BERKELEY, Calif. - The site of People's Park has faced decades of uncertainty.
The lot originally had homes on it when UC Berkeley bought it in 1967 through eminent domain.
The university demolished what was there and planned to build dorms but ran out of funding.
In 1969, protesters called for the space to be reserved as a park.
A free speech demonstration there turned violent over the Vietnam War, culminating in then-Gov. Ronald Reagan sending in 2,700 National Guard troops.
In the 1970s, the university's attempts to turn it into a recreation center and parking lot were also met with opposition.
The university revived plans for student housing on the site in 2018.
This week, the university put up shipping containers to surround the park so that construction for student housing can eventually begin.
On Thursday, California Highway Patrol, University of California police, and private security guards surrounded the park as crews installed 150 containers around the park.
The move is the university’s latest attempt to close the historic park and build a 1,100-bed student housing project. Cal is currently barred from starting construction at the park by an ongoing lawsuit in the state Supreme Court but is allowed to put up fencing.
Protesters, including college students, said they can't stand by and watch construction crews go into the park and take over what they describe as a historic community space.
The university's housing plan will take up about one-third of the park and two-thirds will remain as green space.
A spokesperson for UC Berkeley said the barricades will come down in three to four days after fencing around the park is complete.
Drone video shows shipping containers creating a perimeter around People's Park. Jan. 4, 2024
Shipping containers will remain at People's Park until construction is complete. Jan. 5, 2024
Less than a dozen People's Park protesters were arrested for failing to disperse. Jan. 4, 2024
Just off Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue, police have set up a barricade to keep the protesters away.
Law enforcement took action at the park on Wednesday, starting at around 11:30 p.m. People were removed from the site and crews tore down makeshift structures as the shipping containers were stacked to keep people out. Jan. 4, 2024
A protester speaks in a megaphone to keep People's Park in Berkeley development-free. Jan. 4, 2024
"It's an extraordinary measure, but we felt we needed to close the park completely, which has become a pretty significant location of crime," UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said. "We needed to do something extraordinary to seal off the park for
Protesters, including college students said they can't stand by and watch construction crews go into the park and take over what they describe as a historic community space. Jan. 4, 2024
Crews begin to haul in shipping containers at People's Park in Berkeley to eventually build student housing. Jan. 4, 2024
Shipping containers brought in to barricade People's Park in Berkeley.
A sign "People's Park Remain" is written on the roof of a structure. Jan. 4, 2024