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Cop Drives Over New People’s Park Mural

Updated: Feb 14, 2024 09:01
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A day of “participatory painting, music, and poetry” was held beyond the perimeter of industrial cargo containers at People’s Park in Berkeley on Sunday.  Artists and protestors shut down a portion of Bowditch Street and painted a large mural designed by artist David Solnit.


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A post shared by David Solnit (@davidsolnit)

The mural reads, “There are many hearts buried at People’s Park”, and includes a depiction of a bulldozer threatening the colorful message.  There was a blunt example of life imitating art when the police aggressively drove onto the mural, and began shouting at the adults and children who were carrying nothing but paintbrushes and cameras.

Cops Drive onto Mural

Journalist Yesica Prado recorded the art disruption and wrote via X:
“UCPD rashly drove into a closed street where community activists, students, and children were gathered to paint a street mural for #PeoplesPark. Officers were responding to a call that APEX security guards were being “surrounded by people.” But no one had threatened them.”

People’s Park began in 1967 as the spontaneous beautification of a vacant industrial lot by thousands of volunteer activists, but today it’s barricaded off,  and being bulldozed to the ground.

Many people oppose its redevelopment, which protestors call, “UC’s War on People’s Park,” as the University of California at Berkeley plans to build housing on the historical meeting ground.

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Last month in a night raid, hundreds of police officers in riot gear accompanied by University of California at Berkeley officials and a demolition crew descended on People’s Park after midnight to clear it out and fence it off with a massive wall of shipping containers.

Thankfully no one was physically hurt when the police drove into the blocked off street, and the police eventually calmed down and spoke with protestors.

Artist David Solnit posted a summary of the event on his IG account:

“There are many hearts buried in People’s Park and part of my own as well.” -Julia Vinograd

PEOPLE’S PARK LIVES! guerrilla street mural was painted yesterday on a shut-down-to-traffic Bowditch St (btwn Haste/Dwight).
Poets read, musicians sang and played, and UC cops threatened, as our community creatively defied the brutal border-wall-style enclosure of our commons.

Public historian Harvey Smith writes in the (1/24/24) @dailycal :
“People’s Park defenders support building student housing, but also want to preserve much-needed urban green space in the Southside neighborhood. Cramming thousands of students into an increasingly populated area and removing the last bit of open, green space is harmful. Students need this space and will likely make a renewed demand for it.”

“This begs the question of why campus administration is intent on pursuing development on the site of the park, when the university owns many alternative sites on which they could construct student housing.”

Thank you @arthurkochstudio for the drone video and editing!

The Song of the Diggers (Leon Rosselson) sung yesterday by Maxina Ventura and Hali Hammer- joined mid-song by Andrea Pritchett.

For more events around People’s Park check out:

‘What’s Goin’ On?’: A Teach-In On People’s Park
7pm Monday, February 26, 2024
315 Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley campus

Tom Dalzell, author of The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969, Heyday Books, 2019
Tony Platt, author of The Scandal of Cal: Land Grabs, White Supremacy and Miseducation at UC Berkeley, Heyday Books, 2023
Steve Wasserman, publisher of Heyday Books
and others TBA

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