Greenwood Has Got To Go

Kelly Hammargren
Wednesday June 10, 2020 - 04:36:00 PM

Yesterday’s special 4:00 pm Berkeley City Council was well attended with over 200 people logging in and it felt like everyone commented. My error in retyping the zoom code incorrectly into the weekly activist’s calendar did cause some irritation for a few, (I am so sorry) but everyone managed to find links and join.

There were six emergency items added to the agenda and we managed to get through five and never moved on to the rest of the plan for the special meeting. There were many new voices commenting and most of those new voices spoke out to defunding the police. Things were going relatively smoothly all things considered, the budget referral for an Office of Racial Equity passed, the resolution to direct the Police Review Commission to submit a revised Berkeley Use of Force Policy passed, the painting of BLACK LIVES MATTER and Ohlone Territory on the street passed and then it happened.

This is the text exchange with my best friend in Palm Desert:

(me) Up now at council banning tear gas and our Berkeley Police Chief just said if he didn’t have tear gas the only choice is live bullets. No wonder the kids want the police defunded. I said this is when the rubber hits the road when the council has just spent 4 ½ hours on [how] much everyone cares about black and brown lives and now will they cave?

(Jodi) This just proves the point the protestors are making. The police can only think in terms of power and domination. How do you reform such an organization from within? You can’t. I’m not totally onboard for abolishing the police but radical change is needed and they need to have less power over the citizens and especially over the cities/counties who live in fear of their political clout.

I’ve heard these kinds of threats before from Chief Greenwood, though not as jarring whenever police actions or attempts to rein in policing are considered. Usually they are more veiled with the underlying message, if you block me from what I want something terrible will happen and it will be your fault. The Council caved last week in a 5 (Arreguin, Kesarwani, Hahn, Wengraf, Droste) to 4 (Harrison, Robinson, Bartlett, Davila) vote to approve a curfew, the Council caved September 12, 2017 in a 6 (Maio, Bartlett, Hahn, Droste, Arreguin) to 3 (Davila, Harrison, Worthington) vote to approve pepper spray.

Last night after much discussion, public comment and the beginning of calls for Chief Greenwood to resign, the Council voted unanimously for an outright ban on tear gas and a temporary prohibition on pepper spray or smoke for crowd control with further review of these agents by the Council Public Safety Policy Committee.

All this is a move in the correct direction, but at the core the question remains. How can a police chief lead a department when his own lens is limited to the only choice for crowd control if tear gas is taken away is live ammunition? Is there no other way to respond than to don riot gear, grab the batons and guns? -more-

Trump Threatens to Use the Military

Jagjit Singh
Monday June 08, 2020 - 12:01:00 PM

America continues its downward slide pummeled by the Coronavirus, civil unrest and failed military adventures costing $trillions and sending thousands of Americans and foreign civilians to their early graves. Following his inept and anemic response to the deadly virus, President Trump is now threatening to use the US military to quell civil unrest in a desperate effort to prove his manhood. This is the same mean that dodged the Vietnam draft by claiming heel spears. Miraculously, they seem to have healed at the end of the war. -more-

Unemployment Integrity

Bruce Joffe
Monday June 08, 2020 - 11:58:00 AM

Everyone is pleased the May unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent from 14.7. But no one was more pleased than the president who crowed, "There's a great thing that's happening for our country." Not to be outdone by his own rhetoric, he concluded his June 5 presser with, "Today is probably, if you think of it, the greatest comeback in American history."

Nevermind that 30 million people are still unemployed, and Black and Asian American unemployment actually rose.

I don't trust trump's celebratory numbers.

Remember when Florida's Governor DeSantis announced on May 20 that a Department of Health data analyst was fired for insubordination? In fact, she refused orders to manipulate the database that keeps track of epidemiological data. She refused to make it say Florida was safe to reopen business when the underlying data didn't support that conclusion. She had the professional ethics and moral strength to say "no," although it cost her job. Do those who feed us good employment news from the White House have as much integrity?

The Labor Department has said, due to limitations in data gathering (many unemployed people are misclassified as being employed), the true unemployment rate could be three percent higher than currently estimated.


