Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

‘Suspicious substance’ in Berkeley turns out to be plaster

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A report of a suspicious white substance in the 1900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way closed a central Berkeley block during a short investigation that caused alarm among neighbors and passers-by Monday evening.

The Berkeley Fire Department ultimately determined that the substance was actually plaster from a resident’s home, authorities said.

Monday at 5:36 p.m., dispatchers received a call from a man who had noticed “white powder in various places around his house,” said officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman. The man had seen the material in his side yard two days prior. … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley heads to court over redistricting lines

The city has filed a lawsuit to ask a judge to decide which lines to use during November's election. (Click to learn more.)
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The city of Berkeley has filed a lawsuit against the Alameda County registrar of voters and the Berkeley city clerk to determine which district lines to use in the November 2014 election.

City officials say the lawsuit is necessary to determine district lines after a successful referendum drive by some Berkeley voters earlier this year halted the use of a new district map adopted by a 6-3 vote by the Berkeley City Council in December.

The city is required to redraw district lines every decade to rebalance the population across Berkeley’s eight council districts.

Three members of the council — Kriss Worthington (District 7), Jesse Arreguín (District 4) and Max Anderson (District 3) — have taken issue with the adopted map, primarily due to the boundaries of District 7. The district, as adopted, features a majority of student-aged voters, but detractors say it cuts out some of the most progressive members of the Cal community by failing to incorporate several blocks north and east of campus, which include co-op housing and other group living accommodations such as dorms and International House. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to launch Nixle crime alerts for phone, email

Berkeley police officer Stephen Burcham presents 10-year-old Brandon Coleman with a certificate. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The city of Berkeley is kicking off its first foray into social media communication with a six-month pilot program to let police officers send crime and safety alerts directly to the public, city staff announced Monday night.

City staff has been saying since 2011 that plans to explore social media usage, and develop a policy to govern its use, are in the works. As of this week, there’s finally something to show for it.

Beginning May 1, Berkeley Police officers will be able to use online alert network Nixle to send out a variety of information concerning anything from missing people or wanted suspects to road closures and other advisories.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko announced the pilot program to a group of about 60 community members who attended a neighborhood watch-type meeting with police Monday night. … Continue reading »

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Police arrest man after ‘violent attack’ in West Berkeley

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Police arrested a 41-year-old man after he struggled with a Berkeley Police officer, tried to take his gun and jumped into the lagoon at Aquatic Park when the officer tried to detain him, authorities said Monday.

The officer received minor injuries during the altercation, and required medical treatment, said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman.

Police initially received a call Monday at 10:30 a.m. about a man on Bolivar Drive, between Bancroft Way and Addison Street, who was trying to set a fire with some type of liquid. A caller told police the man was on his or her roof, and was pouring some type of liquid into the street and lighting it on fire, authorities said. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, 3/27-4/2

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. See recent Berkeley crime coverage here.

The following items represent just a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From March 27 to April 2, there were 13 burglary reports23 auto break-in or theft from a vehicle reports, and 10 stolen vehicle reports to the Berkeley Police Department, according to CrimeMapping.comOne robbery and eight assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries were reported. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

[Editor's Note: We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at or via Facebook or Twitter; please let us know when you write if you prefer to be anonymous.] 

Thursday, March 27

A felony assault or battery was reported at 12:08 a.m. in the 1100 block of Ward Street.

A commercial burglary was reported at 4:19 a.m. in the 1800 block of Fourth Street. … Continue reading »

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Police use gift cards, surveillance to track robber

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March 5 at 9:35 p.m., three men with a gun approached a woman on her way home in the 1500 block of Eighth Street and took her bag, police said.

Berkeley Police officers investigated, and found surveillance footage taken 20 minutes after the robbery showing a teenage girl at Target buying eight Visa gift cards with a credit card stolen during the robbery. Surveillance images also show a gold sedan in the parking lot. … Continue reading »

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Man tied to Berkeley drug sales charged with 5 felonies

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An Oakland man with 12 prior felony convictions has been charged with five more, related to drug sales and gun possession, after his arrest by the Berkeley Police Department in late March.

Arage Hayes, 51, has been charged with possession for sale of cocaine base and powder cocaine; possession of a controlled substance with a firearm — a Bryco Arms 9mm; possession of a firearm by a felon; and the obliteration of the identification number on the firearm.

According to court papers, Berkeley Police officer Christopher Bonaventure served a search warrant for Hayes at his home in the 1100 block of 24th Street in West Oakland in October.

Hayes was not home during the search, but police said they found cocaine base and powder cocaine packaged for sale, a fraudulent credit card and an unloaded pistol that had been hidden inside a jacket. The serial number of the gun had been filed off, according to court papers. … Continue reading »

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Breaking: Charges filed against 2 in Berkeley homicide

The man police believe was Berkeley's first homicide victim of 2014 lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley Police Department has arrested two people in the city’s only homicide so far this year, authorities said Wednesday.

