, while hundreds more massed outside. Two days later another sit-in was held at Moses Hall.
The Moses Hall sit-in was organized by the radicals, and unlike the first one, it involved barricades inside the hall and some property damage including the alleged destruction of one professor's research files. About 80 were arrested.
The administration seized on the property damage issue to divide the supporters of the class and the struggle dwindled after the sit-ins because of division over tactics, the burden of court and disciplinary proceedings, end of the quarter pressures and a lack of leadership.
8. The Third World Strike
The next quarter saw the Third World Strike at Berkeley. This greatly overshadowed the Clever struggle and any other struggle on campus up until that point. For the first time third world students on campus played a leading role in a major struggle. It was also the first time that different third world groups were able to unite among themselves and seek support from white students.
Three third world groups had been involved in seperate smaller negotiations and confrontations with the administration for a year. Under the influence of the strike at San Francisco State, these Berkeley students formed the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) and put forward their demands, chief among them a Third World College with adequate funding, open admissions and financial aid for third world people and third world control of programs affecting them.
The first stage of the struggle was mainly an attempt to educate the campus. Picket lines were set up, along with a program of dorm speaking, convocations and circulation of literature. Then there were blockades of Sather Gate and the Telegraph Ave. entrance. Police were called on campus and students responded by marching through building to disrupt classes.
Governor Reagan declared a "state of extreme emergency" and placed control of the campus in the hands of Alameda County Sheriff Madigan. The administration and police began a campaign to crush the strike. Peaceful pickets were arrested and beaten in the basement of Sproul Hall. Leaders were arrested. All rallies and public meetings on the campus were banned. But the demonstrations got bigger and bigger. On campus, battles between police and students were fought with rocks, bottles, tear gas and clubs. Hundreds were injured or arrested.
After two months of strike, students were worn down and involved with court battles. A divisive debate about tactics had arisen. Under the circumstance, the TWLF decided to suspend the strike. They entered into negotiations with the administration over specifics of an Ethnic Studies program, which, while falling short of their demands, was a partial victory and created today's ethnic studies departments.
9. People's Park
With two huge struggles in as many quarters and little to show for them, students and people in Berkeley were frustrated and fought extra hard during the creation of People's Park. The site that is now People's Park was a dirt parking lot at the start of '69. The university had bought the property for new dorms. When it sat empty for some time and became an eyesore, community members decided to build a park on it.
Building the park was exciting for many of the hippies, street people and activists who participated. They were doing something for themselves. Hundreds of people worked hard putting down sod, building a children's play ground and planting trees. After the initial construction on April 20, negotiations continued with the university over control of the park for about three weeks. For a while it looked like a settlement could be reached but the university suddenly stopped negotiating and on May 15 moved police into the park to secure their control over it.
That morning people woke up and found Berkeley filled with police and a fence going up around the park. A rally protesting the fence was quickly organized on Sproul Plaza. In the middle of the rally, police turned off the sound system. 6,000 people spontaneously began to march down Telegraph Ave. toward the park. They were met by 250 police with rifles and flack-jackets. Someone opened a fire hydrant. When the police moved into the crowd to shut off the hydrant, some rocks were thrown and the police retaliated by firing tear gas to disperse the crowd.
An afternoon of chaos and violence followed. Sheriff's deputies walked through the streets of Berkeley firing into crowds and at individuals with shotguns. At first they used birdshot but when they ran out, they switched to double-0 buckshot. 128 people were admitted to hospitals that day, mostly with gunshot wounds. James Rector died of his woulds a few days later.
The day after the shootings, 3000 National Guard troops were sent to occupy Berkeley. A curfew was imposed and a ban on public assembly was put into force. Meetings on campus were broken up with tear gas.
But mass demonstrations continued. In one mass arrest, 482, including innocent bystanders and journalists from the establishment press, were arrested. Prisoners from that arrest reported extensive beatings at Santa Rita jail.
