Out Of The Archives:
The Berkeley People’s Park Mural

People's Park Mural in Berkeley
People’s Park Mural in Berkeley

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious that you can’t even tacitly take part … you’ve got to put your bodies on the gears, the levers, and all the apparatus and you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it and own it that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all. – Mario Savio quote within the mural

This is only one small part of the mural that covers the entire wall of what is now Amoeba Records at the corner of Haste and Telegraph in Berkeley. This part of the mural commemorates the speech that Mario Savio gave on the steps of Sproul Hall that infamous December 3rd afternoon in 1964 that brought UC Berkeley to a screeching halt and served as the beginning of the Free Speech Movement (FSM), where the students challenged the administration of the University to allow them to participate in political activities on campus. It resulted in a year of protests, and sit-ins, and a decade of a national political movement that used Berkeley as its center and completely changed in way we think as a country.

Other parts of the mural depict the riots that brought about the birth of People’s Park. A block of land sitting next to the mural and owned by the University, that was taken over by students in 1969 and made into a park for the people of the community. When the University decided to take the land back, the students and community protested and the then Governor of California, Ronald Reagan, first called in the Alameda Sheriff’s Department and then the National Guard with their horses, guns and tear gas to settle the dispute between the community and the University. One person, who was not even participating in the protests, lost their life in the conflict and another was blinded by the birdshot the Sheriff’s unit used in their guns. The park remains a park to this day, but still not without controversy.

The mural was painted by Berkeley artist and lawyer Osha Neuman.

The actual quote:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! – Mario Savio – December 3.1964


Sproul Hall in 2006

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