El Centro Timeline: 1969-2019

By Adriana Rodriguez & Veronica Huerta, First-Generation Latinx Undergraduates

El Centro, also known formally as El Centro Arnulfo Casillas, has acted as a glue for Latinx students since its establishment in the late 1960s. This sacred place has comforted and cultivated generations of scholars, but through this process has also faced trials and tribulations. Below is a timeline delineating the journey of resilience and compassion that both El Centro and its students have embarked on together.


October 1969

IMAGE CREDITS: El Plan de Santa Bárbara/October 1969

The publication of El Plan de Santa Bárbara by the Chicano Coordinating Council on Higher Education was the direct result of the meeting between professors and students at the Francisco Torres Residential Hall in April 1969. This plan outlines the implementation of Chicano Studies programs throughout California as well as a community space for Chican@ students to be made available on campus. The goals of this plan were to make higher education more accessible and less alienating to Chican@ students. 

[Logan, Jim. (April 12, 2018). A Legacy of Community, Pride. THE CURRENT. RETRIEVED FROM https://www.news.ucsb.edu/2018/018900/legacy-community-pride]

Fall 1970

IMAGE CREDITS: Roger Hagie and Steve Riede/EL GAUCHO/October 15, 1968

The establishment of the Chicana/o Studies department stemmed from the North Hall building occupation in 1978 and the El Plan de Santa Bárbara Conference in 1969. The El Centro building housed the first Chicana/o Studies department in the entire University of California system, providing a community space for students.

[RETRIEVED FROM https://www.chicst.ucsb.edu/]

Autumn of 1975

Building 406 was named after Arnulfo Casillos, (1948-1992), a professor and activist. His legacy was used as a testimony of resilience and kindness that was utilized as a center for the intentions and regards for El Centro for Latinx students. 

[RETRIEVED FROM https://www.chicst.ucsb.edu/] 

August 7, 2013

IMAGE CREDITS: Gloria Campos/Daily Nexus/August 07,  2013

El Centro becomes a target of bigotry by being vandalized with the phrase “Deportation = Justice; Deport Illegals NOW,” on its entrance doors. This blatant attack impacts undocumented students and resource such as UCSB I.D.E.A.S that is affiliated with El Centro alike.

[Staff Report. (August 7, 2013). Vandalism Attacks Undocumented UCSB Students. THE DAILY NEXUS. RETRIEVED FROM  https://dailynexus.com/2013-08-07/vandalism-attacks-undocumeneted -ucsb-students/]

May 23, 2016

IMAGE CREDITS: Nicholas Bogel Burroughs/Daily Nexus/May 23, 2016

Student Advocacy group, VOCEROS, met with UCSB Administration with a list  of more than 30 demands made for the retention and well-being of Latinx students. The meeting was held in El Centro and emphasized the importance and maintenance of El Centro.

[Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas.(August 7, 2013). UCSB Open to Latino Students’ Demands. THE DAILY NEXUS. RETRIEVED FROM https://dailynexus.com/2016-05-23/ucsb-open-to-latino-students -demands/]

January 13, 2017

IMAGE CREDITS: Jose Arturo-Ochoa/Daily Nexus/January 13, 2017

Negligence From UCSB Administrators in the upkeep of El Centro resulted in students and organizations needing to evacuate the  building in 45 days. Students came to a consensus that El Centro was  integral enough to their college experience that it was “worth getting hurt over.”

[Yelimeli, Supriya . (January 13, 2017). Students Told to Evacuate El Centro Annex Before Possible Demolition. THE DAILY NEXUS. RETRIEVED FROM https://dailynexus.com/2017-01-13/students-told-to-evacuate-el-centro-annex-before-possible-demolition/]

2019

El Centro implemented the idea of a community garden that is located in Lower Westside Santa Barbara, and the Somos Semillas Food Sovereignty Project was established. This was an effort to cultivate community and sovereignty in regard to food education. [RETRIEVED FROM https://sites.google.com/view/elcentrosb/somos-semillas-garden?authuser=0]


Dr. Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval

“My name is Ralph Armbruster Sandoval. I’m a professor in the Department of Chicano and Chicano Studies, and I’m also the chair of the department.”

So it’s my understanding that the Department of Black and Chicano Chicana
Chicanx Studies departments blossomed because of student activism. And I just wanted to ask you why you think that the method that they used added to the weight of the cause. Like, for example, the hunger strikes. Why do you think that method was strategic in this case?

Ok, so you’re asking me about the origins of the department or the hunger
strike specifically? Because there’s two different things there.

The Hunger strikes specifically.

Okay, the hunger strike was in a way, let’s see it was twenty-five years after
the department was first established. And if you want me to speak more slowly or something like that, I can.

No worries.

I know you’re recording it, but still. So twenty five years after, you know, it’s
almost like a whole generation had passed. So the people from the 60s and 70s who protested and demonstrated and did all they could to establish a department, they had “moved on”. But the students of that era still had ties to the alumni from that and the people that created that, were affiliated with Mecha and then Mecha at UCSB had its own unique kind of organizing context so Mecha became known as El Congreso in 1975 and so they had ties with those alumni and those alumni didn’t just kind of fly off, if you will, and didn’t maintain ties with the current students and students wanted to maintain ties with them as well. So but 25 years later, at the beginning, the department, for instance, only had three faculty members and 25 years later, they still had three not the same three. But in other words, they hadn’t really expanded and they had a feeling the students of the 90s, that the university had kind of tokenized them, meaning that they had created a place to kind of quiet them down, but they really didn’t offer them any substantial change. So it was just kind of a what they call it, like a co-opted device, like something to kind of quiet down. I often say that if a baby’s crying, of course you’re going to give the baby something that they would want, you know, like a pacifier. And so truly, they like, pacify restive masses. Sometimes you can ignore them. Sometimes you can mock them. This is what Gandhi said. It wasn’t me. You can mock them. You can ignore them. And sometimes, you know, push comes to shove. You might have to give them something to pacify them to kind of quiet them down. The other thing you could do, of course, is, you know, repress them. You could arrest them. You could do mean things to them. But you know, if you try out all those things you could pacify them, which the system did in 1970.

But by the 1990s, they were saying, listen, we’re not really going to take these pacification efforts any longer. And so we want to do something substantive. And initially, they tried to do everything that you can think of, meaning going to other professors, going to university officials, you know, in other words, engaging in talk and conversation and trying to compromise and whatnot. And none of it really was successful. Cesar Chavez, of course, who had regularly relied on hunger strikes many times throughout his life. Taught a class here in 1991 in IV theater; it’s the only time he ever taught a stand-alone class. The quarter-long class was like a three-hour class. I think it was, yeah, like it was called farm labor organizing in California or in the United States or something like that. And yeah, so the students, some took that class, some in or had been farmworkers themselves, if not their families and parents and stuff. So they understood that struggle very intimately, very personally. It was like a real thing for them and they respected, admired him, and that was like his weapon of choice, if you will, right, the hunger strike.

So, so lots of things like it all kind of added up to they tried to do the regular thing, which is talk to the powers that be. They ignored them. They were really angry about what was going on, not only here in California, I mean, started at UCSB, but throughout California and the whole United States. It was just everything was going in the wrong direction. And the way that I interpreted in the book that I wrote about the strike was that they had to do something significant, something spectacular because they were being ignored. And so I kind of interpreted the hunger strike as a scream as a plea for attention. And so when they got out onto the administration building Cheadle Hall, they just camped themselves out there, you know, and it was really hard to ignore that. You can imagine a group of students all Latino, you know, Latinx. I mean, they weren’t using that terminology. Two of the students, by the way, were of Guatemalan ancestry, so they’re Central American and the other seven were Mexican and Chicano. And you know, they just said, ‘you can’t ignore us anymore. You guys were right here. We’re like starving right in front of you. And if you don’t do something about it, we’re going to continue to atrophy. Our bodies are going to decline and we could even die. Do you really want that to happen?’ So it’s kind of like playing, as we used to say. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And that’s what they did.

Well, there’s two questions like why did they do it? And maybe like, why did it work? But I think that’s why they did it. It’s because they didn’t know what else to do, and they knew that Chavez had used it to bring about positive change. And Chavez died, by the way, in ninety-three in April of ninety-three. And the UCSB strike was basically a year, 13 months after his death. And prior to the UCSB students’ hunger strike and UCLA students had done the same thing in May of ’93. So only in other words, only a month after Chavez had died. And so it was kind of like this moment, a moment that was happening. Seeing that Chavez had done that, you know, you have like a toolkit on it sounds kind of random. He had a tool belt on and you had your hammers and wrenches or whatever. What could you pull out from your toolkit that you would use? Yeah. And it was a strike. They tried everything else. It was like, OK, they use everyone’s going to use a bad word. What else do we have here that we could use you guys? We use that one. We use this one. We use that one. What did this other guy do? And it wasn’t I don’t think that directly in terms of like kind of copying or emulating him, but everybody knew that he had regularly gone on hunger strikes before. And in fact, that when he passed away, he was on a fast not really a strike because he was called to testify in a case that would have potentially bankrupted the union. So it was pretty grave stakes. And he was sixty-six and was already getting kind of old and already went on a number of hunger strikes and his body just gave out anyways. Sorry. I don’t know if that answers your question.

No that was a great answer. Thank you so much. So what made you want to get
involved in this department specifically?

Oh, good question. I have a PhD in sociology, and sociology is an odd field in
a way that it’s rooted really in social justice to a degree, but it’s a very. It’s a very diverse field, so not everybody in the field is committed to that kind of project, from my perspective. So I think there have been all kinds of people that have been, you know, radicals and even revolutionaries or people committed to radical social change. But that hasn’t been the main current in the field. You know, sometimes you have to fight people to get to embrace that perspective. Whereas since you kind of Chicana studies, Chicano studies, that’s not what we’re about. We’re about that from the very get-go. So it’s more openly acknowledged and recognized. And even though there may be other kinds of differences and kind of internal fights and things of that nature, you know, hopefully, you’re all playing on the same field. So I guess, you know, I liked being in that environment where I didn’t have to like consistently prove myself and try to convince people like what I was doing that the world was messed up and that The reason why we’re here is to do something about that is to turn the world upside down. I think sociology, again, there’s a major strain of thought that believes that and encourages students and faculty and others to get engaged
in those activities. But coming out of UC Riverside, UC Riverside, where I got my Ph.D. in sociology, that wasn’t a conducive environment to practice that kind of sociology. Everybody was telling me not to do that. So when I got here, I was like, it was a breath of fresh air, like, you could truly be yourself.

That’s a nice feeling.

