Thursday, November 05, 2009

People's Park

People's Park in Berkeley, California, USA is a park off Telegraph Avenue, bounded by Haste and Bowditch Streets and Dwight Way, near the University of California, Berkeley. The park was created during the radical political activism of the late 1960s.

Today People's Park serves as a free public park. Although accessible to members of the larger community, the park serves mainly as a daytime sanctuary for Berkeley's large homeless population who, along with others, take advantage of meals offered by East Bay Food Not Bombs. Public restrooms are available, and the park offers innovative demonstration gardens, including organic community gardening beds and areas landscaped with California native plants, all of which were user-developed by volunteer gardeners.

Many students make regular use of the basketball courts. A wider audience is attracted by occasional rallies, concerts, and hip-hop events conducted at the People's Stage, a wooden bandstand designed and built on the western end of the park by volunteers organized by the People's Park Council. Nearby residents and those who attempt to use the park for recreational purposes sometimes experience conflict with the more aggressive homeless denizens of People's Park.

The mythology surrounding the park is an important part of local culture. The surrounding South Campus neighborhood was the scene of a major confrontation between student protestors and law enforcement during May, 1969. A mural near the park, painted by Berkeley artist and lawyer Osha Neumann, depicts the shooting of James Rector, a student who died from shotgun wounds inflicted by law enforcement on May 15, 1969.

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