Public Comment

Berkeley city manager short-circuits process for police armored tactical van--Tuesday Council meeting to consider action

Gene Bernardi, Veterans For Peace E. Bay Chapt. #162 and SuperBOLD ( Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)
Friday June 16, 2017 - 10:46:00 AM

On November 1, 2016 the Berkeley City Manager signed an "Agreement with the City and County of San Francisco...for the distribution of FY 2016 UASI Grant Funds". UASI is the Urban Areas Security Initiative program run by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. UASI provides grants for Urban Shield and military equipment such as an Armored Tactical Van. 

This signage by the city manager with S.F., the UASI fiscal agent, short-circuited the process for the Armored Van purchase because FY 2016 UASI had not, and HAS NOT YET been considered for renewal by the Berkeley City Council! This greased the wheels for the funding of the Armored Tactical Van which appeared on the December 13, 2016 City Council Agenda and was approved by the Council with only one brave soul, Cheryl Davila voting NO. 

The UASI Grants Funds Agreement includes Appendix A which spells out the details for the purchase of the Armored Tactical Van for the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) which is to receive the van September 29, 2017, to be deployed October 30, 2017

Crowds of concerned members of the public and representatives of organizations have flooded Berkeley City hall at several meetings waiting to speak out against the Berkeley City Council renewal of FY 2016 UASI/Urban Shield and the final purchase of the Armored Van. 

Many were barred by Police from entering City Council chambers in violation of The Brown Act's requirement that legislative body meetings be open to the public. Furthermore, New Business was addressed before Old Business in violation of Robert's Rules of Order by reference a part of Berkeley's Council Rules of Procedure. Several times now the Council has delayed action on UASI and the Armored Van. A delay was last approved after midnight on May 16, 2017 after people had waited over five hours to speak! 

A final vote on the Armored Van requires that the Council authorize the City Manager to execute a purchase order for the Armored Tactical Van ("Specially Equipped Panel Van") from the Armored Group. (Which military equipment companies will benefit from this purchase with our Federal tax money and BPD money?) 

The Berkeley City Council has called a Special Meeting on June 20, 2017, 6pm at Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley to consider the renewal of UASI and the FBI's NCRIC (Northern California Regional Intelligence Center) receptacle for the Joint Terrorism Task Force surveillance system, as well as the final purchase order for the Armored Tactical Van. 

Longfellow Middle School is at 1500 Derby Street, Berkeley. All Council meetings are open to the public. Please attend and speak on these programs which many feel have a chilling affect on our freedom of speech and assembly.