The Invasion of Sproul Hall
On December 2 there was a noon rally at Sproul Hall. Savio, microphone in hand, in top form and plainly enjoying his work, spoke to two thousand students and threatened to "bring the university to a grinding halt," because the FSM ultimatum had not been met. He was flanked by Joan Baez, folksinger from Carmel who was currently in difficulty with the Department of Internal Revenue for refusing to pay all of her income tax because she did not wish to make any contribution to the government's activities in Viet Nam. Other leaders of the December 2 demonstration were Jack Weinberg of the Committee on Racial Equality, a non-student; Stephen Weisman, heretofore mentioned; Arthur Goldberg and his sister Jacqueline, and Robert Treuhaft, the husband of Jessica Mitford Treuhaft, and who has been repeatedly identified as a Communist lawyer.
At 12:30 Baez and Savio began singing “We Shall Overcome” , and led the march into Sproul Hall. Like the children of Hamelin following the Pied Piper, about five hundred of the assembled multitude followed their leaders into the building while two hundred stood silently and watched. With military precision the invasion proceeded. Savio was restrained from breaking into Dean Towle's office, but aside from that the sit-in proceeded in accordance with advance plan. The third and fourth floors of the building were used as study areas; the lobby was devoted to recreation, a firstaid station was established, and arrangements made to secure food.
By this time most of the broad base united front organization of the FSM was withering away, leaving the Communists and the more radical elements of the movement in full charge. Robert Treuhaft, counsel for the FSM delegates to the Robley Williams Committee, was observed at several of the student demonstrations and participated in this one—the most massive and defiant of all. He was also one of the first to be arrested. Treuhaft was a lecturer at the Communist School in San Francisco in 1947, and had worked as an Assistant Disputes Director for the War Labor Board and as a hearing Commissioner for the O.P.A. He also has
― 100 ―been active in virtually every Communist front organization in the Bay Area since the early 40's. In 1964 he attended the Communist-controlled International Association of Democratic Lawyers in Argentina with Robert Kenny of Los Angeles, Conrado Gomez of Argentina, and Norman Endicott of Canada. After attending the meeting these four went to Portugal where they endeavored to stir up difficulty over civil rights matters, and were summarily ordered to leave that country.
At about 4 p.m., Jack Weinberg—the arrested hero of the October 1-2 demonstration—made a dramatic appearance on the second floor balcony of Sproul Hall, standing in front of a large red and white FSM banner and announcing that there would be a program of entertainment during the evening which would consist of singing by Joan Baez, the showing of the film "Operation Abolition," which was calculated to arouse animosity against the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and an exhibition of the revolutionary motion picture, Juarez.
Just before the invasion of the Sproul Hall building commenced, Charles Powell, student body president, endeavored to persuade the leaders not to invade the building. But the apostles of free speech booed, jeered and made so much noise that he could not be heard, and called him "a strike-breaker and a fink." At this point the Young Republicans, who had been a part of the FSM united front movement in its earlier stages, announced that the group would not condone this sort of action and withdrew their support. Thereafter the spokesman for the campus Young Republican Organization, Warren L. Coates, Jr., issued the following statement:
By evening of December 2, the FSM organization had provided blankets, sleeping bags and food, a duplicate public address system, and even walkie-talkie equipment so that contact could be maintained with agents outside the building. Some of the teaching assistants who participated
― 101 ―in the invasion conducted classes, and pleas by the administration and orders from both the police department and university officials for the students to vacate the building were greeted with boos and disdain. President Kerr conferred with Governor Brown. Peace officers in the East Bay Area were again alerted, and the Berkeley Police Department by this time expressed some impatience at being summoned and sent home repeatedly, since on the occasion of the October demonstrations they had been summoned and dismissed seven times in one day by a Berkeley administration that could not seem to make up its mind to take decisive action to enforce the university regulations, discipline the violators, and put an end to the demonstrations by using whatever force might be necessary for the accomplishment of that purpose.
At 7 p.m. the doors to the administration building, Sproul Hall, were closed, with approximately eight hundred invaders in full possession of the building. Some university Regents arrived at San Francisco airport, and met with President Kerr and Chancellor Strong; there were other San Francisco meetings, while inside the building classes were being held to instruct the demonstrators how to resist arrest by going limp and refusing to cooperate with officers in the event there was any attempt to clear the building by force. At midnight Savio had sentinels posted at the building's entrances to observe outside activities, and at 2:30 a.m. on December 3, Stephen Weisman told the demonstrators to dispose of any illegal objects they might be carrying. Among the illegal objects that were found when police finally took measures to clear the building was a supply of marijuana cigarettes in the possession of Lee M. Rhoads, 2615 Channing Way, Berkeley, 22, a salesman from Virginia who was a sympathizer with the students, and who was held by the Oakland Police Department in lieu of $150.00 bail.
