Among the cast of thousands in the battle for People’s Park in 1969 was Charlie Palmer, the outgoing President of the student body.
The Establishment among Cal students, voiced by the editors of the Daily Cal, initially opposed the community takeover of the abandoned plot of land that we now know as People’s Park. After Bloody Thursday, the Daily Cal pivoted and supported the Park.
I don’t know of any early opposition to the Park by Palmer, but after Bloody Thursday he lent his support. The incoming President of the student body was Dan Siegel. Siegel’s speech at Sproul Plaza on Bloody Thursday inspired the march down Telegraph Avenue to the Park. Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed James Rector, shot and blinded Alan Blanchard, shot and permanently wounded Donovan Rundle, and shot, bludgeoned, and tear-gassed hundreds of others.
Jon David Bachrach, who provided the 1969 photo of Palmer, recently sent me this photo of Palmer reviewing The Battle for People’s Park.
Palmer went to law school at Yale. After 19 years practicing law, Palmer was appointed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court by then-Governor Gray Davis. Palmer served on the bench until 2020, when he retired. California held general elections for local judicial offices on November 8, 2016. There was a primary on June 7, 2016. Palmer ran unopposed in the election for Office 12 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court
Destiny called and Palmer answered. Destiny calls at the Park again. Berkeley’s new neo-conservative YIMBY warriors who serve as the storm troopers for developers, have heard the call to develop the Park. Others, including Park founder Michael Delcour, have heard he call to save the Park.
On January 29, students and other community members took down the University fencing around the Park and delivered it to the steps of Sproul Plaza.
As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr quipped in the January 1849 issue of his journal Les Guêpe, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they are the same.
As my friend often quips….