It is. You didn’t have to be serving another master, if you will. I did apply to
come to the job here in the sociology department at UCSB, and I really respect this department here. I didn’t get that job. I got the job and Chicano studies well. But the reason why I applied for it is the reason why I just gave you. Um, but there wasn’t a PHD program in Chicano studies, back way back when, back in the day, and the hunger strike produced that program here. Oh, in the first place.

That’s really impressive

Yeah. So that’s what I mean by earlier is that I don’t know if you’ve got a chance to look at my book. It’s no big deal if you have it. They had like six demands, and one of the demands was getting more faculty. Another demand was to get like grapes off campus as there was another grape boycott that Chavez was engineering and they had a whole bunch of demands. But one of the other demands I think is important is was the Ph.D. program. There wasn’t one here at UCSB and there wasn’t one, frankly, in the entire nation, if not world at that time. So the first one ever created was here and it came out of the strike in 1994. So now people are getting pieces in Chicano studies, which is good.

That’s awesome.

Yeah, but it’s also, you know, if you look at it the other way, it’s like, really, is that what it took? People had to like, threaten to die to kind of get something like that. It’s really sad too. It is. Right?

Yeah. Yeah. That was one of the reasons that that question came to mind because it was such an extreme measure that they had to take in order to feel heard. So I thought that that was like an important part of the history.

I mean like theoretically. And if you think about it in an abstract way, like I used to when I was doing the research, I still do sometimes. I remember the cell phone commercials where people are talking on the phone and because especially now with Zoom and stuff, people say, “I can’t hear you,” or people say, “can you hear me now?”

Yeah

So that could be like a metaphor for, you know, like, let’s say people are out
here demonstrating and they had a bullhorn and they were passing out leaflets and whatnot. People would ignore them, wouldn’t they? Some of us would listen and hear. But the thing is, we do not want to be ignored. We want to be heard. Can you hear me kind of like the phone? It’s like, Yeah, but in a way, the hunger striker just sits there, just sits there. But it’s like they’re shouting. But it’s because they use their words and their words didn’t have any impact. So they’re kind of like, done talking and they’re done eating. And as they say, like, if you didn’t listen to me before, maybe you can hear me now. Yeah, it’s kind of a very unique strategy. But some people oppose it, too. They imposed it back then because they felt that if it didn’t work like I said the toolkit thing, they had nothing else in their toolkit, nothing else in their arsenal, nothing else on there. Sounds macho to say, nothing in their holster. If you shoot that bullet, so to speak and it doesn’t work, then what the heck are you going to do? That’s another issue.

Yeah. So why do you think it was important that this happened, like during that specific time period, you kind of answered that with like it being right after Chavez’s death? But why do you think that this place specifically during that time? Like why UCSB?

Well, I mean, the other thing in California was Proposition 187. I cannot stress how important that was. So Proposition 187 would have basically, like criminalized all people who are undocumented in California and anybody that was going to school k through 12 as well as college, but mostly through K through 12 who was undocumented, would have like obligated the teachers to like, inform the INS because we had the I.N.S. at that time, not ICE Immigration and Naturalization Service. It would have turned them into like Border Patrol agents. So if there’s a kid in their class that they knew there was undocumented, they had to turn them in, right? So basically, they wanted to kick undocumented kids out of school. And anybody that was undocumented too that went to like the emergency room or to seek medical attention would be denied access to health care. So it was a demonization. I mean, we’ve seen it, you know, a lot of people think, Oh, California is real chill today in terms of our race relations and whatnot, and we’re very democratic and we’re blue and Yippee, so to speak. You know, California has not always been like that. And in the nineties, because we had a recession and because we had a really right-wing governor named Pete Wilson rallied behind this Prop 187. So we heard the steady drumbeat of every day that the reason why California was in, you know, not doing well, people are unemployed. Same things that you hear today high rates of crime, high rates of smog, anything that they could blame on somebody who was frankly Mexican. But Latino as well. Anybody who was brown was like a villain, the enemy. And so and I think that trickled down to UCSB and to other campuses because they were saying, like, I mean, basically they were saying, Get out, we don’t want you here. You know, they felt that education and health care were like a magnet that was drawing immigrants to come from Latin America, from Mexico here, so they could take advantage of the system. Right? That’s what the narrative was. 

Yeah. 

And so, you know, if the campus wasn’t hospitable to Latinos, then UCSB was saying, get out, too. You know, like, we’re not going to provide you guys with a decent department. We’re not going to provide for you. We’re going to sell grapes on campus. The other thing they were doing was INS raids, which UCSB wasn’t in charge of. The Federal government was. of like Latino families in IV. So they wanted to create a community center, right? And a lot of people that work here and there still to this day are Latino, right, in terms of groundskeepers, janitors, all that kind of stuff. But they lived in IV and they weren’t providing any services to them. So they wanted to tear down building 406 too back during that time period. This is what we’re looking at in front of us. That should have been built in the 1990s. 

Wow.

But the reason why it wasn’t is because they went on a hunger strike because the original blueprint was to expand that way. So if you go around this building, you know you’ve been building 406. El Centro was slated for demolition. So they saved it. You know, so that place has always been like a home away from home for Latino students, right? So they were just like, Hey, the 187 thing that’s happening statewide is kind of happening here too, because, in a way, they’re not making this like a welcoming environment for us. And they’re telling us to get the hell out. So, so you know, so that’s on the one hand. But they had specific grievances like the department wasn’t growing. Oh, they also were pissed that only 10 percent of our students at that time were Latino. You know, back in the day, they only had one percent 1970, and then it inched up to 10. We’re like, Well, I think in the 90s, maybe a third of California today, you know, Latinos are a majority. And so you. But back then it was like, Hey, thirty-five percent of our state is Latino, and only 10 percent of our students are like Raza. We use that term in that era. So we’re like, What the heck are you guys? What the heck? That’s not really right.

And their big thing was in Ventura County, Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County, the tri-county, central coast. There were all these Latino students that we could be attracting to come here to recruit them, but they weren’t doing anything to do that, you know? So we’re like, What the heck is going on here? So that’s why they created even a college day back in 1991. That’s where I came from was to like, bust these kids from these local schools to like, get them in like, Hey, this is what higher education is all about. You don’t have to come here. You go to Cal State, you go to community college. But we want to encourage you guys to come here. Yeah. So that’s one of the reasons why they did that as well.

And slowly but surely, you know, today we’re a society. You know, like 30 percent of our students are Latino, something like that. Twenty-eight, twenty-nine percent. But it was all because of what they did. So one of their demands was to increase funding for EOP and for other recruiting and retention efforts. One thing to bring a Latino student on campus, another thing to retain them, to get them to finish their degrees right? So they had like a really, I think, wide encompassing agenda, you know, from the department to students they didn’t talk about like CAPS. Unfortunately, the CAPS is, you know, the mental health thing. That’s a whole nother story But anyways, they I think that for what they were doing in that era, they were like thinking so far ahead, like, we’ve got to keep it central. We need a community center for like youth and Isla Vista, and we need to stop the I.N.S. raids all these kinds of things. So they put all that on the table. And I think one of the students told me that we were at war. It seemed like there was a war going on, and if it was that serious, then it merited a serious response like the hunger strike. 

And you kind of already answered this, but what has brought. Like what specifically brought you to UCSB and how has your experience been so far? Have you encountered any challenges?

 I mean, what specifically brought me to UCSB? I mean, when you get a Ph.D., you know, you have to eventually go on the job market and you have to like, seek out a job. You’re not going to be unemployed with a Ph.D., although it happens. So I applied to lots of different places and I was lucky enough to get interviews and job offers even. But UCSB was hard to turn down because of the history, right? I knew the history that was here and that was engaging and like, attractive to me. So. What was the other part of the question?’

 How has your experience been so far here?

Yeah, that’s a very tricky question. Yeah, no. People ask that like, what’s been your experience? I mean, I think my experience has been like mixed, mixed in a good way. The thing that’s been saving grace for me is that when I first got here, actually, the students in Congresso interviewed me at building 406, and they asked me what I knew about the hunger strike. And my honest answer was I didn’t know much about that. What I was really interested in as a graduate student, what I wrote my dissertation on was the Anti Sweatshop Movement. And I was an activist. I was an organizer. I got interested in what was happening in Central America, even though I’m not Central American, in the 80s. And I was involved in labor unions and that kind of stuff. And so, unfortunately, the hunger strike here didn’t leave any impact on me in my twenties, if you will. So I felt really stupid, actually when they said that. What’s your take on it? I don’t think they said that. They just said, you know, what do you think about the hunger strike. And I was like, Oh God. But I couldn’t really lie to them. Yeah, that didn’t make sense to me. That was unethical. But I got the job, and I think the students knew that I was probably going to be in solidarity with them in terms of my politics and organizing and activism. And so and the strike had just happened four years prior, so I was hired in ’98 and the strike was in ’94. And I would’ve never been hired had it not been for the strike, never been hired because one of the demands was to increase the number of faculty in the department from, say, like three. I still love it. They said they wanted fifteen. 

How many did they get after that? 

Well, so it went up to like eight, but two other professors were hired the same year I was. So I think in nineteen ’88 when that year started, it was like seven. So they got like a compromise. Actually, they were very smart. Sometimes you’re like, oh, that’s really dumb. Why did you ask for fifteen? That’s just like crazy talk. You know, you ask for the moon. You always ask for the most you can get, hoping that they will actually give it to you, right? Yeah. So they asked for fifteen and they got eight. It’s a lot better than three.

Okay, so anyway, so I got, you know, when I was here, some of the students from that era were still here. Some were like super seniors; some were active in the area, working at UCSB, working in the community. And they’re like, Yeah, Ralph, you know, you should write something about the hunger strike. And I said, you know, I totally would be open to that. I support what you guys did back then, but I’m working on this other thing right now in my book on the sweatshop movement. That’s my primary passion right now, and maybe I’ll get to it. So in 2009, I finally started doing it in earnest, you know, and it took a long time for the book to come to fruition and get published.

