Carol Denney

Page One

New: Considering the Best Ways to Kick Nazi Ass (News Analysis)

Carol Denney
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:01:00 AM

As soon as I locked up my bicycle near Old City Hall, where the Berkeley City Council was having its Friday 3:00 pm special meeting on August 18, 2017 to tweak local protest laws before the arrival of the fourth alt-right/Neo-Nazi/white supremacist rally in Trump's first electoral year, I saw a friend who said, " are you ready to kick some Nazi ass?" -more-



Public Comment

Opposition to Urgency Ordinance Regarding Street without Permits

Osha Neumann, East Bay Community Law Center
Friday August 18, 2017 - 10:54:00 AM

Mayor and Councilmembers:

I cannot be at the emergency meeting you have scheduled for 3 PM tomorrow, but I want to register my strong opposition to the proposed ordinance regarding unpermitted street events.

We have seen in this country the disastrous consequences of rushing to pass laws in response to perceived dangers without taking time to consider whether those laws are necessary and their possible unintended consequences. It’s really unfortunate to see the Berkeley City Council about to fall into that trap.

Is the proposed ordinance necessary?

If White Supremacists come to Berkeley and stage an unpermitted event in a park and if that event spills over into the street, they will be breaking multiple laws (I’m sure the city attorney would have no trouble developing a very long list.) If they break existing laws and are unruly and disruptive the Berkeley Police can use the authority of Penal Code section 726 to declare the event and unlawful assembly. This is what that section says:

Where any number of persons, whether armed or not, are unlawfully or riotously assembled, the sheriff of the county and his or her deputies, the officials governing the town or city, or any of them, must go among the persons assembled, or as near to them as possible, and command them, in the name of the people of the state, immediately to disperse.

If the event continues and the participants do not disperse Penal Code section 727 states that “officers must arrest them.” Everyone who participates in an unlawful assembly is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Penal Code section 408.)


Penal Code section 727 is a powerful tool. Police in the Bay Area have had plenty of experience using it. The proposed new ordinance is unnecessary.

The proposed ordinance is flawed, and will have unfortunate consequences.

One of the ways in which Berkeley progressive politics expresses itself is spontaneous street demonstrations against war and injustice at home and abroad. These demonstrations fulfill the need people feel for an immediate response to terrible and tragic events. They are a way for the community to come together in grief and outrage.

They are a vivid way to protest. They can be healing and inspiring.

It would be truly unfortunate if Berkeley, in response to threat of white supremacists in our midst, passed an ordinance that would give the City Manager authority to shut down this form of political expression. The ordinance grants her broad and unspecified powers to “issue such regulations [unspecified] and take such other actions [unspecified] as “are necessary to preserve public health, public safety and property.” There is nothing in the ordinance to constrain her discretion in deciding what is “necessary.” She can prohibit scertain items [unspecified. Signs? Effigies?] and activities [unspecified. Singing? Chanting?], simply because she thinks it “necessary.” She can restrict “activities” and “items” to certain times and/or locations, because it is “necessary,” regardless of whether the “time, place, and manner” restrictions she imposes comport with the First Amendment.

When we pass legislation in a rush we don’t have time to think. The ordinance goes into the books and we have to live with it.

This ordinance is unnecessary, ill-conceived, and flawed. I urge you to reject it. -more-


A Comprehensive Berkeley Strategy for August 27

Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean
Friday August 18, 2017 - 10:20:00 AM

I’ve tried to follow the many comments about what should be done on August 27 when once again the hate mongers descend upon our City. I believe they are doing this because they want to get the maximum amount of media exposure for their agenda of hate. What better venue to do that than the home of free speech?

The common thread in those making comments on how to respond is show that Berkeley is a community united against hate speech and violence. Not so long ago we experienced what can happen with the alt-right met what I will term the alt-left. (I apologize in advance if that isn’t the politically correct terminology). My point is that the result wasn’t pretty and didn’t speak well for us as a City. We’ve historically seen how emotionally charged gatherings can quickly lead to charges of over-reaction and to charges of under-reaction regarding our Police Department. None of these kinds of responses have worked particularly well in terms of expressing what the larger community wants to do and that is to make a non-violent statement AS A COMMUNITY against bigotry, hatred and violence. People want to find a way to take some action, but now we must decide what that action should be?