Practice Ghandi's Method

Romila Khanna
Monday June 08, 2020 - 11:54:00 AM

Many years have passed but the theory has not changed. Love thy neighbor to get the best out of our shared human connection. War stirs fear and hatred; it cannot succeed as a method for turning neighbors into friends. Maybe we should begin to practice Gandhi’s method. Whenever he went into a troubled situation he listened deeply to everyone involved. He talked to those who were oppressed and he talked to the oppressors. He provided an example of what thoughtful listening was like. He understood each point of view before feeling his way to human justice in a tense situation. To everyone involved in the tense situation he provided the cooling example of open listening. Can we begin right from home and school by becoming open listeners?

“Listening deeply to a fellow human being I brought peace to the world.” M.Gandhi -more-

Public Comment

While the Cat’s Away: New Housing Legislation in California

Bob Silvestri
Saturday May 30, 2020 - 11:22:00 AM

While Californians have been in lock-down, worried about their health, their job, and their finances, working from home and home schooling their kids between Zoom meetings on too slow internet connections, the mice in Sacramento have been busier than ever. For State Senators Wiener, Atkins, Skinner, and Marin’s own Mike McGuire, among others (the “Senators”), this has been the perfect opportunity to advance an anti-suburban, anti-single-family housing, high density, ultra-progressive agenda.


The push to pass major legislation to override local control of zoning and planning started in earnest in 2008 with the passage of SB 375, which decreed that high density development was good for the environment. That trend continued, unabated, up until the colossal failure of Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 50: a law that attempted to remove almost all local control of municipality zoning and planning about density and heights and other “restrictions” to unlimited urbanism. But the push back on this aggressive agenda was even too much for some of Wiener’s historical allies.

So, the cabal of Wiener, Atkins, Skinner, McGuire, et al went back to the drawing boards. In that transition, Marin Senator Mike McGuire, in particular, appears to have made a deal with the Devil that he’ll support Wiener's agenda in a new piecemeal fashion, if they allowed him to appear to “stand up” to their agenda in public appearances. -more-

Mayor Arreguin Chooses Curfew Over Constitution

Carol Denney
Friday June 05, 2020 - 12:14:00 PM

"We do not need to militarize our response to protests." - Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, The Atlantic, June 2020

A plaintive voice, apparently from the chair of the Police Review Commission, asked the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, to please, please allow the commission to meet. The commission has apparently been shut down for weeks in a moment when the whole world is writhing over the pain of yet another black man murdered by a police officer in plain view, even videotaped, while other police officers stood casually by or held him down.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin referred the matter to the City Manager. The more pressing matter for the mayor was the establishment and extension of a curfew, the ham-handed approach to this international turning point. And establishing special permits for the very businesses who've been urging the city to clear the streets of anyone visibly poor so they can use public space for their own profit. -more-

The Trump Effect

Harry Brill
Saturday June 06, 2020 - 02:56:00 PM

Known as the Trump Effect, President Trump’s presidential election has had a substantial impact on personal relationships. In various articles and newspaper reports on this issue we learn of the many friendships and marriages that have come to end. In one highly publicized instance, for example, a woman who was a California prison guard divorced her husband of 22 years when she was 73 because he voted for Trump. She explained that she felt “betrayed”. -more-


Racism: It's Not Just About the Money

Becky O'Malley
Thursday June 11, 2020 - 11:29:00 AM

One day last week I got an email from my neighbor across the street inviting me to join her and others in what she described as “a #blacklivesmatter #endwhitesilence ‘honk and wave’” at the nearest big intersection, the corner of Ashby and College. British-born, she’s a recently naturalized U.S. citizen, so this was her chance to exercise her newly-minted first amendment rights (and duties) in the company of friends. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Having Mental Illness and Dealing with Current Events

Jack Bragen
Friday June 05, 2020 - 12:08:00 PM

Numerous persons who've suffered from severe mental illness, some, people of color, others white, are not unfamiliar with brutal treatment at the hands of cops. And I am one of them. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday June 05, 2020 - 12:10:00 PM

Getting Back to Normal

In what looks like another sign that America Amok may be returning to "normal," the San Francisco Chronicle has been running a print ad that harkens back to the good ol' pre-pandemic days of yore. It has appeared daily on page 2, placed in a prized position directly below the Chron's "To Our Readers" editorial statement. It reads: "Attention! This Weekend. Fairfield Gun Show. June 6 & 7. New and Used Firearms. Bulk Ammunition. 1st Time Buyers Welcome. Under 18 Free w/Parent."

