Category Archives: Community

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 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 on Sunday, Dec. 7, the night local businesses sustained the most significant damage. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? From Lucky’s to Amoeba at 2455 Telegraph Avenue

1990 postcard from the collection of Tom Dalzell
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The quirky-looking building on the southeast corner of Telegraph and Haste, now Amoeba Music, has a colorful history that illustrates several chapters in Berkeley’s proud, independent history.

The building at 2455 Telegraph started life as Lucky’s Store No. 18.

It served the south campus neighborhood for several decades. In February 1964, the campus chapter of CORE (the Congress on Racial Equality) took action against Lucky Store 18 in an effort to pressure Lucky into hiring African-Americans. The actions included picketing and the “shop-in,” in which nicely dressed CORE members filled shopping carts with groceries, checked out, and then refused to pay for the groceries until Lucky ended its discriminatory practices.

After ten days of picketing and shop-ins, Lucky signed an agreement covering its Bay Area stores, promising to end racial discrimination in its hiring practices. Shortly after that, it closed Store No. 18 on Telegraph. They blamed a high degree of shoplifting on the decision to close, but it is difficult to believe that there was some degree of retaliation for the shop-ins.

The next business to open at 2455 Telegraph was the Espresso Forum, one of the first two espresso shops on Telegraph. … Continue reading »

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Determined crowd demands fast action from Berkeley council; officials set meeting on protests for January

The crowd at Tuesday night's Berkeley council meeting listened closely to public testimony. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An emotional crowd nearly shut down the Berkeley City Council multiple times Tuesday night during a public comment period that lasted the better part of four hours.

About 50 people spoke to council — and many more were in attendance — to share concerns about racial profiling as well as the actions of police on Saturday, Dec. 6, when officers used tear gas, projectiles and baton hits to control and clear a crowd that refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue after several hours of demonstrations around the city.

Council members considered but rejected the possibility of scheduling a special meeting this month to discuss the events of Dec. 6, and how police should interact with protesters going forward.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced that council will hold a special meeting Jan. 17 that’s set to include a panel of experts as well as workshops for more interactive discussion of critical issues. … Continue reading »

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Best Books of 2014: Chosen by local authors, Berkeleyside

Photo via Creative Commons
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Every year Berkeleyside puts together a list of the best books the editors have read. We generally ask local authors and literary-minded folk to contribute their picks. This year we decided to mimic the format used by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, and that meant asking everyone to limit their selections to two books apiece – a difficult task, we found. Here, then, is our selection of the Best Books of 2014.

Elizabeth Rosner: “Two books leap ahead of the herd”

Berkeley author Elizabeth Rosner published two books in 2014, including Electric City (named a Best Book of 2014 by NPR) and Gravity, a book of poems.

Two books leap ahead of the herd when I think about outstanding reading experiences this year.

The first is Karen Joy Fowler’s acclaimed novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, with its astonishingly original approach to the subject of familial love. Months after finishing the book, I can still recall the sensation of holding my breath while I turned the pages, hopeful and terrified and amused and devastated. This story broke my heart and blew my mind. In a very different but equally momentous way, I found myself profoundly affected by cover designer Peter Mendelsund’s book What We See When We Read. He offers an inspired “phenomenological” study of something that we readers both do and do not quite know about what is happening inside our brains, using examples from many of my favorite writers (Woolf, Tolstoy, Joyce, Kafka, and plenty of others). It’s a thrillingly visual and imaginative window into the mysterious and rapturous activity we call reading. … Continue reading »

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Op-eds on Berkeley protests: Myths, perspectives, the role of the library, and the approach of radical group BAMN

Tanya from By Any Means Necessary leads march on Dec. 9, 2014
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Berkeleyside has recently published several op-eds on the subject of the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

In a piece published on Dec. 10, Jennifer Davidson, a professor at American Baptist Seminary of the West, argues that we need to remember to tell the whole story when recounting the protests, not just the story of violence.

Also on Dec. 10, Berkeley parent, journalist and community activist Erica Etelson, addresses what she says are five myths about the protests, including the claim that “the protestors are mostly entitled white kids looking for excitement.” … Continue reading »

Neighbors complain about Berkeley Police commandeering their street to get ready for protests

During the Dec. 6 protests, Berkeley police commandeered McKinley St. to set up a staging area for mutual aid from other departments. This is a photo of a Hayward Police Department van parked on the street. Photo by
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By Mara Van Ells

Residents on McKinley Avenue near the Berkeley Police station are seething after a week of protests which saw parking banned, the street blocked to normal traffic after 5 p.m., and police cars and armored vehicles stationed there.

Some neighbors said when they tried to go home, police yelled at them and demanded to see their identification. They were also told, “no ins and outs.”

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

“I was treated like a criminal for trying to come home from work,” said Julie Guilfoy, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley communities of faith join forces for ‘peaceful civil disobedience’ Black Lives Matter protest

Rafi Wirtschafter, 13, joined the faith protest in Berkeley on Sunday Dec. 14, 2014. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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By Lance Knobel and Tracey Taylor

An estimated 300 people, most of them affiliated with local faith-based places of worship, blocked University Avenue in Berkeley for just over an hour during a peaceful protest Sunday, Dec. 14. The “Black Lives Matter Large-Scale Demonstration” was initiated by a number of local faith groups.

