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Response to Berkeleyside's People's Park Coverage
by Aidan Hill (info [at] aidanhill.vote)
Peoples Park community is not anti-development; we are fighting climate change and do not support the redlining of our Southside district. UC Berkeley can build on sites that are not historically significant. We are anti-fascists centering on urban ecology, consensus decision-making, and rematriation of this land back to the Ohlone people.
On August 5, 2022, at 2:28 pm, Berkeleyside staff member Supriya Yelimeli wrote.

"There were some disagreements between two groups: One set, an older generation of activists who aim to preserve the park's 53-year-old history as a communal gathering space and home for counterculture movements, who have primarily fought the university through the court system; and another group comprised of current UC Berkeley students are more centered on land rights and services for homeless residents who moved into the park during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another coalition, Defend People's Park, wants the land to be returned to indigenous stewardship, homeless residents who lived at the park to be connected to permanent housing and for UCPD to be defunded and those financial resources redirected to services for homeless residents, as well as Cal students and staff."

Here is my response:

While I do not speak for the park, I have permission from a large contingent of park members to articulate specific values. Peoples Park is an autonomous zone. However, there are two dominant organizational methods within Peoples Park: the Peoples Park Community and Defend Peoples Park.

The Peoples Park community is a coalition of activists who have participated within the park over the last 53 years. The author is correct that we celebrate our history and utilize the park as a community gathering space emphasizing counterculture. However, the author is incorrect that we have primarily fought the university through the court system. Our coalition includes the Peoples Park Historic District and Suitcase Clinic, East Bay Food Not Bombs, and Cop Watch, all born in Peoples Park. These groups consist of UC Berkeley students and have assisted services for homeless people, land rights, indigenous stewardship, and police reform.

However, the author does not point out that our community is not anti-development; we are fighting climate change and do not support construction on the site. We want UC Berkeley to build somewhere that is not historically significant. Our community is intentionally anti-fascist, meaning we are against racism, ableism, sexism, ageism, religious intolerance, classism, fat shaming, and sexual discrimination.

We acknowledge Peoples Park arose at the heels of the Free Speech Movement and centers on land defense, urban ecology, consensus decision making, and rematriation of this land back to the Ohlone people. We recognize that Peoples Park was housing destroyed through urban renewal. The City and the University of California, Berkeley are redlining the Southside Neighborhood. The Peoples Park is a Black Panther Liberated Zone and incorporates all people who believe in the liberation of the commons.

I will not speak on behalf of Defend Peoples Park, but I can affirm that this organization centers on one long-term community member. The members of the coalition have only been in the park since the UC Berkeley EIR assessment. It is essential to distinguish these two groups from each other rather than making assessments to influence public opinion. Students have the right to organize between the two various organizational models. However, the community is united in land defense and resisting state-sanctioned violence.

Join our Bulldozer alarm and community-controlled social media accounts to support the Peoples Park Community.

Text Alerts:
SavethePark to 74-121.
Website: http://www.peoplespark.org/wp

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeoplesParkCommunity
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thepeoples_park/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thepeoples_park
May 1,000 Parks Bloom!
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Aidan Hill (they/them) is a candidate for Berkeley City Council District #7 this November 8th, 2022, Election, which governs Telegraph Avenue, People's Park, and the University of California Berkeley. Aidan was a candidate for Berkeley Mayor in the 2020 election and served as Vice-Chair of Berkeley’s Homeless Commission at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more at http://www.aidanhill.vote
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