The ad was adorned with an illustration of a revolver and a photo of someone wearing a full-body hazmat suit.

It's time for a new normal. -more-

On George Floyd’s Senseless In-Custody Death

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday June 06, 2020 - 02:53:00 PM

I too am saddened and outraged at George Floyd’s senseless in-custody death by a Minneapolis policeman, which has ignited protests and riots in Minnesota, across the U.S. and even abroad. -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 6-14

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Friday June 05, 2020 - 12:57:00 PM

Worth Noting:

The City of Berkeley has updated the Shelter-in-Place order increasing the requirement for facial coverings while reopening more services and business beginning June 8.


Remember the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and the incidence of new infections in California hit a new high of 3600 new cases recorded June 5 [source www.worldometers.info]

At the same time California records a new high of new infections the State has slipped to 28th in the nation in number of tests per million population 56,653 behind Georgia 58,990, Minnesota 57,156, Iowa 57,386, South Dakota 59,483. Rhode Island leads the nation with 161,172 tests per million population.

Please wear facial coverings when out.

June 6 – June 14 – There are eight City Meetings, one town hall and the June 6 March to Bury Racism.

Monday - The first meeting of the Community Advisory Group on housing at Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations is Monday. -more-

Join #endwhitesilence Honk and Wave Action This Weekend

Fran Osborne
Friday June 05, 2020 - 09:34:00 AM

We are doing another couple of #blacklivesmatter #endwhitesilence ‘honk and wave’ actions to show solidarity with the black community, and our determination to banish the status quo.

Friday, June 5, 4 to 5pm, at the Ashby and Telegraph intersection in Berkeley

Monday, June 8, 4 to 5pm, at the Ashby and College intersection in Berkeley

Join us if you feel safe to do so. Bring signs, water and masks for a safe, socially distanced protest. Spread the word!

A person who came to the last one emailed this response to us “Your action has had such positive ripple effects for me and inspired me as well.” It feels great to join with others to stand up for justice and safe communities.

Maybe all those other things we want to happen in the world like tackling climate change and other social or economic change cannot happen without shifting the system that keeps our problems in place.

Hope to see you there! -more-

Berkeley March - Bury Racism Funeral Procession on Saturday at 3:30

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Friday June 05, 2020 - 11:54:00 AM

Berkeley councilmembers, residents and local artists are planning to lead to a funeral procession in honor of George Floyd and other victims of racism on Saturday.

The Funeral Procession to Bury Racism, a Family Friendly March is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Berkeley councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Cheryl Davila Kate Harrison and Rigel Robinson are slated to attend the march along with artists and residents.

The New Orleans style funeral procession will begin at Malcolm X Elementary School at 1731 Prince St. and will travel to Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park at 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Participants will also gather and read the names of Floyd and other victims of racism.

Floyd, a black man, died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Four police officers are facing charges in connection with the death.



Back Stories



Racism: It's Not Just About the Money 06-11-2020

Public Comment

While the Cat’s Away: New Housing Legislation in California Bob Silvestri 05-30-2020

Mayor Arreguin Chooses Curfew Over Constitution Carol Denney 06-05-2020

The Trump Effect Harry Brill 06-06-2020


Greenwood Has Got To Go Kelly Hammargren 06-10-2020

Trump Threatens to Use the Military Jagjit Singh 06-08-2020

Unemployment Integrity Bruce Joffe 06-08-2020

Practice Ghandi's Method Romila Khanna 06-08-2020


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Having Mental Illness and Dealing with Current Events Jack Bragen 06-05-2020

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 06-05-2020

On George Floyd’s Senseless In-Custody Death Ralph E. Stone 06-06-2020

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 6-14 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 06-05-2020

Join #endwhitesilence Honk and Wave Action This Weekend Fran Osborne 06-05-2020

Berkeley March - Bury Racism Funeral Procession on Saturday at 3:30 Dennis Culver (BCN) 06-05-2020