It is entirely understandable that when people who are confronted with views that are so repugnant that even if they have vowed to not to do anything that could be considered as violent, the actions - signs, symbols, threats, shouted words, raised fists act like gasoline poured on a fire. The situation is so highly charged emotionally that it takes super human restraint to keep things on a civil, debate oriented level. Those carrying the message of hate and bigotry are very adept at pushing everyone's buttons and they do so as part of their plan. Even holding separate events on the same day, but in different locations does not necessarily deter one group (or even a part of one group) from storming over to the other group and confronting them, especially if the very purpose of either side is to be recognized in the media. So let’s consider this: -more-


Non-violent Rally planned

Rob Wrenn
Friday August 18, 2017 - 10:23:00 AM

This peaceful nonviolent rally is planned for Sunday August 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Crescent Lawn on the edge of the UC campus Addison/Center and Oxford. It’s far enough away from Civic Center Park and is occurring earlier so should be able to avoid the violence of clashes between far right and BAMN/antifas which will probably occur given Far Right group plans for an afternoon rally in Civic Center Park. If you are part of a group, you could ask your group to endorse. -more-


Illusions of Sanity

Jack Bragen
Friday August 18, 2017 - 12:27:00 PM

I was born in the 1960's, and when young, would watch a television show called, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." The program taught young children that the world is friendly, that people are good, and that you needn't be afraid when stepping out the front door of your house. -more-


Thank You White Supremacists

Carol Denney
Friday August 18, 2017 - 11:50:00 AM

Thank you, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan, and alt-right marchers. Thank you for not covering your faces, for lighting yourselves well with dollar store tiki torches, so we can all know if you are our neighbors and co-workers and try to arrange our lives accordingly.

Thank you for outlining our President so clearly as an unabashed sympathizer, so that no amount of spin can alter the obvious trajectory of his position on racism. Thank you for clarifying so succinctly that your groups see his presidency as aligned with your mission.

Thank you, white supremacists, for illuminating for anyone in confusion the shallow nature of your cause, the immorality of your goals, and the sheer ignorance of the vast majority of your members. Thank you for the non sequitur squirreling through what passes for writing on your websites, so that someday perhaps we reconsider our custom of underfunding education.

Thank you for expressing yourselves so freely, so that those observers with a thorough education in psychology can navigate the turgid waters of your movement’s cold soul and help the rest of us strategize some way to communicate better with you through the jungle of icons and clichés that seem to surround you.

Thank you for drawing the lonely, the misfit, the disoriented to your side, so that we who may have ignored them can meet them and make sure we are not part contributing to their sense of abuse. Thank you for making it so clear exactly how and where our world needs healing. -more-


The Coming Eclipse - Skip It

Harry Brill
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:18:00 AM

Editorial

Updated: Free Speech Annoys Berkeley Yet Again...

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 18, 2017 - 11:52:00 AM

It’s no surprise that the iggarunt lackeys of the current crop of white supremacists have chosen to invade college towns like Charlottesville and Berkeley. These folks have always feared and despised the pointy heads, as their ideological granddaddy George Wallace used to call intellectuals, especially liberal intellectuals.

Here in Berkeley, where I’ve lived off and on since 1958, we’re looking forward with annoyance to invasions four and five in the very near future. We are the storied 60s home of the Free Speech Movement, and we’ve been a target of opportunity ever since. Unfortunately, all too often the reaction by bureaucrats, both campus and city, has been to save themselves trouble by trying to restrict speech they (and often we) don’t like, which never works.

The next date when we’ll have to put up with an ugly bunch of bigots will be Sunday, August 27, a little over a week from now. The prospect seems to have provoked Berkeley officials both elected and appointed to unnecessary overreaction.

First, a little history.

Number one in the recent series was the aborted visit of the campy peroxide conservative Milo Yiannopoulos, who was supposed to speak on the University of California campus under the sponsorship of the Young Republicans. Tremulous UC Berkeley administrators blew that one big time, first cancelling his talk and then allowing truculent campus cops to get into a brouhaha with the Black Bloc, a bunch of masked self-styled anarchists, mostly testosterone-poisoned young men with sticks who came spoiling for a fight and broke a few shop windows downtown.

The next round, in March, billed as a post-election rally of Trump supporters, was held in Martin Luther King park next to City Hall. Most or all of them came from out of town spoiling for a brawl. The Black Boys also hoped for fist fights, and scored a few, but nothing much of consequence happened except a few arrests.

