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 James B. Rector

James B. Rector

Missouri, USA
Death 19 May 1969 (aged 25)
Berkeley, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 65280291 · View Source
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Berkeley "Bloody Thursday" Shooting Victim. James Rector was an onlooker from a rooftop, watching the rioting concerning People's Park in Berkeley, California, on "Bloody Thursday" which was May 15, 1969. After protesters on the roof of a nearby building threw bricks or sharpened pieces of metal at police, deputies of the Alameda County Sheriff fired buckshot at the people on the roof of the Telegraph Repertory Cinema. The buckshot fatally wounded Rector and blinded Alan Blanchard. Although Rector was shot on May 15, he held on for four days, before dying the following Monday, May 19, 1969. The People's Park protest which led up to James Rector's death began as a dispute over land which the University of California at Berkeley had designated for future campus development. By 1967, the university had started to demolish existing homes on the site to build a parking lot and recreational field there. However, the university ran out of development funds, and by 1969 the site was a muddy lot with abandoned cars, debris, and rubble. Students, local merchants, and residents met to develop a plan to build a public park on the university-owned land. However, that plan was not approved by the university. Volunteers, including James Rector, built the park, and it was essentially completed by mid-May of 1969. Meanwhile, on April 28, 1969, the university's Vice Chancellor announced plans to build a sports field on the site. However, he agreed two days later to reserve one-fourth of the lot for the People's Park, and he agreed that the university would not start building without notifying the People's Park builders. Ronald Reagan, who was California's Governor at the time and who later became President of the United States, did not agree with the Vice Chancellor's promises. Calling the campus "a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants," Reagan had publicly denounced the Berkeley administration for allowing students to hold demonstrations on campus. At 4:30 a.m. on May 15, 1969, Reagan sent in three hundred California Highway Patrol and police officers to reclaim People's Park. Much of what had been planted was destroyed, and a chain-link fence was installed to prevent planting more trees, grass, or flowers. Later that day, around 3000 people gathered, and after police turned off the sound system, headed toward People's Park chanting, "We want the park!" Cars were overturned and set on fire. Marchers were throwing bottles, racks, and bricks, and started to tear down the fence. Other law enforcement officers from surrounding jurisdictions were called in, including deputies of the Alameda County Sheriff. That was followed by the shooting of James Rector. The buckshot did massive damage to his lower vital organs as it passed all the way up through his body to penetrate his heart. He had undergone surgery at Herrick Memorial Hospital to remove his spleen, a kidney, and part of his pancreas, but the three marble-sized shot which tore all the way into his chest cavity killed him. Just under a year later on April 7, 1970, Ronald Reagan said in response to a question about student protesters, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement."

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  • Maintained by: David Junius
  • Originally Created by: Steven Tynan
  • Added: 6 Feb 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 65280291
  • David Junius
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for James B. Rector (8 Mar 1944–19 May 1969), Find A Grave Memorial no. 65280291, ; Maintained by David Junius (contributor 46623722) Unknown.