Police have arrested Berkeley couple Kneitawnye Trishawn Sessoms, 40, and Michael Diggs, 28. Sessoms was arrested Monday, March 31, at 7 p.m., according to the Alameda County sheriff’s department. Diggs has been in custody since March 12 when he was picked up for a parole violation, according to the sheriff’s department.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office has filed murder charges against Sessoms and Diggs for the killing of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier in February, police said. Police discovered Fuselier’s body in his apartment in the 1100 block of Addison Street after getting called to check on him after concerns were reported about his whereabouts. … Continue reading »

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Man arrested after DUI car crash, hit and run in Berkeley

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A driver who crashed into several parked vehicles in North Berkeley, then fled the scene as his car burned, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and hit and run just after 9:30 Saturday morning, authorities said.

Authorities identified the driver as Geoffrey Cronin, 42, of Berkeley. Cronin was arrested last year in connection with a knife assault and police chase in Berkeley in August.

Saturday, March 29, at 8:16 a.m., Berkeley officers responded to Walnut and Cedar streets after a caller reported an injury accident involving the driver and a parked vehicle, said Berkeley Police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats, via email. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley officials: Social media ‘critical’ for transparency

Councilmen Gordon Wozniak and Jesse Arreguín are pushing for more transparency from Berkeley's city manager. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two members of the Berkeley City Council are pushing the city manager to come up with a concrete plan about how city staff will use social media, via a consent calendar item on Tuesday night’s council agenda.

City staff said in February that a social media policy is in the works. Berkeleyside took a look at the issue that month to follow up on promises from the city in 2011 that the social media policy was in development.

Councilmen Jesse Arreguín and Gordon Wozniak cited Berkeleyside’s article in their April 1 agenda item, in which they direct city manager Christine Daniel to make a report to council on staff efforts to create the policy, and come up with a plan for the use of social media by city departments.

Arreguín and Wozniak said it is “critical” for the city to “move ahead in adopting a social media policy and implementing the use of social media by the Berkeley Police Department, Public Works and other city departments,” particularly because the city is a university town with a large number of residents who use social media “as a primary means of communication.” … Continue reading »

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The Low Down: Berkeley council on minimum wage increase, mini-dorms, ballot measures, more

Berkeley City Council, Oct. 16, 2012. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On April 1, the Berkeley City Council will take a new look at raising the minimum wage, rules governing mini-dorms, and changes to AC Transit’s Line 51 bus route. There’s also a special session at 5:30 p.m. to discuss survey results related to ballot measures under consideration for the November 2014 election.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and weigh in about meeting coverage, even if you can’t attend in person. … Continue reading »

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Nosh on the town: Duende in Uptown Oakland

Duende in Oakland. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Come along with Nosh as we explore the East Bay food scene in photographs. This week we focus on Duende in Uptown Oakland.

Ever since Duende opened in January 2013, the restaurant has drawn crowds and won acclaim for its stylish digs, creative menu and professional service. Paul Canales, husband of Ici Ice Cream-owner Mary Canales, has created an impressive menu featuring small plates and Spanish food. Next door, diners can enjoy coffee, churros and a more limited menu during the day at a small, but beautifully appointed, bodega, which also features a selection of olive oils for purchase. (The bodega recently added lunch to its offerings.) Paul Caneles’ name is likely familiar to many East Bay diners for his 15 years at Oliveto restaurant on College Avenue, where he started as an intern and ended as executive chef. Upstairs at Duende, Canales has teamed up with Rocco Somazzi to bring an eclectic mix of musicians to an intimate performance space. Read more about Duende on Nosh.

Duende Restaurant & Bodega is located at 468 19th St. in Oakland. If you’ve sampled the spots we feature, please let us know about your experience in the comments below. (Photographs by Emilie Raguso.) … Continue reading »

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Alleged murder plot hearing set to end this week

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Update, April 1, 4 p.m. Judge Vernon Nakahara scheduled a decision in the matter for April 9 at 4 p.m.

Original story, April 1: A hearing to determine whether the prosecution has made its case against four men alleged to have conspired to kill a man who posted disrespectful videos and pictures online is set to wrap up in Alameda County Superior Court this week.

Tuesday morning, closing arguments are scheduled to begin at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in downtown Oakland in the case against 27-year-old Joseph Carroll Jr.; Emando Roos, 36; Travon Wilson, 28; and Joseph Connors, 28. All four men, along with two alleged victims identified in the investigation, grew up in Berkeley, according to testimony last week.

Alameda County deputy district attorney Luis Marin has argued that Carroll tried to coordinate two acts of violence against one of the intended victims in Oakland last September. Carroll was in Texas at the time of the alleged attack plans, but authorities had tapped his phone lines as part of a high-profile murder investigation involving an 8-year-old girl who was gunned down at a sleepover last July.

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