Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

Friends mourn loss of 19-year-old gunned down in Berkeley

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The day after Ignacio Francis Jr., also known as Greg or ‘lil G’, was gunned down while standing with a group in the 1800 block of Fairview Street, his friends paid their respects at the site of his death.

A group of about 20 people, mostly in their early 20s, gathered Friday afternoon at the intersection of Fairview and Harper to light candles, make wax initials on the sidewalk, and write lil G’s name on a pole to convey how sad they felt that the 19-year-old Berkeley man was killed.

“He was a good friend, he was always there for us,” said Greg Symons Jr., 24, who knew Francis for about a year. “He was a good person. He was not a street person.”

Other friends of Francis’ also said that he had not been mixed up in gang behavior, but was an innocent who was shot on the street.

“The dude didn’t do anything,” said a 20-year-old man who didn’t want his name used but who attended Berkeley Technology Academy with Francis. He said Berkeleyside could refer to him as Wallace. “Violence is everywhere. A bullet has no name on it. I have had too many people killed.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school district places teacher Yvette Felarca on administrative leave

yvette felarci featured
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The Berkeley Unified School District has placed Yvette Felarca, a Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School teacher who is also a controversial anti-racist activist, on administrative leave “pending an investigation into concerns that have been raised.”

Felarca was placed on leave Wednesday, according to Charles Burress, district spokesman, who declined to be more specific because it was a personnel matter.

But Felarca and members of a group in which she serves as a political organizer, BAMN, or By Any Means Necessary, said the investigation is connected to her actions at a counter-protest against white supremacists in Sacramento on June 26. A television station filmed Felarca taunting and hitting a neo-Nazi attending the rally led by the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist extremist group. Felarca, along with a number of others, was injured in the confrontation. Film clips show her with a head wound.   … Continue reading »

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EBMUD delivers pipes to Panoramic Hill via helicopter

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District has hired a helicopter to lift about 2,500 feet of pipe into the Panoramic Way neighborhood.

The red helicopter started lifting the pipe around 10 a.m. and will complete its task around 2 p.m., according to EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook.

The roads leading up Panoramic Hill are so windy that trucks could not carry the 40-foot-long lengths of pipe, she said. EBMUD has cut some of pipe in half, but even getting that length up the roads is a challenge, she said. … Continue reading »

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More details emerge about carjacking on Friday

A suspected carjacker crashed this stolen car into a house on Sixth Street, then fled on foot to the railroad tracks, where he was arrested. Photo: Berkeley Police
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Berkeley police have arrested 22-year-old Theodis Evans in connection with the carjacking and crash on Friday that slowed down Amtrak train traffic.

According to police, Evans allegedly commandeered the car of a man parked near the North Berkeley BART station around 12:06 p.m. He allegedly approached a man sitting in his car, punched him, opened the door, and pulled him out of the car, according to Lt. Kevin Schofield. … Continue reading »

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2 feuding groups go on shooting spree through West Berkeley

After occupants in two cars raced through the streets of Berkeley shooting at one another, this car crashed. Photo: Chris Greacen
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This article has been updated since its initial publication.

Occupants of two cars racing through Berkeley shot at one another over a six-block area Friday night before one of the cars crashed and the other sped off.

A 17-year old boy was shot in the face during the incident – the second time he had been shot in seven months, according to Lt. Kevin Schofield of the Berkeley Police Department. The 17-year-old was one of three teenagers wounded Feb. 16 when shots were fired into a car they were sitting in on the 1100 block of Parker St., near San Pablo Avenue, he said.

The shooting Friday night and the February shootings are most likely connected, said Schofield.

“It stems from an ongoing conflict between two groups,” he said. He did not know from which cities the groups were based. Detectives are still trying to determine the motive.

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Willard Middle School at 100: Film captures memories

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Willard Middle School is getting ready to celebrate its centennial this year. Former students, staff, and parents are planning a huge gathering for Sunday, Oct. 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

As part of the celebration, Berkeley filmmaker Kim Aronson has made a 19-minute film that features 13 current and former Willard students reminiscing about their time there. Starting with Paul Grundland, a 1939 graduate, and continuing to Nakalia, who will graduate in 2017, the film highlights some enduring memories and the cultural context in which students attended the school at 2435 Stuart St. Check out a timeline of the school.

Some highlights:

Harold Hayashi attended Williard in 1941 and half of 1942 – when he and his family were sent to internment camps. He remembers how Willard teachers (unknowingly) helped prepare him for the three years he spent at the Topaz internment camp.

Jane Wallace talks about how the entire school watched the Richard Nixon – John F. Kennedy presidential debate in 1960 on small screen, black and white television sets. The occasion felt monumental, she said. … Continue reading »

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Man who threatened family and Berkeley police surrenders after a three-hour standoff

A man who threatened to harm his mother and brother surrendered to police Monday after a three-hour standoff. He lived in the 1500 block of Prince St.
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Berkeley police spent three hours Monday negotiating with a man who had locked himself in his family’s apartment in the 1500 block of Prince Street after threatening to kill officers and harm his mother and brother.

