A group opposing the housing complex being put up in People’s Park used their Super Bowl Sunday to paint a street mural around the shipping containers barricading the park, and you’d better believe there was a contentious brush with campus police.
The long and ongoing saga of protests at Berkeley’s People’s Park over plans to build a student housing complex there ran into a wall, rather literally, when campus and city police barricaded the park off with some 160 industrial shipping containers in early January. So there are no longer protests inside People's Park. But there are still protests outside that wall of shipping containers, as Bay City News reports that activists painted a large street mural outside the containers Sunday.
And in true Berkeley fashion, there was a dust-up with UC Berkeley campus police and other law enforcement.
A group of advocates opposing the development of People's Park in Berkeley gathered on Sunday for a day of "participatory painting, music and poetry" alongside the historic patch of land that is currently walled off by industrial cargo containers. https://t.co/ABeU85LrLO— CBS News Bay Area (@KPIXtv) February 12, 2024
Sunday’s event was not meant as some Super Bowl counter-programming thing, or an attempt to sneak in the protest activity while police may have been watching the game. As seen from this promotional flyer, it was a rescheduled event that got rained out last Sunday. Organized by a group of People’s Park preservationists, it was an early afternoon event where a group painted a street mural that carries the message "There are many hearts buried in People's Park, and part of my own as well," a quote from the park’s famed “Bubble Lady” and poet Julia Vinograd.
@UCPD_Cal rashly drove into a closed street where community activists, students, and children were gathered to paint a street mural for #PeoplesPark. Officers were responding to a call that APEX security guards were being "surrounded by people." But no one had threathen them. pic.twitter.com/eQxtBhzGO9— Yesica Prado🔎📊 📸 🎧 🎥✨️ (@Prado_Reports) February 12, 2024
But of course this turned into the obligatory skirmish with law enforcement. The above tweet from an SF Public Press reporter says that UC Berkeley campus police “rashly drove into a closed street,” and activist Lisa Teague told Bay City News that the vehicle "came close to hitting one of the people standing there." Private security and Berkeley Police also tried to tamp the scene down (and reportedly knocked over someone’s sign), and their arguments with the activists went according to the usual script.
But it appears the street mural still got painted.
Despite the controversial 911 call, people came together in community for a peaceful art action to pay tribute to People's Park. 🎨🖌🌳— Yesica Prado🔎📊 📸 🎧 🎥✨️ (@Prado_Reports) February 12, 2024
The mural honors a quote from People's Park poet, Julia Vinograd: "There are many hearts buried in People's Park, and part of my own as well." pic.twitter.com/Mu8QOEtiGd
Bay City News also reports that the paint used is temporary, and will eventually wash away. It’s not clear whether the “ACAB” and “Palestine will be free” graffiti on the shipping containers was painted Sunday with that same temporary paint, or whether it was already there.
According to UC Berkeley, the housing complex plan (should it survive lawsuits) will create 1,100 undergraduate housing units, supportive housing for unsheltered or low-income tenants, and will “Preserve and revitalize more than 60% of the site as public park space.”
Image: @joseph_gaglione via Twitter