At a rally on Sproul plaza, troops surrounded the gathering, admitting people but preventing them from leaving. Then the troops put on gas masks and a helicopter flew over spraying CS tear gas, a gas outlawed for wartime use by the Geneva Convention. They mistakenly teargassed Cowell hospital as well as several local public schools.
Mass unrest continued in Berkeley for 15 days after the park was fenced and finally 30,000 people marched peacefully to the park. The fence, however, stayed up.
During the summer of 1969 on Bastille day protestors marched from Ho Chi Minh (Willard) park to People's Park. Organizers had baked wire clippers into loaves of break and lo and behold - the fence was down. Police attacked and a riot ensued.
10. U.S. Invasion Of Cambodia
In early 1970 the students did extensive education about ROTC and war research. On the April 15 Moratorium Day against the Vietnam war, Berkeley students attacked the Navy ROTC building. The university declared a state of emergency. Campus was still under a state of emergency when the media announced the invasion of Cambodia. Yale called for a national student strike over the Cambodian invasion and the strike spread even more when news came about national guard murders at Kent State, Jackson State and Augusta.
Berkeley students paralyzed the school with massive rioting the first week of May. Students went to their classes and demanded that the class discuss the Cambodian invasion and then disband. 15,000 attended a convocation at the Greek Theater and the regents, fearing more intensified riots, closed the university for a four-day weekend.
The Academic senate voted to abolish ROTC but the regents simply ignored the vote. A faculty proposal called the Wolin proposal sought to "reconstitute" the university so students could take tall classed pass/not pass and could get credit for anti-war work. Thousands of students participated.
In the fall of 1970 a War Crimes Committee (WCC) was formed by radicals to attack the university's role in the US war effort. Two hearings were held and attended by thousands and after the second, an angry crowd tried to march to right-wing atomic scientist Edward Teller's house.
In January 1971, the Educational Liberation Front was formed to protest the dismissal of four radical professors. In an ASUC referendum, 5000 our of 6000 students voted to rehire the professors. The regents ignored them.
In February, when American troops began an invasion of Laos to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail, WCC called a rally on Sproul Plaza and thousands showed up, the biggest gathering of the year. They marched to the Atomic Energy Commission building on Bancroft to protest the deployment of nuclear weapons in Thailand. After police provocation, skirmishes broke out and an AEC car was burned
11. Stop The Bombing
During the spring of 72, a coalition of groups formed into the Campus Anti-Imperialist Coalition (CAIC) to oppose the continuing war in the face of Nixon's increase of the bombing of North Vietnam during Christmas. CAIC and other groups organized an Aprin 22nd march of 30-40,000 people. They called for enactment of the Seven Points peach plan, which was proposed by the NOrth Vietnamese.
When the demonstrators returned from San Francisco, a national student strike had been called. At Berkeley, construction workers had gone out on strike to protest administration efforts to break their union. other campus unions joined the strike. The possibilityof a campus wide strike, including both campus workers and students, was beginning to emerge.
At the same time, Chicano students held a sit-in at Boalt Law School in order to get more Chicano students admitted. Other Third World students were also fighting for greater representation in Boalt. With these events facing them, students held massive meetings, rallies and spirited marches, joined the workers on the picket lines and covered the campus with garbage, to be picked up later by scabs guarded by the police. Active students were banned from campus. The strike lasted for 83 days.
In Early May, Nixon announced the mining of North Vietnamese ports. The same night as his announcement, a hastily-called candlelight march in Ho Chi-Minh Park, starting with only 200-300 people, grew to thousands as they marched through Berkeley. During the night, people tore down the fence around People's Park with their bare hands, a police car was overturned and burned and skirmishing with police lasted into the morning hours.
There were few mass actions from fall 1972 until spring 1973. During the summer of 1972 the April Coalition worked for the election of radicals and for three initiatives: rent control, the legalization of marijuana and the establishment of a Police Review Commission. One coalition member was elected to the city council and all three initiatives passed, although they were later overturned in the courts or watered down.