The protest joined the hundreds of demonstrations that took place locally and nationally over the weekend over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

At the center of the protest was an 11-minute die-in, reminding people of the 11 times Garner said, “I can’t breathe.”

“This demonstration is intended to show the discipline of civil disobedience,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder of The Way Christian Center at 1305 University Ave., directly opposite Congregation Netivot Shalom at 1316 University, where the die-in took place. … Continue reading »

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Anonymous artist collective claims responsibility for lynching effigies erected at UC Berkeley

Pastor Michael McBride tweeted this photo of a cut out of Laura Nelson out on Twitter.
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An anonymous artists’ collective posted notices at UC Berkeley on Sunday announcing it had placed three effigies in nooses at Cal — and a number of others around Oakland.

The group created the life-size cardboard cutouts of people who had been lynched to draw parallels between the past and modern day society, according to a statement.

See Berkeleyside coverage of the Berkeley protests.

“These images connect past events to present ones – referencing endemic faultlines of hatred and persecution that are and should be deeply unsettling to the American consciousness,” they wrote. “We choose to remain anonymous because this is not about us as artists, but about the growing movement to address these pervasive wrongs.” … 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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Community responds to noose effigies found at Cal

This effigy was one of three authorities say was hung at the UC Berkeley campus Saturday morning. Photo: Cal Black Student Union
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Emilie Raguso

Sunday, Dec. 14, 5 p.m. An anonymous artists’ collective has taken responsibility for the effigies strung up in nooses at UC Berkeley on Saturday.

The statement from the collective:

“We are a collective of queer and POC artists responsible for the images of historical lynchings posted to several locations in Berkeley and Oakland,” reads a notice the group distributed. “These images connect past events to present ones – referencing endemic faultlines of hatred and persecution that are and should be deeply unsettling to the American consciousness. We choose to remain anonymous because this is not about us as artists, but about the growing movement to address these pervasive wrongs.”

See past Berkeleyside coverage of the Berkeley protests.

“For those who think these images are no longer relevant to the social framework in which black Americans exist everyday – we respectfully disagree. Garner, Brown, and others are victims of systemic racism. For those who think these images depict crimes and attitudes too distasteful to be seen .. we respectfully disagree. Our society must never forget. For those under the mistaken assumption that the images themselves were intended as an act of racism – we vehemently disagree and intended only the confrontation of historical context.” … Continue reading »

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Police Review Commission asks for suspension of tear gas

A line of police officers marched down Telegraph Avenue during the Dec. 6th protests. Photo: Pete Rosos
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After hearing the testimony of about 10 people who said they were treated unnecessarily roughly during a Dec. 6 protest, the Police Review Commission voted Wednesday to ask Berkeley city officials to restrict the use of tear gas, over-the-shoulder baton hits and firing projectiles as a form of crowd control.

The PRC, which put the issue on its agenda as an emergency measure, is hoping the Berkeley City Council will do the same at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Read more coverage of the recent protests in Berkeley.

“Our proposal was for a cooling-off period,” said Alison Bernstein, vice chair of the PRC. “[Using tear gas] is a crowd control technique. We’re not saying it’s right. We’re not saying it’s wrong. But we are hearing serious concerns from the community.” … Continue reading »

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Black Lives Matter protest by hundreds of Berkeley High students ‘shows how it’s done’

Berkeley High students stage a 'die-in" observing a 4.5 minute silence at the Campanile on the UC Berkeley campus on Dec. 10, 2014. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Until yesterday, UC Berkeley junior Franchesca Cavagnaro had never been to a protest. While walking on the Cal campus Wednesday afternoon, she came across a crowd, many hundreds-strong, of demonstrators gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall. She liked what she saw and knew she wanted to be part of it. She joined the group as they marched to the Campanile.

Despite the location, the protesters were not Cal students. They were all Berkeley High students who, as part of an event, carefully organized by the school’s Black Student Union, had walked off their downtown campus at 2:30 p.m., skipping the last class of the day, in order to make their voices heard in the uproar over the recent police-related deaths of young black men. … Continue reading »

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Today: Students stage walkout at Berkeley High

Berkeley High students are walking out in solidarity with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Photo: Aidan Grundy-Reiner
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Berkeley High School students are expected to stage a “peaceful walkout” today, Dec. 10, at 2:30 p.m.

A message about the event went out over the Berkeley High email list just after 1:30 p.m.

According to the note, from Principal Kristin Glenchur, the administration is aware of the demonstration and will not allow students who walk out of class to come back to campus, or to make up work they miss.

“Their plan is to leave class immediately after fifth period and walk out to Civic Center Plaza where they have organized speakers,” she wrote. “They intend to march after school up to the Cal Campus. Given the last several nights of protests, it is possible the gathering could include a large number of non-students.”

Another group plans to meet at the Cal campus at 4 p.m. to watch a live-stream of a Michael Brown-related tribunal in Ferguson, Missouri, and then plans to march.

Berkeleyside will be at the student march, and will post updates on Twitter. View them here. (A Twitter account is not needed to view the page.) Continue reading »

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