Reich draws thousands to Sproul Plaza

(Derek Remsburg/File)
Derek Remsburg/Staff
(Derek Remsburg/File)

Thousands of people flocked to Sproul Plaza Tuesday evening in anticipation of the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture by Robert Reich, a UC Berkeley public policy professor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Some settled onto couches set up earlier in the day on the grass by the Sproul steps, while others perched on the roof of the Golden Bear Cafe. An hour later, after listening to speeches and spoken-word performances from three Mario Savio Young Activist Award winners, the lecture began. Protest organizers said the sound system would be cut off by 10 p.m.

Click here for a full transcript of the speech.

“I’ll be short,” Reich said by way of introduction.

In his lecture, Reich acknowledged protesters’ opposition to budget cuts to higher education as well as concerns about the uneven distribution of wealth that triggered the nationwide Occupy movement. He encouraged demonstrators to continue to support the Occupy movement in the spirit of Mario Savio.

“The First Amendment right to speak is not convenient — it is expensive,” Reich said. “It can get messy.”

Mentioning that the top 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, Reich said one of the most important issues behind the protests “is not the wealth per se — it is the irresponsible use of wealth to undermine our democratic system.”

The crowd remained engaged throughout the lecture — which reached 3,500 people at its peak, according to UCPD — booing and hissing when Reich spoke about the income of corporations and cheering when he referred to the Occupy movement as a way “in which people are beginning to respond to the crisis of our democracy.”

“The days of apathy are over, folks,” he said.

As Reich’s lecture came to a close, protesters began chanting “Whose university? Our university” and encouraged the crowd to camp on the plaza throughout the night.

Alisha Azevedo is the lead academics and administration reporter.

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  • Johnny Saxx

    He is as full of shit now as He had in the 70’s !! The designer of NAFDA that gave Wall Street and the Corporation’s more of the pie that He “is now trying to criticize. His speech about total tax Revenue’s are the lowest in 60 Year’s is right ! And why ? It all start ‘s at the Top!! He preaches about Class division’s ! Who in the world divide’s more People than He and His Bunch if Socialist’s ?
    They never eat Their Own!! How about them going after Barney Frank for His role in this mess!! Keep going after the 1% , place the blame everywhere but where it need’s to be. How about Our Congress being free to by Share’s of stock with privileged information ?
    Even if They took 100 % off the 1% it would not be enough!!!! Wake up The US owe’s more than all of Us can make , but the Socialist won’t be happy until We can all walk together hand in hand to the welfare office .

  • eeeut

    here is a much better report on Tuesday’s events.

  • Larry Boatman

    I’m from the ’60s also – looks like we could be on our way again.  Here’s my sign at Occupy San Diego:  “As a Vietnam veteran, and then a person testifying for (the meaning of protest, after all) alternatives to the Vietnam War, and now a supporter of Veterans for Peace, I take the suggestion of Stephane Hessel – to return to the values of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights (for which so many veterans fought during WW II) as the foundation from which to become outraged as the financial war being waged by the 1% against the 99% continues to take its toll. To proclaim again that 1) “disregard and contempt for human rights [by the 1%] have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind” and 2) “the highest aspiration of the common people [the 99%] . . . [is] the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want”!

  • Silvernan

    Who was the recipient and speaker before Robert Reich? His speech raised the crowd. Can we have a transcript placed on the internet of the speech and more about that recipient’s bio? It started with the phrase” We need to bring hope back…”
    Many thanks:

    • Anonymous
    • Anonymous

      How’s that Hope and Change working out?

      • Anonymous

        The poem is pretty critical of BO actually. If you quit mindlessly blathering talking points for long enough to read it, you might see for yourself.

  • Castorp

    I would be highly cautious regarding Robert Reich.

    Here is what he had to say recently in response to a question at Occupy Los Angeles:

    “In my opinion, will Obama ever fulfill
    the promises he made to us in 2008? The answer is this: President
    Obama, if he is faced with a strong and articulate and powerful
    progressive movement, President Obama will go along. ”

    This about a guy who has spent the better part of the last six months attacking the Republicans for not going far enough in cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, whose plan for restructuring the US car industry hinges on slashing starting salaries for auto workers to $15/hr., and who surrounds himself with corrupt Wall Street insiders.

    Either Reich has fooled himself, or he is deliberately attempting to fool others.

    Is he really seeking a fundamental transformation of American society, or rather cleverly trying to funnel discontent into support for the re-election of Obama and other bought-and-paid-for Democratic politicians?

    • I think people should be “highly cautious” of anyone who spreads conspiracy theories based on nothing but fear and misinformation.

