Vital Signs

A Park to Die For

On August 25, 1992, a 19-year-old woman named Rosebud Abigail Denovo broke into the campus home of Chang-Fin Tien, chancellor of the University of California. Denovo, a member of the People's Will Direct Action Committee, was the self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner in the trial of Tien—enemy of the people. An Oakland police officer, called to the scene, intervened before she could carry out her mission. She lunged at him with a machete, whereupon he shot her dead.

Found on Denovo was a note with the message: "We are willing to die for this land. Are you?" By "land" she meant specifically People's Park in Berkeley. Denovo's revolutionary career had begun a year earlier in response to the university's decision to build volley ball courts in the park. At the time of her death she was awaiting trial on a charge involving possession of explosives—with the explosives had been a hit-list of campus officials. On news of her death 150 supporters rioted in the park. It is fair to say that Denovo, born in 1973, died m the 1960's.

The question of volleyball courts in People's Park seems terribly trivial for a serious revolutionary, even one as obviously psychotic as Denovo. But an examination of the history of that park reveals why its future has become a subject of such bitter and violent argument, to the cynic, it seems peculiarly fitting that the hallowed ground of...

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