Author Archives: Natalie Orenstein

After Berkeley protests: Local merchants react to damage, looting at their businesses

Boarded up McDonald's Kim Aronson
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Berkeley’s major commercial districts are awash with plywood — some of it covers broken glass, some has been erected as a preventive measure to protect vulnerable windows.

Many of the protests that have taken over Berkeley streets this month, in response to police-involved killings of unarmed black men, have remained peaceful. Others have culminated in smashed storefronts and blazing trashcans.

Merchants’ reactions to the destruction run the gamut from patience and praise of the peaceful majority, to criticism of the hands-off approach taken by the Berkeley police Sunday, Dec. 7, the night local businesses sustained the most significant damage. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union leads peaceful protest march from campus to Oakland

12.13 protest photo laurie kahn
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Despite being shaken by the appearance of effigies hanging from nooses on campus Saturday morning, UC Berkeley Black Student Union (BSU) leaders said they didn’t want that incident to affect their planned march against police killings of black people. Approximately 300 protesters met at Sproul Plaza at noon and, over the course of nearly three hours, marched to downtown Oakland to join forces with the larger “Millions March” demonstration that had gathered there.

Read more of Berkeleyside’s Berkeley protest coverage.

The march was calm, with the crowd following orders and cues from the BSU organizers in the front. Led by a car, the protesters walked up Bancroft Way to College Avenue, headed south, paused for about 20 minutes to occupy the intersection of College and Ashby avenues, and eventually continued onto Broadway. Police instructed the car to turn off College before entering Oakland. … Continue reading »

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

Student volunteers serve low-income and homeless residents at the 2013 Holiday Meal. Photo courtesy of BUSD
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HOLIDAY MEAL Each year, dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of student volunteers come to school on a Saturday to serve the community’s homeless and low-income families a hot meal. With Bay Area housing in crisis, plenty of people could use the extra plate of food and holiday cheer this year. The annual Berkeley High Holiday Meal is Saturday, Dec. 13, and there’s still time to help. The event depends on donations — of food, funds, clothes, books, and toys. In past years they’ve collected thousands of pounds of canned goods. Fresh food donations will also be happily accepted on Friday, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the main entrance to BHS on Milvia and Allston. Tax-deductible monetary donations are accepted in cash or as checks written to “BHS Student Activities” with “Holiday Meal” in the memo line. Email John Villavicencio johnvillavicencio@berkeley.net or (510) 644-8990 with questions. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Pastor Michael McBride: Brown’s death was the final straw that galvanized communities across the nation

Pastor Mike McBride
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Some people, angered by events in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY, take their protests to the streets in Berkeley. Others fly across the country to where the outrage began.

Pastor Michael McBride, who founded the progressive Way Christian Center congregation on University Avenue, recently returned from Ferguson. McBride has gained some national prominence as the leader of Live Free, a nationwide, faith-based campaign against gun violence and mass incarceration. Along with other members of Live Free, McBride has spent about half of his time in Ferguson since Michael Brown was killed on Aug. 9.

MSNBC viewers may have caught a fleeting image of McBride in Ferguson on Nov. 24 as Chris Hayes prepared to interview him. That was before what was assumed to be gunshots were heard and Hayes and the pastor were instructed by producers to leave the scene. (See the dramatic video, below)

While in Missouri, McBride and his colleagues led trainings in political organizing, voter engagement, and healing, and demonstrated alongside the locals.

In a sit-down interview with Berkeleyside conducted last week, before protests and riots erupted in Berkeley, McBride said he was surprised to see the severity of what he described as the “police state” in Missouri. … Continue reading »

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

Head downtown Friday night to participate in the city's holiday tree lighting ritual. Photo: Youtube
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HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING Thanksgiving is behind us, and the winter holidays are just around the corner. Downtown Berkeley is kicking off the season with its third annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration. It’s exactly what it sounds like — plus baked goods, holiday crafts for kids, and live music from the Berkeley Chamber Singers. Gather at the downtown BART Plaza on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m to participate. Check in on Yelp for a free gift. Berkeleyside is a sponsor of the event. … Continue reading »

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Students target sexual harassment at Berkeley High School

The students will encourage their classmates to wear the shirts and pins on Dec. 1. Photo: Facebook
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Earlier this year, some male students at Berkeley High School created “slut accounts” on Instagram. The accounts included photos of female students with misogynistic, sexual captions. A number of the instigators were suspended as a result. However, a group of students who have launched an anti-sexual harassment campaign on campus say the punishment doesn’t help curb the culture that set the stage for the incident in the first place.

Similarly, the student campaigners, mostly juniors and seniors, say the policy and preventive actions finally being taken in the wake of sexual assaults on college campuses nationwide are happening too late in students’ lives.