  • I’m from the 60’s.  I am so proud of what we accomplished in the 60’s.  We said NO to the higher powers  that had controlled the mindset of our fathers.  We said NO to Vietnam.  We said NO to those opposed to the Civil Rights Movement.  We said NO at Kent state over police brutality.  We said NO at Berkeley during the People’s park riot.  We said NO to the establishment.

    Today?  I don’t own a car but delight in riding public transportation.  For 3 years I’ve gotten so concerned over the lack of engagement between young people.  The electronic daze they all seem to be encased in.  I’ll see a group of young girls sitting next to each other but no one speaking a word because they’ll all texting to each other………!!

    Mario Savio.  What can I say.  Listen to him.  Be inspired.  Unite.  Read the DIALOGUES OF PLATO ‘The Symposium” (the cave) and find yourself.  Respond and grab the hand of your brother, your sister. 

    We have a narrow road ahead of us that as we walk, arm in arm, will only widen.

    lOst sOuls rembrd

  • Guest

    numbers as big as 10000 floating around. .. and judging by how many effing people there were @ sproul today, I wouldn’t be surprised. I haven’t seen that many people at one place in Berkeley apart from football games…
    I think there were at least 150 on the GBC roofs alone … lol

  • Guest

    3,500 my ass. I love how UCPD is trying to downplay our manifestation of moral outrage. 

    • Nobody gives a shit about the moral outrage of some lazy do-nothing college students. You did this in the 1960s. Americans responded by electing the great Richard Nixon twice.

      • Andrew Chang

        Very funny. “Lazy do-nothing students”. “Lazy do-nothing” U.C. BERKELEY students. Do you see the oxymoron here? These aren’t indolent or stupid people. These are hard-working and intelligent people who feel as if their collective future is at stake. Some of the occupiers may be young and perhaps inexperienced, but given the collective intelligence gathered, I have little doubt that they will find some way to make quite a few people “give a shit”.

        • [Do you see the oxymoron here? These aren’t indolent or stupid people. These are hard-working and intelligent people who feel as if their collective future is at stake.]

          Yeah, right. They are so f-cking smart that instead of going to where the decisions are really made (Sacramento) and arguing their case there, these protesters would rather set up TENTS and look for physical confrontations with police officers, who were NOT responsible for the student tuition hikes, and have NO control or influence over the situation whatsoever. Maybe you have an unjustifiable opinion of yourself, but the rest of us (those who live and work in the real world, and pay the taxes to support this mess) see you for what you are: a bunch on dim-witted, narcissistic, self-centered crybabies.

          • Troll Patrol


          • Rogerdodger

            Agreed…trolls are bad

          • EarlBear

            Agreed.   There must be a dailycal link at Freep or something.  They sound just like the birthers and mouthbreathers at Gretawire.

          • Emilio

            Don’t write off 35,000+ students unless you can say you personally know each and every one. Furthermore, I would like to point out that the ASUC has sent a number of buses full of students to SACRAMENTO this morning in order to bring the issue to state government.

          • Anonymous

            Lol. ” bring the issue to state government”…lol

            The Anti business SACTO LIbs have turned Cali into a 3rd world state. As the pie shrinks a la death spiral, Cal kiddies will be forced to pay more each year.

            Try voting for pro growth candidates for a “change”.

            Even Cal kiddies should be able to figure this out.

          • Actually, the Republican-sponsored Proposition 13 as well as their 2/3 majority rule in the CA legislature has “turned Cali(fornia) into a (third) world state.” 

            …but hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your mentally masturbatory attempt to inflame people.

          • Uh, other high-tax, high-regulation states don’t have 2/3 tax requirements, and are still failing as miserably. Low-tax conservative states like Utah are thriving.

          • Orwell

            So what are you doing here in CA?  Should not you move to wonderful Utah??

          • My family is here. WTF is your point? Millions of people have left California for red states.

          • Brian Forrest

            You go ahead and denigrate the OWS crowd as you continue to pay your “fair” share of taxes whose rates are gamed by the wealthy like a good lamb. Fool! They are fighting the fight that you don’t even know needs to be fought.

        • Bill

          How do you know what they are? You aren’t a part of it. I was down in there with those jackasses because I wanted to see what this was about for myself. Some of them are Trotsyites and Maoists sitting around splitting hairs over etherial Marxist points that have little relation to reality. Are you kidding me? Trotsky and Mao? Nobody gives a shit about those dead tyrants. Some of these people are frankly nuts. They are filthy and just plain weird.

