On a hot Sunday at People’s Park, a construction bulldozer sits on patchy grass, wrapped in blue and gold tarp. A swing hangs from its arm. Beside the bulldozer is a white pop-up tent, which five people sit beneath, clustered together to avoid the heat.
They’ve gathered for a nonviolent direct action training on the third day of Disorientation Weekend, a series of community-based events held at People’s Park over the Labor Day weekend. The first two days featured a movie night and live concert, as promoted by a schedule shared on Defend People’s Park’s Instagram. According to Dress Wedding — a longtime Park advocate — these community-based actions were planned to “rejuvenate” the park and the community following the attempted development of the park by UC Berkeley on Aug. 3.
On Aug. 4, campus was forced to halt construction in accordance with a stay order issued by a state appellate court. According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, a decision may come in October.
Mogulof previously told The Daily Californian that campus remains “strongly committed” to developing the park and is currently deciding when to restart construction if the court rules in their favor.
The attempted development of the park has drawn community attention and support from a number of groups. Events such as nonviolent direct action training teach those interested about “ethical property destruction” and safety while protesting, according to Max Ventura, an activist who has been protesting development on People’s Park for 40 years.
“A big focus for us is preparing people for the eventuality of the UC making another intrusion into the park and being ready to mobilize resistance in a non-violent fashion so that people can stay as safe and as least prone to damage as possible,” Wedding said.
Determined to leave his mark on the park, Ramon Blanco-Barrera — known by his artist name 233 — transformed a bulldozer left by campus into an art installation. In doing so, he attempted to contribute to the cause of saving People’s Park during his time as a visiting artist in Berkeley.
The community came together, Blanco-Barrera said, to help him fulfill his idea to wrap the bulldozer in blue and gold and turn it into a gift for Chancellor Carol Christ. Below stood a plaque made of the limbs of trees that once stood in the park.
Beneath the plaque, attendees planted marigolds which, according to Blanco-Barrera, symbolize a new growth and blooming for People’s Park.
“This can totally change the perspective of people outside the park to see it as different because art. Of course, this is still a really complex thing,” Blanco-Barrera said. “It is not just a park, it is something to be preserved.”