After that, the Young Republicans tried to schedule the shrewish blonde Ann Coulter. She bailed in a controversy over dates, but when she didn’t show up the rowdy rightists had another even smaller get-together in MLK park, with even fewer fights.

I went to both of the last two encounters, and can report that nothing describes the alt-right attendees as well as “a basket of deplorables”—sad inconsequential losers. A few among them were clearly striving to get recognized as armed-and-dangerous celebrities, but they didn’t do much but posture. The city of Berkeley police showed admirable restraint, breaking up actual fights but otherwise just marching around looking stern.

As the old joke has it, two Jews, three opinions. Here, it’s five Berkeleyans, 50 opinions. The question of the appropriate response to the upcoming visitations has been endlessly debated in the arenas of choice, which includes list-servs maintained by progressive organizations, Facebook, the UC student newspaper and various online news sites like the Berkeley Daily Planet and berkeleyside.com.

The writers seem to sort out into a few repetitive groups. First out of the gate was the idea that Berkeley’s city government should somehow ban what’s called “hate speech” within the city limits. That happens to be a particular bugaboo of mine, since the Planet was unfairly chastised for it at enormous length by a few people who mistakenly believed themselves to be friends of Israel. Let’s just say it’s a slippery slope.

A recent advocate of this theory cited as his authority a 1942 Supreme Court case, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, where a Jehovah’s Witness street preacher who called a city marshal a " damned racketeer" and "a damned fascist" in a public place was arrested and convicted under a New Hampshire law of breach of the peace.”

For context: that’s the same 1942 Supreme Court, remember, that upheld the internment of Japanese-Americansin the Korematsu decision, since discredited and repudiated. Also, the Chaplinsky case seems to have turned on whether the preacher’s cuss words created an immediate danger to the marshal, which of course they didn’t.

We should be careful what we wish for. Geoffrey Stone, in his 2004 book Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, says this about Chaplinsky:

“…it would be very dangerous to allow the government to pick and choose which false statements in public debate it will prosecute and which it will tolerate. The opportunities for selective prosecution and political abuse are obvious, and the prospect of using federal courts to decide on the truth or falsity of such statements in the absence of any concrete harm should give us pause.”

Would we like Chaplinsky to set the standard for Berkeley? Especially, of course, with this federal government, this Supreme Court?

The Berkeley city administration, progressive council or not, seems no more qualified than the federal government to decide which speech can or should be restrained, especially prior to when it’s uttered.

But if we forego prior restraint on the content of the proposed speech, per established constitutional norms, what else can Berkeley do about the online threats from the White supremacists? It’s ordinarily assumed that government can regulate the time, place and manner of constitutionally protected speech, if not the content. Oddly, the facebook page of the August 27 rally organizers is entitled "No to Marxism in America", which seems to be exactly the kind of speech content protected by the First Amendment. It's true that the CPUSA generally stood up for racial justice, but that's kind of a stretch.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin in an August 16 press release said he was exploring, with city staff’s aid, tools available to prevent the kind of mayhem which happened at Charlottesville.

(Here we might pause to acknowledge the ingenuity of UC Berkeley, finally using some smarts to deal with threatened alt-right invasion number 5, the latest annoyance offered by the UC College Republicans, a talk by Ben Shapiro, an oxymoronic “conservative intellectual” twerp. According to the Daily Cal, he’s being offered the 2,000 seat Zellerbach Auditorium for his talk, which should effectively swallow up his little claque, which I hereby predict will be fewer than 200 idiots. Let’s all stay home from this dreary prospect. )

There still remains the question of how righteous Berkeleyans should deal with the August 27 crowd. One tempting stance could be called “Just Say No”, or perhaps “The Silent Majority”.

The idea would be that everyone with any principles would simply avoid MLK Civic Center Park, where the unpermitted ravening hordes are threatening to gather. Berkeley’s a city of ~125, 000, so we could claim that there are a lot of counter-protesters who just aren’t showing up. The argument goes that this would prove that they’re Wrong and we’re Right…er, Correct.

A corollary to this theory would be the very real worry that the right will show up armed and dangerous.

People who advance this point to a scary VICE news segment featuring lots of footage of what happened in Charlottesville.

An unsigned press release distributed from the City of Berkeley’s City Manager’s office by the “Press Contact” asked us all to stay home to make things easier for the police: “The best response for those seeking to safeguard our community is to stay away… Please do not create alternative events near downtown Berkeley. Even if peaceful, nearby counter-events take police officers away from those intent on committing violence or damage.”

