Occupy Berkeley's overnight clashes with police


In an afternoon raid, the Berkeley Police Department cleared what was left of the Occupy Berkeley protest encampment. Here’s our account of protesters’ attempts to defend the camp last night and early this morning.

After being served an eviction notice the morning of December 21, protesters gathered at the Occupy Berkely camp, established several blocks away from the downtown Berkley BART station. About 100 protesters remained on site throughout the night, clashing a few times with police. But when the park officially opened at 6 a.m., an encampment of about 20 tents remained in Martin Luther King Junior Civic Center Park.

The Occupy Berkeley camp had been in place since October 10. In early December, it boasted more than 60 tents and several hundred protesters, but many packed up and left when the eviction notice was served. The notice stated, “this park is closed at 10:00 p.m. Starting December 21, 2011, this law will be enforced.”

It also noted that protesters were in violation of California Penal Code section 647 (e), which prohibits “public lodging.”

After the Occupy SF State camp was cleared December 20, Occupy Berkeley became the Bay Area Occupy movement’s last remaining tent city.

Around 11 p.m. Thursday, dozens of protesters milled around the camp. About 40 joined hands in a Winter Solstice ritual beside a large Christmas tree in the plaza, decorated by occupiers earlier that evening. Others had moved their tents and belongings to a nearby plaza outside of a Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue.

Two arrests were made around midnight. Some occupiers state that one of those arrested had been causing tension and fights in the camp, which has become notorious after several reports of crime. Yet when the arrests were made around midnight, thirty people followed and stood outside the police station, which is directly across the street from the camp.

Here’s a video from the scene posted by YouTube user akenower:

“I can’t say I like the guy, but I’m in solidarity with my fellow occupiers,” said one longtime OccupySF camper who has been spending time at Occupy Berkeley since the OccupySF eviction December 7.

Said the young man, who preferred to remain anonymous, “I’d rather continue the process of working this out within the camp than see him go to the police.”

At 12:30 a.m., a Berkeley Public Works truck pulled up to the park’s southeast corner, and workers loaded one or two tents and other possessions into the truck bed. About 70 protesters ran over to respond, led by a dozen “citizen journalists” wielding cameras. When one man using a computer to film the police approached a police car, an officer abruptly opened his door and struck the computer, and the man fell to the ground.

The officer then exited the vehicle and brandished his baton. Protesters responded by chanting “go home!” and advancing towards the officer; he retreated several feet into the street before returning to his car and driving away.

About 30 minutes later, protesters began to gather outside the police station on Martin Luther King Junior Way. The BPW truck, packed with their confiscated tents and other items, had pulled up in front of the station.

The truck’s driver initially surged forward. But as more protesters massed, and someone called out “you’re part of the 99 percent too,” the driver slowed to a stop and parked. Protesters, who cried out, “come get your stuff back!” climbed on to the truck and began redistributing items.
Soon, a dozen officers exited the police station with batons and lined up, surrounding the truck. Protesters refused to leave the intersection, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Holding their batons with both hands, several officers struck protesters, ordering them to get back. About ten “street medics” -- protesters tasked with tending to injured occupiers -- responded with assistance.

After police left the scene, the mood turned calm. Protesters exchanged stories and ideas for tactics, and donated coffee and food from supporters who stopped by trickled in.

The temperature was in the low 30s as the longest night of the year inched by. Unsure whether police would return, dozens of protesters stayed awake through the night.


Posted by Jerry Jarvis on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

Police brutality? my gosh you guys are babies. I know several people who have dropped out of your movement. You're operating on Emotion, and do not have anywhere to sleep. No direction. You've made a joke out of the occupy movement. How Petty, demanding to spend the night in a public space. YOU ARE A BUNCH OF LOSERS. Get used to it.
Gee, let me guess, you're homeless right?....and Joined the movement so you'd have a place to sleep. I wish the police would get more violent. You folks are idiots, scum of the earth. Take a bath. Get an education so you can form a sentence.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 1:02 am

I predicted that the cold weather would diminish their appetitie. And that city governments would just pick them off on their own timetable.

I guess the movement has fizzled out just in time for Christmas, and they all went home. Good timing, huh?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 6:42 am

This "movement" is a complete waste of time -- shiftless nerds guarding tents while fantasizing about revolution. Its death throes make me think that police brutality has its upsides.

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 9:35 am

We should not do things with the result in mind, but do them because they are right. The fruits of one's actions will come out in time.
-Mahatma Gandhi
so have a good holiday naysayers. the paradigm shift of nonviolence will take hold, with or without you.

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 11:34 am

what is "right" is that we all have different ideas of what is right.

That is why we have elections and the rule of law to govern our societies, rather than mobs who are convinced they are "right".