In the fall of 1972, the Black Student Untion (BSU) mobilized against the absorption of the Black Studies Department into the regular academic College of Letters and Science. The department had been won as part of the Ethnic Studies Division during the Third World Strike. A BSU led boycott only lasted for a quarter and after the defeat, the chancellor also closed the Research Institue on Human Relations (among different races), which had also been gained in the Third World Strike.
During the school year, radical students from the Education Liberation Front formed alternative discussion sections for large social sicence classes. Members of the alternative sections would study together and challenge the professor's "apolitical education" and the whole content of the course during lecture.
12. Criminology School Closed
In the fall of 1973, struggle over the Criminology school was a major campus issue. The Crim school had began to move from liberal to radical at the end of the 60s. In 1971 students successfully struggles to democratize hiring, admissions and curriculum. By the early 70s, a majority of students in the department were radical or supportive of the radical viewpoint.
Although only two out of eleven professors were Marxists, the university saw the criminology school as dangerous and sought to eliminate those faculty members who were radical and ultimately eliminate the department entirely. In the fall of 1973, the Committee to Save the Crim School (CSCS) formed.
At first, CSCS attempted to put off a committee report on the department in order to give time for student mobilization. That fall 88 percent of students voted to keep the school in a ASUC election. In January, the faculty review committee's report was sent to Chancellor Bowker. he sent it back for rewriting because he didn't agree with its conclusion. Two weeks later he finally got what he wanted. They recommended the closure of the school.
In May it became clear that the Chancellor was waiting until summer to announce his decision on the report to a studentless Berkeley. Students occupied the Crim school to demand that Bowker announce his decision before the end of school. Thousands supported the takeover and demonatrated throughout the week. When the Chancellor finally announced the closure of the school, students occupied it again. The CSCS ended its campaign with a series of Popular Tribulals at which the Gallo Brothers, the California Department of Corrections and the Capitalist system were tried and convicted of crimes against the people.
13. Third World Strikes
During winter quarter in 1974, the Third World and Women's Council(TWWC) initiated a series of forums, demonstrations, press conferences and lobbying of university, state and federal officials with a plan to institute university affirmative action programs. The plan was also designed to recruit, admit and graduate Third World students.
The TWWC was also involved in the Left Alliance (LA), a coalition formed to seize power in the ASUC and Graduate Assembly. LA held power for 2 years doing significant work to get affirmative action as well as creating the Primer, a consumer publication with ratings of professors and classes.
In the fall of 1974, TWWF, ELF, LA and sociology professor Harry Edwards formed the October Coalition to oppose cutbacks in Ethnic Studies and affirmative action in the public schools and UC system.
In the fall of 1975, students formed the Berkeley Feminist Alliance which continued to be active until at least 1983. BFA sponsored educational films and speakers and in the early 80s, participated in Take Back the Night marches.
During the fall of 1976, students organized for tenure reform in the face of Paul von Blum, Harry Edwards and several other Third World teachers being denied tenure. Also that fall, students organized to oppose the California Supreme Court decision in the Bakke case, in which the court ruled that an affirmative action program at UC Davis was reverse discrimination.
14. The Anti-Apartheid Movement
In early 1977, as a response to the increased struggle in South Africa, Campuses United Against Apartheid (CUAA) formed to demand divestment of university holdings in companies doing business in South Africa.
Mass arrests at Santa Cruz and stanford sparked demonstrations up and down the state including a sit-in at Berkeley. A discussion between students and regents about South Africa was scheduled in Wheeler auditorium. When only a few regents turned out to hear student comments, students started an occupation of Wheeler Hall.
In 1978, 10,000 petition signatures were collected demanding that the UC system hold a hearing on their investments by May 5. When there was no response, sit-ins were held at the LA regents meeting and at 5 campuses.
