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A Bird’s-Eye View of People’s Park

Where People’s Park stands now

May 31, 2024
by Pat Joseph
Drone shot of People’s Park surrounded by double-walled shipping containers PHOTOGRAPH BY MARCUS HANSCHEN ’01, M.A. ’04

ALL CONTAINED Late in the evening on January 3, police in riot gear descended on Berkeley’s People’s Park to clear the area, making a handful of arrests in the process. Since then, the property has been walled off by double-stacked shipping containers outfitted with lights and surveillance cameras and patrolled around the clock by private security. The university says it found it necessary to take such elaborate measures after earlier protests destroyed fencing and heavy machinery on the lot.

The protests erupted over plans to build much-needed student housing on what many still consider to be hallowed grounds, but it was a lawsuit filed by a neighborhood group and pro-park activists that ultimately halted the project. When this shot was taken in early May, parties were still awaiting a ruling by the state Supreme Court on the case. In April, however, plaintiffs conceded that their suit no longer stood in the way.

If the court gives UC the go-ahead, which now seems likely, construction could begin this summer. When completed, the project will provide housing for more than 1,100 students, as well as supportive housing for at least 100 previously homeless and destitute residents. Sixty percent of the lot will remain as public green space and will include elements to commemorate the site’s embattled history.

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