Community meeting called in wake of Berkeley shootings

A community meeting will address two recent multiple shootings, one of which took place in the 2200 block of Bonar Street. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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.”

Berkeley Police Lt Dave Frankel and officer Cesar Melero met with community members at Tomate Cafe on March 9. Photo: Lance Knobel

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.

Three people shot on Bonar Street in Berkeley, no life-threatening injuries [03.02.12]
Three men shot, wounded early Sunday in west Berkeley [03.05.12]

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  • Fixthestreets

    Will the Chief be there?  He went to the meeting in the Hills and as we’re apparently moving past the Oakley incident without consequence, he ought to give the people of the Flats the same opportunity to hear his policies and solutions.  One hopes without the “all questions must be submitted in writing” nonsense.

  • BHills

    Hi Fixthestreets:

    I received the announcement of last Thursday’s meeting and immediately wondered why this was not a citywide meeting as we have only one police force to serve all of us.  You might not have liked the meeting anyway because nobody who attended was permitted to speak.

  • Bertissimo

    Sad to see my corner as the lead photo.  I hope something can be done.  We need more of a police presence on that block.  We also need cops who are civil with the people in the neighborhood instead of flippant as they sometimes are.

  •  I agree.  Many of the officers I’ve encountered in the last year seem to be leery of talking at any length with me.  I’ve been here for 12 years.  Shouldn’t some of them know my name by now?  I’m in my front yard all the time.  I talk to most everyone.  I know community policing is tough, but zipping your crown vic up and down Bancroft and stopping in at Low Cost Liquors isn’t exactly my idea of effective policing.  Hell, maybe it is.  Sorry I missed this meeting.  Would love a long chat with officer Melero.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Whose idea was the gag rule anyway?  Wengraf?  Meehan?  Having time limits is fine, but that written questions only thing was lame.  In hindsight, I guess restricting free speech was a harbinger of what was still to come that night.

  • joan winnek

    Doesn’t sound good.

  • Bertissimo

    Looks like there’s a meeting at BYA coming up in monday

  • BHills

    Here is a snippet from an email message from Susan Wengraf summarizing the meeting.  It explains who decided to silence the attendees.  Note the calculation of dissent in the meeting.  Italics hers.

    meeting was attended by more than 200 people.  Despite what was reported
    in the news, 97% of the meeting was very calm and respectful.  At the
    start of the meeting there were two or three angry attendees who opposed
    the process that I suggested, but their protests lasted no longer than
    three minutes, and for the remaining 90 minutes, people listened
    attentively to the presentations and to the questions and answers. 

  • BHills

    This app got rid of the italics of which the entire message was comprised.

  • The Sharkey

     So it sounds like the gag rule was Wengraf’s idea.

    I don’t like it, but at least she’s owning the decision.

  • bgal4

    Michael Meehan will be protected by CM, Mayor and City council, this is a given.
    These are the same people who have never asked a single tough or curious question during  the quarterly crime reports ( which have never happened quarterly).

    UCR data is not useful for intra-departmental comparisons, such as comparing year to year Berkeley trends.It is only useful  in comparing crime rates between different jurisdictions, such as between cities of similar size/populations.  URC data relies on a stale, 1940’s standard and  is the lowest common denominator  for statistical crime reporting. This data is only useful as a starting point and in no way supports community policing or operations.

    The city spent millions on a new police record management system and hired a crime analyst. Hopefully they are making use of this expanded capacity internally.

    But It is time for some sunshine, the public deserves to be much better informed, educated and engaged in public safety matters.

  • Chris

    There are always WSB and H20 guys hanging out around the SE corner of BYA and on Bonar.

    Would it be an improvement if the dead end of Allston Way, where it meets Strawberry Creek Park, could be turned into part of the park? Maybe it’d be easier to keep people out of there after dark, when the park is closed. Maybe I’m missing something… 

  • bgal4

    Progress towards crime reductions may or may not happen unless the community owns the process and is control of their meetings.

  • erik58

    “There are two rival gangs who rendezvous at the Bonar apartments” If this is true the police should crack down on them. Hard.