Police harassment in Berkeley: the chief's reponse
First about 10 of us marched in a picket line in front of the MRS with signs saying "Arrest WAR CRIMINALS not Peace Activists" and "Stop Berkeley Police Harassment". We chanted and sang, spoke with the press, and watched the 2 bike cops watch us!
Then we took our large "No Military Predators In Our Town" banner and marched down the streets (literally) Shattuck to Center, down Center to the police station chanting the whole way "Recruiters out of Berkeley, Troops out of Iraq: Shut Down the Station, Bring our Soldiers Back".
People waved, smiled, honked and were very supportive.
Then we arrived at the police station. Last nite, the chief, Doug Hambleton had agreed to meet with us, but when he saw more than 3 of us, he flipped! Although there were probably only 12 of us by then, he just couldn't handle so many womyn - and a fellow or 2 - in pink! And he even had another officer, a block captain, with him!
We attempted unsuccessfully to put him at ease: we offered to only have 3 of us speak; we agreed to cut our number in less than half. He still couldn't handle speaking with us until we picked three - Judy, Becky, and Zanne - to represent. The three proceeded up the stairs with the chief and captain into the largest conference room with a huge table where every single person could have come up and sat down even!
We spoke for about 40 minutes. We asked the chief to explain why the preponderance of police, often out-numbering protesters. He said the reason the police were there was to make sure CodePINK didn't break the law. When asked what law, he said "standing in the street", "painting the curb pink", and "trespassing".
We asked the chief, in the scheme of egregious breaking of laws in the city, recruiting station, and country, how do those particular laws we are 'accused' of breaking (not found guilty as of this writing) merit so much of our city's resources, especially when Council supports our work and the core values of Berkeley are reflected in our work.
The chief and captain basically said that in their book, our work to end war ranks even with pro-war work to perpetuate war.
We talked about the false arrest and bogus 'spitting' charges. The chief said he read the report that said Zanne spit and he said if anyone spit on him, they were going straight to jail. (Of course, his on Wednesday witnessed any older white man lean out his car and intentionally spit at protesters - they did nothing to the spitter but put their energy into preventing protesters from responding)
We concluded by asking the chief to send police only when the Marines call for their help! And not to have the police show up just because protesters are there. We also asked the chief to reassign those couple of police officers who are so biased against us, including the one who preposterously claims Zanne spit in her face and down her arm.
We are not sure what they will do but the captain did attempt to claim officers are not biased therefor should not be reassigned, but we know differently. We hope they will not wait until someone is hurt before seriously considering reassigning biased officers.
So tomorrow is our day at the MRS! We'll be there by 8:00 to hang banners, set up our table, greet the recruiters and those in danger of being recruited. By noon we will move into our parking lot and "Lift our Voices and Sing"; open mike 2:00; and Dance with Dolores (if she's feeling up to it) by 3:00! Maybe Phoebe will come do the hula hoop for peace with us again! Or who knows who will stop by and share a talent, a poem, a spoken word piece!
We do know congress is once again poised to vote on $166 billion more dollars for war, 40,000 more troops are being deployed, and we NEED to get our voices out so please BE THERE!