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Police in Berkeley use harassment to quiet dissent
by anonymous
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:11 AM
At most of the recent protests in Berkeley the police have showed up in larger numbers than similar sized protests in San Francisco. They consistently act in a confrontational manner towards protesters, and appear to be using video equipment and undercover agents to track protest movements.
police_officers.jpg
Welcome to Berkeley, where the city pretends to be "liberal" but wont tolerate dissent.

In the past five years protests have caused little if any damage to property in Berkeley but drunken frat parties have resulted in looting on Telegraph Ave. Yet, police show up in the hundreds for any Reclaim the Streets or Palestine protest and ignore rich frat kids who rape and pillage.

The reaction of the police to the May Day eve street party in Berkeley is a clear example of how the city of Berkeley operates. When the protest started, hundreds of police gathered around the initial gathering. Five to six police officers were activity recording people's faces with video cameras and two police officers were milling through the crowd disguised as anarchist kids with bandanas (both kept talking into their shirts, never interacted with the protesters) After the march started moving, the Berkeley PD blocked off intersections to guide the march but as the march snaked randomly around Berkeley, the blocking of streets was clearly aimed at making the police presence felt more than preventing the protest from going down certain roads (since the protest moved in circles and went past areas that had previously been blocked off). After the police blocked off random streets, the protest ended up moving towards College Avenue and getting pushed into a fairly busy intersection (College and Ashby). Note that if the polices intention was to prevent the disruption of traffic this intersection was a bad choice (Ashby being one of the few roads in the area allowing access to Highway 24).

Being confined to the intersection of College and Ashby, protesters set up a maypole, and had a street party. Streamers and confetti were in abundance and local reaction was very positive; a man coming out of a restaurant was even seen cutting off part of a streamer to give to his child.

But instead of dealing with the situation in a constructive fashion, redirecting traffic and maintaining order, the police moved in mass numbers (at least 20-30 per street plus several cars) and issued a warning for protesters to move. As the protesters started to move a few people who tried to disperse to go get coffee at a local business were prevented from not moving with the protesters (from this action it can be clearly seen that the goal of the police was to keep people together and provoke confrontation). Around this same time, the agent provocateurs started moving to the front of the crowd (probably to start something). The fact that they were being directed by the police to do this could be seen from their constant talking into their shirts, and the bad police disguises (one man was dressed like a punk kid but when his bandana was half removed he was clearly in his middle 30s and quite clean-cut looking. The same man was dressed in a completely different disguise at an SJP protest in Berkeley the week before). Right after the agent provocateurs started moving, several protesters went over to talk to them and immediately the protesters were thrown into cop cars and the fake protesters disappeared (note that these agents were notv seen talking to anyone at the protest so none of this should be taken to suspect anyone in the activist or anarchist communities). The protest, now disrupted, started to dissipate and several additional arrests occurred (also with no clear charges).

Friends of an arrested cameraman went to pick him up at the jail and nobody at the Berkeley jail would even talk to them. After calling a free law collective and the jail itself, it was revealed that three protesters had been arrested and the only charges were resisting arrest(with no charges yet determined for the original arrest). While the traffic cops were friendly and said they would find information about those arrested, the local police officer in charge was noticeably agitated and stormed outside telling everyone sitting on the steps to move since the steps were "public property". It wasn’t an issue of blocking the steps since the station was locked and there were only a few people inside, it was Berkeley PDs ability to selectively harass people based off the law that makes it illegal to sit down outside (one of several laws passed by Berkeley in an effort to make the lives of homeless people even more of a living hell).

So what was the goal of the Berkeley PD? The angry attitude and apparent ineptitude of the commanding officers suggested that it had nothing to do with the blocking of traffic or fear of property destruction. The goal of the Berkley PD is to discourage political demonstrations for political reasons. Former leftists in city hall have a chip on their shoulder and have personal issues with activists (If anyone remembers all the weird statements by city officials about flags on fire-engines, the press releases by city workers at that time should make this noticeably clear).

