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Being There
by Carol Denney (posted by Norse)
Friday Dec 13th, 2019 4:58 PM
Activist Carol Denney e-mailed me this account which she is also sending to the Berkeley Daily Planet. She writes the satirical Pepper Spray Times (available on line at, sings, composes, and copwatches among other things.
At first there was just one Berkeley police officer. The officer tried to get a black man to stand up, rather than sit, a man who was clearly disabled, in pain, and having trouble standing. It was just noon, cold, and the black man was wrapped in a blanket, shaking. It was hard to tell his age.

The officer kept looking down the street as if expecting someone or something, and soon another officer showed up. Together the officers forced the black man to stand, to turn around, and handcuffed him. He cried out in either anguish, pain, or both, as they did.

I had taken four photographs but hit the video button on my phone to capture the painful way they walked him from the front of Fantastic Comics at 2026 Shattuck toward a doubled-parked police car on Shattuck near University. He had only one shoe.

People kept eating at the cafe next door. They barely looked up from their laptops. People just walked by, talked on phones, and the nearby construction workers watched, too. I asked them what had happened, if they knew what it was about. One of them answered that the police come around at seven in the morning and that this guy just didn't leave. "They're polite about it," he offered.

The black man was hurried away into the police car before I could turn back around. I have a video but it's two minutes, apparently too big to email. Everybody just ignored what was happening. Nobody from the Fantastic Comics store came out. It happened right next to one of those "Berkeley United Against Hate" posters, which was right next to the "Everyone is Welcome Here" poster in the store display window.

Jeff, staff at the Fantastic Comics store said, "We don't comment on anything that happens outside our store." I don't know the man's name or what the charge was. A friend of mine had given him the blanket the day before. The police left the blanket behind on the sidewalk. The video is on Youtube at

I am hoping someone can help this man, or stop this apparently casual abuse of human rights. Despite winning at the ballot box against a well-funded effort to criminalize simply sitting on the side

Carol suggests those outraged by this situation contact:

Mayor Jesse Arreguin (510) 981-7100 mayor [at]
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

Councilmember Kate Harrison (510) 981-7140
kharrison [at]
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
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City Manager's NumberRobert NorseFriday Dec 13th, 2019 9:58 PM
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