FSM-A \ Free Speech Movement Archives \ FSM-A
FSM Vets' News & Views
Lee Felsenstein's comments
That's me in the short hair and glasses by the window - I was in that area and that's how I looked then. The camera doesn't lie, but recollections are individual matters. I wouldn't have captioned the picture "fear" because at that instance we were discovering our power.
The charge took place in the morning - note the bright light outside. The objective was pretty clearly to halt the use of the PA system from the balconies outside the windows of Sproul Hall's second-floor lobby. A cordon of police - UC cops, I think (note the bear shoulder patch visible in the picture) materialized at the edge of the lobby, which was packed with sit-inners. Their batons were in evidence and they started to push through and over the crowd to get to the windows. An uproar ensued, each one of use shouting our own outrage.
I recall crossing my arms in front of my head in anticipation of a baton blow. The shouting and pushing continued and the cops reached the windows. A window pane shattered as they struggled to open the doors.
The PA system had been previously lowered by ropes to the plaza and whoever was on the mike dropped it to someone below when the cops finally reached him. It was a Pyrrhic victory, and the police then took up positions facing us with their backs to the windows.
Then the magic happened. Our disorganized shouting suddenly took the form of an organized chant of "GO HOME! GO HOME!" The cops' faces instantly changed from triumph to worry. Without an apparent command they began to push their way back to where they had come from, abandoning their hard-won gains.
"GO HOME! GO HOME!" We had suddenly discovered collective power. As long as we remained uncoordinated individuals we could be pushed around - as soon as we demonstrated that we could act in a unified fashion that was too much for the armed men. It was only then that they realized how outnumbered they were. They turned around and, in a dignified fashion, ran.
So while our faces in the picture may show something that looks like fear, it's not what was happening at that moment. Don't feel sorry for us - we were having our first experience of triumph.