It is time for activists to start documenting their treatment by the Berkeley police to create a civil suit against them. In other cities the creation of police units to track activists has been outlawed (here is an article about the consent decree outlawing red-squads in Chicago: http://www.cris.com/~Gutmanpc/City.htm). It is time for the people of Berkeley to take back their city and help create an environment that encourages social consciousness.
§more pictures
by anonymous Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:15 AM
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by anonymous Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:16 AM
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by anonymous Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:17 AM
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§more pictures
by anonymous Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:17 AM
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§more pictures
by anonymous Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:48 AM
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§more pictures
by anonymous Wednesday May 1st, 2002 12:49 AM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Susie-Q
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 1:06 AM
This section is quite inaccurate:
"After the march started moving, the Berkeley PD blocked off intersections to guide the march but as the march snaked randomly around Berkeley, the blocking of streets was clearly aimed at making the police presence felt more than preventing the protest from going down certain roads (since the protest moved in circles and went past areas that had previously been blocked off). After the police blocked off random streets, the protest ended up moving towards College Avenue and getting pushed into a fairly busy intersection (College and Ashby). Note that if the polices (sic) intention was to prevent the disruption of traffic this intersection was a bad choice (Ashby being one of the few roads in the area allowing access to Highway 24). "

Yes, cops suck, but the dream of some of the organizers was to have the street party at College and Ashby, to BLOCK traffic on Ashby, to disrupt traffic, to hopefully get people in the area to think about other things they could do in the streets besides DRIVING. The route to College and Ashby was not circuitous. It was intentional, based on what people thought traffic patterns and police reactions would be.

The thing this person wrote about the provocateurs is also a bit off, according to what people have told me- the first person who was arrested was likely a diversion to distract people's attention away from how the second person, who I think is the person some are calling the person with the camera, was being taken out (pushed into a line of cops, apparently!). Hopefully there's some video of what happened.

Oh, and PS, the thing about the people of Berkeley taking back their streets- we live in a "liberal" area where we're lucky (spoiled) that the cops' "main concern" usually seems to be directing traffic around people who are expressing free speech/freedom of assembly (instead of shooting us with live ammo, like they do in some countries). Who are we to get indignant when the cops try to repress and oppress us? They're cops! It's their job!

I'm sure that in other cities, even if the local cops aren't the ones tracking activists, they've probably got active FBI/Cointelpro-type offices. A civil suit is probably not going to make the whole world better.

Happy MayDay!
by llivermore
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 1:38 AM
<<In the past five years protests have caused little if any damage to property in Berkeley but drunken frat parties have resulted in looting on Telegraph Ave. Yet, police show up in the hundreds for any Reclaim the Streets or Palestine protest and ignore rich frat kids who rape and pillage. >>

Sorry if it doesn't coincide with your garbled version of reality (and the Daily Californian misrepresented the frat riots too, so maybe it's not your fault), but it was not "rich frat kids" involved in the riots you mention. It's true that the trouble started at a frat party, but it was an African-American fraternity hosting the party, and the rioting was carried out mainly by African-American kids from Richmond and Oakland who had nothing to do with either Cal or the fraternity (apart, of course, from attending the party).

What's more, there was a racist element to the riots, as white and Asian students in the vicinity were attacked for no apparent reason other than their skin color. At least one was seriously injured. Your claim that the police "ignored" the riots is also false; the police did move in, but not at first, allowing the looting and violence to go farther than it should have. However, the police held back not because "rich frat kids" were involved, but because black kids were involved (the rioters were almost exclusively black), and Berkeley is uber-sensitive to accusations of racism.

Lastly, your claim that political protests have caused little damage in recent years is also false. A replay of the looting and violence that followed the frat party took place the following year after a pro-affirmative action rally on Sproul Plaza which attracted high school students of color from around the Bay Area. Once again there was looting and random attacks on white and Asian students.

Maybe you weren't there and weren't aware of this. I was.
by riots
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 5:12 AM
in fact, both of these viewpoints are a bit exaggerated. berkeley riots and protests have quite a history. remember the peoples park riots in the early 90s?
http://www.pandemonia.com/pandemonia/occupation/

There is a whole other story from the 60s:
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/calhistory/60s.html

And going back further are the riots which shook the entire bay area in san francisco:
http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist4/maritime17.html

Basically, people call something a "riot" if it involves property destruction, which is dismissed as non-political and "hooliganism." Especially incidents like the LA riots and more recently the Cincinnati riots, where everyday police violence sparked organized protests which became more serious protests when armored platoons with shotguns (LAPD, CPD) began invading neighborhoods.

Increasingly, such protests are aimed at explicitly multinational corporate entities:
http://www.indybay.org/news/2001/01/1391.php

The original analysis seems right here -- which is that Berkeley in particular has active political repression programs going on, which is not surprising considering some provable historical facts, which include:
1. COINTELPRO was pioneered in Oakland.
2. COINTELPRO actively monitored UC-Berkeley activist groups.
3. In the early 90s, strange collaboration between OPD and federal agents meant that two activists who were carbombed ended up becoming the illegitimate suspects in the incident.
4. Reclaim the Streets was branded a "terrorist" activity by the FBI director last year. SF Bay Area had some of the first RTS parties in North America.
5. Historically, "red & black tendencies" have been targeted by the US government as real threats to the existing capitalist order. They should feel this way. The idea that people deserve the profits of their labor is common sense which leads to an overthrow of rich parasites who feed off society. In order for capitalism to continue grinding on, these tendencies must be severely repressed. The U.S. is well-known as one of the most violent and strict oppressors of anarchist-communist-anticapitalist tendencies.

