People’s Park 48th Anniversary

Sunday, April 23, 2017

People’s Park, between Dwight and Haste off Telegraph in Berkeley, California

All Nations dancer, drummers and singers

Here’s the lineup, with speakers interspersed:
NOON  All Nations Drummers
12:30 Yukon Hannibal
12:50 Soul
1:10 Occupella
1:30 Max Ventura
1:45 Driftwood Dave and the Drifftones
2:20 Open Mike
2:35 Michael Delacour
– Park History

2:45 Funky Nixons
3:25 Other Speakers
3:40 The Diva Band
4:20 Isaiah McLane and Friends
4:50 Eddie Monroe as Trump
5:15 Skank Bank

This is one of the biggest events of the year at People’s Park, with a great lineup of music, dance and speakers. Come and participate!

People's Park 48th Anniversary 2017
People’s Park 48th Anniversary 2017

Letter from Michael Delacour

People’s Park 48th Anniversary

48 years ago US imperialism-colonialism was in an all-time crisis. Here in Berkeley there were 3rd world and worker strikes plus ongoing anti-Vietnam war mobilizations. 60% of the windows on UC campus were broken and replaced by plywood. Starting in the summer of 1969 the community was unable to have antiwar events at Provo Park (now Martin Luther King Jr. Park) which have taken place in the past years. The community decided to have antiwar events and make a park on a piece of land where the university has been destroying 53 red shingles homes to build dormitory’s for their students. The beat-niks lived there in the 50’s.

48 years ago was somewhat the same as it is now globally. In Vietnam the US military had a tremendous defeat in 1968. President Johnson had withdrawn from the presidential race and Nixon was elected with a program of slaughter by bombing in North Vietnam and Cambodia. There was tremendous violence by the police toward anti-Vietnam war mobilizations.

Then on April 20th, 1969 where community members came on the land which is now People’s Park and started a free speech park garden. It caught on. It was the big event of the bay area. Thousands of people showed up on the weekend. Loads and loads of sod (grass) were brought from the California Valley for instant grass. The problem was that Reagan was governor and he had presidential aspirations with the help of UC, FBI and CIA.

Reagan along with Sheriff Madigan, Oakland district attorney Edward Meese and Berkeley Mayor Johnson met and to pull off a covert action that got Reagan elected. After about four weeks of our holding anti-war events and growing plants and grass, UC decided to fenced the park. That happened on May 15th 1969 early in the morning. Around 12 noon 5000 students and community people gathered and rallied on Sproul steps. They marched down to confront the police and fence makers of the park.

At Telegraph and Haste young community members turned on the fire hydrant which was a normal action of the past. The Alameda Sheriffs were prepared with a wrench to turn the fire hydrant off. The sheriffs and the people around them on the corner at the fire hydrant were pelted by objects from some people in the crowd from across the street.

That confrontation gave the sheriffs an excuse to march down one block away to their vehicles and pick up there shotguns with bird shot and then they started firing on everyone they saw on the street and on top of the buildings. When they ran out of bird shot they turned to buck shots. Buck shots are big enough to kill. There were 150 people that were wounded. One was blinded and one died three days later; his name was James Rector.

Those shooting events gave Mayor Johnson an excuse to call an emergency marshal law and in turn Reagan activated the national guard. It was found out later that the national guard members from Sacramento had been notified in advance before the May 15th confrontation.

So Reagan activated the National Guard and 2500 soldiers came
in and occupied the park, downtown and the Berkeley 21 days. The Berkeley community fought the national guard in peaceful ways. On May 2nd, a mass of 421 of us were arrested and brutalized by the sheriffs out at Santa Rita Jail. Overall, over 3000 were arrested.

Finally after many days of struggle the business community saw there were no business at all in Berkeley because of the police and all of the community were downtown boycotting the businesses. The city stopped the state of emergency.

Reagan and the CIA brought in hard drugs into the south campus area. Starting with the China White and Persian dust. Young people thought it was cocaine and were easily hooked. They were called the Red Rockets and a book by the name of Rag Theater was published where hundreds of them hanged out on Telegraph avenue. They were the children or offspring of the academic antiwar movement. About half of them in the hundreds have died from that drug intervention by the CIA. It disabled the antiwar movement internationally. The closing of Caffé Mediterraneum here in November, 2016 is part of that CIA project.

Another very important condition that before 1969 or People’s Park young black males could not venture passed Grove street which is now MLK without being molested by the Berkeley police. Berkeley was a sun down town. The park stopped that “Jim Crow” repression.

People’s Park came months after Jackson State where four black-students were killed. Then after People’s Park shootings, killings and repression, six Kent State students were killed on May 1st 1970.

The fence stood up for two and a half years and was attacked hundreds of times by the community. One Christmas 1972 season Nixon and Kissinger ordered a bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong and about 500 Berkeley citizens marched around town boycotting GM cars dealers and found there were no police guarding the fence at People’s Park and in turn went down and tore down the fence — all 500 hundred of them. It’s amazing what you can do with numbers.

On the negative side Reagan used all of this repression against the students and antiwar activists and got elected and was responsible for millions of deaths. And Meese carried on his repression against my kids.

Thank you, Michael Delacour