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After a Year of Police State Attacks, People’s Park Remains Autonomous

By The Renegade

People's Park, August 2022. (The Renegade)

A year into the current phase of the People’s Park resistance in Berkeley, the People’s Park Autonomous Zone is still autonomous.

On August 3, 2022, University of California Berkeley and the City of Berkeley renewed their campaign of displacement and ecocide at People’s Park, attempting to forcefully install a gentrified student housing project for the privileged while destroying the deeply beloved park and brutalizing its residents.

As police placed serrated fences around the park designed to maim, residents were forced out and had their belongings thrown away. 47 trees including endangered Coast Live Oaks and Redwoods were subsequently destroyed. 120 riot police were sent to brutalize residents and resisters, leading to the second phase of the People’s Park resistance after its first defense in 1969. Legally incapable of deploying tear gas, 12 was overwhelmed by the resistance and retreated as cowardly detritus. Ever since, the park has been in the hands of the residents and defenders who fought hard for its autonomy.

Throughout the months of late summer and fall 2022 we came together as a community of resisters, struggled together, and created something beautiful out of capitalist destruction. This work continues at the park today. We carry on the legacy of many resisters who defended this park from state occupation as early as 1969.

None of this would have been accomplished without the sacrifices of our comrades, many of whom brutally beaten by police and incarcerated.

In the historical resistance of People’s Park since 1969, martyr James Rector gave his life after being shot in the heart by police, hundreds of comrades have been injured by police brutality, 2,700 National Guard troops and hundreds of riot police have been deployed, and state-driven ecocide has ensued to protect the interests of the oligarchy. In 2022, the state failed because of our multifaceted resistance, and continues to fail.

There is a pervasive misconception that resistance within the imperial core is perpetually disorganized and hopeless, but People’s Park proves otherwise.This is a popular resistance that refused to succumb over the course of five decades and counting.

One year on now looking back at California as an international in a revolution many miles away, I find it more clear than ever that People’s Park is interconnected as a social and ecological struggle against the global marriage of state and capital.

On the concurrent anniversary of the Şengal genocide, we must be reminded of the significance of the international front and every resistance within it, no matter the scale.

From Rojava to People’s Park, we are everywhere, our energy undying as the autonomous fluidity from which we renew again, and again, and again.

We are all that we have, and what we have is something immortal and beautiful.

From Rojava to People’s Park,

let 1,000 parks bloom.

UPDATE January 4, 2024:

People’s Park, a sacred place of culture and history in the Bay Area, is once again under state attack by the alliance of University of California Berkeley and the City of Berkeley, gentrifying by force against the will of the community. If you are in the Bay Area, be willing to defend the park in any way you can. If you showed up for Palestine, you should be willing to show up for your own community. See @peoplesparkberkeley for ongoing updates.

After an intense wave of Turkish airstrikes here in Rojava with daily works of self-defense in society, I am taking time out of important work for this call to action because I owe this to the region I come from, and I owe this to the immortal resistance we have built at People’s Park. Few places in recent California history have seen such a natural organization of community in the wake of state attacks, and such an organic gravitation toward self-defense. At People’s Park one finds a pronounced and deep will to defend the sacred.

Displaced people have been brutalized, martyr James Rector was shot in the heart by police, endangered redwoods have been destroyed here, all in the name of gentrification. Yet, for decades, this park has remained in the hands of the community due to persistent resistance.

Regardless of the state attacks and destruction that occur at the park, there is absolutely nothing that can take away the communal bond forged in this resistance. The state can destroy trees and it can destroy life, but it cannot destroy our love for where we come from, and it cannot destroy our will to defend. The state cannot destroy community, and it cannot destroy the metaphysics of the sacred.

Long live People’s Park.

Let 1,000 Parks Bloom.

-The Renegade


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