I think it is only common sense that there is some form of "red squad" going on in Berkeley. If so, it is probably unconstitutional and a coalition amongst many groups seems in order. Many groups are facing increased repression after September 11th -- Arab-American communities, religious groups, anarchists, communists, environmental activists, etc etc etc. Conservatives who moan about "minimal government" and yet support clearly identifiable repression of political activities are the worst hypocrites.

by indymedia reminder
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 5:24 AM
bb_20wannabe.jpg
From indymedia's greatest hits ... from Los Angeles IMC ... biodev protests right when genoa happened last year ... we have the San Diego Police Black Bloc, in full uniform and awaiting a hearty helping of McDonalds carry-out.
by meike
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 6:30 AM
llivermore, of course everyone is ultimately individually responsible, but you wouldn't probably send your 12 year old on a road trip by themselves, or let your 5 year old go play all day by themselves next to a huge highway strip because there are certain facts of life regarding human development.
The riots that occurred on Sproul after the affirmative action rally were largely constituted by theseapproximately 150 8th or 9th graders who were brought over from Oakland by some teachers who are members of the group BAMN, completely unchaperoned except for by the teacher. What do you know about 9th graders, and what do you think they would do? I don't think the outcome was any different than an unchaperoned group of kids from my more suburban 9th grade would have been (I have news clippings of antisocial stuff that happened in that community, but because they are of a different socioeconomic and racial mix there, everything was interpreted differently and it didn't make the headlines). I think the criticism of that should go to the teacher who thought that these kids would be obedient little political tools who would stand there cheering the rally. BAMN has a really bad history on campus and is a front group for the Troskyist worker's league for detroit or something.
see http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/2001-04-20/feature.html/1/index.html

and did the university administration every ban BAMN despite it's situations on telegraph ave. or stop them from tabling on Sproul, like they are with Students for Justice in Palestine? no. SJP gets to reenact the free speech movement though.
by Pee Paw
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 6:30 AM
I was wondering why there were no photos of the undercover cops from the 4/30 RTS event. Someone needs to be out there taking pictures of these guys, good high-quality shots, and posting them for everyone to see.
by cp
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 8:06 AM
maydaydurant.jpg
oh... *somebody* has to have a photo of the guy, because at these events it sometimes seems as though 1/4 of people are engaged in recording the event for posterity at any moment rather than engaging in the experience. I have a ton of kind of bad photos on my little digital camera that I haven't posted. from those photos from the back earlier in this newswire thread, I can't really see what this member of the black bloc was wearing, but it seems that his pants are a little different, like he has army-style pockets on the side and they're a bit green or brown instead of black? and he has a black hooded sweatshirt on and perhaps a hat?, but lots of people dress like that and I can't really see which particular person it was. so maybe I have him in one of my pictures if I had a better idea. the thing is, he was wearing a mask.
the paranoia regarding suspecting anyone of possibly being a police can get out of control. In some DC pictures on indymedia, this individual was posting pictures of all middle aged mainstream looking people, with no supporting evidence. now if anyone in black is under suspicion
by anonymous
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 10:11 AM
If whomever posted that last photo has any more crowd shots look at the newer post and see if you can get a picture showing the face of the undercover cop. As can be seen from the other picture he is a little under 6 feet, is wearing a black sweatshirt with hood and green army pants and has a backpack that looks like a laptop case. He also had on a bandana(I think dark blue) during most of the march but it wasnt always over his face. He appeared to be Asian in his mid to late thirties with, short (maybe an inch, not crew cut) black hair.

Aside from the arrest the clear signs that he was an undercover cop were that he was talking into his shirt for most of the march, was always hanging out near the outskirts of the protest and was only seen talking to one person who was also acting in a similar fashion (greyish army pants, covered face, white sweatshirt with hood ). Both undercover officers had on punk looking clothes but everything looked new and both disappeared right after the arrest.

