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On June 20, the Berkeley City Council, only months after being swept in by a progressive majority, rejected the call of hundreds of people to terminate a series of entanglements between local police and the federal security forces of the Donald Trump administration. The resistance failed to resist. In the nation’s heartland of dissent. What went wrong, and why? Petitions, a huge crowd, support from prominent public figures, fact sheets, a city poll dominated by those wanting a pull-out, three hours of public comment with no support for anything other than getting out. None of it mattered.
It was the first time I’d ever attended a Police Review Commission meeting in Berkeley. Together with nine other community members, we went to express our opposition to three terrible policies of the city government and its police department: 1. Repeated police raids on homeless encampments, 2. City participation in the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and its domestic spying operation, and 3. City participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative.