Statement on UC Police Violence from Veterans of the 1964 Free Speech Movement
Friday November 11, 2011 – 02:58:00 PM
Members of the Free Speech Movement Archives (www.FSM-A.com):
Bettina Aptheker, Robby Cohen, Susan Druding, Lee Felsenstein, Barbara Garson, Lynne Hollander, Anita Medal, Jack Radey, Gar Smith, Jackie Goldberg and Barbara Stack
As veterans and historians of the 1964 Free Speech Movement that established the rights of students to freely express their concerns over critical social issues within the boundaries of the University of California’s campus, we were shocked by the actions of campus police who seized banners from students peacefully demonstrating in Sproul Plaza and on the Sproul Steps.
We join Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington in demanding that the banners be returned and that University Administrators condemn this unconscionable police assault on Free Speech.
The University is a commons dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. It appears that the campus police are in need of remedial education concerning fundamental protections offered by the US Constitution — including First Amendment rights to Free Speech and Free Assembly that were clearly recognized and enshrined on the UCB campus 47 years ago on these very steps.
We further condemn the actions of the armed police who beat and arrested students and faculty. We deplore the decision of University officials who, once again, opened the campus to armed and club-wielding Alameda County sheriffs. And we applaud the inspiring example of the students who bravely and nonviolently held their ground against police batons.
Free Speech Threatened Then (1960’s) As It Is Now (2011)
In 1977 the Daily Cal forced the FBI to release its files through a 1977 Freedom of Information Act. Daily Cal proceeded to run a series of articles in 1982, exposing FBI surveillance of the FSM and the Bureau’s attempts to turn press, politicians, and even the public against the student movement. Students today will be wise to take heed from the lessons of their predecessors. See, The Free Speech Movement: reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s by Robert Cohen and Reginald E. Zelnik.