Berkeleyside’s biggest stories of 2017: From ‘Battles of Berkeley’ to hot dog blow-ups

In a year filled with hate and bigotry, Berkeley came out on Aug. 27 to stand united against both. Photo: Nathan Phillips

This was the year the term “Battle of Berkeley” was coined. Not that the city hasn’t seen more than its share of protests over the decades, but the political clashes of 2017 can be traced directly back to the election of the 45th President of the United States.

Many times this year, far-right nationalists came to town intent, they said, on defending their right to free speech. They were, met, on several occasions, by counter protesters acting under the antifa, or anti-fascist, umbrella. The results were rarely pretty.

Worthy of note, however, was the peaceful Aug. 27 demonstration attended by thousands of local residents keen to promote tolerance over hate. And, if one message came over loud and clear this year, it was “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate,” seen on posters in the windows of homes and businesses all over the city.

Berkeleyside reporters were present at each and every demonstration this year. Our coverage was read and picked up widely — including by far-right media like Breitbart and Drudge Report, which inevitably pushed our pageviews sky high. Also disseminated widely was our coverage of Berkeley school teacher Yvette Felarca who made many headlines for her part in protests, both in Berkeley and elsewhere.

Hot dogs, strangely, featured in two of our biggest stories of the year (see below).

Crime and food were our two most popular categories. In the case of the former, our top-read stories included several about Eric Clanton, a former Diablo Valley College philosophy professor charged with attacking four people with a bike lock at an April rally in Berkeley.

Two sad stories made waves: the death of a couple and their cats in their Berkeley home, and the murder of 27-year-old Berkeley resident Emilie Inman.

As for food- and drink-related coverage, popular stories included the return (finally!) of the huge salads with poppy-seed dressing at a rebuilt (Inter)Mezzo on Telegraph; the opening in downtown Berkeley of cult ramen restaurant Ippudo; the rise of “fast-casual” eating; an enduring love for local fare, including from craft breweries; and the death in February of Bette Kroening, co-founder of Bette’s Oceanview Diner. Don’t miss our round-up of the top Nosh stories of 2017.

There were also wildfires to contend with: the devastating ones in the North Bay, of course, which impacted the air quality locally, but also, in August, one in the East Bay hills that, it turned out, was set deliberately.

But it wasn’t all gloom and doom. Also included below is coverage that put smiles on faces.

Here are some of the Berkeleyside stories and videos that proved most popular in 2017:

Berkeley author George Lakoff says, ‘Don’t underestimate Trump’

Photo: Pete Rosos

George Lakoff was interviewed by Daphne White for a Berkeleyside article in May, which garnered the most pageviews of any of our stories this year. White also interviewed Lakoff live at Berkeleyside’s fifth Uncharted: Berkeley Festival of Ideas in October.

Employee leaves Top Dog after being outed at white nationalist rally

After he was exposed for attending the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August which resulted in one death and many injuries, Cole White left his job at popular Berkeley restaurant Top Dog.

Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

What happened after a police officer ticketed and seized cash of hot dog vendor

Photo: Courtesy of Martin Flores

In September, a UC Police officer ticketed hot dog vendor Martin Flores who was selling his wares outside a Cal football game. The officer also seized the $60 that was in his wallet. Video of the incident went viral. UC Berkeley launched an investigation and a campaign raised over $90,000 for Flores.

Video: Berkeley firefighters arrive in Santa Rosa, encounter devastation

In October, Mike Shuken of the Berkeley Fire Department sent Berkeleyside a dramatic video showing Berkeley Fire Engine 6 arriving before daybreak in Santa Rosa after being dispatched to help with an incident called the Tubbs Fire. The crew had no idea what to expect. It was our most watched video of the year and widely picked up by other media after it appeared on Berkeleyside.

Thousands knit pink pussy hats to wear at Trump marches

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel was among the first to report on the Pussyhat Project. Launched by two women in Los Angeles, the big “F … you” of sorts to Trump and the values he espouses, was embraced by thousands, including many in the East Bay.

Crews respond to wildfires in the East Bay hills

In August, a fire that started in Tilden and spread to 20 acres required a response from multiple fire departments, as well as the partial evacuation of Berkeley Lab. It turned out to be a case of arson as a man lit a fire on Grizzly Peak after a road-rage incident.

Nosh’s Handmade East Bay video series shows us how it’s done

Nosh launched a new video series, by contributor Melati Citrawireja, this year called Handmade East Bay. The beautiful short films show the masters making bread at Morrel’s, sushi at Delage, Highwire cappuccinos, fresh noodles at Shan Dong (above), and a Local Butcher Shop order for Chez Panisse.,

With ‘human chain’ Berkeley High shows unity on DACA

Photo: Pete Rosos

Demonstrating an ability to go high when others go low, in September, hundreds of students from Berkeley High linked arms and encircled the entire campus, showing solidarity with those affected by the potential end of the Obama-era DACA program protecting young immigrants from deportation.

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