The subject eventually surrendered and he was taken to a medical facility on an emergency psychiatric hold, according to police. Charges may be pending, according to a Berkeley Police Department Nixle alert.

Police received a 911 call at 10:22 a.m. from the mother of the subject. “The reporting party stated she locked herself in the bedroom because her 34-year old son had been smoking drugs and that he was making threats towards her and her older son,” according to police. … Continue reading »

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Fire downtown in structure on Shattuck and University

Firefighters are battling a blaze at University and Shattuck Avenues.
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Update: 8:30 p.m. A Berkeley firefighter received minor injuries in the two-alarm fire that broke out at 3:43 p.m. in a rear courtyard stacked with wooden pallets directly behind UC Theatre’s small space at 2115 University Ave., according to Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken.

The fire, which sent black smoke billowing above downtown Berkeley, mostly damaged some old attached shed structures, she said. A small part of the building’s interior was also damaged. The building has the address 2113 and 2111 University Ave.

Update: 5:35 p.m. Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the fire department has extinguished most of the blaze, but there are hidden pockets of fire in the walls and ceilings which firefighters are chasing. The five-story apartment building next door, at 2119 University Ave., has been evacuated. The offices for UC Theatre and the vacant Krishna Copy store have been affected by the blaze. University Avenue is closed from Shattuck to Oxford, she said. … Continue reading »

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Juvenile shot in the face in West Berkeley

Police inspect a vehicle at the scene of a shooting at 9th and Pardee streets, in Berkeley, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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An unidentified juvenile was shot in the face in West Berkeley around 10: 10 p.m. after the car he was riding in sped through town, according to Lt. Alyson Hart of the Berkeley Police Department.

Police got a report of a car speeding on Ninth and Allston Way, and that call was quickly followed by other reports of a car speeding south.

Police found a crashed silver car at Ninth and Pardee streets near Acme Bakery. Officers found the  juvenile outside the car. He had been shot in the face, said Hart. His injuries were not life-threatening and he was taken to Highland Hospital, she said.

Berkeleyside initially reported – based on unconfirmed scanner reports – that a second gunshot victim was found at Vital Vittles at 2810 San Pablo Ave. Lt. Hart said that was incorrect; there was only one person shot on Friday. … Continue reading »

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Man suspected of carjacking crashes into house; flees towards oncoming train

A suspected carjacker crashed this stolen car into a house on Sixth Street, then fled on foot to the railroad tracks, where he was arrested. Photo: Berkeley Police
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Berkeley police have arrested a man who allegedly carjacked a car from the North Berkeley BART station, raced through Berkeley, crashed the car into a house in the 1500 block of Sixth St. near Jones Street and tried to escape onto the train tracks while a train approached.

One Berkeley police officer was injured when the suspect got into a fight with police, according to Lt. Andrew Rateaver. The suspect was also taken to the hospital, although it is unclear … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Terri Friedman: Yarn Painting, 2016 (detail); acrylic, wool, and cotton fibers; dimensions variable; courtesy of the artist.
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FILMS ABOUT COURAGE AND THE OUTDOORS – Yeti is a manufacturer of ice chests, drinkware, T-shirt, caps and other gear. It also produces a roving mini-film festival of movies highlighting courageousness and the outdoors. On Friday, Sept. 16, Yeti will present “Stories from the Wild Film Tour” at Freight & Salvage. Tickets for the evening cost $10 and include beer, BBQ, and a raffle ticket, with all of the money going directly to American Rivers.  According to Gear Junkie, the films include Charged, “which shows the incredible survival story of chef and outdoorsman Eduardo Garcia.” Cosmo documents the story of a fishing guide in the remote waters of the Seychelles. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.; films begin at 7:00 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Fire Department responds to small fire on Durant

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to an apartment fire Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a call of a structure fire in an unoccupied apartment building at 2631 Durant Ave. around 5 a.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken.

No injuries were reported, she said, and the fire was extinguished in just a few minutes. The fire began on the outside of a building and then made its way inside. The fire department is investigating the cause, particularly whether it was linked to an encampment of people experiencing … Continue reading »

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With Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich endorsements, Berkeley mayor’s race goes national

Mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín butted heads Tuesday night over the minimum wage proposal. Photos: Mark Coplan
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National politics have entered the Berkeley mayor’s race.

On Sept. 8, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the former Democratic Party presidential candidate, endorsed Jesse Arreguín for mayor of Berkeley, one of 100 local candidates Sanders endorsed around the country.

Today, Robert Reich, a former U.S. Labor Secretary and a UC Berkeley professor, endorsed Laurie Capitelli, calling him “a serious progressive.”

Whether the high-profile endorsements matter in the competitive mayor’s race remains to be seen. Mayor Tom Bates is retiring after 14 years in office and eight people are vying to replace him. In addition to Arreguín and Capitelli, who are both city council members, City Councilman Kriss Worthington is running. So are Ben Gould, a UC Berkeley graduate student, Bernt Wahl, the executive director of Brain Machine Consortium, Guy “Mike” Lee, a homeless activist, Naomi Pete and Zachary Running Wolf, a longtime Berkeley activist. … Continue reading »

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