But during that time period, this whole time period and even up until today, the best part of my experience to answer your question has been working with students in Congreso and in other organizations, not just them. But I have a very special place in my heart for them, for what they did. And not only in that era, but even before that, because they put their bodies on the line, they sacrificed themselves for our department and for a better world. So meeting them has totally turned and changed my life upside down. It gives me a reason to like, live basically. Yeah, to be in a community with other people that kind of share the same values that I do. So that’s been the best part of working here all that time. And yeah, I’ve gotten roughed up here and there like anybody would in a predominantly white institution and all that kind of stuff. But I survived. You know, I survived and the thing that made it survivable, that’s a word is being in a community again with other people that care, and it’s not just them, it’s other faculty, it’s other people that work on campus in EOP and CAPS and all these other places that you continue finding people that share your values here, your commitment. And so even if we get messed with, I’ll clean that up for you. Even if you get messed with, there’s another word I could use. You can still just talk behind the scenes and go, wasn’t that really messed up that they did that? Yeah, that was messed up and start like, you know, talking like that. And then after you kind of process that you say, Well, what are we going to do about that, you guys? Well, what can we learn from our past? Oh, they did the hunger strike back in the day. I think we could do that. I don’t know. Maybe not. That hunger strike seems kind of rash right now, but maybe we could do this. Maybe we could do that. Not only can we learn from Chicano students, but what about Black students? What about Asian-American students? What about queer students? What about undocumented students? Because once you start digging into this campus, you could see that we really have this rich tradition of activism and organizing, and it’s inspiring. And you know that you kind of students are part of that.

It’s really amazing. I’ve been finding that a lot in the living history project. I didn’t even realize that it was such a huge part of our campus.

Yeah. Yeah. I know it’s not like they put that as one of their calling cards.

No, and they should.

Well, I think I share your perspective, but you know, so you know, North Hall is right up there, right? You see that. And you know, the pictures are up there for the takeover in 1968. Have you seen that?

I don’t think I have. 

Ok, we need to go up there. You want to go up there? … So just take it in for a second. This is October of 1968. [black and white photos on the wall under North Hall]

Wow.

Twelve Black students, some of these folks, it’s really interesting in terms of gender. This is the only one of a Black woman there was. I know there were others, but I’m glad that they did this anyway. They took over this side of the building. This is like a locked unit. Back in the day. This was known as the computer center. Ok, so they took over. They had a long list of demands. They were also not listened to and the – ‘can you hear me now?’ So they decided to take over this building and they said,’ Listen, you guys, if you don’t give us our demands, we’re going to destroy all your records.’All the university’s records, all destroyed. So, you know, again, can you hear me now that got their attention? Here’s the newspaper, back in the day it wasn’t the daily nexus. This is all on the Living History Project too, but it’s one thing to see it there and another thing. So a couple of little stories like this.

There was a group that was like a multiracial radical organization of the United Front that involved white, Black, Chicano students. So these were students in UMAS, which is the group that preceded Mecha the United Mexican American students and first, you know, Chicano Power or Black Power, but they’re in solidarity too. And one thing that was really amazing to me that’s always discussed is so these folks, I think they probably I’m not sure how well-planned they are. Sometimes when you’re an activist, you do things, but in the seat of your pants, you to spontaneous. Yes. So you take over a building like they did, and I’m not sure if they had brought food in and whatnot. So somebody said, Hey, guys, you’re probably getting hungry up there as they’re negotiating because eventually, obviously, they got the university’s attention. They came over to start negotiating and somebody said, you guys must be hungry, so they pass them on grapes. The grape boycott was going on at the time, United Farmworkers, right? And they threw down the grapes. They’re saying, ‘we’re not eating these grapes’. 

Wow.

Ain’t that a great story?

Yeah, that’s an amazing story.

 It still sends chills up my spine. You can see the newspaper covered that. This is at Berkeley, it was in the air, everybody knew because the boycott started in 1965 and it was in its third year so, I love this, I mean the whole thing is just really striking. But the fact that Black students initially organized and they asked for a Black Studies department and out of the Black Studies department came our department. So like, especially when Black Lives Matter was really hitting and it’s been going on for a while, but after George Floyd was killed there was all these demonstrations, we had to like as a department say like our department came out of this Black Struggle because there’s this anti-blackness in our community and we need to recognize the fact that these people did all these things, not for us, but they opened up space, not only opened up space for us but you know for other marginalized groups and communities, right. For example, look right over here I wanna show you this other thing up here, so anyway check this out…years ago, read that thing [plaque on the entrance of North Hall] So this is what existed prior to that [installation of pictures under North Hall bridge] The BSU, they organized back in 2012 and they had a whole list of demands, some of the demands went back to 1968 and they were in touch with Alumni, that’s what I mean by the Congreso people, so this first thing is like twisted, cause it says that UCSB was committed to diversity [laughs], so they were like ticked about this side, it was small, it wasn’t right, and, yes, and it makes it look like the administration was nice.

And like it was their idea. 

Exactly, so one of the things [on the list of demands] was like, listen, this is dumb, we want to have this thing that’s really on display. That’s kinda hard to see, like you would never really see that [the plaque], so do you want to see the one they created for the hunger strike? 

Of course

This is where they went on strike and they camped out here on the lawn [in front of Cheadle Hall]. Yeah, what do you think? [points to nothing – no marker indicating that the strike happened]

Wow

It’s not there.

Why not?

That’s my point…we need to take our cues and learn from Black students because the way they got something– they demanded and the system listened to them. They asked for CAPS, better cops in IV, and all that kind of stuff, they asked for so many great things in 2012 and they got some of it. You ask for a lot hoping that you’re gonna get some of it, but here there’s not a single marker to mark anything, the 1970s, 1990s, any of the eras, and I’m grateful that the Living History Project is trying to archive stuff and make things available because not a lot of that stuff is found on campus. We talk about like decolonizing space– you know this building is named after Cheadle, so Vernon Cheadle was a UCSB Chancellor from 1961-1978 and Chancellor Yang took over in 1994 and is still here today, he’s almost going on 30 years, but did you know that there’s only been one or two buildings named after people of color on this campus? And one of them is that little tiny building, Building 406, but they wanted to tear it down. But, anyway, when you’re walking around, not you just personally but anybody again on the visitor thing [prospective student tours], you know what they usually say “let’s go to the 8th floor of the library” which is really cool because you can see the Channel Islands and it’s a beautiful view, but maybe they should teach them a little bit more.

Over in IV, one student was killed because there was a riot in IV after the bank burned down and the national guard came in and they shot to disperse the crowd and a student was killed over there. There’s a little tiny marker, to mark that, and actually, that student was really pro-establishment, really pro United States, and he just happened to be accidentally shot and killed, but one visitor guide years ago when I was eating lunch over there said “Uh and this is where a student was killed years ago, but you might wanna ask your parents about that because I don’t know anything about the war.” 

Oh my God.

I was like please make it stop. It was just so clueless….Do you have any more questions?

So where does our Chicano Studies department stand today and do you think that the changes that have been made are reflective of where we stand today as a community and what does the future of the department look like? 

Well I think like we were just saying, the Chicano Studies department came out of the movement and really referred to people that have Mexican ancestry, people say that the word Chicano refers to someone that has Mexican ancestry. I mean I think that’s the kind of simple definition, but also it’s greater than that, meaning that somebody has a political commitment to, from my perspective, bring about radical social change. It’s not just an ethnic marker, it symbolizes, if not obligates, I think one to do something to enact some kind of social change, now how somebody does that is open-ended, but the fact of the matter is the Chicano population or the Latino population or the Hispanic population embodies more than just people of Mexican origin. There’s people from Central America, South America, from the Caribbean, indigenous people, there’s people who are AfroLatino, I mean it’s a very diverse and rich community.

Even within Mexico, even that is multilingual, multiracial, all this kind of stuff, so I think that that’s pressing on the department to acknowledge that reality and so it’s not only just about that, also about queer issues as well– you know recognizing the fact that there’s a lot of fluidity there, a lot of gender fluidity, but also just in terms of that kind of spectrum of sexualities. The question of sexuality, the question of indigeneity, the question of Central Americans, like I think that those things from my perspective the department is engaging with but we haven’t really dealt with them as strongly as we maybe could have. Other departments, like the Chicano Studies department at UCLA, changed its name to Chicano Studies and Central American Studies, CSUN has an independent department called Central American Studies. We’re different, I mean we live here in SB, our Central American population is not as extensive as it is in San Fernando Valley and LA proper, but you know I think we could be doing more and perhaps we’ll keep on moving in that direction. We hired a new professor that hopefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of or take classes with, he’s Central American, Guatemalan, his name is Giovanni Batz, so I think we’re moving in the right direction but it just takes time and sometimes what facilitates that is a push from students. It always has been, right? I’m not saying that that’s what’s necessary or what has to happen. Again students shouldn’t have to take desperate measures to do things, they should be done for them already, but we need to recognize that the world is changing, frankly, and we need to keep up with those changes as best we can. 

Thank you and what do you see for the future of the department?

I think the terminology would not just be about words, it would be about a commitment. So, if we say that were this Central American Studies or Indigenous Studies, that implies that we would be working to uproot systems of injustice, race, class, gender, sexuality, colonialism, imperialism. It would be more explicit, again, in trying to turn the world upside down, so I think that’s what our mission is and I think that’s what we’re doing, but I also think that it could be more explicit, so that’s what I hope we do in the future: make known our values and our commitments, that everybody knows where we’re coming from, from the very start. 

How does it feel to be a part of and a leader of such an incredible legacy of these students?

Well, it’s a little daunting because you have like some pressure on your shoulders to keep that going. But again it’s also, I feel reassured that others– I’m following what they did and hopefully I continue on that legacy, continue building on it as best as I can and it’s not just, it’s not my doing, it’s the faculty’s doing as well as the students and the people that have made their little contribution, your ‘granito de arena’ (little grain of sand), everybody put forth their ‘granito’ to the Chicano Studies project and it’s just my turn, I guess, to be the leader for this moment. Somebody else will take my place, and hopefully they’ll build on it, expand it, change it, do whatever they wanna do with it, but it won’t just be them by themselves, they’ll be in connection with their colleagues, and the community in general. Well, it was really nice meeting you and I hope that was okay like going through all that. 

Of course, it was great, thank you so much.

Yeah, go through El Centro again because you’ll go through it with a different perspective now. It didn’t look like that, the students saved it because they were gonna destroy it because it had earthquake damage, so they saved it once with the hunger strike, and then the second time the University pumped a lot of money into it, like a million dollars, it looks nice now. Before, you would step in it and the floor was cracking, it was falling apart, people were sleeping in there, it was kind of a nightmare but you could do some little research on that.

By: Mina Matta

Allen/Rashidi

April 29th, 1970


KCSB interview with Bill Allen, Rashidi, Jim Trotter, and Steve Plevin.

Transcript

Allen: [00:00:04] Allen.

KCSB: [00:00:04] And then what’s your status legally? I guess you were arrested during Reagan came to down, and what’s happened to you since then?  Have you been bothered by the police?