          Just shut up and do your fucking homework, Andy.

      • EarlBear

        Anonymous comments like this show the Occupy movement is working. People who want only the status quo and fear change are absolutely pee-their-pants afraid of this budding social movement because they know the moral outrage is true and right and American. When Occupy becomes mainstream, people like anonymous will join in like they did during the Civil Rights and the anti-Vietnam War era.  2 and 2 and 3500 will become 1 million and people like anonymous will be welcomed when they see there’s enough they can show the courage to lift their heads too and say “Enough”.

        • Anonymous

          If OWS becomes mainstream people will want free housing, free medical care, free Internet access, and free childcare.  To pay for it all the mainstream will be willing to sacrifice free college education because according to Occupy Oakland a university is something that divides the haves from the have-nots.

      • Kevan Jenson

        America responded by prosecuting Watergate.  Even Nixon went out late one night in Washington and sat down with protesters to ascertain what was going on.×4295874

        Reversal came with Reagan, who honed his chops taking down Berkeley protestors.  The country is still reeling from that cracked actor.

        • Anonymous

          Reagan destroyed our Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, without going to war or launching a single nuclear missile.  He brought America back to prosperity after the disastrous regime of that peanut farmer President.  He fired union workers who cared more about personal wealth than air traffic safety.  And he never had to feel sorry for watching out for America’s best interests, unlike our current Apologizer-in-Chief.

          • Guest

            Wow, that’s a creative rewriting of history!  Reagan brought America back to prosperity–via a program of military Keynesianism and deficit spending!  Why was PATCO striking?  Because lack of rest for the working folks monitoring air traffic ENDANGERED public safety.  Thank Ronnie, too,  for the regressive increases in payroll taxes–FICA–that hit working folks harder.

          • Anonymous

            At least you admit that Reagan brought America back to prosperity.  Compared to the Obama plan, which is having the opposite effect, hence the OWS copycats.  

          • Anonymous

            Keep pretending like Bush never happened 

          • Anonymous

            Bush let us down when he hinted he would allow illegal aliens to stay.  But notice how nobody got desperate enough to occupy Wall Street under Bush, while under Obama the Occupy Whatever crowds are everywhere.

          • Brian Forrest

            You must have a short memory – as it was the last Republican administration that tanked the economy, wracked up a 3 trillion $ debt by giving the wealthy tax cuts while running two wars on a credit card when he came into power with a 300B$ surplus!

          • Anonymous

            You also seem to forget how al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center and convinced Congressional Democrats to authorization those wars.  Last time I checked your liberal President is still conducting wars in the two theaters that you accuse Bush of fighting.

          • jackterrier

            Blah, blah, sophistry. 
            Buck stops at Bush for selling a war and spending the country into oblivion.
            Can’t pin the withdraw on Obama.

          • Orwell

            In financially breaking the back of the former Soviet Union (debatable theory, by the way), Reagan  broke the back of this country by running up an obscene debt, which we and the future generations are stuck with.

      • Keljam69

        This sweeping generalization is misplaced when referring to the student population at Berkeley. They represent some of the greatest talent this country has and to call them lazy do-nothings is nothing more than ignorant and myopic.

      • Guest

        Richard Nixon was more moderate that all Republicans today, maybe even to the left of a great deal of current Dems.

      • If you had real convictions in your comments, you would have used your name.
        You’re nothing less than another right wing internet troll, you’re worth less than a dime a dozen

        • My name is anonymous, like yours is digueno.


          • Had you taken the time to check my profile through Disqus, you would have found my first name, a little about my family life, work history, my political history and where I live. To give any more personal details to strangers full of venom instead of good character would be foolish.

          • I don’t care. The liberal society you have created is an oppressive, tyrannical system that causes people to lose jobs and more for their political opinions. I see no chance of overturning it in a fundamental way in the short-term, so I’m not going to risk anything by revealing my real name. That would not be conducive to the fight against liberal tyranny.

          • there is that twisted, Orwellian logic that #rwnj uses when you debate them in to a corner and, in this case that is not uncommon, from the shadows

          • Calling somebody a coward is not an argument, so you weren’t debating anybody to begin with, idiot.

            You made an ad hominem attack, I refused to fall for it, and then you pat yourself on the back for winning a debate. Congratulations, loser. Oh, and your wife is fat.

          • Your cabal’s lack of dignity and self-respect pains you to the point of where you won’t even give it to strangers that you neither understand nor know, hell bent on dragging everyone else down with you.

      • Brian Forrest

        It’s no wonder that the author is “anonymous”, who would be caught dead calling Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon great.