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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Police State and Prisons
Berkeley PD Chief & Local Reporter Invent "Crime Wave", Blame Occupy Oakland
Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan has been consulting with local Conservative writer Ted Friedman, to create a sense of a "crime wave". In a blogpost, Friedman admits to approaching Meehan to pitch a story about a crime wave from Oakland that threatens Berkeley. Friedman and Meehan claim Occupy created a rise in Oakland crime which is filtering into Berkeley. Meehan is also using the reporter to assert that a Fuck the Police march which originated from Oakland is responsible for the death of Mr. Peter Cukor one year ago. Still in a lawsuit from the Cukor family, Meehan wants a revised history to use in court.
Oakland Crime Wave Threatens Berkeley http://berkeleyreporter.com/?p=1583
Life of a Reporter: http://berkeleyreporter.com/?p=1592 (Friedman admits to working as a consultant to Berkeley police)
"If you are lost at this point, I’ll make it clear: The Fuck the Police march killed Peter Cukor, and that demonstration began in Oakland." - Ted Friedman, writing on behalf of Michael Meehan, Chief of Berkeley Police Department http://berkeleyreporter.com/?p=1583
Almost a year later, and the lie is still being repeated - the lie that a Fuck the Police march from Oakland to UC Berkeley was violently provocative, and needed such police intervention that 911 calls for the evening had to be ignored. The Berkeley police chief and his consulting blogger argue that Peter Cukor's 911 call of a potential home-invader was less important than the Occupy protesters walking towards the International House. Peter Cukor was killed by the potential home invader, a man with
a mental illness, because all police resources were on hold to monitor a march, which netted in zero arrests or citations.
Ted Friedman continues, tying crime and Occupy Oakland to "outside agitator/perps", saying Oakland has become an "open crime environment". The blogger ties Occupy to violent crime writing, "The word is out. Oakland is crime friendly". The blogger ignores the hundreds of arrests which took place over the course of Occupy Oakland's first 6 months, and further arrests continuing to this day. Ted Friedman writes that he "pitched the [idea of a public forum]" to the BPD chief, as to promote the notion of an Oakland crime wave impacting Berkeley - a crime wave exacerbated by Occupy.
Chief Meehan and blogger Friedman are pushing the idea of gross increase in violent crime in Berkeley stemming from an Occupy fueled Oakland. But this assertion is not backed by any data or statistics. They are pushing this fear of a violent crime wave, but without any factual support. Meehan is particular is reaffirming his stance that Peter Cukor was killed out of a violent chaos caused by Occupy; the Berkeley police department is attempting to dodge responsibility in court.
Michael Meehan has previously stated that the FTP march was attempting to take over the UC Berkeley police station, which is a allegation no person from the UC Berkeley police department has made or supported. Meehan argued that it was publicly Tweeted that the march was going to take over the police station, but has not produced a single screen shot or print out of even one Tweet making such a claim. The only intent of the march was to provide support to a small group of campers who wished to stay on the lawn of the International House for one evening. It is not even clear how a take over of a police station could even take place, given that it is where the police are stationed. Meehan's controversial stance gained more critical attention, when after the police spokesperson was sent to a reporters house in the middle of the night to restate the chief's position. Chief Meehan was questioned regarding his statements about Occupy and the lack of 911 support by the Berkeley Police Review Commission and the Coalition For A Safer Berkeley and has yet to provide one piece of evidence that the FTP march was indeed a threat. A year later, the chief still holds his position: Occupy killed Peter Cukor through negligent provocation (preventing Berkeley police from responding to any 911 calls).
It is questionable for the police and a consulting blogger to be pitching a crime wave story without merit. Having a public forum on the issue of a crime wave will do nothing but further push a needless fear. While people should be always be aware and wise of their own public safety, this is not a time for Berkeley to be is a state of panic over a crime wave, especially not when Oakland is being used as a strawman. berkeleyreporter.com/?p=1592 If anything, Berkeley should be having open debates on the issues of stop and frisk and drug policy. Obtrusive, over-reaching policing maintains high arrest and citation rates, skewing crime statistics with minor offenses. Berkeley should not follow Oakland lead, and should not follow Bill Bratton's policies.
Spreading fear over an Oakland crime wave threatening Berkeley carries questionable connotations; an us versus them, here versus there mentality. Berkeley crime statistics do not show a surge in crime and crime analysis is more complicated than simply declaring a crime wave for sensationalistic reasons. Certain types of non-violent crime are up, certain types of non-violent crime are down; certain violent crime is up, certain violent crime is down. There is no evidence of an overall increase in net crime, and no evidence of a crime wave, or evidence of a looming wave. Vandalism, sleeping/lodging/trespassing and drug/alcohol related offenses make up the bulk of Berkeley crime: http://www.crimemapping.com/map.aspx?aid=a673b3ba-84b4-4181-a3a4-acba5353ff65