The City Council is on its summer break, so it’s not clear whose idea this is, if indeed it’s backed by any of the Electeds, but it’s presumptuous at best.

I feel their pain, but at least for those of us who came up in the civil rights movement, staying silent in the face of what looks a lot like Fascism seems to be what’s dangerous.

Especially with the recent addition of blatant White supremacy to the Trumpist armory, it’s incumbent on those of us who are White to do what my young African American friends call “represent” –to speak truth to power, as my Quaker friends would say. I don’t need to tell African-Americans what to do.

I won’t even waste the pixels to talk about what a dumb idea it is to show up with sticks and shields as some self-styled Antifas like to do. But silence gives consent, so the rest of us should speak up, literally or symbolically, albeit non-violently.

In this category a variety of alternative actions have been proposed. FormerBerkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, thorough as always, has a whole compendium of them which can be seen here.

Rob Wrenn reports that a non-violent rally is planned for the morning of the 27th at the UC campus entrance on Oxford.

A number of proposals for what seem to be wickedly satirical counter-protests are floating through the electronic ether, including one which seems to involve a huge inflated chicken which looks like Donald Trump. If and when I get a specific plan from this group, I’ll let you know what it is.

At the time of writing (Friday noon), however, city staff seems to be throwing a major spanner in the works.

It appears that the newish City Manager is asking for a panoply of extra powers to be voted on at a hastily called “Emergency” meeting this afternoon for this afternoon at 3

. It is immediately obvious to any of us who has ever participated in a spontaneous protest that laws like this could be applied against all kinds of demonstrations.

This is what’s proposed:

"13.45.020 City Manager Authorization. The City Manager or his or her designee is authorized to issue such regulations and take such other actions as are necessary to preserve public health, public safety and property on City streets and sidewalks during street events planned or proposed to be held in the City and for which no permit has been obtained pursuant to Chapter 13.44 of this Title, including the prohibition of certain items and activities or restriction of them to certain times and/or locations. Failure to obey any directive issued by the City Manager or his or her designee pursuant to this section shall be a violation of this chapter."


Osha Neumann of the East Bay Community Law center has written an excellent letter to the City Council explaining what’s wrong with this proposal which can be read here.

I’ll go to the meeting and let you know what happens.


UPDATE at 7pm on 8-18-17

I went to the “Emergency” City Council meeting this afternoon and learned a few things.

First, it wasn’t much of an emergency. I chatted with a Brown Act maven on the way out, and she thinks that creating the ground rules for an event that might need them in more than a week would not pass the Act’s test for a properly noticed meeting.

However. The real emergency, if there was one, was that District 4 Councilmember Kate Harrison is supposed to leave the country for three weeks tomorrow, and she saved the day. Without her, her colleagues might have plunged into a deep constitutional morass, but they managed to avoid it with her guidance.

A roomful of the usual suspects came loaded for bear. They (rightly) perceived the proposed ordinance as a blank check that could be used as a weapon against future protests by people who were not the alt-right, and in the public comment period that preceded the discussion they made that abundantly clear.

But by the time the draft got to the meeting, it already had a number of amendments clarifying its scope, proposed by Harrison with advice from the ACLU. Before the public spoke on remaining deficiencies in the new draft, the Mayor explained what it was supposed to do: to give the City Manager on behalf of the police the ability to create new rules on what might be prohibited potential weapons and defining the perimeter within which they could be banned, in the context of a large gathering which didn’t have a permit. The only problem, as the first public commenter said, was that the language of the draft, even as amended, didn’t say that.

As the meeting progressed, Harrison, with occasional help from Sophie Hahn and strong support from Cheryl Davila, managed to significantly tighten it up, so when it finally passed (that was inevitable) it was largely defanged. A New Year’s Eve sunset clause was added and the specifications of what constituted weapons and how the area covered was defined were narrowed to an acceptable scope.

I’ll wait until the city clerk releases the official language as ultimately amended to report on exactly what it ultimately says, but I think it’s okay now, not the real danger to Berkeley’s cherished freedom to raise hell that it was originally.

By the way, many commenters, including me, took the opportunity to complain that “the city”, whoever that might be, was inappropriately telling them to stay home. Jack Kurzweil of the Wellstone Democratic Club said that about a hundred organizations had already signed on for the morning counterprotest.

