It is a grave mistake to build on People’s Park. People’s Park has a rich history and, therefore, you can’t attack it without expecting backlash. You speak of your commitment to an inclusive community, diversity and history. People’s Park is currently the channel of this kind of diversity. I beg you to look in your heart and understand that there are people less fortunate than you who also deserve the high principles you espouse. Perhaps they are unable to attend the fine classes at a university such as UC Berkeley, but they certainly have the right to exist somewhere freely, in community and not in fear. People’s Park is the result of the university acting without heart and taking what is not rightfully its own. The reclamation of the neighborhood by the community exposed the greed, fear and selfishness of UC administrators. Building upon the park would stir up powerful ghosts and place your name among those who are an enemy of the people.
UC Berkeley exists in Berkeley. You cannot ignore the people and history of the rest of the city and expect the university to thrive. No, there are not enough beds for students. It is time for the university to take responsibility for keeping student population at a size that the campus and city can hold!
For a healthy city, we need the precious gifts People’s Park provides: open space, living plants that create oxygen, a place to gather in celebration or in emergencies, a place where everyone is welcome, a place of history and pride unique to Berkeley. There is not much of this left in Berkeley. For years the park has been dubbed as sacred ground, which is so desperately needed in such a congested neighborhood. Keep it this way. Please let your principles and your caring extend to all people. Do not build on People’s Park.
Terri Compost is an activist and gardener at People’s Park and is the author of “People’s Park: Still Blooming.”