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People's Park: Berkeley City Council to Vote on "Tear Gas" Authorization Tonight

by Situational Awareness
A special meeting of the Berkeley City Council is scheduled for TONIGHT, Thursday August 4 @ 8:15PM. The topic is to suspend the city's policy banning the use of chemical weapons. This proposed change of policy is in response to the People's Park protest.

Zoom link:
More info at:
Berkeley city manager, Dee Williams-Ridley, has requested the suspension of the city's prohibition against police usage of chemical weapons. The city manager made this request yesterday, in response to the People's Park protesters currently occupying the park. Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who is in favor of the request, called for a special meeting of the Berkeley city council. This meeting is to happen tonight at 8:15pm. The meeting is only accessible via Zoom teleconference, not in person. Council will vote on the proposal to allow Berkeley police to use "tear gas", smoke, pepper-spray, and other chemical weapons. On June 9 of 2020, council banned the use of such weapons.

"Tear gas" is not a gas. It is a aerosol, an important distinction. The chemical agent is 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, but is called CS for short. As small micro-droplets of liquid, the lachrymator agent is difficult to expunge from the lungs, nose, throat and mouth. An additive is mixed with the CS to make it more sticky, resulting in it being more difficult to get off of skin, clothing, and harder to expunge/exhale from the body. The product is not harmless. CS can cause miscarriage. CS is capable of causing severe injury and possibly death for people certain pulmonary or respiratory conditions. Even a healthy individual is at physical risk of long term effects if exposure to CS is prolonged, or if enough CS is used in a given space. The canisters themselves can send shrapnel, or start fires as in internal reaction creates heat.

CS aerosol was used on a Berkeley Black Live Matters protest in 2014. After a night of marching, the protesters ended on Telegraph Avenue. Rather than do traffic control to re-route vehicles around Telegraph, the city police gave a dispersal order. The various police and sheriff agencies on site began agitating and threatening the crowd. When the bulk of protesters and passers-by did not leave the Avenue, CS was dispensed throughout the Avenue. So much CS was used, an aerosol cloud stretched over a quarter mile down Telegraph Avenue from the UC down to the 7/11 convince store.

To this day, it is not known which agencies present in Berkeley used the material, who gave the order, which command staff and officers followed on the order. The CS wafted into People's Park and into residential neighborhoods. Telegraph itself is mix-residential, with people living in the heart of the CS cloud. So much CS was used, that even people who followed the police dispersal order --- who were leaving the area --- were subjected to the chemical agent. In the airflow, the aerosol cloud carried the material faster than people could walk. The use of CS in 2014 resulted in testimony and hearings before the Police Review Commission, and before city council itself.

In response to the later 2020 BLM protests, the use of pepper spray, CS, smoke and other chemical agents were prohibited in Berkeley. This of course drew the ire of Fox News, and police spokespersons.

The protest response to what happened yesterday in People's Park was foreseeable. The UC instigated a situation which people knew was going to create an emotional response. Protesters faced off against the police line, tore down the fence faster than the UC could maintain it, and stopped the heavy machinery. A victory for the protesters.

The city manager and the mayor want to send in the city police, with chemical agents. Aside from the direct harm chemical agents would have on protesters and wildlife, the park is surrounded by houses, apartments, dorms, religious spaces. Hundreds of people who aren't even involved in the protest would be directly effected by CS usage. It would be reprehensibly unethical to use CS on a protest, and it would be even more so to use CS on the general populous.

Housing is needed, but there are other locations for this housing project other than People's Park. A smart infill housing policy would seek to preserve park space. Instead, this project seeks to builds on a locally and nationally landmarked space. Advocates argue that the UC did not do a proper Environmental Impact Report, as required by state law. This is evidenced by the nesting birds that were hurt yesterday, as reported by protesters on the scene. The UC did not check for nests, before contractors started tearing down trees. They were in such a rush to move in on the park, a basic wildlife check was not done, violating state law.

The city should not follow the path the UC has chosen. Any involvement in attacking People's Park protesters would mar the city's reputation. The city did not participate in policing the Memorial Oak Grove protest of 2008/2009. Even on city streets and sidewalks in the general area near the stadium, the city police did not get involved. The city should repeat this policy of avoiding a protest situation caused by UC mismanagement.
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by Still outraged, though
According to the City's website, tonight's meeting has been cancelled:
Arreguin wants all out war against People's Park protesters, only caving today due to fierce and immediate pushback against his chemical weapon plan...

Jesse Arreguin
I’m canceling the meeting. Our policy stands and shame on the Sheriff for threatening to not provide emergency support to Berkeley.
10:25 AM · Aug 4, 2022

Two years ago, Arreguin supposedly opposed tear gas and pepper spray as crowd control munitions...

Jesse Arreguin
Last night the Berkeley City Council took up my proposal to prohibit police use of tear gas for crowd control during COVID. The entire Council voted to ban the use of tear gas *permanently* Tear gas is banned in warfare and should not be used on our streets or in protests.
10:22 AM · Jun 10, 2020
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