President Kerr and his administration had decided to allow the students to remain in possession of the administration building until they got tired and decided to emerge. This attitude was expressed not only by Kerr to Governor Brown, but also by other members of the Kerr administrative staff, who seemed determined to make any concession instead of resuming control of the campus by whatever steps might be necessary. But the public, responsible officials in Oakland and Berkeley, and highranking peace officers had other ideas as they watched the students settle down with their abundant supplies of food, blankets, communication systems and outside supporters, and they communicated with the Governor, who thereupon issued the following statement:
Approximately seven hundred peace officers then proceeded to clear the building. Their forces comprised 150 highway patrolmen, 212 police officers from Oakland, and officers from the campus police department, the Berkeley police department and supplementary forces. Immediately before the arrests started, Joan Baez and other FSM leaders who were considered too important to be immobilized by arrests, escaped from the building and disappeared into the crowd. At 3:20 a.m. Police Lieutenant
― 102 ―Merrill Chandler followed Chancellor Strong into Sproul Hall to warn all demonstrators who refused to leave that they were in violation of the law, in that they were refusing to discontinue an unlawful assembly and that they were trespassing by occupying the building after it had been closed. Ten minutes later the arrests began, commencing on the fourth floor of the building and working down. The tensions were high, officers lined the hallways, ready for anything that might develop. The demonstrators were milling around outside the building, and the FSM leaders who had escaped were calling for a general strike by all of the 27,500 members of the student body. Jack Weinberg screamed and cursed as he was taken into custody; Savio shouted and sang and protested even after he had been incarcerated. There were a few who resisted arrest by struggling; some locked arms to make it more difficult for the officers to effect an arrest and to take them into physical custody, but most of the "freedom classes' had been sufficiently successful in telling the students to simply go limp and refuse to cooperate with the officers, and this was the procedure that most of them followed. In that connection it may not be inappropriate to refer at this point to an opinion rendered by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert H. Kroninger, in a case in which three juvenile Berkeley sit-ins were convicted of unlawful assembly during the December demonstration. The decision was mentioned in a column sent to newspapers throughout the country from Washington, D.C. on May 3, 1965, was written by Bruce Biossat, and read, in part, as follows:
"The notion is growing in the United States that there is a curious nobility in breaking, ignoring or misinterpreting the law if it is done in a `good cause.'
The cause, of course, can be racial desegregation, campus freedom of one sort or another, U.S. action in Viet Nam, or whatever.
Favoring job integration, some lawyers in Washington have consciensly and deliberately advocated a misreading of the Taft-Hartley Labor Law to give it a racial content its authors and supporters never intended.
Lawyers, politicians, scholars, teachers, artists and clergymen were among the countless persons who voiced unconditional sympathy for the nearly eight hundred law-breaking demonstrators who rebelled last December on the University of California's Berkeley campus.
They appear to have the grossly mistaken view that if an uprising is basically passive and is styled as `civil disobedience,' it somehow falls outside normal concepts of law violation.
In a little-noticed decision convicting three juvenile Berkeley sit-ins of unlawful assembly in the December rebellion, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert H. Kroninger (in the Berkeley-Oakland area) went right to the heart of that issue.
He cited section 148 of California's Penal Code which bars any intentional resistance, delay or obstruction of a police officer in the performance of his duty. Arresting persons unlawfully assembled in a school building was, he said, proper discharge of an official duty. Then Kroninger declared:
`It is clear that the response of lying down and relaxing the muscles of the extremities was intentional. And it is equally clear that the purpose and effect were to delay and obstruct the police officers. It matters not that the participants described such a resistance as passive, or seek exculpation under the mantle of civil disobedience. Such
Unforgivably, the 378 University of California faculty members who sent Governor Edmund G. Brown a telegram of sympathy for the law breakers showed not the faintest awareness of this point. In ignoring it, they and all other sympathizers were dangerously close to arguing that the end (the demonstrators' objectives) justified the means (violating the law).
Judge Kroninger sensibly took note of that danger in his opinion when he said that `to excuse lawlessness by diverting attention to its avowed purpose would be to reject the rule of law and invite chaos.' Kroninger also said that those who consciously act unlawfully must accept responsibility as law violators and not plead, as did many demonstrators and sympathizers, for amnesty the moment they were arrested."
The arrest of almost eight hundred limp and uncooperative people crowded into several floors of a building, and their booking, photographing and fingerprinting, obviously took a great deal of time. The booking was done at the campus police station which was conveniently situated in the basement of Sproul Hall, and thereafter the men were taken to the Alameda County Rehabilitation Center and the women were booked at the Oakland Hall of Justice and incarcerated in the Oakland jail.
Some of the patterns of residence given by the arrested demonstrators show how they were concentrated in little groups. For example, at 2536 College Avenue, Berkeley, were Mario Savio, Dunbar Aitkens, Charles E. Artman, David L. Goines, Ilene Hanover, Albert B. Litewka, Martin H. Rock, Brian Turner, Samuel B. Slatkin, and jack Weinberg. Sandor Fuchs, Arthur Goldberg, Jonathan King, and Wendel C. Brunner, gave their address as 2632 College Avenue, Berkeley.
