Adore it or hate it, Berkeley is totally different from most different cities.
Earlier this month we had been reminded that on Oct. 12, 1992 — 29 years earlier than the nation — Berkeley became the first city in the country to formally celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. Formalized by the Metropolis Council on the eve of the Columbus Quincentennial, the revision was led by Berkeley activist John Curl and a number of other Native leaders.
From the Streets to the Ballot Box: Berkeley Politics in the 1970s,
Berkeley Historic Society,
1931 Heart St.,
by means of April 2022
However Berkeley is dwelling to many different political firsts, a truth mirrored within the Berkeley Historic Society exhibition “From the Streets to the Poll Field: Berkeley Politics within the Nineteen Seventies,” which opens Nov. 6 and runs by means of mid-April 2022.
David Mundstock was an activist and historian of Berkeley electoral politics who passed away Aug. 28, 2020. He was the one youngster of Jewish dad and mom who had emigrated from Nazi Germany to Canada and later settled in San Francisco. Mundstock was a UC Berkeley undergraduate and legislation pupil and was deeply devoted to the democratic promise of electoral politics. He spent numerous hours registering folks to vote, however his greatest contribution was organizing college students to grow to be a serious constituency of the progressive coalition that elected the primary representatives of the “new politics” to the Berkeley Metropolis Council within the early Nineteen Seventies. The coalition turned often called Berkeley Residents Motion, or BCA.
David understood the nuances of Berkeley’s citizens and painstakingly compiled information on each election, typically charting leads to colour on massive precinct maps.
I used to be a member of the Inkworks Press collective, which printed many Berkeley marketing campaign supplies, and I befriended David whereas researching electoral posters. He requested me to survey his intensive archive in 2016, so although I used to be stunned to listen to of David’s dying, I wasn’t stunned to study that he willed me his assortment. After extracting field after field from below dusty eaves and creaky file cupboards, I reviewed the supplies and donated them to the Berkeley Historic Society. One of many meta-messages right here is how neighborhood citizen-scholars passionately construct collections that ultimately want to maneuver to safer and accessible establishments.
The Mundstock assortment is a robust physique of labor detailing the evolution of politics in a vibrant metropolis — over 30 cartons of paperwork in addition to 150 political posters, bins of marketing campaign buttons and bumper stickers. It’s nonetheless being processed on the BHS; this exhibition is a selective showcase highlighting simply a number of the many topics obtainable for additional analysis.
Listed here are three of the various progressive campaigns documented on this assortment:
The necessity for basic change in policing, dramatically delivered to the fore with the 2020 homicide of George Floyd, has a deep historical past in Berkeley. In September 1970 the “neighborhood management of police” measure certified for the spring elections — an unprecedented proposal to exchange the citywide police drive with three impartial “neighborhood” departments, below civilian governance and a requirement that law enforcement officials stay in Berkeley.
The measure was superior by members of UC Berkeley’s Faculty of Criminology and the Nationwide Committee to Fight Fascism, a coalition of the Black Panther Social gathering and a number of other neighborhood organizations. Berkeley had seen main law-enforcement struggles through the 1969 battle over Folks’s Park, the place the first downside was habits by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Division and involvement of federal businesses together with the FBI. This measure addressed persistent native considerations with the Berkeley police and served as a mannequin for grassroots organizations across the nation struggling towards police racism.
In early spring 1971, a serious public debate was held in Berkeley concerning the neighborhood management of police measure, that includes Rep. Ronald V. Dellums and Vice Mayor Wilmont Sweeney. Dellums identified that there had been quite a few incidents of racist habits by the police, which had solely six Black officers in a division of over 200.
On April 7, 1971, voters elected three members of the progressive April Coalition slate however rejected the police measure by a big majority. In 1973 Berkeley voters once more rejected police reform measures together with a neighborhood residency requirement and “demilitarization” of the drive, however authorised a civilian-run evaluate fee, one of many first within the nation. In 2002 the previous assistant metropolis supervisor in Berkeley testified that the Police Assessment Fee “saved the town a minimum of $100,000 from one potential lawsuit alone.”
Berkeley Marijuana Initiative (1973) and Measure C (1979)
Hashish in California has been authorized for medical use since 1996, and OK for recreational use since late 2016. Given Berkeley’s countercultural credentials, it ought to be no shock that efforts to decriminalize marijuana had been an early software within the electoral arsenal. These efforts lacked a dedication to partaking with communities of colour, which have all the time borne the brunt of drug enforcement. However nonetheless, they paved the way in which for much less draconian neighborhood requirements.
David Mundstock drafted one of many shortest initiatives ever. The important thing operational clause: “the Berkeley Police Division shall make no arrests for the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana with out the authorization of the Berkeley Metropolis Council.”
No poll argument was submitted towards the Berkeley Marijuana Initiative, nevertheless it drew nationwide consideration when Tom Accinelli got here up with a fundraising thought for a “Win a Kilo” marijuana raffle at a greenback a ticket.
The measure was challenged in courtroom and was by no means applied as supposed, so in 1979 navy conscientious objector Steve Bloom drafted a brand new initiative. Measure C would direct the Metropolis Council to make sure that the enforcement of marijuana legal guidelines turned the Berkeley Police Division’s “lowest precedence.” The measure additional lower off funds for the enforcement of marijuana legal guidelines, tried to cease arrests and mandated studies of all marijuana legislation enforcement actions to the Metropolis Council. Unopposed, the measure gained.
Divestment from South Africa (1979)
Can a metropolis affect social justice in a faraway nation? This was precisely the query residents answered in 1979, when Berkeley turned the primary metropolis in the US so as to add municipal weight to help the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.
That 12 months 4 Berkeley Residents Motion candidates had been elected to the Metropolis Council: Mayor Gus Newport, John Denton, Florence McDonald and Veronica Fukson. Along with Councilwoman Carole Davis, who switched sides, there was now a progressive majority on the Berkeley Metropolis Council. The poll additionally included a pair of initiative ordinances which BCA thought would assist the marketing campaign by fostering higher voter curiosity and turnout — Measures A & B, the Accountable Funding Ordinances about South Africa.
Concern about Metropolis of Berkeley investments that supported white-ruled South Africa had been voiced for years, main to numerous unsuccessful Metropolis Council motions. In 1978 college students on the UC Berkeley chapter of California Public Curiosity Analysis Group (CALPIRG) determined to deal with this difficulty with an initiative. The Marketing campaign for Financial Democracy and BCA folks from the campus neighborhood joined within the effort.
Measure A condemned apartheid and required the withdrawal of Metropolis of Berkeley funds from banks doing enterprise with South Africa, and a Residents Committee on Accountable Investments would assist the Council implement this coverage.
Initially flawed in its language, the supportive Metropolis Legal professional’s workplace submitted an amended initiative to replicate a “minimal” opposed monetary impression if each measures A and B handed as a package deal. There was no marketing campaign towards them.
Ultimately, large worldwide stress led to the autumn of South Africa’s apartheid system. Nelson Mandela was freed on Feb. 11, 1990, and negotiations to finish apartheid formally started that lasted for 4 years, ending with the election of Mandela as president. In 1996, the nation initiated a Reality and Reconciliation Fee to reckon with the gross human rights violations throughout apartheid.
Lincoln Cushing is an archivist and creator who paperwork, catalogs, and disseminates oppositional political tradition of the late 20th century. His books embrace Revolucion! Cuban Poster Artwork and Agitate! Educate! Manage! – American Labor Posters and he was curator for the All of Us or None: Poster Artwork of the San Francisco Bay Space exhibition on the Oakland Museum of California in 2012.