Berkeley homeless encampment at Old City Hall packs up under city orders

Dismantling Liberty camp on Friday Dec. 4. Photo Jay Rooney
Liberty camp on Friday, Dec. 4. Photo Jay Rooney

Update: Three arrests were made while the encampment was packing up, according to Berkeley city spokesman Matthai Chakko. Chakko said he expected all three to be cited and released today.

Three truck-loads of belongings associated with the camp were removed by the city, he said, and services were offered to the campers.

Campers were told where they could collect their belongings, Chakko said. City workers arrived at the camp at 7:30 a.m. and the camp was all cleared out by 10:30 a.m.

By noon the city had erected a temporary fence around the space where the encampment had been. A sign on the fence reads: “Lawn are under renovation. Please keep out. Thanks for your patience. City of Berkeley Parks.”


According to Ted Friedman who was on scene, some of the campers have moved across the street to Civic Center Park.

View a gallery of photos of the eviction taken by Ted Friedman.

Fence. Photo: Jay Rooney
A fence erected by the city after a homeless camp in front of Old City Hall packed up. Photo: Jay Rooney

Original story: Berkeley city workers ousted the homeless encampment at Old City Hall on Friday morning, asking those gathered there to remove their tents, possessions and gear.

Most of the 50 people camping out complied with the request, said Matthai Chakko, city spokesman. City workers approached the group of people who called themselves “Liberty City.”

Police were on standby, he said. Berkeley Police Capt. Andy Greenwood told Berkeleyside that officers cited one woman for not cooperating. At around 9:30 a.m there were only two tents left, according to Chakko.


The action came after Berkeley officials had issued four eviction notices. Berkeley police observed the action, while the encampment was dismantled.

“We were very concerned about health and safety issues,” said Chakko. “There were feces, urine and needles at the camp, conditions were deteriorating. It wasn’t safe for either the people camping or neighbors. Neighbors had complained about noise and trash.”

Chakko’s description of the encampment differs from the type of occupation its founders envisioned.

Mike Zint, who called for the homeless to flock to the building to protest new homeless laws passed recently by the City Council, said it was a drug-free, alcohol- free space. The group had policed itself and had evicted drug addicts who used needles.

On Thursday, Berkeley police arrested Jerry Emanuel Ziegler on suspicion of assault with a deadly for allegedly stabbing someone in the leg at the encampment.


Eviction of homeless protest encampment outside Berkeley's Old City Hall on Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
Eviction of homeless protest encampment outside Berkeley’s Old City Hall on Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman

Chakko said the city had been offering the roughly 50 people who lived at the encampment food and shelter the past two weeks, but they did not seem to be interested, he said. Berkeley’s winter shelter was only half full Thursday night, he said.

Zint told Berkeleyside he had hoped to show city officials and Berkeley residents that the homeless could take care of themselves, if given the space and opportunity.

Zint could not be reached for comment, but on the First They Came for the Homeless Facebook page, which is chronicling the occupation, Zint wrote, at around 9:30 a.m.: “They are throwing away homeless peoples possessions. We have less then nothing now. They took our right to live.”

Members of the public near the encampment sent out some tweets.

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Old City Hall encampment

 Eviction of homeless protest encampment outside Berkeley's Old City Hall on Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
Mike Zint, a leader of the occupation outside Berkeley’s Old City Hall was detained by police. Photo: Ted Friedman
Eviction of homeless encampment, Dec. 4, 2015 Photo: Ted Friedman
Eviction of homeless encampment Friday, Dec. 4. Photo: Ted Friedman
Eviction of homeless protest encampment outside Berkeley's Old City Hall on Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
Eviction of homeless protest encampment outside Berkeley’s Old City Hall on Friday, Dec. 4. Photo: Ted Friedman

This story was updated after publication with new information.

Related:
Berkeley police make arrest after homeless camp stabbing (12.03.15)
Homeless man arrested after daytime robbery, attempted rape of UC Berkeley student (12.03.15)
Berkeley council enacts street behavior regulations (12.02.15)
Council on affordable housing, PRC protest report, homeless services, protest march (12.01.15)
Berkeley orders new homeless tent city to disband (11.25.15)

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