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Berkeley PD Chief & Local Reporter Invent "Crime Wave", Blame Occupy Oakland
by Occupy the Media
Thursday Jan 24th, 2013 9:18 AM
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.
Sources:
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)
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"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

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Zachary RunningWolf
( runningwolf.zachary [at] yahoo.com ) Thursday Jan 24th, 2013 11:14 AM
This is one more reason that our Police Chief should step down or be fired. I as witness on that particular night and am willing to testify at the time of the incident (8.45pm) which ended up in Mr. Cukor death we were still in Oakland and did not get to the Berkeley Oakland border until 9.45pm with no Berkeley Police in sight even though Mr. Meehan said two extra shifts were called in that nite. As we crossed Ashby Ave. (heading north on Telegraph Ave.) we did encounter a ambulance followed by two BPD cars going to Alta Bates probably carrying Mr Cukor. We finally encounter a contingent of BPD unmarked cars at our finishing point at the International House on Piedmont and this was close to midnight. No the FTP march did not cause any unusual disruption in which I ran for Mayor in. To make matters worse our Chief did not like the story that a local journalist wrote Doug Oakley and sent a hesitate Sargent Kussmiss to the journalists house after midnight to change the story which is still under investigation by a law firm (hired by Master Bates). The Police Chief also had ten police officers looking for his sons cell phone which ended up in a high drug use neighborhood, I wonder how it got out there (east Oakland-does Jr has a problem?). Finally two married officers were caught having on duty sexual relations (not to ones they are married to) in the police station and nothing is done.
by Ted Friedman
( berkeleyreporter.com [at] gmail.com ) Thursday Jan 24th, 2013 3:09 PM
I'm a big fan of IndyBay; I shot with them Nov. 18, the night of the Fuck the Police March in Berkeley. This was a very well-done hatchet job. Having done my fair share of this sort of thing when I was an underground feature writer for Alternative Features, Berkeley, 1974, I know the technique first hand; this was first rate.

I've re-framed my take on this piece since you went to press. I'm now writing that there is zero affect in Berkeley from Oakland's latest "crime wave"--the most recent in a series of crime waves going back to the early 1970s.

Instead, Berkeley has attracted a steady stream of Oakland criminals for forty years. It's this accumulation and a steady Oakland crime rate in Berkeley that is having an impact. There's really not much of a story here--except to a lowly blogger like me.

Maybe someday I can do something good enough for Indybay.
by Occupy the Media
Thursday Jan 24th, 2013 5:56 PM
To quickly address the statement made by Ted Friedman in the comments (there will be no further discussion on the matter, this is not a chat room):

1: Indybay is open source, and this piece was not written by anyone who is part of Indybay. Anyone can submit a piece, and see if it holds muster. All Indybay did was see if the piece held weight, and allowed it to stay posted on the site.

2: This piece offers direct quotations and direct links to the 2 pieces being discussed, and thus is not a hatchet job. Here is another direct quotation: "All I’ve got is an idea: crime wave in Oakland’s impact on Berkeley. The headline answers itself, concluding that there is an impact in Berkeley from Oakland’s crime-wave." And continuing: "I could promote a public forum to kick the idea around. I like crazy. Crazy has brought me to the moment. I’m going with crazy. I’ve already pitched the forum idea to City of Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan." As well Friedman's writing carries many of Meehan's talking points.

3. Reporting is like science; one cannot choose an outcome ("there IS a crime wave; it writes itself!") and work the facts to fit a per-determined conclusion. A reporter has to ask "Is there a crime wave?" and then investigate. A reporter can make a hypothesis first - "I think there is a crime wave" - but still must investigate to see if the hypothesis is true or not.

4. The issue of the FTP march is still a problem; even if Ted Friedman is altering the opinion of crime in Berkeley, the baseless opinion regarding the march is still there is Friedman's piece.

End of statement.
by deanosor
( deanosor [at] mailup.net ) Thursday Jan 24th, 2013 9:55 PM
I haven't lived in Oakland or Berkeley for 5 years now, but l did live there 20 years before. 1. Is Occupy the Media saying the FtP march is a problem or the police response to it is a problem? 2. Why does Master Wolf keeping bringing up red herrings. Who cares who cops have sex with? Sex is not the problem, police and their brutality is. The more cops having sex the less heads hey can beat. 3. Master Wolf is good at innuendo, but not at facts. People do go to East Oakland for more than drugs, even those related to politicians. 4. What makes Oakland/Berkeley (it's an arbitrary borderline)'s "crime problem" different than any other big city?
by facts schmacts
Friday Jan 25th, 2013 10:21 AM
if you want to call yourself a reporter, you can start by getting the date right

try google when in doubt: http://www.google.com/search?q=Peter+Cukor+murder

of course, there are 1000 other problems with your writing and police associations

really, though, you're more of an opinion writer, and not even a very good one, than a reporter, just blowing things out your ass without regard to facts or logic, but whatever
by Thomas Lord
( lord [at] basiscraft.com ) Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013 11:39 AM
When I saw the quote here, that far out of context, it appears to accuse FTP marchers of murder. I was pretty shocked. Had Ted really said that? Was this an article in which, looking at the facts, that was the conclusion to be fairly drawn? Then I read Ted's article and saw that the quote was being abused.

Ted's actual post, if you read it, calls into question the choices that BPD made but that isn't its main point either. The over-arching topic of the article is the journalistic trope of an Oakland crime wave allegedly spilling over into Berkeley and how the crime-wave story is being spun by a panel of esteemed journalists who find themselves relatively free of the burden of the most relevant facts.

So it's sort of ironic that people would turn on Ted here as if his post were an attack on Occupy or FTP, something they are only able to do by selectively ignoring significant portions of the post and taking one quote badly out of context.