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Free Speech Monument.

Free Speech Monument, 60,000 Feet High

Field review by the editors.

Berkeley, California

Berkeley, a university community long known for reacting loudly and often against injustice and the status quo, loves to celebrate their tradition of free speech. The Free Speech Movement started as a protest by students at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964, complaining about campus restrictions on political activity and demonstrations.

Free Speech Monument.

In 1989 an unusual monument won a contest commemorating the 25th anniversary, and was erected in 1991 in front of the steps of Sproul Hall, the first spot the college permitted political "discussions."

The monument, by artist Mark Brest van Kempen, is a 6-ft. wide granite circle with a 6-inch hole in the middle. The hole contains some dirt, and is the base of an invisible column of air that extends 60,000 ft. into the sky to the vacuum of space. The monument is flat against the ground in the middle of a busy pedestrian plaza between university buildings.

The chiseled circular inscription reads: "This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity's jurisdiction."

The hole attracts leaves and candy wrappers; its bold claim otherwise doesn't seem to concern passersby on this day except for us. But we like the conceptual hubris ("We hereby proclaim the space above our heads not subject to the hats of any jurisdiction!")

Coincidentally, the Berkeley City Council has been weighing citizen demands to make the city a "No Drone Zone," banning the noisy privacy invaders from their skies. No matter what they decide, there will always be one narrow spot where drones can hover, not subject to any entity's jurisdiction.

Free Speech Monument, 60,000 Feet High

Sather Rd, Berkeley, CA
Bancroft Way, across from Telegraph Ave., walk north into campus to Upper Sproul Plaza.
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