Free Speech Movement – December 4, 1964 – Pacifica Radio Archives (KPFA) – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
In an attempt to put some historic perspective on the nature of protest – and since the field is quite wide and has been going on for quite some time, I thought I would just randomly start with a protest movement that helped initially define the 1960s and the beginnings of the anti-war movement that would grow and intensify over the years.
For some background:
The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Movement was informally under the central leadership of Berkeley graduate student Mario Savio. Other student leaders include Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, George Barton, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Michael Teal, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others.
With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. The Free Speech Movement was influenced by the New Left, and was also related to the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. To this day, the Movement’s legacy continues to shape American political dialogue both on college campuses and in broader society, impacting on the political views and values of college students and the general public.
At midnight, December 4 Alameda County deputy district attorney Edwin Meese III telephoned Governor Edmund Brown Sr., asking for authority to proceed with a mass arrest. Shortly after 2 a.m., police cordoned off the building, and at 3:30 a.m. began the arrest. Close to 800 students were arrested, most of which were transported by bus to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, about 25 miles away. They were released on their own recognizance after a few hours behind bars. About a month later, the university brought charges against the students who organized the sit-in, resulting in an even larger student protest that all but shut down the university.
This recording is a continuation of reports on arrests and processing of University of California, Berkeley students by California Highway Patrol, Berkeley police, and Alameda County Sheriff. FSM leader Brian Turner and other spokesman discuss demonstrators’ legal rights. Captain Beal of the Berkeley police department announces that they have taken over the building and will remain until the last demonstrator is removed. Demonstrators ask what are the multiple charge and Beal explains the charges will be for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and resisting arrest.