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Apr 14

The Free University’s “Be-In”

be-in-arrests-4-14-1969.jpgApril 14, 1969
I don’t like everything my son has on his iPod and I don’t expect him to like everything on mine but we don’t call the police when we disagree about music.
In the late 1960’s there was a wide gulf between generations.The flash point came on a Sunday afternoon.
It wasn’t the first “Be-In” held at Montaña de Oro State Park but it was the first with a band.
When the sheriff’s department got word from park rangers that a crowd was gathering in the early afternoon they checked it out. They didn’t like what they saw, a 1,000 strong crowd of longhaired high school and college students listening to rock music.be-in-arrests-4-14-1969-pag.jpg
A band called “The Truth” played songs like the Credence Clearwater Revival tune Proud Mary.
Hard to believe what we call Classic Rock today was worthy of an anti-riot response.
By 4 pm the crowd had dwindled to 300-500 milling around the camping area, ignoring commands of the rangers and a few deputies to leave.
Soon law enforcement from all over the county had responded to the crisis.
Quoting from a story by Dave Verbon

The undersheriff stepped up to the microphone, faced the sea of young faces and sang:“The park is closed.
“You have two minutes to leave.
“Get out,” he added.
“Why?” they screamed.
“Why?”
“Because the people in this park don’t like you, “ he answered. “They don’t want you here.”
And that marked the beginning of the end of the Free University’s “Be-In” at Montana De Oro State Park Sunday Afternoon. It was a very quick end.
About 15 seconds after the two-minute warning the first arrest was made. A young man near the bandstand was taken in custody by one of the plain-clothes detectives who had infiltrated the crowd. The youth was grappling with the under-sheriff James Harner at the microphone.
Others followed quickly.
Telegram-Tribune staffers began taking pictures of the wave of arrests and three times had their cameras grabbed or covered by other plainclothes men.

By the time it was over 16 adults and 7 juveniles were arrested on charges including disturbing the peace, alcohol violations and remaining at a place where riot potential existed after being ordered to leave.
The trial would follow about a month later.

Ten years later in 1979 a larger outdoor concert would be held at Cuesta College and this time the Governor would attend.

In other news Neil Armstrong was chosen to be the first of a very exclusive fraternity. Men who will walk on the moon.

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