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Statement from First They Came for the Homeless on the Berkeley Post Office Eviction
by Mike Zint
Friday Apr 15th, 2016 10:07 PM
A Statement from First They Came for the Homeless on the Berkeley Post Office Eviction
By Mike Zint of First They Came for the Homeless

For 17 months and 12 days, a hand full of protesters occupied the post office in protest of the theft of our commons. During that time, we helped to bring attention to the sale of the downtown Berkeley post office. We installed community oriented services to reaffirm our ownership of this property. Those services included feeding those in need, a free box for donated items, a free library, a newspaper stand, a place for public posting of literature, outreach for the homeless, and a community garden. These services were utilized by everyone, housed and homeless alike. Thousands were fed, hundreds were clothed, and dozens of homeless were able to replace "confiscated" gear.

During the occupation, our protest also defended the library books from the incinerator by occupying the main library and confronting the head librarian. The head librarian quite his job within 24 hours.

We organized liberty city in response to the new anti homeless laws. During that action we demonstrated the ability of homeless to care for themselves. Within two weeks, we sheltered around 8% of Berkeley's homeless at city hall. In doing so we also provided storage, food, shots and registration for the homeless peoples dogs, stability, and an opportunity to heal. We managed to help three addicts stay off methamphetamine for the duration of the city hall occupation. All this was done at no cost to the city.

Approximately 5 weeks ago, BPD instructed a group of known addicts and dealers to move their tents and gear onto postal property, 100 feet from the front door of the high school. Lt. Rateaver of BPD was the ranking officer. He told me I was not doing a good enough job keeping the drugs out as his officers were instructing them where to set up. He also said that we were responsible for them. I immediately sent an email to the mayor, city council, the police chief, and community members. The result of this was for BPD to move them 10 feet away, into the community garden, and to again instruct them where to set up. I sent a second email, this time including the principal of the school. No action was taken. Instead, this group was allowed to operate an open air drug market, and use drugs publicly while high school students were present. Members of this group were repeatedly arrested, and allowed to return. Their behavior was used to discredit what we were doing, in spite of our history of not allowing drugs into the protest.

The raid directly targeted the protesters only. I was dragged violently down the street after I could not physically move fast enough. The dealers were given over an hour to move. Four protesters were cited, including a 70 year old lady who slept in front of the post office on city property. The drug dealers received no citations. Our personal property was destroyed in the process of confiscation. The drug dealers were able to collect their property. Postal police did not allow us to retrieve valuables. Those valuables contained Mayoral candidate Mike Lee's tablet and computer. This raid has damaged Mike's campaign. He lost valuable information crucial to his run for mayor.

The occupation was not in violation of the rules governing behavior on postal property. The rules clearly state the the guidelines do not apply to areas of postal property where the sidewalk is adjacent and indistinguishable from municipal sidewalks. Electioneering and voter registration were permitted, and we were doing both.

It is obvious that laws were broken. But not by the protesters. Postal police, BPD, and members in city government did. They all need to be held accountable. The community needs to understand the truth about what happened. In Berkeley, the poor do not have rights. There is no equal protection under the law, and there is no first amendment. No matter how many positive things we accomplished, we will never count.

And lastly, the city services offered would have put us in a bug infested, bacteria infested, crime infested homeless shelter where the employees practice favoritism and abuse the residents. No thank you, I was doing just fine taking care of myself, and in the process, I created an environment of care for all those in need. That is what Berkeley just lost.

See also: Evicted! First They Came for the Homeless Forcefully Removed from the Berkeley Post Office.

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