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Mayor Jesse Arreguin and the Berkeley City Council are shitting bricks. Charlottesville and the right-left rumbles that Berkeley’s already seen this year have the mayor and the councilors terrified – understandably – that people will get killed or injured at the next one and that everyone will point the blame at them. The immediate cause for concern is a No Marxism in America Rally and counter protests coming up on Sunday afternoon, April 27. The council not only passed new crowd control measures, but also used its website to plead with its citizens to eschew Downtown Berkeley, stay home and tweet.
We find ourselves in a moment with a great deal at stake. Our communities are fighting to define and create sanctuary spaces, while enduring a dangerous presidential administration that has emboldened white supremacist and xenophobic action. The Trump agenda has caused increased harassment, fear and even death. In the movement for abolition of policing, imprisonment, surveillance and the entire prison industrial complex, now is our time to be bold.
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.
This coming Tuesday, June 20, the Berkeley City Council will hold a special meeting starting at 6 p.m. to decide whether or not to keep sending officers to the annual Urban Shield war games and weapons expo, which is billed as the world’s largest tactical training exercise for law enforcement and first responders. One of the expo’s best-selling T-shirts reads “Black Rifles Matter.” Urban Shield expos have been held around the country since the 9/11 attacks. In December 2015, then Berkeley City Councilor Max Anderson spoke in favor of withdrawing.
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.
On Tuesday evening, Dec. 17, 2015, the Berkeley City Council voted to keep sending officers to the annual Urban Shield war games and weapons expo, even after one vocal citizen held up the expo’s best selling T-shirts and read their inscriptions: “Black Rifles Matter,” “This (barrel of a gun) is my peace symbol” and “Destruction cometh. And they shall seek peace. And there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:25-27, King James Bible).
Both the Richmond and BART Police Departments sent taser advocates to the Oct. 6 Berkeley City Council hearing, but neither is an exemplar of responsible taser use. BART Officer Johannes Mehserle claimed to have mistaken his gun for his taser after he shot and killed Black teenager Oscar Grant, and Richmond officer Kristopher Tong tasered Black teenager Andre Little in the testicles. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Berkeley Copwatch co-founder Andrea Pritchett about the hearing.
I was the founding chairman and national organizer of the Black Panther Party. Our first organizing tactic was to legally observe the police in our Oakland and Berkeley Black communities. During those hard core late 1960s racist, fascist times, we took a big chance with our lives patrolling the police. It was a time of rampant vicious police brutality and murder of Black people by police that was 10 times worse than today.
In the week before the March 11, 2011, earthquake at Fukushima, one person, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, did an extraordinary act that set Japan’s energy course in history for the next 100 years. He was able to convince the Japanese Parliament to pass a solar payment policy. This one policy shift is now making Japan one of the leading solar powered nations on earth – far ahead of California or the U.S. Number one in solar generation in 2014 was Germany.
University Avenue Cooperative Homes (UACH) is to be leased to Resources for Community Development/UACH, LP, in a “ground lease” agreement with the City of Berkeley for only $1 (one dollar) a year for 55 years. The sweetheart deal will be voted on later this evening by the Berkeley City Council. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley.
According to documents recently released online by the Office of the City Manager in Berkeley, the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) may receive kickbacks from a local non-profit housing developer in a scheme to privatize, revitalize and sell off its public housing. The scheme involves a vice president of consultant ICF International. Berkeley’s public housing residents oppose the sale of their housing and invite the public to join them Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Intercity Services, 3269 Adeline St., Berkeley.
Public housing and Section 8 tenants appeared at the Jan. 19 Berkeley City Council meeting to protest and speak out against alleged illegal activities of the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) and its policies to privatize and sell their 75 public housing units to an unnamed nonprofit housing developer.