Category Archives: Government

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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Protests expected at Berkeley council meeting Tuesday

2020 Vision Symposium, Oct. 11, Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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With two protests planned outside tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School, Berkeleyside will be on scene with two reporters and will live-tweet about the events that unfold.

The best place to find live updates is the Berkeleyside Twitter feed (no account needed to view) and #Berkeleyprotests on Twitter. Berkeley City Council tweets are generally tagged #berkmtg.

See Berkeleyside’s follow-up story about the meeting.

Berkeleyside may update this post as well — time allowing — depending on what transpires. We invite community members to weigh in below, in the comments section, about what they are seeing and experiencing.

Berkeleyside has previously published an advisory from police about how neighbors can prepare for large demonstrations related to the council meeting, as well as information about meeting agendas and protest plans.  … Continue reading »

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Police warn South Berkeley to prepare for protests

Tonight's Berkeley council meeting is set to take place at Longfellow Middle School. Image: Google maps
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The Berkeley Police Department has released a warning to South Berkeley neighbors to help them prepare for expected crowds attending the Berkeley City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School on Tuesday night.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Officials canceled last week’s council meeting, citing a lack of space for the anticipated turnout, and rescheduled it for tonight, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the Longfellow auditorium at 1500 Derby St. near Sacramento Street. (There is a lift for ADA access at the northeast end of the building.) That will be followed by the regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m.

Berkeleyside plans to live tweet the council meeting, as well as highlights from both protests that have been called tonight. Follow along on Twitter (no account needed). See the meeting agendas here. … Continue reading »

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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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‘Double header’ Berkeley council meetings set for Tuesday, 2 protests also planned

Family members of Kayla Moore say they're still fighting for justice after her death in police custody last year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After canceling its regular session last week, the Berkeley City Council is set to hold two back-to-back meetings Tuesday night at Longfellow Middle School.

During those events, two separate groups have announced plans to protest in Berkeley. Separately, the Berkeley Unified School District has announced a panel discussion this week, for BUSD families only, regarding police-related fatalities. It remains to be seen how protest activities might affect the scheduled city meetings, but officials say they are preparing for a large turnout.

City officials canceled the Dec. 9 council meeting after protesters announced plans to take it over and shut it down. Officials said the regular meeting location, at Old City Hall, could not handle the expected capacity, and postponed the meeting to an undetermined date just hours before it was set to begin.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Some activists had announced plans earlier this month to “shut down” the Dec. 9 meeting to protest decisions made by the Berkeley Police Department to teargas and fire projectiles at demonstrators who refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on Dec. 6. (Berkeleyside has submitted a lengthy list of questions to police about this incident and has been told responses are forthcoming.)

Late last week, city staff said council’s Dec. 9 agenda will be heard Tuesday, Dec. 16, in the auditorium of Longfellow Middle School, at 1500 Derby St. at 5:30 p.m. A special worksession on the Adeline corridor originally scheduled for that time has been canceled. … 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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Floods, outages keep Berkeley busy as storm hits

Flooding closed Ashby Avenue late Thursday afternoon. Authorities say it may be open by midnight. Photo: Jennifer Lazo
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Berkeley city workers handled more than 100 requests related to flooding, and more than 30 calls for tree-related issues, Thursday during a large storm that has been sweeping the Bay Area, authorities said.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the city had received 127 calls about flooding as of nearly 3 p.m., and 34 calls about tree-related issues. All of those calls had been cleared by 5 p.m. Staff also gave out more than 5,000 sandbags to Berkeley residents, who were able to pick them up at locations around the city.

Malcolm X Elementary School also experienced significant flooding, and Chakko said the Berkeley Unified School District — which had shuttered all schools and offices Thursday due to the weather — was handling that issue.

See Berkeleyside’s live blog of the “Pineapple Express” storm’s local impacts.

There were several street closures, on Bolivar Drive and Bay Street, and around Ashby Avenue (which is also known as California 13). By late afternoon, Ashby around Interstate 80 had been closed in both directions due to flooding, authorities said. Ashby was expected to re-open by midnight Friday.

(Watch a playlist below of many storm-related videos shared with Berkeleyside by readers Thursday.) … Continue reading »

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Storm blog: Water mains break in Berkeley, Ashby expected to re-open by midnight

Earlier today, Codornices Creek at Ninth Street. Photo: Neil Mishalov
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Friday, Dec. 12, 12:25 a.m. Shortly before 11:30 p.m., reader William Abernathy reported a second water main break in the Berkeleyside comments section: “Main break 1300 block MLK. EBMUD alerted. No water til morning.”

Please send us storm footage, including photos and videos, and feel free to alert us to significant storm-related hazards. The best way to reach Berkeleyside is to email tips@berkeleyside.com. Twitter and Facebook work, too. Refresh this page for updates.

Dec. 11, 10:30 p.m. Several residents have reported that there is a large water main break at Seventh and Pardee streets in West Berkeley, which happened at about 9 p.m.