Allen: [00:00:14] Consistently. The state, status legally is that I have three trials coming up, one on the 21st of May, which is the raid-, no, it’s the, um, Isla Vista disturbances, in which I’m accused of breaking most of the windows in Isla Vista for January or February 24th, I guess it is. Then I have another trial on the 31st. And that’s where the Reagan demonstration, which we were accused of initially disturbing the peace. And then after, after the arraignment, at the arraignment, they tacked on two other charges of inciting a riot and vulgarity against a police officer, which is their trip. You know, I mean, they keep adding and and and harassing. And then on June 8th, we have the Santa Barbara 19 or now 20 trials since I’ve been consolidated in that. So I have a lot of court things going on.

KCSB: [00:01:11] They can’t put all this together into one trial? 

Allen: [00:01:15] Oh no, there are separate charges every day.

KCSB: [00:01:17] How can you afford the court fees for three separate, three separate trials?

Allen: [00:01:21] I can’t. There are people who’ve helped out.  We’ve helped out some people in the past and are helping people out now and people are helping us out. 

KCSB: [00:01:27] Well, who’s going to open your defense?

Allen: [00:01:32] On campus, the, for the Privilege and Tenure thing that people at, uh, conducted their defense were Richard Wasserstrom, who’s a Panther UCLA lawyer for the Los Angeles. And Leon Letwin, who’s also in UCLA law school with Wasserstrom. And that hearing is completed, the disciplinary hearing, and they still haven’t received a transcript of some 900 pages of transcripts, and only about 480 were done on Tuesday or [unclear] Tuesday in the Isla Vista militia mischief or whatever the thing is. John Sink is defending me and for the campus demonstrations of Santa Barbara twentieths, John Sink and Roden. And then I’m not sure who’s going to defend me for the, for the Reagan demonstrations.

KCSB: [00:02:29] What about your suspension by the chancellor? Is that still in effect, or have you had your final hearing on that?

Allen: [00:02:35] Well, I’ve had the hearing, as I said, on the discipline, but they haven’t come up with a decision yet as to what the, what the discipline should be.

KCSB: [00:02:43] So you’re still waiting on that.

Allen: [00:02:45] Right, and we’re also anticipating another hearing, the Privilege and Tenure Committee, as to the violation of my privileges that I mentioned earlier.

KCSB: [00:02:53] And you appeal, what was, what’s the final appeal or at what stage of appeal are you now then?

Allen: [00:02:59] Well, I, we’re waiting for the Privilege and Tenure Committee to reply as to our request, which was made a week ago Sunday for an opening again of the, of my, of the hearing on the violation of my privileges.

KCSB: [00:03:14] If I can, I’d like to ask you some things about the Academic Senate. Do you think there’s a possibility that there’ll be some real reforms in the [unclear] if the current student pressure’s kept up?

Allen: [00:03:25] Oh, for sure. I don’t, I don’t see any other alternative. I think the Academic Senate is, is just being pompous at this point, just being incredibly arrogant. You know, I mean, like, they must realize that students are not going to let up on that pressure. I mean, no matter how much repression that they’ve, they’ve brought down this year, the same kind of stuff is happening on every campus.

KCSB: [00:03:45] What kind of faculty support do you have? I noticed the Academic Senate meetings I went, there were a few people, you know, that seemed to be pretty vocal, but what percentage would you say?

Allen: [00:03:55] Oh, really low. This is a very conservative Academic Senate. I mean, this Academic Senate is more like dinosaur, like a dinosaur than any other Academic Senate in the system. I mean, it’s more conservative than UCLA and UCLA is just, I mean, like a lethargic mass, you know.

KCSB: [00:04:14] Who’s being vocal in there right now? I know, I know Richard Harrison’s come otu with a few, a few statements.

Allen: [00:04:22] Well, there are a number of people that have been, you know, fairly vocal over a long period of time on the left side, the right side is much more vocal. And that’s, you know, led by Harry Girvetz, who was supposed to be the bastion of liberalism but, you know, it’s just very conservative, and Andron, who is just completely out of phase with reality. I think that that faction is much more significant in the academic sense here and deserves a lot more, more, press. I mean, they’re the people that are doing all the things in the Academic Senate. No one else gets a chance. They’ve got so much time, and they’ve had it since it was a ci-, since it was a state college. Most of these people that are are powerful on this campus are holdovers from when this was, you know, just a mediocre state college. And that’s why, you know, you get this sort of attitude of just incredible conservatism.

KCSB: [00:05:17] How do you feel about the tenure system in general? Should it be scrapped altogether or revised or what would you propose?

Allen: [00:05:22] I think it should be scrapped. I think the tenure system is is just a poor excuse for some kind of refuge. You know, security. I mean, people build up a kind of specialization in their field, publish, you know, generally a lot of crap, but volumes of it and and then, you know, hide behind the tenure system. So they never create. They never produce. You know, it’s a, it’s really a bummer system, I think, all the way through.

KCSB: [00:05:56] We’re going to take telephone calls, questions if you can phone the minute nine six one two four two four, and we’ll have the questions brought in to us here. All right, well, Rashidi’s here with us and he’s got a trial going on a lot too, so could you rap about that for a few minutes? What’s the story, what are the charges, and how the trial is going?

Rashidi: [00:06:17] Well, the jury came in this morning and I was convicted of, on two counts. The counts were obstructing, no, counts were disturbing the peace, obstructing the pig and battery on a pig, and I was convicted on the obstructing and resisting and on the battery, and I have to go back for sentencing on May the 20th.

KCSB: [00:06:45] This was during the Reagan coming-. 

Rashidi: [00:06:47] Reagan demonstration.

KCSB: [00:06:47] Were you arrested in any other, in IV or, first time or second time?

Rashidi: [00:06:55] Well, in addition to that, while I was in court, you know, right after, I think it was Monday, I went up to court. The two sheriffs who were testifying against me, well we weren’t sure if [unclear] Santa Barbara policemen arrested me again after court on a charge of grand theft, which was a warrant which was put out by the UCLA police department on two counts. Now, this is something that is utterly ridiculous. They haven’t, still this, as yet, have not informed me of what I’m supposed to have stolen or when or anything, and I’m supposed to call down to the Los Angeles court and find out what this is all about. In addition to that, in one incident, which I would like to tell about is last Tuesday. Last Tuesday night, I was walking home about two o’clock and I was stopped by two Santa Barbara Sheriffs, and when they first stopped me they, the one on the passenger side said, Rashidi, what are you doing out this late at night? Don’t you know that there are people who would like to catch you out at night and off you? You know, and emphatically, you know, and he said it’s about two or three times, you know, then they said, well, can we search you, you know? And I said, well, do I have any choice? You know, so they got out and they searched me. Then one of them started looking around on the ground with a flashlight all around the area and he came back to me and said, you threw this. He came with a red pill and said, you threw this down. I saw you make a furtive movement and you threw this down. And they said, well, we can arrest you now or you can go down and talk to Sergeant Briganti. And I said, well, you know, I didn’t want to be arrested, so, you know, let’s go talk to Briganti. So they took me down to their station, their headquarters they had over in Devero, and they took me off in this little room and they said, well, we’re not gonna arrest you, you know, we just want to talk to you. And they went through this long rap, and in essence, what they said was that, you know, they made this appeal to me, you know, well, you’re an intelligent guy, you know, you’re a good guy, you’re going to make it, graduate, and you’re going to be going and getting a job and blah, blah, blah. And, you know, there’s no reason for us to be fighting each other, you know, with some of these other these white guys, you know, who are really insane, they’re crazy. They just want to cause trouble. You know, we really got to get rid of these people, you know, so why don’t you just stay out of it? You know, and this, they rapped with me for about half hour, 45 minutes.

KCSB: [00:09:44] What was your response to that?

Rashidi: [00:09:46] Well I, well I told them, as always, they’ve made mistakes like that before, you know, that they are good dudes, you know, and I like them and we believe in the same things, you know, and, well, you know, naturally I wasn’t going to be belligerent, you know, and cuss them out or anything like that ’cause there was nothing but pigs in the building and, you know, they had me surrounded. I was in a little room and there was about 10 of them waiting outside. But I mean, I told them, you know, what I thought, you know, and then the two pigs who were really picking me up took me back to where, where they originally picked me up, and they parked, turned off the lights, and then they both got out on either side of me and, and one said, well, you know, no more games, you know, we’re this serious business from now on, you know, you’re an intelligent guy, you know what we mean, you know, that type of thing. And I, you know, took it as a threat, you know, I think that the, this is what was meant by, also previously, you know, in the building, I didn’t mention this. They said, well, Rashidi, what do you think’s going to happen, you know, and I said, well man, I said, I can’t say. It all depends if you guys rip someone else off. I feel like, I think if you kill someone else that there’s going to be a lot of shi-, crap, you know? I’m not supposed to say that, you know. In Isla Vista, and they said, well, if you guys keep doing what you’re doing, I think that’s what’s going to happen. And I said, well, you know, we’re right and we’re not going to stop because you guys are wrong.

KCSB: [00:11:17] Well, Jim Trotter also ran into trouble with the police department in the last few demonstrations. I wonder if you could tell us about that.

Trotter: [00:11:23] Well, I was charged by the grand jury with three counts of felony, arson, battery on a peace officer and interfering with an executive officer in the line of duty. And I was acquitted on all three counts by a jury trial in the superior court. And tomorrow I have disciplinary hearings with Dean Reynolds and the conduct committee or some such thing about events that took place on February 12th, which was a demonstration in front of the administration building in which several people got clubbed and things, and I’ve been charged with violations of the new student code that you can’t do anything, oh you know, the very elaborate one where I was charged with disru-, interfering with the operation of the university or something, and that was when the university had closed down the administration building and had the police out there, yet had not declared the building closed. So that’s the-

Allen: [00:12:23] That was the day that I went [unclear].

Trotter: [00:12:28] Yeah, right, clear, you’re correct.

KCSB: [00:12:28]  I remember when William Kunstler was on campus, he was talking about the jury and the judicial, judicial system in general. And he said, you know, in theory, it’s an equitable system and the jury system is as goody-, good as any if justice is done equally. What are your impressions about, all three of you, about the, about the judicial system [unclear]?

Allen: [00:12:47] I’d like to have had you seen Rashidi, I mean. Like, there, first of all, there were nine senile old ladies. I mean, that, you know, had never been sexually satisfied in their life, no way that they could have been, I mean, thin lipped, you know, and just flat foreheads and, and then three guys there. One was about maybe in his late 30s, early 40s, and the other two were like, you know, retired guys. I mean, you’re supposed to be tried by your peers, you know, and the average age of these people must have been in the late 40s, early 50s. Like, that is not, you know, those are not his peers. Those people don’t have the same lifestyle, they don’t have the same attitudes towards things. They’re more concerned with, you know, preserving their status quo, even though it’s ugly and unsatisfying to them. God, it was this ugly-, there’s no way that those people could find him guilty legitimately. They cannot possibly be a legitimate jury.

