People’s park

More on MLK’s influence….

During the People’s Park event in the long distant past, folks in Berkeley (CA, US) expressed concern about the repurposing of a property that had functioned for quite a while as place where people could gather. I think it was very close to the bookstore on the corner of Haste and Telegraph (NE; see Wikipedia entry, thanks) and there was quite a hubbub about it.

People occupied the space and using non-violent means, refused to let the property be bull-dozed. It was an event that echoed the Free Speech Movement (FSM) of 1964 that had occurred just a few blocks from the “People’s Park.” During a highly charged protest event (the US National Guard was on the site, in force), many of us who were not there personally followed every report we could get about the confrontation between the university (?) developers. The developers planned to build something on the lot, and the residents and students—who were accustomed to saying, “I’ll see you at the People’s Park”—opposed the development. It was such an event that it got lots of media coverage. In fact, some San Fransisco radio stations, sympathetic to the people’s concerns, monitored events around the clock and encouraged people to call the station to express their opinions.

One of my best high school friends, Peter Hanssen, who was a student at Cal at that time, later related to me a part of a radio report from that era. Two of the callers disagreed: Joan Baez called and encouraged the protestors to stand firm for their rights. As I recall Peter’s account, Baez said something like, “There are things worth dying for.” A little later, according to Peter, John Lennon called in and said, “Nothing’s worth dying for.”

There’s our dilemma. What’s worth dying for?

I welcome corrections to this account. I’d like to have links from original listeners or, especially, to original tapes.

Peace and love.



Filed under Civil rights, Free speech, Notes and comments, Peace

2 responses to “People’s park

  1. mydigest

    You have to ask somebody who has the courage and drive to die for a cause. I am a coward. But I would suggest that it would have been worth the risk of dying for a squad of assassins heading into a meeting in 1928 of the Nazi Party in Munich.

    I might be persuaded to join such a gang of righteous heroes given that I was not alone and if I had a self-destruct device linked to sensors that could read my terror should I be left alone and confronted by potential captors. I understand that one has to chew on a cyanide capsule.

    My funked suicide of 1982 established my stupid devotion to life no matter what shame and embarrassment afflicts me. (See ‘My Suicide’ page on …Cy)

  2. Pingback: Pacifist Posse » People’s park

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