Berkeley community celebrates 48th anniversary of People’s Park

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The Berkeley community celebrated the 48th anniversary of the creation of People’s Park’s on Sunday, enjoying various performances and reminiscing about the history behind the park.

Complete with live performances, a bouncy house and free food, the event ran from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. A group of residents met weekly for the past three months to plan the rally. From students to homeless residents and volunteers, there was a great variety of people in the crowd.

As the day went on, more people populated the lawn in front of the stage, discussing politics and rallying together against the campus’s plans to build resident halls in the area.

UC Berkeley’s Housing Master Plan Task Force published a report in January 2017 citing People’s Park as one of nine potential sites for new student housing development. The proposed plan would include a memorial for the legacy of People’s Park.

Incoming Chancellor Carol Christ previously said the campus has to accept responsibility for those who will be displaced by the development. She added that she and the task force plan on working with the city to find housing for the homeless residents of People’s Park.

Many campus alumni and longtime city residents were involved in cultivating and defending the park 48 years ago and now want to fight for the land and preserve the park.

“All these decisions have already been decided,” said Michael Delacour, who led the effort to cultivate People’s Park in 1969. “What I would like to see is in those discussions, that us the stakeholders of the park and the south campus area be involved in that process.”

Delacour and Hali Hammer, a local singer-songwriter who performed at the event, were part of the team that organized the rally. Hammer said the team was unified by their hopes to keep the park green.

Delacour said they used more social media for outreach this year, and he hoped that the turnout would increase as the day went on. Campus freshman Leor Bases attended the rally with his friends. He said he visits People’s Park often to either do this homework, play basketball or just talk to the people in the area.

“It’s just such a historic, amazing place to hang out. I’ve had great conversations here with people,” Bases said. “You learn the history of this place, and then how could you not hang out here?”

Dave Axelrod, who attended UC Berkeley in 1969, participated in the protests to defend People’s Park. He came out to the rally Sunday to see his old friends, hear great music and discuss the future of the area.

“I call it fake news that they need a dorm in People’s Park,” Axelrod said. “We’re no less determined to hold this ground on behalf of the Mother Earth and the public for user development and community control.”

Contact Malini Ramaiyer at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.