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

Well said. Making major changes to political and economic are the hardest things possible. Social change is relatively easy since people - often younger people - adopt these on their own, with or without the government's blessing: premarital sex, "illegal" drug use, LGBT support, atheism, etc. But when the 1%ers are threatened with any political or economic change, it's almost impossible to make much headway. Even people on the same side don't often agree on the desired outcomes, or how to acheive them.

The Occupy actions - especially in the Middle East and on Wall Street to a lesser extent - were the most positive political developments since at least 1980 in the US and earth-shattering when they occured in typically conservative Middle Eastern countries. To see that people (mostly practicing non-violence) could force an entrenched leader from power was a truly inspirational political event, one after another. Even the extremely well-educated, but politically complacent Russian people seem to be exerting a little bit of people-power muscle these days.

There is no question the 1%-99% labels resonated deeply among people throughout the country (and world). There is palpable angst and anger among large segments of society, across the full range of social, geographic, and economic demographics. Not since the post-Watergate elections will it be so easy for an outsider to oust an incumbent next November. "Anyone but the status quo" is a hard message to counter if you've been part of the political apparatus for any period of time.

Apparently many people involved with Occupy are regrouping, hopefuly reaching out to others and developing some solid plans. The primary economic justice issues that need addressing are complex and intertwined: jobs, affordable housing, government financing, taxes, labor and capital migration, the banking system, international trade, etc. The 1%ers and even the top 25%ers have no reason to want to see any significant changes to any of these policy areas unless they are assured of a better personal outcome. Since the 1%ers and even top 5%ers will likely never be appeased, the key may be appealing to next 20%ers that they are better off supporting policies that help the bottom 75% of society rather than supporting the outsized, greedy needs of the top 5%.

And as one of the BG contributors recently wrote, the Occupy name may need to be updated with a more positive and hopeful label.

It would be nice to see multiple subgroups with many different voices speaking to some of the important economic issues listed above. Refrains of "we need jobs" or "we need economic justice" may look great on posters during another protest march, but they are no subsititute for specific action plans and proposed legislative changes that have been carefully considered and vetted by people and groups with alternative viewpoints.

I suspect there are some older folks like myself who will be happy to continue to make financial contributions and/or volunteer support to the tens of thousands of young people actively involved with the Occupy movement, but please don't take it personally when some of us ignore another protest or don't respond to simplistic soundbites. At our age we've just seen too many of them over the years that never seemed to go anywhere. Goodspeed that you have better results than we did.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

Thank you for a more enlightened view on the movement. Judgments will always form regardless and generally out of ignorance. The more compassionate and humane approaches will therefore always stand out.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

Sorry guest, but I subscribe to this: "Changing the paradigm is not about putting a different person in power; it is about awakening a different power in people".

–Michael Nagler, Metta Center Founder

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

"Michael Nagler is Professor emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC, Berkeley, where he co-founded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, and the founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence."

Posted by matlock on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

something wrong with that?
you folks keep dissing people. that right there is a habit right out of the old playbook.
look, i don't think there's anything wrong with voting, elections and the rule of law...i always vote. but when you're stuck with a system that produces poverty/income inequality like what we see (and continued environmental degradation), i'd rather change that system. and i'm not saying people can't be rich--sure they can be...but it serves no one to continue on the way we are when we can make things better. so...we're not going to convince everybody, we know this. but in the end, it's in our hands to make something that works better. and that's what's happening here. it won't come about using the same methods that have come before.

haven't you ever tried to change anything in your own life over the years? sometimes what served you in the past doesn't work anymore. you can either accept a compromised sense of well-being, or you can get off your duff and make those changes. nothing fancy going on here. just good, old-fashioned change.

and now, i'm going off-line. have a happy holiday everyone.

Posted by Daniele E. on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

I'm sorry Daniele, and anyone else, but would you please reiterate the objectives of the Occupy movement...ahhh...not what YOU think they were but the stated objectives. Also, please state an objective measurement of success (or failure) of the movement and whether you think (this time, your opinion) was achieved. (From your post, I suppose it would be whether "good, old-fashioned change" was achieved).

Posted by DanC on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

OWS had a chance, but the extreamist took it over and made it everything BUT OWS! I'm all in favor of taking down the super rich, but why all the other stuff that was a turn off?

I'm not antisemitic but OWS seems to be. I support Obama, but OWS doesn't. I want to help workers, not close job sites (Ports) like OWS.

OWSters really never wanted to find solutions so much as party and go wild.

By the end OWS was made up of people who will always be homeless and poor. Even in good times most of these folks can never hope for jobs that pay more that mimuim wage. That's assuming they even want to find a job.

It was a nice try, but it just didn't work.

Posted by Downtown Resident on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

Good job psyching out the guy driving the truck so some of the tents could be recovered.

Posted by Killme on Dec. 27, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

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