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Free Speech Movement Commemoration Held at UC

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:48:00 AM

A commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement took place at noon Wednesday at Sproul Plaza on the UC campus.  

The meeting was originally planned by the Associated Students (ASUC) and other campus organizations. They sent an e-mail message to FSM arrestees, said Susan Druding, “inviting us to speak at the event, [but] we were asked not to say anything about the budget crisis or current events, only to speak about what happened 45 years ago.” 

Students who are protesting the budget cuts and fee increases met with some of the FSM veterans and agreed that the current protests deserved a hearing at the commemoration. Hasty negotiations just before the event resulted in a compromise: the protestors would be heard, followed by the scheduled speakers. 

All of the speakers from the FSM days drew comparisons between the FSM and the current predicament at UC. “We ground out thousands of newsletters and flyers using mimeograph machines,” said Gar Smith. “If we had had Twitter, we would have won our fight in a week!”  

UC Berkeley Physics Professor Richard Muller, who was arrested in the FSM, spoke to the crowd about his experiences with the police. He concluded by pointing out that the protest movement itself is sometimes intolerant and that even someone as conservative as Condoleezza Rice should be able to speak freely on the Berkeley campus. 

Following the noon meeting, protestors marched through the campus, ending up at the Bear’s Lair, where they voiced support for the food vendors who have been negotiating lease terms with the ASUC.