Rashidi: [00:13:46] You know, it would, what he said, you know, like, I defended myself, you know, on this particular charge, on these charges. And the first thing that I did was objected to the constitution of the jury, because first of all, of the people that were there, you know, available for selection, there was not one black person, first of all. There were a couple of young people, but the defense automatically exclude those when [unclear], you know, their policies automatically exclude any student or, or any black person or, or any young person, you know, because they feel that they’ll be sympathetic. And being there’s, by the jury commissioner’s own testimony, only one percent students that are chosen for the entire, the entire year, you know, serve on a jury. They’re very easily-, they get seven, they can eliminate seven people in a municipal, you know, a misdemeanor trial and 14 in a felony that it’s impossible for a student to get another student or almost impossible for a student to get another student on a jury so that the average age of jurors by the jury commissioner’s own testimony, really under this case, is 47 to 68 years old, and for the most part, retired people. And I mean, in my case, it was just ridiculous. You know, the pigs who testified contradicted each other. I had reputable witnesses. I had Kief Dotson from the news press who testified on my behalf. I had Catherine Peak, who’s lived here 50 years. I had Officer Becento who’s a sheriff, you know. Although he didn’t see the incident, he testified as to what I was doing there that was not try-, kinda-, trying to cause any trouble. And there’s just no way, you know, and, and, and, and the prosecutor handed down this thing, this rap about law and order and how these people, it was their duty to prosecute me, their duty to find me guilty to stop all these demonstrations, you know.

Allen: [00:15:54] Because it’s cost them tax dollars.

Rashidi: [00:15:56] Yeah. And, you know-

Allen: [00:15:57] That’s the thing they’re into, right.

Rashidi: [00:16:02] And they…thirty five that I, there’s no way they could have convicted me, but they did.

KCSB: [00:16:08] Can we ask you, Bill, about the events in Isla Vista and what you think about violence in general against, the difference in violence with-, against people and against property, and what’s your thought at both the burning of the bank and the police violence on the shooting of Kevin Moran?

Allen: [00:16:26] Yeah, well, I think there is a, you know, distinct difference between violence and sabotage. I’m going cough. I think that the acts of, of collective sabotage against the bank on the 24th of February and the 25th of February and again this last month, were, were acts that were actually, were, were clearly acts against property. They weren’t against people. In no case was any, was any person fired upon unless somebody had, had fired upon them first. In other words, in, in no case, that I know of in Isla Vista, were the pigs attacked until after they attacked first. And every case, they committed some brutal act and then people retaliated. And, you know, I think for all intents and purposes, what happened in Isla Vista is, is a direct result of an overzealous, ugly police force, I mean, that, that wants to see, you know, a lot of shit going on in Isla Vista, because that’s exactly how, that’s ex-, h-, that, sorry about that, that’s exactly, you know, how they’re going to bring this thing to a head and completely quash any kind of, of significant social change. And th-, and they’re so effective at it, man. Like they, they had the [unclear]. You saw what they did the last time with Operation Wagon Train, a sneak attack on a group of students, man, as if they were Vietcong, you know, like those are the kinds of sneak attacks that they have in Vietnam. Exactly. You know, and those are the kind of sneak attacks that they, you know, that they impute that the Indians used to have, even though it’s clear that the settlers had a lot more attacks on the Indians than the Indians had on the settlers.

KCSB: [00:18:19] Now, what about the main difference between the last demonstrations and the ones were part of the bank was burned, but quite a number of students have come out and said they’re against violence and were trying to defend the bank, one of them being Kevin Moran?

Allen: [00:18:30] Yeah, I think that, that what happened there was, was that there weren’t very many people that I knew that really were hot to have a riot on the, in this last riot kind of situation. I don’t think anybody was, was turned on to see any more kinds of rioting going on in Isla Vista. You know, several of us went down to, to talk to Jerry Rubin and attempt to, to get him to come up here and just be in the park, in that, you know, we felt that it was important that, that he come, but it was also important that, you know, that we show that there was a sense of community in Isla Vista starting to develop, and that that sense of-. 

KCSB: [00:19:06] Was Rubin actually here that day?

Allen: [00:19:07] Well, if he is, if he was, he was in a good disguise because I didn’t him there. And, and, and the riot that ensued, you know, after Jerry Rubin was here, was not because, you know, Jerry Rubin didn’t come. I think most of the people felt somewhat disappointed that he didn’t come, but what happened effectively, it seemed to me, is that, is that the police desperately wanted a riot, you know, and when all of those people were standing on the steps of the bank on, on Thursday night, it was clear that nobody was going to go out and throw a Molotov cocktail at a, at a bunch of liberals and conservatives standing on the bank trying to protect it. I mean, nobody was going to do that, you know, and it was over effectively. And yet the police had to come in. They felt compelled to come in. And the next night, the same thing happened, you know, it seemed to me. The fire had been put out and nobody was going to, I think, run up and throw another Molotov cocktail at those people standing there.

Rashidi: [00:20:02] You know, I think, in terms of, you know, you know, all this tal-, talk about violence, you know, which mainly, all the people who talk about it in the Academic Senate, the Chancellor, you know, they alwa-, you know, they always refer back to, you know, that damn bank, you know, or, you know, something of this sort. They try to play down, you know, the fact that Kevin Moran was killed by a pig. You know, they play down the acts of brutality that were committed against the people in the community. They play down the acts of brutality that instigated the whole thing, you know, and, and-

Allen: [00:20:37] You know, nobody talks about this guy getting hit with a police car. Nobody talks about the nine people who were shot, you know, one of them now dead. And yet, you know, we keep hearing this thing about, you know, people out, you know, out against violence, you know? Well, most of the people that I know that are fairly radical on this campus were against violence, and I too, and, and to some end, they were trying to build barricades so the police didn’t swoop in and kill people like they finally did. I mean, they were, people were left merciless. They were left right, you know, in the hands of the pigs when they swooped in.

Rashidi: [00:21:11] And, if I could, yeah, I, I, I, you know, personally hold, the, specifically the Academic Senate, the Chancellor, you know, and number of other people on this campus who, and, you know, in Santa Barbara, who have consistently resisted change. I think they are responsible. You know, I think that the people who are engaging, you know, the small, who’s engaging in, you know, the real daring acts, you know, were reacting out of the, the, the, I mean, from legitimate, let me word the le-, legitimate emotions. I mean, they were frustrated because every time they try to get anything done, they’re constantly, you know, they just spit in their face, you know, the Chancellor just, just, just said, to hell with student voice. You know, the people in Santa Barbara said to hell with you people, you’re out of this control, and how do they expect people to react? This people reacted normally. They were frustrated. And, you know, they taught me in psychology, frustration leads to aggression, and this is something that they knew was going to come about. And I thin-, you know, I think Cheadle’s responsible and I think that he ought to be hunged for it.

Allen: [00:22:16] I’ll tell you, if there were-

Rashidi: [00:22:18] Mmm hmm. And the Academic Senate.

Allen: [00:22:18] If the grand jury were-

Rashidi: [00:22:18] You can bet.

Allen: [00:22:18] -composed of Isla Vista residents, I’ll tell you who the people that would be indicted would be. It’d be Cheadle and Varly and Evans and Reynolds and Webster and Buchanan and all the rest of those, those people, Mayor Firestone, county supervisors-

Rashidi: [00:22:35] Yeah, and I think also those people, you know, the students who didn’t, like, you know, for a long time-. 

Allen: [00:22:40] And Ronald Reagan.

Rashidi: [00:22:40] -the whole, the whole thing that, that we were trying to say was like students, let’s get together and let’s show them that we’re all together and we all want change. People are so apathetic. They wouldn’t come out. You know, a lot of them wouldn’t come out. 8 thousand, yes, you know, 8 thousand came out for a while and then, you know, they started to, drifting off, you know, and then pretty soon was left, maybe 500 people still struggling for change, and the rest of the people said, to hell with it. You know, I think if they had all come out and got together and, and shown that they were behind change like they say they are now, you know, when all these things have happened, like has been killed, people have been shot, and things have happened. You know, if they had come out and showed that there was student support, and we had exercised student power, real student power, like the BSU’s been calling for, ever since we started this whole thing with North Hall. We always related the things that we were doing to the larger issues of student power. If you check back on the records, and our statements always been related to students should get together. But they didn’t, you know, and now they all sorry, or mad, or whatever, but when they could have got off their asses and done something, they didn’t, and now they want to come and condemn those people who had guts enough to do something and to beat and to defy that illegitimate authority that’s oppressing them and oppressing all of us.

KCSB: [00:23:53] We’ll be back to this discussion with Jim Trotter, Bill Allen, and Rashidi in a few moments after election coverage from KCSB FM, Santa Barbara.

Rashidi: [00:28:27] So therefore, you know, I mean, that’s the whole thing that they’ve been running down on Black, you know, Chicanos, that, that we’re irrational, we’re emotional. Yeah, you know, and, and-. 

KCSB: [00:28:36] We’re back, back on the air with Rashidi, Bill Allen, and Jim Trotter, talking about the violence in the streets-. 

Plevin: [00:28:43] Steven Plevin.

KCSB: [00:28:43] And Steve Plevin also, excuse me. I think we got a telephone question? Yeah, this is for Bill. Where do you stand on issues such as the Goleta Slew and other conservation issues, or do you have time for such concerns, in light of your present predicament?

Allen: [00:28:57] Oh, yeah. I think that there was a statement recently by the Chancellor, and I think it’s an outgrowth of what’s happened here, and that is that they’re not going to touch the slew now. A lot of things have been saved, you know, since we started demonstrating and putting our bodies on the line out here. One of them was Rexroth, and the other one is the slew, and so some good things have happened. I’m very much, you know, more concerned with ecology than, than it would appear in the last two or three months. Some people may remember that like three months ago in a day we said in its terms, we [unclear] on the oil. That was the day before the demonstrations started here. I would like to see people really getting militant about ecology. And I’m not, you know, I’m not really mincing any words. I’d really like to see ’em get it on against the kinds of polluters and exploiters that, that corporations are in this country.

KCSB: [00:29:44] You don’t think the environment issue is a cop out then, like a lot of people do, taking-

Allen: [00:29:49] No, I just think it has to be put in political perspective, man. It’s a political problem right now because the major exploiters and, and the major polluters and, and those people concerned with, you know, increasing their consuming base, which is basically an exploitative kind of trip, are the corporations in this country. And they’re so good at it, man. I mean, they’re just, they’ve got all the technology that they need to destroy the Earth to turn it into one agrobusiness garden kind of environment, you know, and smooth out all the regularity, I mean all the variability, just like they’re, they’re cutting off all the cultural variability.