And when I got home I was bemused to see an email from Pro Publica, an “investigative” journalism group in New York City, with an article asking if police could prevent another Charlottesville. The writer reported that “The alert the city [of Berkeley] sent out Wednesday was direct: ‘The best response for those seeking to safeguard our community is to stay away.’ “ Source? The city manager’s PR guy, Matthai Chakko. Maybe he should have let the council or even the Berkeley public weigh in on that before issuing his press release, and maybe Pro Publica should watch out for single source reporting.

If the comments at today’s council meeting meant anything, what Matthai Chakko and/or whoever his principal is asked for is not what’s going to happen. -more-


Columns

THE PUBLIC EYE: Make America Safe Again

Bob Burnett
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:19:00 AM

Through six months of Donald Trump the progressive resistance has been united by opposition to his policies. The good news is that we have stopped his legislative program. The bad news is that most Americans don't understand what progressives stand for, other than opposing Trump. Now's the time to bring forward an agenda that emphasizes safety. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Vulnerability to Scammers

Jack Bragen
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:00:00 AM

This week, I am going to discuss something that, one hopes, doesn't happen every day. Being a victim of identity theft and/or financial crimes will probably occur in our lives at some point. It should not make you afraid to pick up the phone when it rings, turn on a computer, or use a debit card to buy a soda at a store. However, these are some things of which we ought to be aware. -more-


What indeed should Berkeley do about the proposed alt-right on August 27? An answer to Jacquelyn McCormick.

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:14:00 AM

Here is my two cents worth on the subject. -more-


Arts & Events

Purcell’s KING ARTHUR Performed by American Bach Soloists

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:27:00 AM

As part of their 2017 Summer Festival, American Bach Soloists presented two performances, August 10-11, of 17th century British composer Henry Purcell’s King Arthur at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In fashioning King Arthur, Purcell set music to a verse text by poet John Dryden. This was not the first time Purcell and Dryden had teamed up to create works of semi-opera, a genre derived from the court and theatre masques that combined music, theatre and dance. Previously, Dryden and Purcell had worked together on Dioclesian, and, sub-sequently, they combined their talents on The Indian Queen. Purcell and Dryden were a good match: Dryden conceived drama as “nature wrought up to a higher pitch,” while Purcell had acquired a better understanding of Italian musical conventions than any other English composer of the late 17th century. Moreover, both Dryden and Purcell sought successfully to create a truly English art that would celebrate English life. -more-


Ambroise Thomas’s HAMLET Is Not Quite Shakespeare’s

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday August 19, 2017 - 10:24:00 AM

West Edge Opera currently presents three performances, August 5, 13, and 19, of French composer Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet at their new venue at Pacific Pipe, an abandoned steel factory in West Oakland. I attended the Sunday matinee on August 13. Although based on Shakespeare’s play, many of the bard’s famous lines are missing from the libretto of this opera, the work of Michel Carré who adapted it from a play by Alexandre Dumas père. The great “To be or not to be” speech is truncated. Only “Être ou ne pas être” survives. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and everything else in this beloved speech are cut. Never-theless, much of the greatness of Shakespeare’s Hamlet comes through in this opera, especially when it is as grandly sung as in this West Edge Opera production. -more-


Back Stories

Opinion

Editorials

Updated: Free Speech Annoys Berkeley Yet Again... 08-18-2017

Public Comment

Opposition to Urgency Ordinance Regarding Street without Permits Osha Neumann, East Bay Community Law Center 08-18-2017

A Comprehensive Berkeley Strategy for August 27 Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean 08-18-2017

Non-violent Rally planned Rob Wrenn 08-18-2017

Illusions of Sanity Jack Bragen 08-18-2017

Thank You White Supremacists Carol Denney 08-18-2017

The Coming Eclipse - Skip It Harry Brill 08-19-2017

News

New: Considering the Best Ways to Kick Nazi Ass (News Analysis) Carol Denney 08-19-2017

Columns

THE PUBLIC EYE: Make America Safe Again Bob Burnett 08-19-2017

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Vulnerability to Scammers Jack Bragen 08-19-2017

What indeed should Berkeley do about the proposed alt-right on August 27? An answer to Jacquelyn McCormick. Ralph E. Stone 08-19-2017

Arts & Events

Purcell’s KING ARTHUR Performed by American Bach Soloists Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 08-19-2017

Ambroise Thomas’s HAMLET Is Not Quite Shakespeare’s Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 08-19-2017