Albion Monitor /Features


...Bob was the lawyer defending the Berkeley students during the free speech movement...

Bob Treuhaft: I was here at home with my wife playing Scrabble around ten o'clock at night. The phone call came and it was [Mario] Savio saying that the Steering Committee wants to meet me. "They're sitting in there, and there's 700 of us ... we want you to come. They're letting people out but they're not letting anybody in; but they'll let you in." So I went right over. I told my wife I'll be back in an hour or so...

And so, around towards midnight, we did get word through the walkie-talkie that the police were coming. Now in the building, when I learned that things were becoming tense, I was told that the students would be sitting-in on the two upper floors of the building. None would be on the main floor. They expected the police to come in on the main floor and I would be stationed down there to meet them...

There were two other people on the main floor -- one of them was Ed Meese and another one was Lowell Jensen. Lowell Jensen is now a federal judge; Ed Meese and he were deputy district attorneys, deputies of Frank Coakley, who was the extremely reactionary right-wing District Attorney who had held that office for about sixteen years. I knew Jensen fairly well, having tried a murder case against him, in which he was prosecutor. I didn't know Meese at all because Meese wasn't in court very much. Meese spent most of his time in Sacramento as a lobbyist for the Police Officers' Association, and the D.A.'s Association, trying to get tougher legislation. The joke used to be that he was trying to get the Legislature to prescribe the dealth penalty for posession of marijuana...

Well, when I learned that the police were coming, there was nothing more for me to do. I was expecting them to come through the front door, but they didn't -- they went up from the basement, bypassing the main floor. I started to leave the building the same way I entered, the side entrance. Just as I got to the entrance, which was next to the press room, I saw the sheriff of the county, Sheriff Madigan, reading a statement to the press. There were about a dozen reporters in there. I was anxious to hear that statement, so I stopped and listened, and he was telling about how the governor had authorized the police to come in to maintain order.

And at that point I heard Meese come up from behind, and he said, "Sheriff, there's somebody here who is not a member of the press." So I turned around and said, "Well, that makes three of us." The sheriff didn't think it was funny, and he sort of pushed me into the arms of a cop who grabbed me and handcuffed me from behind ... I heard the sheriff say to Meese, who was still behind me, "Should we arrest him?" And Meese said, "Yes." I was the first person arrested.

I went to Santa Rita [jail] with the first batch, which included Mario Savio and other important people. They refused to let me be released on my own recognizance as I expected, and I was treated just like any of the other prisoners. I was charged in the same way. As a matter of fact, when I got to Santa RIta I was put in a solitary cell with about three others. And for some reason, they took my shoes off, maybe fearing that I would try to kill myself with my shoelaces of something like that. [Laughs] Well, anyway, I was in there until...around ten o'clock the next morning. *

Decca: When the call came from Mario Savio, we were playing Scrabble and Bob had just put a "Q" down. I don't know if you play Scrabble, but a Q is very rare and it was also on a triple-word score. Bob went down thinking he'd be only an hour, then calls later to say he'd been arrested by Ed Meese.

Before he came home the next morning, I removed the Q from the board...He never expressly stated forgiveness for removal of the Q. Some things are beyond forgiveness, I fear. *

The Making of a Muckracker

Albion Monitor October 9, 1995 (

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