The lowdown: Council on Berkeley protests and police relations, zoning board appeals

Protesters against police brutality march down Center Street, toward the police station in Berkeley, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Tuesday was the fourth night in a row that demonstrators took to the streets in Berkeley to protest the recent decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City to not indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. Photo: David Yee
Protesters against police brutality march down Center Street, toward the police station in Berkeley, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Tuesday was the fourth night in a row that demonstrators took to the streets in Berkeley to protest the recent decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City to not indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. Photo: David Yee

The Berkeley City Council will meet twice this week, once Tuesday for a special meeting on several zoning board appeals, and also Saturday for a special meeting to discuss community relations with police after protests that wracked the city in December. There are a number of additional community events and council decisions coming later this month related to the protests. Scroll down for details.

Berkeley meeting: Jan. 13

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. and has just three action items, as well as a consent calendar item related to council seating arrangements. The action items relate to zoning board appeals about 2401 Warring St., and companion projects at 2201-2205 Blake St. and 2204 Dwight Way. Staff recommends the issuance of a use permit in the first case, and denials of permits in the other cases. (All three decisions would uphold prior zoning board votes.) Most of the letters submitted to council (online here and here) relate to the companion projects — which their critics describe as a mini-dorm — and are in opposition. A representative for project owner Nathan George has asked council to overturn the zoning board decisions, describes the companion projects as sensitive to the neighborhood, and disputes their characterization as problem properties (page 3).

The meeting is set to adjourn in memory of philanthropist Alba Witkin, who died in December, and former Cheese Board member Frieda Dilloo, who died in November. A memorial for Dilloo is scheduled for Jan. 18 at The Crowden School.

Berkeley protests meeting: Jan. 17

Berkeley continues to deal with the aftermath of protests in December related to the non-indictments of police officers involved with the fatalities of men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. The city’s Peace & Justice Commission met Monday for an open forum about race issues and policing. This Saturday, council will meet to discuss next steps. Monday, Covenant Worship Center is holding a “Black Lives Matter” discussion. And, on Jan. 20, Councilman Jesse Arreguín has placed three items related to Ferguson and local police conduct on council’s agenda. That same night, Councilman Darryl Moore has an item on the agenda asking the city manager to look deeper at whether Berkeley police should be required to use vehicle dashboard and body cameras.


Monday, the Peace & Justice Commission held a public forum to discuss, in part, a proposal related to race and policing that it intends to bring to council. (Update, Jan. 14: See those recommendations here.)

Saturday, council is set to meet at 10 a.m. at the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St., to “Discuss possible ways to improve community and police relations and addressing our response to what occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and beyond that will result in positive steps the City Council can pursue.” The meeting is set to include public comment, two panel discussions and council discussion, which is to be followed by additional public comment. See the meeting agenda.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson have been invited to participate in one of the panel discussions, but council did not indicate whether those representatives plan to attend.

[Update, Jan. 15: The mayor’s office said one panel will include John Powell, a UC Berkeley professor of law and director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society; Jack Glaser, a UC Berkeley professor and author of the recently published book "Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling”; Sheila Quintana, principal of Berkeley’s alternative high school, Berkeley Technology Academy; and Jinho "The Piper” Ferreira, Alameda County sheriff’s deputy and a writer and performer in a solo show called "Cops & Robbers.” The legislative panel is set to include Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Loni Hancock and State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond.]

In a recent email newsletter, Councilman Moore discussed the need for Saturday’s meeting: “As you are probably already well aware, there has been quite some contention over the recent grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. There has also been a great deal of controversy over the way the police responded to those incidents and their implications for community-police dynamics, race relations and a variety of other social justice issues. This is why it is important to have an open and honest dialogue about these issues to put everything on the table so that we can repair these relationships.”


Moore also alerted the community in his recent email to a #BlackLivesMatter discussion Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, organized by Covenant Worship Center at 2622 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley. The “Save Our Sons” event is set to focus on “the national epidemic of police brutality, misconduct & associated laws & legal procedures,” according to organizers. Panelists are listed as John Burris and Adante Pointer, civil rights attorneys; Paul D. Henderson, a prosecutor in San Francisco and the San Francisco mayor’s chief of staff; and Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant and a civil rights activist.

A free community dinner will take place from 2-3 p.m., with the discussion to follow from 3-5 p.m. Shuttle service from Ashby BART will be provided. Additional details are in the flier below.

"Black Lives Matter" discussion flier.
“Black Lives Matter” discussion flier.

Next Berkeley meeting: Jan. 20

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 20 with a worksession at 5:30 p.m. to include continued discussion about “Improving Police and Community Relations,” as well as the annual report on the library. The regular meeting is set to follow at 7 p.m. Highlights include a hearing on whether Forty Acres medical cannabis collective should be deemed a nuisance (see past Berkeleyside coverage), the city’s proposed new building energy saving ordinance (see past Berkeleyside coverage) and more.

Thirteen people have already submitted letters to council about the protests in December. See the full agenda.

As part of the consent calendar, Councilman Moore, along with council members Arreguín and Linda Maio, has asked for a report within three months from the city manager about the implications of requiring Berkeley Police officers to use dashboard and body cameras.


In addition, Arreguín has placed three items on the action agenda related to policing. The first item is a proposed motion for council to support national demands from the group “Ferguson Action”; push for changes in the Alameda County district attorney’s office related to the investigations of in-custody deaths; and to “Issue a statement of concern and support for people of color and their families who have been affected by injury or death by law enforcement agencies.”

The second item suggests changes to the Berkeley Police Department’s General Orders related to crowd control, mutual aid and use of force.

In the third, Arreguín calls for an independent investigation into the police response Dec. 6, when crowds were teargassed by officers, struck with police batons and hit by “less-lethal” police projectiles on Telegraph Avenue. Arreguín and Councilman Kriss Worthington previously called publicly for an investigation to be launched, but this is the first time that request appears on a council agenda.

The police department is working on its own post-incident report about the protests, which it expects to complete within the next few months.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the protests. Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.

Meeting details

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.
Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Special sessions generally take place at 5:30 p.m. and regular meetings begin at 7 p.m. Council agendas are available online here. Watch the meetings online here.

This week, council will also meet Saturday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. in the Ed Roberts Campus Atrium at 3075 Adeline St. See the agenda here.

Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow council coverage on Twitter via hashtag #berkmtg. Follow along in real-time here, and tag your tweets with #berkmtg to join in. You do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Just click here.

Council-related Twitter handles:
@MayorTomBates
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Lori Droste @loridroste (District 8)

Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.

Related:
‘Double header’ Berkeley council meetings set for Tuesday, 2 protests also planned (12.15.14)
Council on street paving, gas pump labels, cellphone warnings, Measure D panel, more (11.18.14)
Council on police partnerships, release of balloons, cellphone safety law, more (10.28.14)
Council on disaster prep, longterm parking in South Berkeley, ambulance issues, more (10.21.14)
Council on racial discrimination, Parker Place, curbside EV charging grant, more (10.07.14)
Council on homelessness, ride-sharing, minimum wage, solar bins, more (09.29.14)
Council on crime, homeless youth, Telegraph Channing merchants, more (09.15.14)
Council on civic center overlay, cellphone safety stickers, e-cigarettes, parking, more (09.08.14)
Council on South Berkeley pizza plans, e-cigarettes, water shortage, more (07.08.14)
Council on soda tax, medical cannabis, minimum wage task force, BART plaza (07.01.14)
Council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget (06.24.14)

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