What's the deal with this park?
During the 90s, I was one of the activists who opposed building a sports complex in People's Park. I made a lot of great lifetime friends that way. The UC population was a lot more diverse back then, before Prop 209.
So I used to go out during the riots and move the traffic barricades. I thought it was funny to direct cars into the areas that the police were trying to keep hidden from site, so they could beat up and tear gas protestors. I guess they got wise to me because I when I went into People's Park to move some barricades, a minivan full of cops pulls up and five cops in riot gear jump out! I took off running but there was no way were a bunch of out of shape cops loaded down with gear were going to catch me. But as I sprinted away, one of them shouted funniest thing anyone has ever said to me:
"You fucking pussy!"
My dad grew up in West Berkeley and went to Berkeley High so I often hung out at my Grandma’s house in the 60s. As an anti-war, civil rights, and UFW activist I often ended up on Telegraph Ave or at UC Campus. I wasn’t there May 19 but I was in the protests days later when they sprayed pepper spray from the air. I think half of Berkeley was sprayed. It was then Gov. Reagan who came after us and called out the National Guard. We were angry about the war, deaths at Kent State, death of MLK, Robert Kennedy, and police shooting us. People’s Park galvanized us — it was our park.
Anyway, years later I am finishing up a 50 year career in homeless and housing services in SJ, and am still trying to empty out juvenile halls. It is ironic they are using housing as an excuse to destroy PP. Thanks for the thoughtful blog. When the NIMBYs support student housing you know they are up to no good.
This was great history to learn. Thanks for sharing.