Fences, Protesters Return To Berkeley’s People’s Park

Above photo: In order to prevent Capital Strategies from taking further soil samples of People’s Park, campus students are adequately balancing schoolwork with activism by alternating shifts protesting at the park while still adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Ethan Lejano.

Campus Mulls Student Housing Again.

Fences and protesters on Monday again returned to People’s Park, a famous site of resistance on the UC Berkeley campus, as the campus again mulls possible student housing on the site.

It was just after 5 a.m. when the fences started going up and dozens of protesters mobilized in response. The University of California, which owns the land, wants to build student housing, while protesters are opposed to the plan.

A small section of the park was fenced off to allow soil samples before construction. That means several homeless campers had to be moved.

“So, they took down a few tents. Students had heard about it and came out and, about 30 or 40 people, and they were ready to mobilize,” said Aidan Hill, a protester and former Berkeley mayoral candidate.

Kyle Gibson is Director Communications U.C. Berkeley Capital Strategies, “During the soil analysis work, no one is being asked to leave the park,” said Kyle Gibson, director of communications of UC Berkeley Capital Strategies. Everyone can remain there and we’re only asking them to move over a few feet while the work takes place for about one to three weeks, and then all the fences are being removed.”

Protest at People’s Park is nothing new. In the 1960’s violent clashes spilled into the campus, protests that were sparked when UC wanted to build student housing back then.

KPIX 5 has several links of the controversy and violent clashes that took place decades ago, which have been archived by San Francisco State University.

People’s Park Archival Footage:
 People’s Park Controversy
 People’s Park Press Conference
 Police attack man on Telegraph Avenue
 Tear Gas Attack on Sproul Plaza Demonstration

“We all came together and we came out to support the houseless residents and to protect the park,” said Michael James, a protester medic.

Suddenly U.C. Police, opened the fence and left. Folks streamed in convinced they had won. Pizza arrived and the speeches started.

“See all of them? They gave up, because why? Because we’re here right now, protecting this park!” said one protester to applause.

Hill summed up the day. “They’re pretty much staking a claim saying they don’t want development here at People’s Park. We want a place where people feel free, be free and interact with without fences or walls,” he said.