The undercover who arrested the cameraman, was also seen at an SJP protest several weeks ago. After the arrests on campus when students marched to the police station I saw him standing off to the side (across the street near the one bench under the elevated railing) watching. At that protest he was dressed to look more like a middle aged city worker and did not have a hood on. I mainly remember this since I tried to talk to him about Palestine and got the clear impression he wasnt there as part of the protest (I just assumed he was a city worker who stopped by to watch) After talking to him for several minutes he got a call on a cellphone from his wife/girlfriend and mentioned something about getting off work soon. His voice was kinda of just a gritty SF/Oakland accent of someone in their late 30s. If anyone has pictures of this guy from that protest that would be great since he wasnt wearing a hood and a clear picture of his face will make it hard for him to disrupt future protests.

Just a note on paranoa. Its really bad for people to suspect other activists of being undercover cops and that can cause disruptions worse than actual undercovers. But, these guys at the May Day and SJP protest are not people pretending to be activists they are merely dressed as activists and disguised to allow the police to track the protest route and direct arrests. It might be good to just get pictures of the faces of anyone you suspect of being like this during a march and then only release the pictures when you are sure (I wasnt 100% sure the guy was an undercover until the arrest).
by chp
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 11:00 AM
so do you think this person on the right part of the photograph above is definitely the person who shoved the younger guy into the police officers?
I looked, and I don't have any more pictures of him, but I *do* have pictures of the gray sweatshirt person with bandanna over their face. That person didn't strike me so suspiciously at all because they were wearing light rather than dark clothes. What did they do? Unfortunately, I have a job which I am at, ignoring right now, but I'll try to put it up this evening. I'm sure other people have pictures as well, but in film format which is harder to upload onto the internet.
by fleetfoot
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 5:44 PM
why are you people so interested in identifying who the police are? Who cares? Just do your "thing" !
by steelz
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 7:42 PM
are all Berkeley cops fat? these guys are hogs
by anonymous
Wednesday May 1st, 2002 8:14 PM
The guy with the white sweatshirt wasnt acting suspicous BUT I didnt see him talking to anyone except the guy who arrested the photographer. And, I tried to find him after the arrest to see what that guy had told him and he was gone after the arrest.

I have no idea about the guy in the photo above so they are prolly one of us and we shoudnt be suspicous (we shouldn't make it harder for activists to cover their faces by suspecting everyone with their face covered).

Why should we care who was undercover? Well, the undercover agent arrested two activists and disrupted the march and they probably will again at future events. Also, by exposing an undercover cop (or plain clothes cop which better fits these guys),we can make them less effective and perhaps help to disable the Berkeley red squad. If we get 100% confirmation on any of these guys and make the pictures public we can completely undermine their ability to be an undercover cop to the benefit of activists and the community alike.
by kim whitmyre
(donryu [at] mminternet.com) Thursday May 2nd, 2002 7:48 AM
I take it they don't have minimum physical requirements for the Berkeley police?

Kim
by CharlesNelson
Thursday May 2nd, 2002 8:45 AM
from the pictures, it appears that the BPD is more ethnically diverse than the "progressives" marching on May Day!

Oh, but you're not supposed to point that shit out...
by slime
Thursday May 2nd, 2002 10:02 AM
Thanks for pointing that shit out. I count 30-40 white cops and 5-10 other, and I can make out 1 or 2 women. The protesters appear mostly white, but there are at least an asian and a black person in the one photo I see. And as far as gender diversity, it's no contest.
by anarchist
Thursday May 2nd, 2002 4:32 PM
In fact, in the pictures above, there are 2 black people and one additional dark-skinned person. In the May Day protests, anarchists marched with immigrant rights groups, at the protests in Oakland & SF there were english/spanish translations for the speakers, with a large contingent of Spanish-speaking people, Filipino workers, etc. Obviously our right-wing troll cannot count. And, again, as far as gender diversity goes, the protesters always win hands down.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the protests were largely against racist targeting of immigrants and Arab-Americans who have been illegally kidnapped by the federal government. And, to my knowledge, no pig has ever joined in a protest against racist police attacks and political intimidation of ethnic groups.

Sorry, troll, try again!
by anarchist
Thursday May 2nd, 2002 4:35 PM
In fact, in the pictures above, there are 2 black people and one additional dark-skinned person in uniform. In the May Day protests, anarchists marched with immigrant rights groups, at the protests in Oakland & SF there were english/spanish translations for the speakers, with a large contingent of Spanish-speaking people, Filipino workers, etc. Obviously our right-wing troll cannot count. And, again, as far as gender diversity goes, the protesters always win hands down.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the protests were largely against racist targeting of immigrants and Arab-Americans who have been illegally kidnapped by the federal government. And, to my knowledge, no pig has ever joined in a protest against racist police attacks and political intimidation of ethnic groups.

Sorry, troll, try again!

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