Rashidi: [00:30:26] They like to pave the world.

Allen: [00:30:27] Right on.

Rashidi: [00:30:27] Just have the whole world-

Allen: [00:30:28] And they’d like to have the whole world culturally middle class, which it means that they’re going to consume for creature comforts, and it’s just, I mean, that’s their, their scheme of the world, you know.

KCSB: [00:30:38] Well, I’d like to ask Rashidi about that. There’s been some talk, I understand, from Black leaders in the East and they’re saying that ecology is a cop out and isn’t the real issue and that that should be put secondary and fighting racism first. Would you go along with that?

Rashidi: [00:30:51] I think that, the, what most of the Black leaders are saying and what my side down in the Black Panther Party out in UCLA said, you know, today is that, and like, you know, I’ve been here in Isla Vista, you know, for over a year, you know, like I’ve gotten out of the, you know, the environment, you know, of living, you know, in the ghetto, you know, and that people are there-, people there are concerned with much more basic personal things, you know, like eating, you know, like working like, you know, pigs constantly, you know, I mean, I mean like here, you know, we have harassment, you know, and it’s, and it’s, and it’s intolerable, you know, because the people aren’t used to it, you know, to that extent like in the Black community, at least once a week, like a young Black person is ripped off by a pig, you know, and, and, you know, it’s, you know, justifiable homicide. And these are things that these people are concerned with. The thing about ecology is, I think that [unclear] a lot of people do use it as a cop out. A lot of people, like Nixon, you know, got behind it, you know, and Reagan even said that, you know, that bull sh after he came out and said this thing about, we have to find a happy medium between progress and preserving natural resources, you know, and that a lot of, I think a lot of people are into it, you know, as a cop-, I, you know, as something that, that, that, that no one can condemn them for, you know, and yet they can still say that they’re trying to, you know, to help, you know, but I think there are a lot of serious people. I think Bill’s serious because I seen him, you know, put his own body on the line, you know, his own self, his who-, his own career, you know, risk going to jail, you know. I think if people are concerned enough to get at the cause of it and point out who’s doing, like you know, these corporations and then tie that in, you know, to their exploitation of the ghetto, the exploitation of, of the students here, the exploitation of the entire world, then they’re really on the right track, but if they’re only talking about preserving their own environment for their own personal enjoyment, you know, then I say, to hell with ’em.

KCSB: [00:33:07] Well, if I can give you just one specific case, I know in South Carolina, they’re trying to put a factory [unclear] Head, I think it’s called, and the choice there is whether they’re going to put in this factory and pollute the Bay or whether the factory will be put in and it will give jobs to a large number of Blacks who are in the poorest county in the United States. How do you make a choice like that?

Rashidi: [00:33:28] Well, I really couldn’t, you know, not being here, not knowing the specific situations that they’re confronted with, you know, all Black people are not necessarily working for the good of, you know, the entire world to give the community or whatever. You know, they’re Black capitalists who only care about making money. You know, I’d want to find out if those Black people have some interest in that factory being built, you know, but I think that the important thing is that if technology is used correctly, you know, I think, and I think me and Bill at times disagreed on this and [unclear] other, you know, the radicals, to quote white radicals in quote, you know, that I think that technology can be used to increase, you know, people’s lives, and to better people’s lives, but as long as it’s under control of the corporations and not in the hands of the people that, you know, that we’re just going to keep polluting, and, you know, none of us are going to have any place to live. I think Trotter, you know, really is more into that to me. I like-. 

Trotter: [00:34:44] Well, the whole, the whole ecology movement, the whole concept of ecology is, is ultimately a very revolutionary concept. There’s no way to deal with the problems without having a revolutionary perspective, because ecology is a, is based in scientific fact that demonstrates that the whole world is one global sphere and that internationalism is the only possible solution to these problems. You can’t have specific national interest or local interests.

KCSB: [00:35:09] You’re probably aware of what happened to the Honeywell Corporation’s stockholders meeting yesterday, which was disrupted by a lot of people, young people who’ve held proxies, and [unclear]. Do you see this sort of thing happening in the future?

Trotter: [00:35:22] Yeah, I personally know several friends of mine whose parents are very wealthy that are buying stock in, in corporations designed to end pollution, or clean up pollution, or are using their stocks in whatever way they can. It’s a very minimal type of effort because using, trying to vote in non pollution measures, say, in a stock-, in a board meeting is almost contradictory because you’re going to vote yourself out of your profit. Our pollution is some of these profit is, you know, as a little slogan goes, and it happens to be very true. There’s just no, there’s no question about the reason that there is pollution is because it is in the interest of a capitalist class to, you know, to sluff off that duty. They have a social duty because it’s not enforceable.

KCSB: [00:36:09] Probably the major issue of last month’s regents meeting was moved by Regent Dutton to have the university’s seven million dollars worth of General Motors stock. The proxies for that being used to fight for some reforms of GM, and this, this failed do you have any comment on that? 

Allen: [00:36:26] Can you repeat that?

KCSB: [00:36:26] Last, last month regents meeting, one of the biggest issues was how the university would vote their stock in the upcoming General Motors stockholders meeting.

Allen: [00:36:40] Yeah.

KCSB: [00:36:40] The university holds seven million dollars worth of GM stock and there was a move on to have the stock used to put some pressure on some reforms in General Motors, and this failed.

Allen: [00:36:54] Where did it fail, the Regential level, or-

KCSB: [00:36:56] The Regents.

Allen: [00:36:56] They, they refused to. Well, sure, you have all the biggest capitalists in the state, I mean-. 

Trotter: [00:37:02] They did a lot to tear down the image of the University as a liberal vehicle for reforming society when in reality, it’s the University of California that produces all the nuclear warheads that the country uses; it’s the University of California that won’t vote for reform in the, the largest producer of air pollution, and it’s stripping away all of the facades that the University has been trying to maintain over the past few years while all the disruptions have been going on.  They’ve been trying to say, we’re working for social change; we’re trying to improve the environment; we’re trying to improve people’s lives, but when it comes down to the vote, they’re not.  They’re not interested in that.  They’re interested in their own profits and this is, this is the kind of issue we’ve been talking about now for a long time, and people are going to start seeing it in a real sense when they see how these votes go.

KCSB: [00:37:45] Well, we have environmental problems a lot closer to home right out in Isla Vista, so I wonder if each of you could give an idea on how you can make Isla Vista a decent place to live? How can they clean up this community?

Allen: [00:37:55] Yeah, I think we ought to shoot for, on Isla Vista, a program where we do away with cars in Isla Vista completely. I mean, if it’s going to be a student [unclear], let’s turn it into, as utopian a one as possible? To that end though, we might do is have just emergency lanes running down the streets that presently exist and, and have those emergency lanes on any bike lanes and, and the rest of the street be torn up and turn into organic gardens. And it could happen, like people are starting to plant all over Isla Vista in vacant lots, you know, and there, there seems to be a lot of energy towards functional kinds of things like that Isla Vista. I mean, you know, a lifestyle that people are starting to evolve is, is not just a communal one for sex and, and leeching off of people, you know. It’s one in which people can start living real lives in which they, you know, can control some of their own subsistence, hopefully all of it eventually. In addition to that, I think that, that, that they ought to put a limit like the, that limit being right now on, on any more building in Isla Vista.  No more building should go up there. There’s too many people already, and they ought to turn some of those vacant lots that the realty companies own that they can’t build on anymore anyway if we put the limits on; gotta build at least one of them into a daycare center to give some of the women in Isla Vista some liberated time. And then I think we ought to, we have to think about getting some of those merchants who have been gouging the people for years now to start contributing some money to, say, a breakfast program for some of the kids on Isla Vista and, and in some of the Goleta ghettos down here where the kids certainly don’t get very good meals. And I think that we ought to start evaluating exactly how much longer we’re going to permit the kind of rent gouging and the kind of inflated market prices and the kinds of inflated gasoline prices to persist in Isla Vista. So I think that, you know, that the best way to get any kind of sense of community out there is to start turning the place into something that, that people really want to live in, you know, instead of, that people just want to be transient in, you know, and that people are willing to put up with because they’re getting a quote education so they can fit within the system again.

KCSB: [00:40:05] I got a fact from a listener. He says that the ecology problem exists from a consumption economy supported by advertisement.  If advertisement were outlawed, would it help the ecology movement?

Trotter: [00:40:18] It certainly couldn’t hurt the ecology movement, but the single biggest problem is not necessarily just advertising, but the fact that people, you know, have to live a certain type of lifestyle in this country to survive. I mean, you know, people that live in, especially in Isla Vista kinds of situations, where you’re, you’re really dependent on grocery stores for your source of food and the fact that the energy necessary to supply, say, a TV dinner, you know, go to the icebox, open the icebox, take the [unclear] out, put it in your oven, and prepare that. The energy necessary to do that in this country is, is, is in fact the real manifestation of imperialism. The United States uses 54 percent of the world’s resources and it’s only five percent of the world’s population. Those resources are used to accomplish acts just like that, to open your door, to prepare a TV dinner, to drive your car, do all these very highly technological processes that require energy that is deprived in the other 95 percent of the world’s population.

KCSB: [00:41:15] Would you go along with Jerry Rubin’s idea of having planning in the morning and farming in the morning and playing music in the afternoon and then making love at night?

Trotter: [00:41:24] That’s definitely, that’s not just Jerry Rubin’s idea. Buckminster Fuller advocates, you know, the same thing-. 

Allen: [00:41:28] Tribal people all over the world have been doing it for thousands of years and digging it. I mean, it’s just, I’ve lived in that kind of environment, and it’s hip.

KCSB: [00:41:37] I’d like to get into a few questions concerning the student elections that are going on right now, at least the votes that are being counted. One question that we asked the candidates last Sunday night and might be worthwhile asking you is the fact that a couple of years ago, most radicals on campus and minority groups were condemning AS government as being totally ineffective. And this election at least, we’ve seen a lot of minority groups and radical, radical individuals seeking office. Can you explain this, the change?

Allen: [00:42:05] Let’s wait and see the results.

