Peace and Freedom Party Logo The Peace and Freedom Party is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality. We represent the working class, those without capital in a capitalist society. We organize toward a world where cooperation replaces competition, a world where all people are well fed, clothed and housed; where all women and men have equal status; where all individuals may freely endeavor to fulfill their own talents and desires; a world of freedom and peace where every community retains its cultural integrity and lives with all others in harmony.

The Peace and Freedom Party was founded on June 23, 1967, by people who wanted to vote for something they could support. The Democrats were leading the nation in the war against Vietnam. As the military drained the domestic economy, Republicans and Democrats called for "law and order" to repress Americans who wished to improve their own lives. Black militants were rising up angrily in the cities, while Filipino and Latino farmworkers were organizing labor unions in the fields. Women were agitating for full equality with men. These forces of discontent united to create an electoral arm of "The Movement." A massive voter registration drive placed the Peace and Freedom Party on the California ballot in January 1968. On both the state and national level, we have shown a willingness to work with other like minded groups, trying to build a mass based socialist party throughout the country.

Thousands of people assembled in and around Berkeley's MLK Jr. Park (Civic Center Park) on Sunday, August 27, 2017. They came to protest and confront an assemblage of far right wing and neo-fascist individuals and groups who had planned to assemble there that afternoon. The left and the liberals were out in force; the other side was virtually absent. 400 heavily armed members of the Berkeley Police Department and cops from surrounding communities guarded an empty “free speech” zone that they had barricaded in the park and kept counter-demonstrators from moving freely around the area.

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At a special meeting on August 18, the City Council had adopted an urgency ordinance to authorize the City Manager to issue rules regarding street events without permits “ to protect public safety.” Members of the community --who spoke at the meeting to protest the special power as a potential violation of civil liberties-- far outnumbered supporters of the Council's action. Only one City Council member voted “No.”

The City Manager responded on August 25 with a list of items banned from Civic Center Park on August 27, “to allow peaceful expression of free speech”.

Prohibited items included:
  • sticks of any size
  • metal water bottles (police did not allow any water bottles in MLK Park)
  • eggs
  • skate boards
  • balloons
  • bandanas covering any part of the face

Mayor Jesse Areguin, who had been elected as the liberal choice, made it clear that anyone violating these rules would be subject to citation and arrest. And they were. Between 12:30pm and 12:45pm, this reporter witnessed the arrest of two people just outside the park near the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Allston Way, presumably for violation of the rules. No action normally considered to be criminal, violent, or aggressive had been committed.

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Police searching the pockets of a protester before taking him away.
Photo Credits: Marsha Feinland

The assemblages in and around MLK Jr. Park were the result of several protests organized by groups and coalitions and by people who just wanted to show up to counter the growth of neo-fascism. That morning there were rallies to be held at different locations on the U.C. Berkeley campus. One that had been planned for the campus lawn near Addison and Oxford Streets got shunted to Oxford Street because of barricades around the lawn put up by the U.C. campus police. Many of those demonstrators joined the protest at MLK Park by the afternoon. A coalition of groups met at Ohlone Park, several blocks north of MLK Park, and marched to the main demonstration. And yet another came from the south up Milvia Street on the other side of the park .

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It was difficult to count the number of participants because they were restricted to certain areas in and around the park, and separated by police barricades and lines of armed police. But it looked to this observer like 10,000 people showed up to send a message of “No” to fascism.

At around 1:15pm, the police retreated from their stations blocking access to the park to line up across the street near Berkeley High School. People who had been standing outside the park jumped over the barricades freely. Thinking that the protest was over, this reporter went home.

At around 2:15pm, a live news feed showed black-clad demonstrators pursuing and tackling and hitting an individual. The police intervened and led the individual away. In later reports the media highlighted this incident as evidence of violence on the part of counter-protesters. But Shane Bauer, who was on the scene reporting for Mother Jones, documented that the “anti-fa” group was responding because the individual was pepper spraying random counter-protesters (and others) in the park.

The Peace and Freedom Party endorses Gayle McLaughlin for the position of Lieutenant Governor in California’s 2018 statewide election.

A former mayor of Richmond, Gayle was a leader of a progressive coalition that took on the Chevron Corporation and passed a new rent control law in her town. She is running as an independent.

The following is her official statement upon receiving PFP endorsement.

I am the former two-term mayor of Richmond (2007-2014) and a founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

I led Richmond’s remarkable transformation, reducing homicides 75%, increasing the minimum wage to $15, controlling pollution, promoting sustainable development, solarizing the city, promoting rent control, defending immigrant rights, forcing Chevron to pay $114 million in additional city taxes, helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, bringing greener and less expensive electricity, defending public schools and opposing the expansion of charter schools.

I am corporate-free and running for Lieutenant Governor to organize anti-corporate forces in every city throughout the state and to stand in Sacramento against corporate corruption and backroom deals, and to promote an agenda based on one concept: People First!

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