To the Bastille
Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line


To the Bastille

First Published: Berkeley Barb, April 12-18, 1968.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The first march to end white racism ended on the green shores of Lake Merritt within one hundred yards of Huey Newton’s prison cell atop the Alameda County Court House in Oakland.

There, nearly five thousand people who had marched from the UC campus in Berkeley shouted “Free Huey – Free Huey” and Huey heard it up there in his cell because prisoners and trustees thrust their hands out through the bars in the “V for Victory” sign of the march.

Tiring of the speeches made from the top of the Peace and Freedom truck parked in the museum hall (Jack Weinberg was left in mid-sentence), the students and youth, black and white, got up off the grass and swarmed across the street to the building.

All traffic was stopped and the marchers flowed up to the main entrance behind which was a solid phalanx of helmeted policemen.

Holding up signs of protest for the cops and office workers inside to see, they founded on the glass-doors until the cops came out and slowly pushed the demonstrators back across the street.

No confrontation took place.

Somebody in the Peace & Freedom Party wisely collected all the shields and placed them inside their truck.

After shouting their slogans and making their point to the passing commute auto and bus traffic, the members slowly broke up and went home.

This was the most non-violent violent demonstration that ever took place to the experience of this reporter (who has been to all of them since the troop-trains in Berkeley).

We pushed the cops to the brink, the cops pushed us back to the sidewalk, and everybody knew that nothing else was going to happen.

Earlier, one black was rapping away before the speeches started. “If you want to free Huey, go get him,” he was shouting to anybody who would listen.

Many did, “How long have you sung ’We Shall Overcome’ and nothing happened? I’m no leader. We don’t need no leaders. Go get him!” he said.

Bob Avakian, of P&F, got on the mike and said, I didn’t come five miles just to hear speeches.” He asked for a show of hands to “surround the Court House whether the pigs like it or not.”

Most everybody held up a hand.

But the speeches did go on. Prof. Moe Hirsch, of UC Mathematics Dept., was chairman (and made a speech). Bob Mandel, an organizer of Stop The Draft Week, pointed out that that there are “now over 30,000 troops to America, while in Vietnam to 1964 there were only 16,000 men.”

He said that on April 23, they will “close down the Oakland Induction Center, and when the buses come and we can’t stop them, we shall march over to this Court House and support Huey and Cleaver. This year, the Stop The Draft Week will have both these points.”

Mike Jones asked people “to get up off it” and tell it to “your city councils.”

Paul Jacobs spoke and his eloquence nearly made Lake Merritt overflow.

By this time, people were shouting “let’s go free Huey.”

Jack Weinberg attempted to put HIS political content to the meeting. “We must understand, that it is necessary to make the following decisions...” And the marchers started getting up and leaving. A young black somehow got on the mike and made stinging indictment of white power structure. “We’re all Americans, but us blacks don’t get nothing. Black and white get killed in Vietnam but us blacks at home don’t get nothing. I’m ready to die here instead of Vietnam, I want freedom now!”

That’s where it was Monday, that’s where it’s at today, and that’s where it’s going to be tomorrow.