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Police Crackdown of Free Speech Movement Protest

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The first major U.S. campus uprising of the 1960s occurred on October 1, 1964, at the University of California at Berkeley. That day, Jack Weinberg, a Congress of Racial Equality student activist, was arrested for handing out leaflets on campus in defiance of a campus ban on political activity. Police put Weinberg in a squad car, but before it could drive away thousands of student surrounded the vehicle, keeping it immobile for the next 32 hours and making speeches from its roof. The protest marked the beginning of the Free Speech Movement, a series of demonstrations at UC-Berkeley that culminated on December 2, 1964, when 1,200 students took over Sproul Hall on campus, demanding an end to speech restrictions. At the Sproul protest, folk singer Joan Baez sang ''We Shall Overcome'' and Free Speech leader Mario Savio declared, ''There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies on the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus. And you've got to make it stop.'' California state troopers were called in to break up the sit-in, and they arrested 800 students, dozens of whom were injured by the police. A student strike then shut down the campus until the faculty senate voted to support the students' Free Speech Movement, compelling the administration to lift political restrictions. UC-Berkeley would remain a hotbed of political protest throughout the 1960s, and antiwar and civil rights protesters would employ many of the methods developed by the Free Speech Movement activists.