Public Comment

Free Speech at UC Berkeley Today

Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:27:00 AM

The Board of Directors of the Free Speech Movement Archives (www. includes a number of participants from the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and we believe we can speak with some authority on behalf of those who made that movement a success. 

The Board views the events of Nov. 20 and Dec. 11 on the Berkeley campus with the greatest concern. We are appalled by the violence perpetrated by police forces on bystanders outside Wheeler Hall on Nov. 20. Police violence has escalated far beyond that which we experienced forty-five years ago, with fingers broken by clubs and firearms inappropriately aimed and fired at unarmed people behind barricades. Where was the University administration, which today claims the FSM as its own, while this was happening? 

We are also both shocked and appalled by the assault carried out against the occupied residence of the Chancellor on Dec. 11. Regardless of provocations, violence as an act of protest serves no worthwhile purpose; it divides the community and benefits our opponents by diverting attention away from the real issue—the defunding of public education. It is a sure route to scaring people away from action and can accomplish nothing positive in this situation. 

The campus community faces a challenge far greater than any we faced: to overcome the decades-long campaign, carried on at the highest levels of government, media, and business, to eradicate the state’s promise of tuition-free education for all who qualify. Success in this struggle to return higher education in California to its original vision will require a broad coalition that includes not only students and faculty, but parents, labor, religious and civic organizations, reaching out to the electorate. It will require the suppression of urges to “get even,” to “show our anger,” and to attempt to “create crisis”—the crisis is already here! 

It is time to build a functioning democratic, inclusive, representative and non-violent movement that enables all participants in the struggle for accessible higher education to work together. 


Adopted by the Board of Directors of The Free Speech Movement Archives 

Dec. 21, 2009 


The Free Speech Movement Archives is a 501 (c)(3) California nonprofit corporation. 


Board members: Margot S. Adler, Bettina Aptheker, Susan C. Druding, Lee Felsenstein, Jackie Goldberg, Lynne Savio Hollander, Thomas Savio, Marston Schultz, Kathleen Piper, Gar Smith, Barbara T. Stack. Officers: Lee Felsenstein, president, Kathleen Piper, secretary, Anita Medal,      treasurer.