During the spring of 1979, on charter day, 1500 people protested on Sproul Plaza against UC involvement in nuclear weapons research at Livermore and Los Alamos. Protestors marched to the Camanile and held a die-in while a few people blockaded themselves at the top of the building.
15. Activism in the 1980's
In January of 1980, several days before President carter announced a return to registration for the draft, almost 100 people spontaneously sat down around a US Marine recruiting table on Sproul Plaza. After the announcement, about 2000 people rallied on Sproul Plaza against registration.
Later in that year when the university put asphalt over the free parking lot at People's Park to turn it into a Feww parking lot, students and others occupied the ground and began to rip up the pavement. After a week of confrontations between students and police, the university let the issue drop and the pavement was used to build the garded at the west end of the park.
Early 1981 saw 1500 attend a symposium on El Salvador which led to a 5000 strong march the next day protesting US intervention in El Salvador. Students voted on referendums on several UC campuses opposing UC involvement in nuclear weapons labs.
The nuclear arms issue continues to gain importance nationally during the early 80s. In early 1982, 174 people were arrested in the first blockade of the Livermore labe which are run by the University of California and are a major nuclear weapons research and design facility. Another 100 people were arrested that spring in various actions around the labs. On June 21st, 1300 were arrested in another huge protest at Livermore.
In spring of 1982, the Berkeley Feminist Alliance collected hundreds of signatures on petitions demanding the administration take steps to prevent rape on campus. These steaps included better lighting, self-defense classes and increased hours for the university escort service. The campaign was in response to 3 rapes of students that spring. The ASUC senate later passed a bill mirroring the demands of the petition.
As 1983 began, four Chicano students were attacked and beaten by members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Four days later hundreds of students marched in protest demanding the withdrawal of university recognition of the frat. Two days later, with no action yet taken, students occupied California Hall. The university later announced it would withdraw recognition of Beta Theta Pi for two years.
A week after this struggle, over 100 students and community members were arrested in a blockade of California hall, again over the issue of nuclear weapons involvement by UC.
Students plastered Sproul Hall with banners and signs and renamed it Biko Hall, after the murdered South African Consciousness Movement leader, Stephen Biko. The administration didn't move to bust the sit-in immediately and it grew steadily. After UPC officially joined the action on April 15, chancellor Heyman threatened arrests. 350 slept out that night and at 4:30 am, UC police started arrests.
Police arrested over 160 protesters and it took so long that the bust was still going on when students arrived on campus for their 8 am classes. Students were angered at the violence of the police. That day 5,000 gathered to hear FSM leader Mario Savio speak in support of the "Biko 160+." Organizers of the rally called for a student strike the following day and that night over 600 people slept on the steps.
AFter the 80 percent effective student strike and another 5,000+ rally the following day, the administration agreed to hold a regents' forum on apartheid. The sit-in continued and on April 24, the day of the regents' forum, 50 percent boycotted classes and 7,500 jammed Harmon Gym for the forum. On May 2, UPC organized a sunrise shutdown of University Hall at which 112 were arrested for blockading the doors. The next week, 13,000 went to see Desmond Tutu speak in the Greek theater.
On the last two days of exams, the UC Regents held a meeting at the Lawrence Hall of Science, atop Centennial Drive, while surrounded by 600 police. 2500 marched up the hill to demand a decision instead of more stalling. A planned blockade was prevented and the meeting produced nothing.
16. The Sproul Sit-In
When school started in the spring of 1985, apartheid was still a big issue. In November, CAA held a torchligh march through the streets of Berkeley. The next day UPC occupied Sproul Hall all day and held a teach in about racism at home and abroud. Several hundred participated and in the evening, 140 were arrested for failure to leave the building.
At the end of March, CAA and UPC achieved a tenuous alliance to set up a shantytown together in front of California Hall. Although the tensions between the groups over tactics had increased rather than declined, both groups saw the need to work together in the face of the regents' continued intransigence. After 4,000 rallied in Sproul Plaza, students marched to California Hall and build a couple dozen shanties. After midnight police brutally arrested 60 protestors who had surrounded the shanties.
