Street Spirit pulled this timeline from “People’s Park: Still Blooming”; Edited by Terri Compost. It has been lightly edited and compressed.
June 1967 – University of California, Berkeley (UC) gets $1.3 million to buy a block of houses and small apartments between Haste and Dwight for future university expansion.
Spring 1968 – UC acquires all houses on the block, some from unwilling sellers through eminent domain proceedings. UC evicts all residents and tears down the entire block.
Early 1969 – The vacant lot sits empty and strewn with litter and mud. No UC construction efforts are evident and funds are unavailable to clean up after demolition.
April 18, 1969 – A notice in The Berkeley Barb, underground paper written by Stew Albert and inspired by Michael Delacour, calls for people to come to the vacant lot to build a park.
April 20, 1969 – Hundreds gather to clear and level the ground, lay grass, plant trees and flowers, and build a playground. Park construction continues day-to-day for the next 3 weeks with increasingly large and diverse numbers of people participating.
April 30, 1969 – UC officials begin meetings with park supporters and promise that no university construction at the property will begin without advance warning.
May 8, 1969 – UC Chancellor Roger Heyns meets with park supporters including Wendy Schlessinger and repeats promises that UC will not start con- struction without advance notice.
May 15, 1969 – Bloody Thursday – Without warning, hundreds of heavily armed police seized the park at 4:45am and erect a chain link fence around the park. Several thousand people march from a noon rally on the UC campus to a police line on Telegraph Ave- nue near the park. Police fire tear gas after rocks are thrown and riot ensues which continues until early evening. Sheriff’s deputies — dubbed Blue Meanies by demonstrators — fire shotguns at fleeing demon- strators. James Rector is mortally wounded and and Allen Blanchard permanently blinded after being hit by shotgun blasts. 128 people are hospitalized after being beaten or shot by police. By evening, almost 800 police have imposed a 9 p.m curfew and ban on public assembly.
May 16-19, 1969 – Three battalions of National Guard troops occupy Berkeley on Governor Ronald Reagan’s order. Attempts at gathering. Protests and planting flowers at other area vacant lots are broken up by police and troops. Many people are arrested, beaten and gassed.
May 19, 1969 – James Rector dies of his wounds.
May 20, 1969 – A military helicopter sprays CS gas over UC Berkeley campus after troops trap a crowd by sealing off all escape routes. The gas, which causes blindness and vomiting, drifts throughout Berkeley.
May 22, 1969 – Troops seal off six blocks of downtown Berkeley and arrest 482 people caught within the cordon. Prisoners are subject to extreme abuse in county jail. In a UC referendum on the park, 12,719 vote in favor of the park out of 14,969 voting.
May 30, 1969 – A peaceful five-mile long protest march of about 30,000 passes the park. There are no incidents. The fence stays up.
May 8, 1972 – The fence surrounding the park is finally torn down during a protest against the mining of Haiphong Harbor in North Vietnam.
Spring 1974 – David Axerod and a group of under- grad of undergrads at Cal start an organic gardening student-initiated course and negotiate garden- ing on People’s Park. The People’s Park Project is formed when neighbors and others join in.
Fall 1974 – The group decides to focus on peren- nial natives arranged by CA plant communities and changes group name to People’s Park Project/ Native Plant Forum, eventually affiliating with the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC).
Fall 1974 – UC paves over the went end of the park which had been used as an informal free parking lot to make it a student fee parking lot.
1976 – Osha Neumann & Brian Thiele paint People’s History of Telegraph Avenue mural on Haste St.
1979 – People’s Park Project/Council builds the Free Speech Stage for the 10th anniversary.
Nov. 15, 1979 – The community vegetable garden on the west end of the Park is created when people rip up pavement from the fee parking lot and use it to build landscaping berms.
June 14, 1980 – Riot ensues after police shut down a concert in the park.
Summer 1984 – UC police remove children’s playground equipment that park supporters had installed in the east end of the park.
May 9, 1989 – Catholic workers tow the People’s Cafe, a retrofitted house trailer, into the park in the middle of the night and start serving free food to homeless from the cafe. UC police remove it several months later.
1988 and 1989 – UC police repeatedly remove par- tially constructed restrooms that park supporters attempt to install at the park.
May 19 , 1989 – A march to commemorate the 20th anniversary of James Rector’s death turns into a riot on Telegraph Avenue.
Feb 6, 1991 – East Bay Food Not Bombs organizes to serve free lunch in People’s Park. Serves five days a week continuing still in 2009.
July 31, 1991 – UC police seal off a portion of the park to build sand volleyball courts against the wishes of park users, Three days of street riots and police violence follows.
Dec. 15, 1991 – A park supporter uses a chainsaw to cut down the wooden central post of the volleyball court in broad daylight, and then escapes arrest.
Jan, 10, 1992 – UC files a lawsuit against key park activists to punish them for volleyball related protests and to intimidate would-be protestors.
Aug. 25, 1992 – Park activists Rosebud DeNovo is shot and killed by police after she breaks into UC Chancellor’s residence. Riots follow her killing.
Jan. 11, 1997 – UC removes its volleyball court in response to total non-use and constant protest. Park supporters roll sod over the ground the the court once occupied.
Spring 2005 – Mural of the 1990s painted by Trish Tripp, Elvijo and friends, installed in old Berkeley Inn lot, across from the 1976 mural on Haste and Telegraph.
April, 2005 – Free clothing exchange box is burned down by unknown arsonists.
Nov. 16, 2005 – UC police tear out a steel replacement free box built by park volunteers. UC police tore out other free box at the park since.
Alastair Boone is the Editor in Chief of Street Spirit.