Six women were arrested in South Berkeley during a prostitution sting last Thursday evening. The arrests were made by the Berkeley Police Department’s Special Enforcement Unit between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. along San Pablo Avenue, between Oregon Street and 64th Street. Arrested were Elma Emery, 61, of Berkeley, Ivory Nelson, 24, of Stockton, Erica Spinks, 23, of Sacramento, and a 17-year old girl from Sacramento. Two other women were arrested in West and South Berkeley. The police department conducts periodic prostitution sweeps around San Pablo Avenue: in October, six women were arrested in a similar operation.
An Oakland resident involved in a previous assault case in Berkeley was physically accosted by two masked men who told him not to testify at the upcoming trial. The 54-year-old man was approached on San Pablo Avenue near University by two young men wearing black pants, black sweatshirts and ski masks. The pair shoved the older man around and verbally threatened him.
Police are treating the incident as a witness tampering incident. Though such incidents are common in high-crime neighborhoods across the United States, the phenomenon is relatively new to Berkeley. “I can only think of maybe one other time when I’ve seen it,” said Officer Andrew Frankel. “You just don’t see it happening.”
However, police have noticed a reluctance on the part of some residents to speak with police, which is considered “snitching.” Officer Frankel recalled a 2008 instance where a man had been shot by his acquaintances and was the sole witness to the incident. Cooperating with a police investigation, Frankel said, “would make him a snitch.”