Rashidi: [00:42:07] Well, I think that the reason that, I know, you know, before last year, you know, we got into it, we pointed out to people that the student, the student government really didn’t have any power. The administration really didn’t listen to them. You have people like Paul Sweet, you know, in there who, who basically were administration boys, and this is the type of people that, you know, were in there. And the reason that I think that we became involved was to force the administration to deal with the question of whether students had any power or not, or they were gonna listen to students or not, and I think that this year, you know, they showed that they wouldn’t. And I think that most of the people who are running this year who, you know, have labels on, you know, whatever side you want to label them, you know, are dealing with this question and the whole thing, the whole reason is to bring it out to the students, you know, that they will not listen to us, you know, and that the present system is ineffective and that there is no power whatsoever in the hands of students. People like, Taz Do, you know, and Perry, you know, we talk about getting lawyers, you know, and things like this, you know, that is not going to work, you know, and it’s obvious and I don’t see how after the, the, the, the way that the administration has acted, the statements that they’ve made, have you been reading the things they made in the news press, you know, about the students? You know, how we are distorting issues, you know, while they’re the ones that are distorting issues, how the Academic Senate has been con-, they just completely ignoring. They have just said, to hell with you. You know, and people have been really reading what they’ve been saying, you know, and I think this is a thing, And students are going to have to realize that because as long as they think that that student government, you know, as it presently stands, is going to bring in some results, it’s just going to be going down a blind alley and eventually, it’s going to happen, you know, because people’s awareness, you know, you know, like the awareness today is much more than it was last year at this time, and it’s going to be at a higher level at this time next year. You know, eventually they’re going to realize that this present system, you know, is, is just not one that’s designed to give students any voice. You know, the university wasn’t built that way and it wasn’t the students, you know, the way the system was set up, students weren’t, you know, it’s a game, you know. They let the students play around here with their little money, which they’re now trying to take back, you know, and I personally think that they financed this move to take away, you know, to do away with the student funds you raise, and then this propaganda thing they’ve been running, you know, about where this money is going, you know. I think if the issues are made clear to students that keep that, but I think that’s the reason people have become involved, you know, because they, the people who were n-, were on there before were not even attempting to really articulate truly, you know, the grievances of student issues, but they wanted to be, you know, quote, responsible, end quote. And that’s another thing that I’ve, you know, had experience with in the Black community, you know, the responsible Negroes, the house niggers, we call them. And you got a lot of house nigger students, you know, one in particular, you know, I won’t mention, you know, on that committee that they put me and [unclear] on, you know, after Bill’s thing, you know, to, to investigate, for student input into departments, you know. We resigned because we knew basically that the committee did not have any power whatsoever. There was one student in there who is now working for the administration who called various other student members and told them, well, you know, you ought to stick on this committee because, you know, like, it’ll be really good for you. You know, you’ll make a lot of good contacts, you know, and basically they’re selling out student interests, you know, you know, their, for their own personal gain and not there to, to, to, to see the students really get a voice. They’re there because they’ve been handpicked by the man, you know, and there are a number of students in these positions. And, and that’s the type of thing we’re going to see through. That’s the kind of thing we’re going to have to deal with, you know.

KCSB: [00:46:04] From the earlier election returns from the UCEN, where they’re counting the ballots from the student elections, it looks as if the more moderate candidates are building up a sizable lead. Do you interpret this as a sign of, some sort of student backlash to what’s been going on, this, the radical, well, I don’t know what you want to call-, the office holders that we’ve had, and the disturbances in Isla Vista?

Allen: [00:46:25] Yeah, I don’t think there were too many radical officeholders. There were, you know, some that supposedly are-. 

KCSB: [00:46:37] If you could call him-. 

Trotter: [00:46:37] The part of the, the moderate upswing in candidates, I think is not necessarily due so much to a backlash; the backlash is probably a benefit than more the number of people who voted, you know, a more conscientious student body. I’ve forgotten how many s-, they’ve estimated voted this time, but it’s more, much a significant greater number than last time. But the fact that in the last year, student government has been so insignificant, so totally insignificant, that only, like the fraternity and established traditional organized groups have any kind of power to win those seats. And last year, those people who can see themselves as radicals or were in groups such as that, had an organizational base in which they could, you know, run for office and won. And this year, people have learned that organizations’ how it’s done, and the more moderate elements are better, are more organized now. And it represents their organization because I don’t think the student body has become any more backlashist than it ever was. It’s still basically progressive.

KCSB: [00:47:30] Will the campus be a swing towards conservatism while people try and control El Gaucho and groups such as Asia and the Radical Union.

Trotter: [00:47:38] Any depth of, any organization that finds itself in a structured power situation like this is inevitably going to try to take control of El Gaucho and whatever media things they can.

Rashidi: [00:47:48] And I think a lot has to do with fear, you know, how the students are afraid of, you know, of the man coming. I think KCSB is afraid, you know, that the man is going to come down on them again. I think that what happened to KCSB was just, you know, inexcusable, and I, and, and the response that came from KCSB in regards to what happened, you know, I remember-

Allen: [00:48:13] It was lukewarm at best.

Rashidi: [00:48:16] Yeah, when they tried to play that album, and went [unclear] when they just called and told you not to play that album, you know.

Allen: [00:48:22] And that’s amazing, you know, I remember that, man.

Rashidi: [00:48:23] What, what i-, what is this man, you know, and people, you know, still make justifications, you know, they said, well, we don’t underst-, you, you guys said, I said, well, we don’t understand because we were so responsible, you know, and we were really being good guys, and you cut us off, you know.

Allen: [00:48:36] They were being, you guys were being less than responsible, I think, you know. Freedom in this country doesn’t mean, you know, freedom from responsibility. I mean, it means exactly that you have to be responsible and find out what’s going on and I don’t think this station has done.

Rashidi: [00:48:49] You’re supposed to be responsible to-

Allen: [00:48:50] I don’t think this station’s been objective.

Rashidi: [00:48:52] The students, you know, and not to, police about the show-

Allen: [00:48:57] Could you imagine what Beck would have done? Could you imagine what Beck would have done if they told us she had to stop publishing the papers? She’d have told them to get, get hosed, man. She would have published it anyway. She would have gone publish it any place, you know, on, on toilet paper, you know, and what you guys should have done has gotten another transmitter and transmitted, man, because you could have done it.

Rashidi: [00:49:17] That whole myth of, you know, objectivity, and what do you, I mean, what do you mean by objective? To me, it seems like with people usually, you know, what I mean by responsibility and objectivity, they mean you are using the official reports of the police departments, you know, or the official statement by the mayor. And then they say, well, you know, now we’re being objective, you know, and that’s bullshit because the, the, the sheriff, you know, has a definite point of view, you know, and obviously, if people [unclear] anti-student, you know, and I think that Becca’s positions, Becca’s position and the position of the El Gaucho this year has been pro student opinion, you know, I think most students do agree that there need to be change. They might all, not all agree on, you know, the tactics, you know, what they generally agree on the things that should be done. I think that that was reflected, you know, in the newspapers and, and she, many times I read in the paper myself that, you know, I thought that they weren’t militant enough. You know, I thought that they should have declared, you know, you know exactly, you know, where they were coming from, a, they did eventually, you know, what, from the get go, they tell exactly where they’re coming from and, you know, explain all this, you know, and ran it down, you know. What she asked for, peop-, you know, if you don’t agree with me, come on in and write your own article, you know. You know, and people didn’t, you know. So like basically, you know, they were just jiving and they, I don’t know if they’re just, if they’re still so hung up in the authoritarian shit that they went through with their mothers and fathers or what, you know, I think I’ve been in this authority, but you got to recognize that you are a human being, that you have a mind, you know, and that you are legitimate in yourself, you know. No one has to give them, you legitimacy. You’re responsible, you know, you are responsible yourself. You make yourself responsible. You’re responsible to whatever you believe in, you know. But, uh, you know, I think that’s just, you know, that whole argument, you know, objectivity, you know, it’s just, and you know, so-called factual reporting, just like, OK, if, if someone said, well, you know, the pigs shot Kevin Moran, then people would say, well, that’s an irresponsible statement, you know, it’s true. You should have said, well, Moran was killed. And then, that’s one fact, OK, we know he was killed. OK, another fact, at approximately [unclear] of the time, a policeman said that his rifle accidentally fired, you know, and the sheriff even admits that, you know, you see what I mean? I mean, and then you might say, well, the sheriff before that there were snipers, and we all knew that there was no snipers, see, I mean, you can just completely distort what went down, you know, see what I mean? But, you know, I think that’s just, you know, totally bullshit. I think what these people mean by objectivity is they want a pro establishment, pro police, pro authoritarian trip going down in the El Gaucho, you know. And I think that, you know, I just keep remembering, you know, a statement that the guy, that, that day, we had one of the rallies, got from Berkeley. He said he was trying to figure out when this fascism began, you know, when can you actually say that there’s fascism, and he said, that he figured out that it’s when the people succumb to the authoritarian trip.  They succumb to the oppression. When KCSB says, OK, the sheriffs are wrong, they’re denying our constitutional right, but we’ll go out there anyway, you know, and that’s when fascism is in. And, you know, when people say, well, they’re pissed off at us, you know, and even though we’re right, well, we’ll be responsible, what they consider responsible and we’re right with they agree with, you know. If the Santa Barbara News Press is responsible, you know, and you know where they’re coming from, they’re considered responsible, you know, and you know what they are?

Allen: [00:53:05] They’re supposed to be one of the best papers on the coast. I hope you never-. 

Rashidi: [00:53:09] I hope you never become responsible. That’s what being responsible means, because they’re responsible to the sheriff, they’re responsible to the mayor. You know, they’re responsible to-. 

Allen: [00:53:17] The oil interests, man.

Rashidi: [00:53:18] Damn right. You know, that’s who they’re irresponsible to.

KCSB: [00:53:21] Ok, well, thank you very much. We’d like to thank our guests tonight. Steve Plevin, Jim Trotter, Bill Allen and Rashidi. Following this program will be the news. Our guests next week on this program should be the president elect of the Associated Students and the administrative and executive vice president select. This is KCSB FM from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

KCSB: [00:53:45] The opinions expressed reflect those of the speaker and not necessarily those of KCSB, the Associated Students or the Regents of the University of California. Responsible representatives of opposing viewpoints are offered reasonable opportunity to respond, address requests to the general manager, KCSB, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[KCSB.4.29.70 Allen/Rashidi interviewed, Proposal for Black & Chicano Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, KCSB Audiotape Collection 1969-1970, SBHC Mss 58, Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

Bank Burning, 1970

By Frances Woo

February 26, 1970


5:00 PM


William Kunstler, an activist lawyer, gives a speech at Perfect Park.

Richard Underwood is beat and arrested by police for holding a “molotov cocktail”, which was actually an open bottle of wine.

