Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 2. 1965.
Free Speech — Berkeley Takes A Stand
Berkeley Takes A Stand
Students in this country do not frequenty indulge in political demonstrations. And when they do their actions, and the actions of the police, are characteristically non-violent. However, this is not always the case overseas.
Last year the New Zealand press wrote of the University of Berkeley, California, where student were rioting. Further details of these riots are now available, through the courtesy of the Collegiate Press Service.
Near chaos reigned on the campus as State and orders from police, acting on orders from California Governor Edmund Brown, hauled away 801 student demonstrators who had "seized' a hall in a protest growing out of the university's decision to ban student political activity from the campus.
Most of those arrested were released on bond totalling over $72,000, which had been raised, for the most part, by the faculty.
The Free Speech Movement, an organisation of student groups protesting at the ban, called for letters and telegrams of support and sympathy demonstrations from students across the nation. The student who were joined by some professors said they were setting up "The Free University of California." in the building, and for 12 hours before Brown ordered some 600 policemen to disperse the demonstration, they sang freedom songs and listened to lectures by student leaders and professors.
The sit-in, which was one of a series of demonstration rallies that had been going on almost daily since the FSM lifted its "self-imposed moratorium" on protest action last November, apparently grew out of a decision by Berkeley Chancellor Edward Strong to take disciplinary action against four students involved in protest demonstrations that took place last October.
The arrests began on December 3, 1964, after Strong urged students to get out or the building of their own accord When only a few got up to leave, the police moved in and started arresting demonstrators, who retaliated by going limp.
Police at first used a small elevator to carry students from the building, but when this process proved to be too slow, they simply dragged them down the stairs, sometimes as many as four flights of them.
Although police had sealed the building's entrance to prevent anyone else from joining the demonstration, students lowered a rope from a second floor window to sympathisers below, and until they were discovered by police, students were entering the hall faster than police could arrest them.
Police booked, photographed, and fingerprinted students right in the building, and then dispatched them in bus loads to wherever they could find detention facilities in the area.
The arrests took a total of 12 hour and before they were over some students had already been released on bond raised by faculty members.
Students returning from jail cited a number of instances of police brutality and unnecessary roughness. One demonstrator, a law student, claimed that a policeman deliberately broke his finger. An observer at the scene said there was apparently "more brutality than had first been thought."
In California, some members of the state legislature called for an official investigation of the university and the demonstrators, while others have expressed approval of the goals of the demonstration.
At a rally the acting leader of the FSM called for an investigation of police brutality. He called for the removal of police from the campus of the University of California "now and forever."
At Berkeley, the university's teaching staff held an "emergency meeting" to discuss the situation, which some called "desperate" and a "disaster" for the university. The meeting, attended by over 1000, adopted resolutions calling for:—
Amnesty for all students involved in demonstrations up to the present time.
Granting the faculty rather than the administration ultimate authority for dealing with student disciplinary cases growing out of political action.
Condemnation of the university administration for permitting police to be summoned to the campus.
Formal implementation of the new policies adopted by the university's board of regents political activity on the campus "pending improvement" of them.
All the resolutions except that one condemning the calling of police to the campus were passed by unanimous or overwhelming margins.