The premises in which little groups of demonstrators were housed consisted of dormitories operated under the supervision of the university, boarding houses, and apartment houses. There were some instances where a group of men or women would rent a house, but these were the exception rather than the rule. The pattern of occupancy is interesting insofar as it gives the geographical locations and the proximity to the campus of these component parts of the FSM movement. In addition to those addresses already given some of the other most popular locations in Berkeley were 2700 Bancroft Way; 2532 Benvenue Avenue; 2131 Blake Street; 2248 Blake Street and 2423 Blake Street; 2424 Channing Way; 2630 Dana Street; 1927, 2315, and 2939 Dwight Way; 2400, 2542, and 2650 Durant Street; 2515 Fulton Street, 2215, 2231, 2309 and 2426 Grant Street; 2650 and 2721 Haste Street; 2283 Hearst Avenue; 2635 Hillegass Street; 2100, 2208, 2228, and 2325 McKinley Street; 2140 Oxford Street; 2420, 2516, 2519, 2527, 2531, and 2600 Ridge Road; 2437 Shattuck Avenue; 2231 Ward Street; and other addresses from Alameda, Albany, Belvedere, Lafayette, Oakland, Orinda, Palo Alto, Stanford, Richmond, Sacramento, and San Francisco.
The first charges of police brutality were made on December 4. Bonnie Flemming, who was not one of those arrested, stated that she glimpsed some officers with long clubs striking students on the second floor of Sproul Hall when she was standing on the steps of a nearby building; Martin Rock, 20, said an officer broke a pane of glass on the second floor of Sproul Hall and blamed a student for causing the accident. Peter Israel said that he was slapped, Arthur Goldberg said the police beat the hell out of him, and Mike Entin said that the police were "unduly forceful." Michael Smith, a political science senior, said the physician at Santa Rita Rehabilitation Center had treated him for possible concussion; but Dr. James Terry, the responsible medical officer at the Santa Rita facility, made a flat denial of this accusation.
Judge Rupert Crittenden, presiding judge of the Berkeley Municipal Court, acceded to pleas from a delegation of university faculty members, headed by Professor Larzer Ziff, associate professor of English, when they asked him to reduce the normal bail for trespassing and refusal to disperse from $165.00 to $55.00, and the normal bail for resisting arrest from $275.00 to $110.00. Professor Ziff stated that the faculty had raised a bail fund of $8,000 by December 4, and had arranged for the posting of bail in the aggregate of $80,000 by a bail bond firm.
On the evening of Thursday, December 3, an unofficial emergency meeting of the Berkeley faculty was called, and approximately 1,000 of
― 114 ―them attended. At this meeting a vote was taken, with 15 dissents, criticizing the administration for its handling of the demonstrations and calling for the ouster of Chancellor Strong. Other resolutions passed at this emergency meeting were recommendations that all students arrested for the sit-in should receive full amnesty, that a faculty committee should be established to hear appeals from any students punished for breaking university rules, that new rules for campus political activities should be declared in effect and enforced "pending their improvement," that the presence of highway patrolmen on the campus be condemned together with the refusal by police officers to allow interested faculty members to enter Sproul Hall during the period of the invasion. A telegram was sent to Governor Brown embodying most of these points, and it was signed by 378 of those attending the meeting. Dr. Michael Duodoroff drafted the message to Governor Brown with the aid of his colleagues Dr. R. Y. Stanier, Dr. Leon Wofsy, to whom we have already alluded, Dr. Ben Papermaster, Dr. Nathan Glazer, Dr. Henry F. May, Professor Mark Schorer, Professor John H. Reynolds, Paul Jacobs, Dr. Henry N. Smith, who took charge of collecting the bail fund for the jailed students, Dr. Dell H. Hymes, who declared that he intended to resign in protest against the handling of the sit-in demonstrators and thought others should do so, and others who expressed themselves in general terms as critical of both Governor Brown and the university administration. From San Francisco State College, Professor Urban Whittaker spoke out against the Berkeley administration, and was joined by Professor Dan Knapp of that institution, who denounced Governor Brown.
President Kerr then issued a statement on December 4th to the effect that Governor Brown had made the decision to call the officers and end the unlawful occupation of Sproul Hall, and called upon the faculty, the staff and the students to carry on the orderly processes of the university and to reject "what has become a free speech movement attempt at anarchy."
Kerr declared that when the FSM issued its ultimatum and set a deadline for compliance by the administration, that its demands had nothing whatever to do with free speech which it well knew, and that it was also aware that the university could not possibly accept the conditions. He said that the FSM and its leaders knew from the start that the police would have to haul them out and were now finding that they had thrown themselves into the arms of a community at large which was less tender and which had fewer scruples about administering discipline.
On this occasion President Kerr had nothing to say about the students carrying on their demonstrations "with heavy hearts."