Big Demo on Berkeley’s South Side

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 17, 2014


Stop Frying. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Any South Side radical would tell you that student participation is the key to a successful political movement.

The battle for People’s Park in 1969, the Free Speech Movement, and an Anti-Apartheid movement 24 years ago that lasted six months and got UC Berkeley to divest from South Africa’s stocks. All these were student movements that got results.

South side rads like Michael Delacour, 77, have courted students for years. Delacour often hangs out with student politicos in Sproul Plaza, a hot-house of student activity booths. Delacour recently appealed to students to join him to protest social inequities.

Delacour and others have tried various small protests (eg. against the university’s removal of an old-growth Redwood grove). “Maybe by Spring,” you’ll join us, Delacour said at a recent People’s Park protest, which protested social-political wrongs.

Instead Delacour joined the students this week, as did veteran rads from previous movements. Berkeley Reporter spotted [at Wednesday’s anti Fossil Fuel demo] several well-known (by police) South Side rads, including a veteran anti-apartheid demonstrator. Cal students aim to get the university to divest from Fossil Fuel stocks, like British Petroleum.

U.C., Divest. Photo by Ted Friedman.

A new generation of Cal student activists emerged Wednesday, with a demonstration that inspired one hundred mostly student protesters. This was the only Berkeley demo in memory that began promptly at the announced 9 p.m., leaving stragglers to try to catch up to the protest.

Off to a fast start. Photo by Ted Friedman.

“We got a lot of complaints on this,” said an event organizer. “We were afraid of a predicted rainfall,” said the organizer, “so we wanted to start promptly.”


Student Senators get the word. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The well-organized demo’s route, took it to four student residence halls and an associated students’ meeting. Speeches and cheers, well executed demo
signs, and a giant puppet on a pole had demonstrators cheering if not delirious with success.

A veteran demonstrator told me, “Our job is to get students into the movement.” On that score alone, the demo was a success.

University police dispatched only one bicycle officer. The officer told me his department was not expecting trouble and was not on alert.

If there was a star, it was a puppet, named “Autumn,” no more than paper machete up a pole. A knowledgeable demonstrator told me the puppet was by David Solnit, who mounted similar puppets on a pole at the Seattle World Trade Organization demonstrations in 1999.

Autumn. Photo by Ted Friedman.

“I was under Autumn.” said the organizer. “It was awesome from inside.”

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