Berkeley Protests: When the Whole World Isn’t Watching

by Steed Dropout
April 25, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


Cal (Recruitment) Day at Cal, Saturday, April 20.

A group calling itself BP (British Petroleum) Off Campus, began inviting me, last week, to their action. I told my Berkeleyside editor about this last week. BP Off was a no-show on that one.

They seemed not have shown up Saturday during Cal’s major recruitment event. I interviewed a campus police officer, who said university police were watching the group on-line.

We agreed it was another no show. Still, I asked them several more times about where on campus I might cover them.

Apparently I made a good decoy. One of the event organizers said I was “a travesty” as a journalist.

I blew up when I found a video of the anti BP demo on-line, a small guerrilla-theater melodrama in Ludwig (Von Schwartzenburger), fountain (1961) named after a homeless german short-hair, where the dog spent its life frolicking in froth.

I thought the small protest would make a good side-bar for the day of hot and heavy recruiting.

After I missed it, someone advised me to use the Facebook photos.

Tuba meets . . . Photo by Ted Friedman.

I was less than grateful.

Where had I gone wrong? The group fooled university police and this reporter.

BP reportedly donated $500 million dollars to a near-campus bio-sciences consortium of researchers.

BP maintains one of many labs at the facility, according to a U.C. spokesman.

An exhaustively researched piece on UCB business partners in Berkeley Express, a muckraking east-bay tabloid, concluded that BP’s support was necessary to Cal scientists, who have seen taxpayer support, then government support — disappear.

Choose Cal. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Here’s what BP Off Campus thinks of that.

First. according to their FB video, BP-Off poured oil-looking liquid in the fountain, killing off some cardboard fish, then soaped up the water with soap suds. The leader was dressed like a student from the 60s, in blue blazer and used a bull-horn.

I thought the small protest would make a good side-bar for the day of hot and heavy recruiting.
After I missed it, someone advised me to use the Facebook photos.

Valley Life. Photo by Ted Friedman.

After reading my angry post (“you won’t make my story),” one protester said it was my loss. What did I lose? Except my temper.

My Berkeleyside editor could not have been less interested in the sophomoric event.


In 1957, someone soaped the Springfield, Illinois brand new civic pride, a handsome fountain-spout in the courtyard of our spanking-new new city-hall.

V.Y. Dallman, the former editor-owner of the Illinois state Journal, but in ’57, its editorialist, called the soaping “shameless. this does not auger well for the values of our youth.”

In 1963 I met an old friend from Springfield, Bob Eggleston, in Seattle where I was aboard a Navy ship just out of dry-dock. Bob said he had done the sudsing.

We doubt it was original in 1957, although V.Y.Dallman had apparently never heard of it


A scary-looking duel near a Cal band concert turned out to be a tinny anachronism Saturday. Much more interesting than a soaped fountain. The participants a young Cal couple really beat on each other’s armor. Like sado-masochists in love, they made a cute couple. The Cal students gathered around to watch the anachronism.

The SCA is an international society of medievalists founded in the sixties.
Photo by Ted Friedman.

The girlfriend was tiny; her knight in white shinning armor not much bigger.

“Height is no advantage,” said the knight.

The couple which slays together stays together.

These kids made better photos and a better story than BP-Off Campus.

“Don’t ever contact me again.” I lashed out at BP-Off. Just who the heck do I think I am Woodward and Bernstein?

Jousting. Photo by Ted Friedman.

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