Two days later, after the university had issued orders banning leading organizers from campus and sought an injunction banning all protest on campus, several thousand rallied and marched to the edge of campus where banned protesters joined the crowd and marched onto campus. More shanties were constructed.
Over 1000 people remained at the shantytown shortly after midnight when over 250 police from 16 police departments attached. Police arrested people who stayed with the shanties while other protestors built barricades to block the police busses from leaving the campus before classes started in the morning.
Tension was high that night at at 7 am, after the police had finished arresting all they could arrest, they geared up to get the arrestees off campus before 8 a.m. Protestors were determined to delay the police as much as possible so that their fellow students could see what the university had done during the night.
The police removed the barricades and then clubbed hundreds, aiming for kneecaps and heads. Over a hundred protesters went to the hospital that morning. Some protesters responded by throwing rocks back at the police. The police managed to get the arrestees off the campus just before 8 a.m.
(Added June 21 2004 by a person who was there, and got arrested... Every window on our bus was shattered by the rocks. There were as best as I can remember, 2 or 3 bus loads of protestors who were taken to Santa Rita. When we got to Santa Rita we got the right on salute from some of the regular population. The authorities kept us separate from the regular prisoners. It took the driver of the bus 1/2 Hour to get us from California Hall to the entrance to UCB at Bancroft and Telegraph. There were hundreds of protestors involved in trying to block the police attempts to get us off campus. I saw one person who was carried by 2 others, the person was covered in blood. One of the most intense demonstration I had ever seen, and was very proud to be a part of it!)
The level of confrontation and violence that erupted was totally unexpected. The atmosphere created was so charged that conflicts between groups were impossible to iron out. CAA wanted to go right back and build a third Shantytown. UPC and other groups wanted to change the tone and try different tactics. Chancellor Heyman threatened to declare a State of Emergency and turn the campus over to the Alameda Sheriff's department if a third shantytown went up..
UPC held several human blockades of California Hall in the weeks after the shantytown riot and after several weeks of confusion, a third shantytown was build by CAA, but with a week to go before exams, there was not mass support.
Although the spring of 1986 ended with the anti-apartheid movement in a mess, the regents realized it would be back if they continued their resistance to divestment. That June, the regents voted to divest #3.1 billion of investments in companies with South Africa ties. unfortunately, it was a sham and their investments continued to increase, but this wasn't discovered until the movement had dissipated.
17. Women Get Organized
Women began to organize during the height of the sit-in and throughout the anti-apartheid movement because they felt they didn't have a significant voice in decision making, although their numbers equalled those of the men involved. They organized Women Against Oppression to create a forum for women to discuss the sexism occurring within the student movement and as a base for organizing women's actions within the anti-apartheid movement.
The group dissolved in the fall of 1985 after the sit-in, but the Women's Liberation Front (WoLF) formed in early 1986. Originally intented as a women's caucus of CAA and Students Against Intervention in Central America(SAICA), WoLF formally broke away as an independent organization, capable of tackling issues facing women daily, after a string of humiliating experiences of continued sexism within the organizations.
WoLF became widely known in the fall of 1986 when it acted in support o a young woman who had been gang-raped by four football players. The university actually protected the football players, while the victim was so traumatized that she dropped out of her first semester at UCB. WoLFsponsored emotional rallies that included speak-outs and testimonies.
Other WoLF actions included two Take Back the Night marches to protest the cirtual curfew imposed on women due to the fear of rape.
During the Spring of 1988 the African STudent Association organized a sit-in at the UC housing office to protest the racial harassment of a black woman in one of the dorms and the general climate of racism in the housing system and on campus. 19 students were cited by the police.
CAA organized various educational events to expose the university's sham divestment from South Africa. On March 9, it organized a torchlight march. About 500 people marched. After the march, students and homeless activists stormed and occupied the Haste Street house.
