Peoples Park Mural Mugged

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 5, 2015


After the attack. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

It stood for forty years on the North wall of Berkeley’s Amoeba Music, Telegraph and Haste. It was as reliable as grandfather’s clock–a tribute to the founding of Berkeley’s Peoples Park, 1969, and those who founded it, blisters and all.

The “Peoples” in People’s Park became an intentional editors’ nightmare when park founder’s left out the possessive in Peoples, “because no one owns it,” I was told. The mural depicting all that had seemed an aging sacred cow of Berkeley.

Some of the most unlikely spots on the Avenue have been tagged. Moe’s books, the Caffe Mediterraneum, home to the Free Speech Movement of the Sixties, and Amoeba Music a hip Berkeley music-video purveyor–host to the Peoples Park Mural–all have been tagged. Moe’s books was famous for being passed over by generations of rioters.

Moe’s reputation as host to demonstrators from the Sixties is perhaps lost on youthful taggers.

Now comes this spray-painted raw rebuke to the peoples and their park, a last refuge for down-and-outers from around the world.

Details on the offenders were less than sketchy. According to an eye-witness, who was too late at the crime scene to I.D. the perps, police arrived shortly after the crime, but did not seem to take notes for a report.

Osha Newman, designer of Peoples Park mural nearly half a century ago, returned recently for touch up. Photo by Ted Friedman.

As a Peoples Park founder and creator of the Peoples Park Mural, Osha Neumann, a Berkeley-activist attorney, told me protecting the mural against future attacks would be costly. $20,000 for clear-coating, he estimated. Along with Neumann, O’Brien Thiele, (pictured) and three other artists executed Neumann’s design.

O'brien Thiele, one of artists who executed Neumann's mural design, returns recently to offer first-aid. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Volunteers have put in hours scrubbing off the vandals’ spray-paint. Tom Garrison, pictured, was part of an emergency response team which was scrubbing off spray-paint within minutes of the damage, several months ago.

Tom Garrison, center. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Berkeley Reporter’s street sources, often reliable, say that two men, seated near the mural the day before it was attacked, had boasted they would mar the mural and get out of town.

Say it ain’t so, Joe, refers to a corrupt turn-of-the-20th century base baller named Joe Jackson. It was so.

Tax deductible checks made out to Community Defense Inc. Mail to Telegraph Mural Restoration,1840 Woolsey St., Berkeley, Ca., 94703.

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