Said one reader shortly before 10 p.m.: “It blew out chunks of pavement and the last I saw a few minutes ago was shooting water diagonally into the air. EBMUD is now on scene.”

Reader Lisa Buckle Styling shared video of the geyser, which can be seen below. … Continue reading »

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2 officials demand investigation into police tear gas use in Berkeley protest Saturday

City Council members Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington told a crowd of protesters yesterday that they want an investigation into the use of tear gas by police. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Hours after Berkeley’s police chief defended his department’s decision to use tear gas on protesters on Telegraph Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 6, two Berkeley City Council members called for an investigation into what they said were police excesses.

Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín made that call on the steps of Old City Hall shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Normally, the two would have been inside the building for the regular council meeting, but Mayor Tom Bates had canceled the meeting earlier in the day, expressing concern that it would be swamped with hundreds or thousands of protesters. Bates said he plans to reschedule the meeting soon.

Speaking through a megaphone to a crowd of more than 200 people that had gathered as part of the fourth night of protest against police killings of and violence against black men, Worthington said Berkeley police had used their batons Saturday to hit students, members of the clergy, journalists and others.

“I am embarrassed that Berkeley police would attack our constituents,” he said. “We will demand an investigation. … We will demand reforms of the way the police operate in the entire city of Berkeley.” … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley calls invite-only press conference just for TV news

From left: Berkeley Police Chief Mike Meehan, Mayor Tom Bates, Councilman Max Anderson, and Fire Chief Gil Dong. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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By Emilie Raguso and Frances Dinkelspiel

The city of Berkeley has called a press conference for media Tuesday afternoon, but only invited reporters from television stations to attend it, sources tell Berkeleyside.

The city manager and her spokesman have been unavailable Tuesday to respond to questions about the event. Police have been unable to respond since Sunday to a series of questions Berkeleyside has submitted about the use of force Saturday night.

Charles Burress, spokesman for Mayor Tom Bates, said Tuesday afternoon that there had been “no intent of secrecy” when the meeting was planned. It is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, at City Hall. … Continue reading »

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After protests, Berkeley City Council meeting canceled; more demonstrations planned Tuesday night

Old City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting has been canceled due to capacity issues, the mayor’s office has announced, but protests are still expected to take place.

The announcement came Tuesday after three nights of lengthy demonstrations throughout town about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the role race and policing played in those fatal interactions.

Protesters had announced plans to take over Berkeley’s Old City Hall during Tuesday night’s council meeting as part of a continuing effort to … Continue reading »

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CHP arrests 150 protesters after they block I-80 freeway

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Follow @berkeleyside on Twitter for live updates #Berkeleyprotests

6:20 a.m. The California Highway Patrol arrested more than 150 people Monday night who were blocking traffic on I-80 near Powell Street.

After about 1,000 to 1,500 protesters marched peacefully down University Ave., a large contingent tried to get onto the freeway but were blocked by police, according to CHP. Around 8 p.m., protesters tore down some fencing along the freeway and got into the eastbound lanes, but CHP was able to remove them by 8:08 p.m., according to a CHP Nixle alert. Around 8:30 p.m, a large group of protesters destroyed fencing along the south perimeter of the road in Aquatic Park and “flooded into the lanes of traffic,” according to CHP. They stopped traffic in both directions for more than an hour and walked west in the eastbound lanes. Many stranded drivers just turned off their cars and sat there. Until this point the protest had been largely peaceful. Traffic was backed up for miles on I-80, I-580 and Highway 24. (There was one unconfirmed report that a woman in labor was stuck in traffic, but her car was allowed to leave the freeway.) … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley told police to use restraint, avoid tear gas, on second night of protests

The doors and windows of Radio Shack on Shattuck were smashed repeatedly this weekend. Photo: Bernt Wahl
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor

The Berkeley Police Department deliberately held back from using tear gas during the protests Sunday night under orders from City Manager Christine Daniel, according to city officials.

Mayor Tom Bates said Monday that he and other Berkeley City Council members had been disturbed by the aggressive tone of the demonstrations Saturday night, when Berkeley police shot rubber bullets, other projectiles, and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators who refused to leave Telegraph Avenue. He conveyed this concern to Daniel, who apparently was also concerned. She then told Berkeley police to refrain from using tear gas unless absolutely necessary.

Protesters smashed more than a dozen windows and sprayed graffiti on businesses up and down Shattuck Avenue, as well others on Telegraph Avenue, Sunday night. While a few businesses were damaged in the Saturday protests, including Wells Fargo Bank on San Pablo Avenue and Radio Shack on Shattuck, which was hit both nights, the damage was more severe the night of the stepped-back police response.

We regarded “the use of tear gas to be questionable,” said Bates. “We didn’t want to see it happen again unless absolutely necessary…. There was a backing off.” … Continue reading »

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