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Reagan's Campus Wars

 

Like all fascists, Reagan wanted to control the institutes of Higher Education within his jurisdiction.  He made no secret of his desire to eliminate the free flow of ideas at California campuses and squash all dissenters.

In 1968 the faculty board at the University of California--Berkeley approved a course to be taught by Eldridge Cleaver.  When Governor Reagan heard of the lecture series and how popular it was he "flew into a rage."  Reagan immediately put such pressure on the regents that they voted to deny academic credit to students taking the class.  The class was ultimately terminated three weeks into the semester.  The cancellation of the popular course led to demonstrations involving over 4,000 sudents.   Reagan's storm troopers immediately moved in and began beating and arresting the demonstrators.

Several weeks later students asked Tom Hayden to teach a new version of the lecture course.  The new lecture series got under way in January of 1969 with Reagan again voicing his opposition.

In February of 1969 a massive strike hit the campuses in San Francisco and Berkeley.   The strike was led by Chicano and African-American students seeking a college of ethnic studies.  Reagan's response was in typical knee-jerk fascist fashion.  He sought to crush it with force.  One of his first actions was to declare a state of extreme emergency on February 5.  He then asked for legislation that would ban unauthorized loudspeakers from campuses.  He further wanted the legislature to pass a law that would preclude any faculty member caught supporting the demonstrations from future employment.  (note:  a prelude to his PATCO busting tactics)

According to the New York Times, Reagan gave the regents a tongue lashing for their kid glove treatment of the demonstrators and ended action on their part to put an "end to guerrilla war."  He further said, "Campuses should be protected at the point of bayonet if necessary....I don't care what force it takes.  That force has to be applied."

From the Fall of 1968 to the Spring of 1969, Reagan's fascist tactics led to 6 major confrontations involving over 2,000 arrests and 150 suspension/expulsions from the University.

A year later on April 7, 1970--one month before Kent State--Governor Reagan said to the Council of California Growers, "If the students want a bloodbath, let's get it over with."

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