18. The Haste St. House
The university owned house had been vacant for 8 years. Activists condemned the existence of vacant property while thousands in Berkeley were homeless. They favored direct action to reclaim housing and empower the homeless instead of more government bureaucracy and programs to buy them off and make them docile. Over the week after the takeover, people worked to clean, fix up and organize the house and build political support outside. This newspaper (Slingshot) established offices on the third floor.
Exactly a week after the occupation started, about 80 police officers evicted the squatters and took back the house. The streets around the house were filled with demonstrators all day after the eviction. By the next morning, the university had torn the building to the ground, claiming it had to destroy it in order to "save" it from the squatters.
The day police took back the house, news broke that President Reagan was sending 3200 troops to Honduras, a move many thought was a preparation for an invasion of Nicaragua. Berkeley students still stinging from police action on the Haste St. house instantly mobilized to oppose the deployment of troops. There were protests on campus and in Berkeley including an occupation of Sproul Hall. Many students also went to San Francisco and participated in nightly marches which included from 1000 to 7000 people. After a week of local and national protest, Reagan backed down and withdrew the troops.
In February of 1989, students and community members occupied a 150 foot tall construction crane in order to stop construction on the Northwest Animal (research) Facility. The occupation lasted for a week.
19. Diversity And Ethnic Studies
After the end of the anti-apartheid movement, Third World student groups focused considerable energy on the establishment of an ethnic studies requirement at Berkeley. They organized countless rallies and lobbied members of the faculty, who had the power to vote on the issue. Eventually in the spring of 1989, after years of work, the faculty senate voted for such a requirement.
Also during the spring, Students United for Diversity, a coalition between the various Third World student groups, organized protests to demand more diversity in the faculty at Berkeley. The group particularly targeted the ~PolySci department, which has only 3 women and only one person of color out of 40 faculty members. Several rallies as well as an occupation of Poly Sci, in which 32 students were arrested, were organized.
A different group focusing on faculty diversity at Boalt Hall law school organized a national law student strike. At Berkeley, 90 percent of law students struck and several students occupied the adminsitration offices and were arrested.
Other activists organized events to commemorate the 20ths anniversary of the creation of People's park and to save it from destruction under a new university Long Range Development Plan. People organized concerts at the park and went to public meetings. On May 19, the anniversary of the death of James Recor in the riots that created the park, a torchlight march turned into a wild riot on Telegraph Ave. Many stores on the avenue were looted when the police, totally outnumbered by the crowd, were pushed off the Avenue for several hours.
20. Feminist Awareness
After years of conservative, Regan appointments to the Supreme Court, the 1973 ruling that made abortion legal looked in danger. Retain Our Reproductive Rights (RORR), a pro-choice group on campus organized counter-demonstrations against so-called "operation rescue," an anti-abortion group that blockaded abortion clinics and tried to intimidate pregnant women. In spring of 1989 they also began a 50 day, 24 hour vigil on Sproul plaza in favor of a women's right to an abortion.
The spring saw publication of the first issue of Broak Topics, Writings by Women, a journal of women's poetry and prose that grew out of the Feminist Student Union (FSU). Multi/Multi, the Multi-Cultural/Multi-Racial Women's Coalition, also provided a forum for women's discussion and empowerment.
In the fall of 1989, a woman was raped and thrown out of a third story window at a student Co-op. The feminist community split on the issue because the rapist was black. Some argued that particular attention was paid to the rape because of the racial aspect, pointing out that a recent rape committed by a white athlete received much less attention. They recalled the historical myth of the black rapist. Others argued that the rape was extremely brutal regardless of the racial component. Emotional and heated discussions between the two viewpoints took place
21. Barrington Hall
Also during the fall, with the war on drugs in full swing, students held a smoke-in on Sproul Plaza that attracted 2000, the largest event of the semester. Barrington Hall, a student co-op that helped organize the smoke-in and that had long provided a haven for activists and organizing efforts (the first issue of Slingshot was published there) was threatened with closure from a vote within the co-op system. There had been several other votes over the years to try to close Barrington and in November, the referendum passed.
