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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Crime

Man cases yoga studio, arrested after assault on officer

Image: Google Maps
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A suspicious man who went into a West Berkeley yoga studio on Sunday morning, asked about classes, then elbowed a police officer in the face who tried to detain him, has been arrested, authorities said Sunday afternoon.

Shortly before noon, the Berkeley Police Department’s Communications Center received a call from a yoga studio in the 800 block of University Avenue, around Sixth Street, said Lt. Dave Frankel, a watch commander for the Berkeley police.

The caller said a suspicious man was inside the business, CorePower Yoga at 811 University Ave. According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, the man was walking in and out of the studio, asking about classes and about studio operations.

“The employee felt that the person was casing the business to commit a crime,” Frankel said via email.

The first responding officer arrived at the yoga studio within minutes. That officer found the man inside, and tried to detain him. But he “became combative and struck the officer in the face before running from the business.”

The officer told dispatchers over the scanner that the man “had a needle in his pocket and he struck me in the side of the head.” … 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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The Berkeley Wire: 12.12.14

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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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Sounds of Oaxaca: Pasatono Orquesta play Berkeley

Pasatono Orquesta
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The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is a realm where indigenous culture continues to thrive in the 21st century. Rather than closing themselves off to outside currents, the Mixtecs, Zapotecs and other peoples of the region are constantly integrating new information, evolution that’s evident in Pasatono Orquesta, a fascinating nine-piece ensemble that makes its Bay Area debut at Freight & Salvage on Wednesday on a double bill with Cascada de Flores.

Championed by artists like vocalist Lila Downs, the intermittently Oaxaca-raised daughter of Mixtec cabaret singer Anita Sanchez, the band has compiled a vivid repertoire of tunes played by the Mixeteca orchestras that traveled the region in the middle decades of the 20th century. Sounds infiltrated from the north and south, and often hung around in Oaxaca long after they went out of fashion elsewhere, like the jaunty Charleston which figures in some Pasatono pieces. But Pasatono’s latest album, Maroma, is something of a departure. Drawing on the music that accompanies Oaxacan circuses, it’s an intoxicating mix of influences such as jazz, polka, chilena and cumbia. … Continue reading »

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Real weather in Berkeley – time to go storm chasing

Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 1.35.31 PM
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Jody Radzik is really into weather. Although a Berkeley resident now, he used to live in New Mexico where, as he puts it, “the weather is more interesting.”

Like a number of people living in “tornado alley” states, Radzik used to do a lot of storm chasing — tracking the weather on a radar while driving in the hope of seeing a tornado up close. He said he loved marveling at the drama of nature with other storm chasers. … Continue reading »

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‘The Babadook': Australian thriller aims to chill

The Babadook Movie (1)
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Happy Halloween!

Oh, I’m sorry – is my calendar off? Last week’s dabbling in the vampire genre must have got me into the seasonal mood a little late this year, because Australian thriller The Babadook is coming to Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, Dec. 12, primed to give you late October chills as the dead of winter approaches.

Director William Friedkin claimed recently that he’s “never seen a more terrifying movie” than The Babadook, and distributor IFC Films is giving that claim pride of place in its promotional material. Is it typical hyperbolic ballyhoo, or is Friedkin – whose legendary pea-soup epic The Exorcist never remotely scared me, at least not since its original TV ad campaign – on target?

Amelia (Essie Davis, who deserves an Oscar nomination – really!) is a widow taking care of her six-going-on-seven year old son Samuel (an equally fine Noah Wiseman, who can scream with the best of them) while working at a South Australia nursing home. She’s never recovered from her husband’s death, which occurred on the day Samuel was born: his birthday remains a dark spot on the family calendar, a time of mourning rather than celebration. … 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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News

The Berkeley Wire: 12.11.14

Skateboard umbrella

Skateboard umbrella, taken today. Photo: Pete Rosos

Berkeley panel seeking temporary police ban on tear gas (Inside Bay Area)
2 city councilmen accuse Bates of restricting public information (SF Chronicle)
Peter Thiel chased off stage at UC Berkeley by angry protesters
(Business Insider)
Mark Bittman’s menu to include UC Berkeley (UC Berkeley News Center)
Berkeley, environmentalists cite concerns over two-city refinery project (Oakland Tribune)
Berkeley Art Museum plans gala moving party (CoCo Times)
Cal student teachers union calls for Israel divestment  (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
CHP, Berkeley police target protesters, journalists with questionable force (Express)
Potter Street bad – but not for long (SF Chronicle)

Berkeleyside publishes thousands of stories a year on the goings-on in Berkeley. We need your financial support to help us continue to produce great stories about the city. Please become a supporter.

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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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