Councilman Darryl Moore is hosting a community meeting in the wake of two multiple shootings that took place in his Berkeley district this month, and members of one neighborhood are also organizing in an effort to improve safety locally.
On Friday, March 2, three men were shot at around 6:21 p.m. in the 2200 block of Bonar Street. The gunfire came from a car that stopped near a group of at least five males standing outside, who may have been involved in a dice game. Three victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Two days later, at about 12:51 a.m. Sunday, March 4, two suspects approached and shot at a group of about five men on Seventh Street at Addison. Berkeley Police patrol officers responded and found the victims at Sixth and Bancroft Way as they were trying to leave the area. Three of the victims sustained gunshot wounds, none of which were deemed life threatening.
Both of the incidents are still under investigation by the Berkeley Police Department.
Caroline Schnieders, a teacher who has lived in the Bonar Street area for eight years, said she has seen a “rapid decline” in the neighborhood in terms of crime. “There’s a lot more graffiti, and one month recently there were more than 20 burglaries. There are two rival gangs who rendezvous at the Bonar apartments,” she said. Schnieders also had apples thrown at her by a group of teenage boys when she was out running down Bancroft one afternoon.
But Schnieders believes residents could get organized and “on top of things.” “I’ve been pleased with the response from the police so far. I hope all the city departments can work together to staunch this.”
The police department has been working in collaboration with the community to tackle neighborhood safety issues for a while. Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel holds regular coffee meetings with the community to discuss crime locally. On Friday, March 9, about 10 people turned out to Tomate Cafe on Fifth Street to talk with him and Area 4 coordinator officer Cesar Melero.
Graham Freeman, who lives on Allston Way, two blocks from where the Bonar Street shooting took place, said some parts of the neighborhood do not feel safe, in particular the dead end of Allston Way where it meets Strawberry Creek Park, but there is a lot to recommend the neighborhood and he sees the solution in residents claiming their territory.
“We need to be a healthy community and use our parks, not hide indoors,” he said. Like many locals, Freeman takes his young child to Strawberry Creek Park regularly.
Freeman also wants to take a more active role in the community and, to this end, has created an email discussion list for West Berkeley residents “to talk about life in the community.”
“I’m going to do my best to moderate it so that the tone remains constructive,” he said.
Councilman Moore said he is organizing the upcoming community meeting on public safety “to discuss the incidents themselves, progress in the investigation, other resources that the city can bring to bear, and what we as a community can do to help prevent future incidents.” Berkeley’s interim city manager Christine Daniel, along with representatives from the Berkeley Police Department and the Berkeley Housing Authority, will attend the meeting.
Read officer Cesar Melero’s recommendations for reporting suspicious circumstances.
Where: The community meeting will be held at the gymnasium of Berkeley Youth Alternatives, 1255 Allston Way, Berkeley 94702.
When: Monday March 19, at 7 p.m.