Think Reagan would have tolerated BLM ?

By: GO TROJANS



Reagan had made campus unrest at Berkeley one of his major campaign issues when he announced his candidacy for California governor in 1964:

“ Do we no longer think it necessary to teach self-respect, self-discipline, and respect for law and order? Will we allow a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy dissident minority? Will we meet their neurotic vulgarities with vacillation and weakness? Or will we tell those entrusted with administering the university we expect them to enforce a code based on decency, common sense, and dedication to the high and noble purpose of that university? “

Not unlike another wildly popular, yet wildly unpopular politician, Reagan was elected partly to restore law and order. A group of protestors put the governor to the test in 1969.

They had been using a vacant plot of land for protests against the Vietnam War and decided to block the university from developing it. The day in May 1969 when the university attempted to erect a fence around the plot of land is called “Bloody Thursday.” A rally called to protest the action drew thousands and soon turned into a riot. Reagan ordered the Berkeley police and California Highway Patrol to shut it down.

A campus publication tells what happened next: “Three students suffered punctured lungs, another a shattered leg, 13 people were hospitalized with shotgun wounds, and one police officer was stabbed. James Rector, who was watching the riot from a rooftop, was shot by police gunfire; he died four days later.”

In an extremely controversial move, for which he never apologized, Reagan declared a state of emergency and sent in 2,200 National Guard troops. He enacted a curfew and banned public assembly for two weeks. The National Guard patrolled the streets of Berkeley, dispersing any crowd of four or more. It wasn’t pretty, but they restored order.

There is a classic, should-be-in-the-Smithsonian clip of Reagan at a press conference after the fact with university administrators. He says: “Those people told you for days in advance that if the university sought to go ahead with that construction, they were going to physically destroy the university.”

Someone in the crowd shouts that Reagan should have negotiated with the students. Reagan, with the incredulity of someone who understands that youth don’t run the world for a reason, says: “Negotiate? What is to negotiate? All of it began the first time some of you who know better and are old enough to know better let young people think that they have the right to choose the laws they would obey as long as they were doing it in the name of social protest.”

To underscore the point, Reagan got up and walked out of the room. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

The university eventually caved to the People’s Park protesters, long after Reagan was out of office.

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