Students start hitting patrolling police cars with rocks in protest of this beating and attempted arrest and the crowd grows to round 500-700 people.


5:30 PM


Windows at Isla Vista Realty, Embarcadero Company, Income Property Management, Ventura Realty, Finear Realty, the Brazen Onager, and the Village Green are broken.


6:30 PM


Someone puts a burning trash can inside of Bank of America and 100-150 officers arrive in full riot gear and begin sweeping the crowd.

Police approached from around the Enco station and the Magic Lantern.

Students tried to flee but were met with more police force and the students turn and charge the officers.

The police run while students hurl rocks at them and then officers in turn throw rocks back at the crowd.

Second batch of police officers arrive from a transit bus parked on Camino Pescadero.

The first group of officers leave on the bus while students continue to pelt them with rocks, breaking five or six windows on the bus.


7:30 PM


Crowd reaches 1,500. A patrol car is burned and overturned in front of American Records on Embarcadero Del Mar. All Isla Vista and campus entrances are roadblocked by police and no cars can get in or out of the area.


9:30 PM


Four cans of tear gas are thrown into the crowd from a 1962 Ford Falcon.

Tear gas is also thrown around “…Isla Vista Realty, on Sabado Tarde, and at the corner of Embarcadero del Norte and Seville” (El Gaucho, 1).

Students block traffic using garbage cans and there’s a second tear gas raid around Village Market and the Bank of America building.


11:30 PM


Someone burns a pile of papers and furniture inside the Bank of America building and soon the whole building is on fire.


12:00 AM


The building burns, the roof caves in, the crowd grows even bigger, and the police place more barricades in the streets.


2:30 AM


Law enforcement agents from other schools congregate at San Rafael Dorm.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff James Webster flies overhead in a helicopter and warns the crowd to either be arrested or disperse.


3:00 AM


Crowd begins to die down.

Police sweep the streets and arrest people who failed to disperse.

Police search apartments of those suspected to participate in the demonstration.

A helicopter shines a spotlight on the streets, searching for crowd members.


4:00 AM


The helicopter leaves.

Someone starts a trash fire at the top of the loop and KCSB members are ordered to leave the Wooden House Restaurant on Embarcadero Del Mar.


4:30 AM


Local hospitals report injuries from that night.

Two people are treated for tear gas burns and two officers are treated for superficial wounds and a face laceration.

Eighteen to twenty five police cars continue to drive by and arrest anyone on the streets for failing to disperse.


6:00 AM


Around 15-20 people were reportedly arrested over the course of this night.


El Gaucho, Vol. 50-No. 87

Take Back the Night, 1978-

By Sophia Chupein

1978


The 1970s were filled with monumental changes for women’s rights in the United States, and much of this history can be traced through our very own UCSB community. The first Take Back the Night protest in the US likely took place in San Francisco in 1978, which catalyzed an eruption of marches across the states. Take Back the Night (TBTN) organizations and movements serve to raise awareness of domestic, sexual, and relationship violence, topics that continue to be ignored and undermined to this day.  In 1979, UCSB held its first TBTN protest in response to both the national movement and local hostility. This TBTN student organization continues to thrive, bringing awareness to a topic still ignored to this day.

TBTN organizations across the nation formed during a time of hostile national debates over the necessity for equal rights. The debate around the passing of the Equal Right Amendment not only fueled antagonism between women and men but within the feminist movement itself. Those who supported the passing of the ERA, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), saw it as a vital step towards eliminating gender-based discrimination. Others saw it as both regressive for women’s rights and the beginning of the complete destruction of traditional American society.

[“Women’s Right Resolution Halted”, Women, Box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Santa Barbara community was facing hostility on a local level as well. The Isla Vista Women’s Center, hoping to provide refuge for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, initially struggled to assert its presence in the community and receive financial support.

[“Women’s Center seeks funds to continue”, Women, Box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“New Location Forcing Center to Close Women’s Crash Pad”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“Need for Tougher Sentencing Told by ‘Battered Wives’ Author”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“Task Force Member Indicates Need for Emergency Shelters for ‘Battered Women’”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Take Back the Night protests were also fueled by the efforts of the Santa Barbara chapter of NOW, which formed in solidarity with the Women’s Center

[“NOW Aims at Womens Issues”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

The first Take Back the Night protests at UCSB had to face issues with the police Santa Barbara Police Department, who were initially not willing to close State Street for the march because of the extra police they would have to station. While they eventually came to an agreement (see “Santa Barbara Women March Tomorrow – No fear of attack”), this was not the only compromise the organizers had to make. As with many Take Back the Night protests across the country, men had been asked to walk behind the marchers, both as a symbolic gesture and as a form of protection. Jennifer Freed, co-coordinator of 1983 protest, called it a “poor compromise to have men back up the march and walk behind”, but that was a compromise that had to be made “until there is total freedom and equality for everyone”.

[“Santa Barbara Women March Tomorrow – No Fear of Attack”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“Local Marchers Light the Night”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

As women’s rights organizations have gained momentum over the past forty years, so has UCSB’s Take Back the Night organization. The co-chair of UCSB’s Take Back the Night sees the organization as vital, since “we are the people who make the changes on campus, and we can’t wait for other people to make the changes”. Not only has the organization increased in membership and support, but is continuing to strive for diverse and intersectional perspectives. The co-chair accounts how “especially this year, I think we’ve become more inclusive, because I know TBTN traditionally was about women, but now we’re really acknowledging that it can really happen to any gender, anybody, any race” The organization hosts an annual spring rally and meetings throughout the quarter that provide a safe space for people to talk about their experiences and listen to others.
Our community is still struggling to adequately address sexual, relationship, and domestic violence. One in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there, and UCSB is no exception. Both listening and speaking up are vital to promoting equality, and UCSB’s Take Back the Night is continuing to do just that.


Works Cited

TBTN Co-Chair. 2019, February 27th. Personal interview

UCSB Special Collections

Photo Gallery


[Support Group Comic, Students, box 12]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 44. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[Materials provided by TBTN Co-Chair]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[Materials provided by TBTN Co-Chair]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[Materials provided by TBTN Co-chair]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.
[Materials provided by tbtn co-chair]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.
[Materials provided by tbtn co-chair]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Bank of America Burning, 1970

By Frances Woo

February 27th, 1970


The IV Bank of America Burning was an intense, historical moment of student activism and social justice at UCSB.  It began as a peaceful protest at Perfect Park and spiraled into a community-wide retaliation against all symbols of corrupt justice.  Students sought to fight bigger powers at play such as Bank of America, and clashed with Isla Vista police during the chaotic events that occurred on February 27th, 1970.  

This historic night originated with protests and boycotts of Bank of America, sparked by the students at UCSB.  BOFA had been giving illegal loans to South African countries and indirectly supporting apartheid against government regulations, amongst other unsavory endeavors.  It illegally funneled money to the Pretoria Regime, which consisted of mostly white men in South Africa enforcing discriminatory apartheid rules towards the black population.   By funding their military and economic endeavors, Bank of America was supporting the perpetuation of a deadly racist society in order to gain access to mineral resources in South Africa.  Corporations like these have monetized human suffering for years, and the students in Isla Vista no longer tolerated the blind acceptance of Bank of America’s human rights violations. Supporting apartheid was only one of the numerous reasons why students were against Bank of America; the rest are outlined in archived pamphlets, flyers, and informational documents created for students by students to shed light on the power we hold as consumers to invest in businesses that are economically and socially held accountable for their actions.

 

[Reasons to Boycott BOFA, Bank of America: South Africa File, Box 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

Despite numerous protests, pamphlets, and speeches, people continued to use Bank of America and Bank of America continued to support apartheid, amongst other unsavory endeavors.  And though these students were inspiring change, it wasn’t at the national scale it needed to be to execute a long-lasting, effective boycott by consumers.  This frustration in addition to already tense relations with police officers caused students to attack any symbol of “lawful institution” that tried to control them.

Documented here is a timeline of events that occurred in Isla Vista during the several days that the Bank of American Burning took place:

Kaye, Hillary. (1970, February).  Cops occupy I.V.: injuries. Arrests.  El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/pr76f457z

 

Student responses to this violent protest were also documented during a Letter To The Editor publication about the Isla Vista Bank Burning.  They shared their opinion on the violence that took hold overnight, and the students’ struggle for worldwide justice versus their struggle for local peace.

 

During the 25 year anniversary of the Bank of America Burning, the Daily Nexus recovered more personal accounts of the night from faculty, students, and local residents that were in the area during the riots:

   [Robertson, Nick. (1995, February).  Witnesses recall the day that caused a ‘State of Emergency’ Declaration in Isla Vista, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/3b591979r]

 

This account clarified many misconceptions about the catalyst of the Bank Burning.  William Kuntsler, the chief defense attorney in the “Chicago 8” case, gave a speech at Harder Stadium that people believed would incite a riot.  Cops gathered in Perfect Park, awaiting a massive disturbance, when the students were simply participating in a peaceful union in the park.  “‘They were dressed up in full riot gear, ready for anything. Then came a bunch of peaceful students coming back from the speech. It was an interesting contrast’” (6).  This account of the burning pinpoints Richard Underwood’s violent apprehension as the spark that set off what would be known as one of the most violent instances of chaos, confusion, and destruction in IV history.  

There are more details about the night presented in this special anniversary spread, as well as  snippets of resident testimonies and personal recollections of the events that occurred:

 

 

[ROBERTSON, NICK. (1995, FEBRUARY).  WITNESSES RECALL THE DAY THAT CAUSED A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’ DECLARATION IN ISLA VISTA, RETRIEVED FROM HTTPS://WWW.ALEXANDRIA.UCSB.EDU/DOWNLOADS/3B591979R]

 

The testimonies surrounding the Isla Vista Bank Burning portray a closer look into the resident mentality during this state of mass destruction and violent chaos.  The events that spiraled out between students and police officers originated with Bank of America’s devotion to profit from human suffering. Students in IV protested such gross mistreatment through gatherings, marches, and informational flyers.  The goal of the Perfect Park protest wasn’t to destroy the city they live in; the people simply wanted their voices heard and concerns acted upon. They wanted some semblance of control on their side and to make a change on behalf of those who couldn’t speak for themselves.  This doesn’t excuse the violence that erupted out of this movement, nor does it attack the actions of the police officers attempting to quell this event. It merely emphasizes the deep-seated rift between those who seek to enact and those who enforce justice in Isla Vista.


Works Cited

[“Bank of America and South Africa” article, Bank of America: South Africa, 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“Looking for a Place to Bank?  Five Good Reasons to Consider Avoiding the Bank of America” flyer, Bank of America: South Africa, 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.