After protests, Berkeley City Council meeting canceled; more demonstrations planned Tuesday night

Old City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Old City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting has been canceled due to capacity issues, the mayor’s office has announced, but protests are still expected to take place.

The announcement came Tuesday after three nights of lengthy demonstrations throughout town about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the role race and policing played in those fatal interactions.

Protesters had announced plans to take over Berkeley’s Old City Hall during Tuesday night’s council meeting as part of a continuing effort to disrupt the status quo.

The mayor’s office released the following notice at 12:22 p.m.: “The regular Berkeley City Council meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. tonight, December 9, has been postponed, as well as the special Work Session scheduled for 5:30 p.m. this evening. The Council Chambers can hold about 125 people, and we understand substantially more people are interested in attending the meeting due to recent events in Berkeley. We want to ensure that the community has as much access as possible to public meetings. The Agenda for the December 9 meeting will be rescheduled for a future date and public notice will be given prior to that meeting. A notice of meeting cancellation will be issued by the City Clerk and publicly posted. We apologize for any inconvenience.”


[Update, 4:35 p.m. Two council members, Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington, said they will be at the Old City Hall steps tonight, and are looking into the legality of the meeting cancellation. Scroll down for details.]

Since Saturday, demonstrators have marched through the streets of Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville, disrupting traffic on roads and freeways. Authorities said the crowd numbered approximately 2,000 people Monday night.

Though many have espoused a desire to keep the protests peaceful, some leaders in the group have  encouraged more aggressive tactics, and at least a dozen participants caused extensive damage in Berkeley on Sunday night, lighting trashcan fires, breaking windows to many local businesses and, in some cases, turning violent on anyone who tried to stop them.

The call was put out early Sunday morning on the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center website for a “critical mass” of protesters to turn out in Berkeley on Tuesday night.

According to that notice, which was posted in response to the use by police of tear gas and rubber bullets to control the crowd Saturday night, the “Tuesday city council meeting must be shut down. City government needs to be brought to a halt.”

The message also calls for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to step down: “In response to the tear-gassing of Telegraph Ave and the People’s Park area, Mayor Bates must resign. Bates resignation must be requested during the city council meeting of Dec 9th. It needs to be made clear that Bates political career is over; he does not represent Berkeley.”

The notice continued: “Shut down Berkeley city government. The police are waging war on the populous. If Bates won’t protect citizens from the police, then there needs to be mayor who will.”


The notice, which did not indicate who had posted it, also called for the city to fire Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, adding, “The dissolution of trust has been too great. The system is corrupt. Shut it down.”

Berkeley High School put out the following notice at 11:35 a.m.

Dear Community,

We are aware that protests are organized for this evening at the Berkeley City Council Chambers, across the street at Allston and Milvia. The meeting begins at 5:30 and we’re expecting crowds to gather near Berkeley High about 4:30.

After school activities will continue. However, we are strongly recommending that students who are not involved in a supervised and sanctioned BHS after school program leave campus right after dismissal. Meetings will be postponed wherever possible.

Before the school day ends, we will close and monitor Allston gates and reroute student traffic to exits on the Milvia and MLK gates; parents are encouraged to consider alternative pick-up routes on the south perimeter of campus along Channing Way between Milvia and MLK, or consider arranging pick-up further north or south of the campus to avoid what almost certainly will be heavy traffic congestion on Shattuck, and all around the perimeter of the campus.


We are also adding additional security staff through the evening.

Kristin Glenchur
Principal, Berkeley High School

Two council members will be at Old City Hall steps tonight

Councilman Jesse Arreguín released the following statement shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. Both men attended Monday night’s demonstration. Arreguín said, too, that he is unsure of the legality of the cancellation of Tuesday night’s council meeting, and will investigation that with the city manager and mayor. Berkeleyside has sent several related questions to the city manager’s office to get clarification on the process by which the meeting was canceled. Arreguin’s statement appears below in full.

Thank you all for reaching out to me regarding the recent protests of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and police brutality in general.