The group has launched “BHS Stop Harassing” with a goal to educate its peers about inappropriate behavior and where they can seek help — and to eventually improve what it perceives to be the vastly inadequate sexual harassment policy and preventive education at Berkeley High. … Continue reading »

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

BAHA will trace its 40-year history at a public anniversary celebration on Sunday.
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BAHA’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY For four decades the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association has advocated for the preservation of Berkeley’s buildings and educated us about our city’s rich architectural history. The public is invited to join BAHA in a free celebration of its 40th anniversary on Sunday, Nov. 23. Members of BAHA and special guests will train their historical lens on their own organization for an afternoon, tracking their origins, roadblocks, and accomplishments. RSVP for the free event by calling (510) 841-2242. The celebration lasts from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the First Church of Christ at 2619 Dwight Way. There will be cake. For those who can’t make it to the event, BAHA’s past is illuminated in an anniversary web series BAHA History, Year by Year.Continue reading »

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Lori Droste takes District 8 council seat by 16 votes

Lori Droste is the new District 8 councilwoman. Photo courtesy of Facebook
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Final tallies released Wednesday night make Lori Droste the narrow winner in what became a tense and protracted race for Berkeley City Council District 8.

Alameda county will certify the results by Monday, but all votes have been counted, leaving Droste with 2,072 votes, or 50.19%, compared to opponent George Beier’s 2,056 votes, or 49.81%.

Beier has said he will not challenge the results.

“I’m humbled by the support of District 8 and I look forward to working hard on Council,” Droste said. “I want to congratulate all my opponents for running a great race.” … Continue reading »

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

Students at Le Conte Elementary enjoy persimmons from the school's tree. Photo: @BerkeleyDineOut on Twitter
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BERKELEY DINE OUT Berkeley schools district-wide incorporate gardening and cooking into the curriculum. The idea is that the school gardens produce healthy habits and interdisciplinary lessons, along with the fruits and vegetables. But the program has lost federal funding and needs help. To support the garden-based learning program at 16 BUSD campuses, participate in Dine Out on Thursday, Nov. 13. A portion of all bills at over one dozen popular Berkeley restaurants — from Café Clem to Comal — will go directly to the program. See the full list of participating restaurants. … Continue reading »

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New club aims to spice up downtown Berkeley nightlife

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Berkeley is saturated with places to eat and drink, but conspicuously missing is a place to dance afterwards. Soon that will change, when a nightclub called Berkeley Underground opens this weekend in the basement space at 2284 Shattuck Ave.

Owners Lisa Holt and David Shapiro, who also own BUILD Pizzeria upstairs, envision a multi-purpose venue that will one night host an internationally known electronic dance music act, and the next a private bar mitzvah party.

“This needed to be something that would marry the idea of being a fun club that people would go to in the evenings, as well as being a live performance venue for all those bands and music artists and comedians that don’t really have a place to go,” Holt said. “If you’re going to go to the [Berkeley] Rep, you need to fill 1,000 seats. And it’s just seats – there’s no milling around or dance floor.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

New York's MSC Customs bike store will open on Telegraph Avenue later this month. Photo: Ted Friedman
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COMING SOON: MSC CUSTOMS Manhattan’s MSC Customs bicycle and apparel company has opened its first West Coast shop at 2422 Telegraph Ave. The company assembles and sells made-to-order single-speed track bikes. They’re custom-made, meaning customers get to select a variety of trendy pastel and neon shades for the frames, tires, and rims. MSC Customs’ new clothing line is designed for cyclists, so it’s entirely reflective. This is the company’s second location. “We thought the West Coast would be a great move,” said co-owner Thomas Leong. “Berkeley is a great place for riders.” The store soft-opened on Thursday last week and its official opening is Saturday, Nov. 22. And curious shoppers can drop by a grand opening party the day before. Read more at the MSC website. [Hat tip: Ted Friedman] … Continue reading »

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

Berkeley Half Marathon organizers are expecting 10,000 runners to participate this year. Photo: berkeleyhalf.com
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HALF MARATHON Running out of ideas for things to do this weekend? Spend Sunday, Nov. 9, in your sneakers. It’s the second annual Berkeley Half Marathon, which takes racers through the Cal campus, Gourmet Ghetto, Fourth Street shopping area, and along the beautiful Bay Trail. If the 13.1-mile journey sounds daunting, participant can opt to run a more reasonable 5 kilometers instead. The race starts (8 a.m.) and ends (12:30 p.m.) at Civic Center Park at 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Registration costs $25-$115, and supports Cal Athletics and the Berkeley Public Schools Fund; last year’s event brought in $30,000. Non-runners may want to check out the list of street closures. … Continue reading »

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Tony Thurmond victorious in 15th District Assembly race

Tony Thurmond and kids
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Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond city councilman, is driving up to Sacramento today to start his orientation as one of the state’s newest Assemblymen.

Thurmond won a resounding victory Tuesday in the race for the District 15 Assembly seat. He garnered  54.3% of the vote while his opponent, Elizabeth Echols, got 45.7% of the vote.

Thurmond swept the Contra Costa County vote with 61%, and just barely came out on top in Alameda County with 50.4% of the vote.

“We’ve run a campaign on issues about progressive values — education, and environment, and expanding healthcare for those who’ve been left out,” Thurmond said late Tuesday night when partial results showed him in the lead. “So I’m excited that the voters have responded.”
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