The Night of February 25, 1970
Kunstler had addressed perhaps 2,000 people in Harder Stadium
on campus in the late afternoon. Following his speech, many
people walked back toward the center of town. Numerous police
units were patrolling Isla Vista in what was called a "saturation
patrol technique." Suddenly, police singled out Rich Underwood,
another student leader who had figured prominently in the Bill
Allen demonstrations, charged him with carrying a molotov cocktail
(it was actually just an open bottle of wine), and beat him
up on the spot.
"It was this incident, one more incident of wanton police harassment,
which the people in Isla Vista - the students - said: 'I've
had enough!,'" recalled Greg Knell, then vice president of the
UCSB Associated Students. "This is our community, and this occupying
army must be driven out."
That's exactly what happened later that night. Police cars were
set on fire, further attacks were mounted on the Bank of America,
and several waves of police forces were repelled, beaten back
and out of Isla Vista by street-fighting Isla Vistans.
"All of a sudden, all you heard out of the windows was
the Rolling Stones' 'Street Fighting Man,' " said one student
"I was amazed at the fury that people showed that night,"
one participant said later. "People charging like gladiators
with trash lids as shields, throwing rocks at the cops . . .
. You saw people walking around with a light in their eyes and
a look on their face that you just never experienced in everyday
"There were hours at a time when there was nothing to do
but enjoy being in liberated territory."
Around midnight, people, who are still unidentified, broke down
the front doors of the bank and successfully lit a fire inside.
Bank records served as kindling. Hundreds of people participated
in one way or another, then watched it burn through the night.
By dawn, the building was a smoldering ruin.
The first Isla Vista riot--I.V. I as it later became known--ended
several days later when then-Governor Ronald Reagan sent in
the National Guard to militarily occupy the town. Subsequent
riots I.V. II and I.V. III attempted in different ways to recreate
that incredible feeling of liberation. The efforts exacted a