I am personally outraged over these killings and strongly support overall goal of these protests which is to raise awareness of the inequities in our criminal justice system and to make it clear that black lives matter. I have participated in these protests over the last two days to show my solidarity for this movement. However, as the Councilmember for the Downtown, I am concerned over incidents of vandalism and violence by a small fringe segment of these protests whose goal is confrontation and damage not advancing the broader movement.

I understand that these protests have elicited a wide range of feelings on all sides, which is why even though the Mayor has cancelled tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilmember Kriss Worthington and I will be on the steps of Old City Hall (2134 MLK) tonight at 7 pm to hear from the protestors and from residents about their views.

Hopefully through non-violent action and through dialogue we can heal as a community and a country, and make positive change to prevent these incidents of police brutality from happening in the future.

More protests planned Tuesday night

The Downtown Berkeley Assocation issued the following statement at 3 p.m., and said additional protests are planned for tonight.

Additional protests are planned for this evening at 7pm in Civic Center Park behind City Hall on MLK Jr. Way between Allston and Center. Originally protesters planned to shut down the City Council meeting across the street at Old City Hall. Mayor Bates this afternoon postponed the Council meeting, and the protesters moved their gathering spot across the street to the park.

We do not know the protester plans for this evening once they meet in Civic Center Park. We hope if they march in the Downtown that it will be peaceful as it was last night. In preparation we advise you again to bring inside all outside objects that could be used as projectiles (signage, chairs, tables, trash receptacles) and be prepared to close your business if events become unruly. In particular, please be sure to take in all trash bins, and wait to bring out until tomorrow morning. We want to avoid any trash fires or misuse of bins.

If you have customers coming into the Downtown this evening we suggest they avoid the area around Civic Center Park, bordered by MLK Jr. Way, Allston, and Center St. As far as we know, all parking garages will be open this evening.

In the event of violence or destruction of property please call Berkeley Police at 911 or 981-5911 from a cellphone.

Also, you can follow police advisories at https://local.nixle.com/city/ca/berkeley/. You also might want to stay tuned in to Berkeley emergency radio at 1610 AM.

We appreciate your understanding and patience during this difficult period. Please do not hesitate to contact Lance Gorée our Operations Manager at extension 13, or John Caner our CEO at extension 12 if you have any questions.

John Caner
CEO
Downtown Berkeley Association

Via UC Berkeley: More protests expected tonight

The University of California, Berkeley also has released a statement about demonstration-related activities planned Tuesday night.

Dear Campus Community:

In the context of continuing, off-campus protests, our primary concerns remains the campus community’s safety. In this message, we want to provide you with updated information and guidance.

We have just received information that indicates demonstrators plan to hold more rallies this evening, one which could begin on or very close to campus, at around 5 p.m., and another scheduled for downtown at 7 p.m. Given the impact that this may have on surrounding streets, you may want to avoid the south side of campus, if possible.

Given the different groups involved and their lack of recognizable leadership, there remains an unavoidable degree of uncertainty. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and communicate information as quickly as we can.

UCPD is working closely with members of the campus community and wants to hear from you. If you encounter something that seems unsafe, please report it to UCPD CalTIP by sending an email to cal@tipnow.com, calling 510-664-8477 or by dialing 911. Additional campus safety resources, including guidelines on how to protest safely, are available on the UCPD website.

By working together and engaging in a constructive debate on these important issues, we can foster an environment in which all members of our campus community feel safe and have their voices heard.

Sincerely,

John Wilton
Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance

Berkeleyside will continue to follow the story and may update this post as more information becomes available.

Related:
CHP arrest 150 protesters after they block I-80 freeway (12.09.14)
City told police to use restraint, avoid tear gas, on second night of protests (12.08.14)
Photo Gallery: Two nights of protests, riots in Berkeley (12.08.14)
Pastor: Brown’s death was the final straw that galvanized communities across the nation (12.08.14)
Protesters take to streets for second night: violence, vandalism of local businesses, looting (12.07.14)
Ferguson demo: injuries reported, tear gas used, property vandalized; arrests (12.06.14)

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