After the vote, residents took legal action to remain in their home and started to squat the building. There had been irregularities in the vote, including involvement on the part of staff who were supposed to be neutral parties. Suppression of the house's political, counter-cultural and drug culture seemed the real issue in the closure of the hall. Finally in March, a poetry reading was declared illegal by police who cleared the building by force. A crowd developed which built fires and resisted the police. Finally police attacked, badly beating and arresting many residents and bystanders and trashing the house. Eventually, the house was sold to a private landlord.
Also during the spring of 1990, student protests demanding a more racially and sexually diverse faculty continued. STudents occupied the chancellor's office in California Hall. After a long educational effort, the United Front, a coalition of groups, called a two day strike for April 19 and 20. Pickets were set up around campus and many classes moved off campus or were sparsely attended. Earlier in the school year, the firs issue of Smell This was published, reflecting the increasing self-awareness and organization of women of color.
Organizing around the defense of People's Park expanded to include opposition to police harassment on Southside. homeless people in particular seemed targeted for removal. Educational efforts combined with the establishment of Copwatch, a group which monitored police harassment and helped people fight police abuse.
22. The P.C. Police
During the fall of 1990, students shut down a lecture by anthropology professor Sarich charging that his course was racist and homophobic. The demonstrators turned the class into a debate. The action was nationally criticized on grounds that the demonstrators represented a "PC police" aimed at limiting academic freedom.
After a decade of Reagan's America, those in power, not content to control the university administration, the economy, government and military, focused their concern on political protest, the last avenue open to those outside the walls of power. When students tried to have a discussion during Sarich's class a second time, police were waiting and a rally was held outside the building instead. Eventually there were meetings with the university over the issue.
Another issue was sparked when the UC football team was invited to the Copperbowl in Arizona. Arizona was under boycott because of its failure to declare January 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Day along with the rest of the country. Demonstrations and educational events were organized in protest. Protestors marched to the annual Big Game and were verbally and physically assaulted by Alumni.
In November, Direct Action AGainst Racism (DAAR) Organized a takeover of the ROTC building demanding that the building be converted to a multicultural center and raising issues of discrimination against bisexuals, lesbians and gays in the military. Demonstrators entered the building and gave 3 minues for everyone to leave before they nailed doors shut. Eventually about 20 people were arrested. DAAR was also active in organizing the Sarich protests and the Copperbowl protests.
The Persian Gulf War
Several teach-ins, rallies, marches and vigils occured in Berkeley during the Persian Gulf War. One vigil organized by Students for Peace drew 4,000 people followed by a march to People's park and then to I-80 where freeway traffic was blocked. Berkeley and Oakland high students also walked out of class the day of the war.
San Francisco, however was a main center of anti-war resistance in the U.S. In November students from S.F. state and Berkeley did a militant takeover of an S.F. recruiting center with thirteen peole charged with several felonies. The day before the war broke out, thousands of peole blocked and shut down the Federal building along with breakaway marches including thousands taking over the Bay bridge. That night a march organized by Roots Against war (RAW) numbered in the tens of thousands once again militantly took over the bridge. The night of the war tens of thousands again marched on the financial district trashing two recruiting centers, scores of banks, corporate targets (such as Macy's) and torched a police car.
On Jan 19th and 26th over a hundred thousand people marched in San Francisco. The mass media reported 10-20 thousand downplaying the fact that there was large opposition to the war throughout the country. Over 2,000 people were arrested in anti-war activity in San Francisco. Students at S.F. State build and occupied a shantytown for over a month. In Berkeley, students put up a wall of resistance displaying artists pieces.
On March 9th women celebrating International Women's Day hosted the annual TV smash which police tried to prevent. Later in the semester in response to a rape on UC property women from the campus NOW organized a Take Back the Night march.