Pastor Decries Attempted Arson, Criticizes Berkeley Official Response

Becky O'Malley with Kelly Hammargren
Thursday July 30, 2020 - 06:05:00 PM

Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Church was joined this morning by his brother Pastor Ben McBride and about 200 political and religious leaders in a press conference which spotlighted an apparent hate crime, an attempt to burn down the historically Black University Avenue church, which took place in the early hours of July 29. The meeting was Zoomed so that additional viewers could attend virtually, including this reporter.

Pastor McBride leads the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and co-founded the Black Church PAC He and his congregation have been active in the Black Lives Matter movement--the church had just put up a BLM banner over the front door. He recently spoke at a Berkeley City Council meeting about defunding the police.

Attendees at the gathering in the church parking lot could see the scorched place where trash cans had been ignited about 1:30 a.m. A neighbor, identified by Pastor McBride as a Mr. Gonzales, saw a shadowy figure who appeared to be pouring some flammable liquid into the cans before lighting them, and he called 911.

The fire was quickly extinguished by first responders, but the church officials complained that they were not promptly notified by city authorities. Police simply slipped a paper notice under the front door of the church, where it was not found by church members until the next morning.

Former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport also spoke from the impromptu podium. Two other African-American political leaders were present,Councilmembers Ben Bartlett and Cheryl Davila.

Pastor McBride commented with some annoyance that he hadn’t received even a phone call from other civic officials who were not present, neither elected (Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin) nor employed (the city manager and the police chief.) -more-

Press Release: Arsonist Sets Fire to Church of Prominent Berkeley Pastor

Jennifer R. Farmer, SpotLight PR
Thursday July 30, 2020 - 08:55:00 AM

Pastor to Hold Press Conference on July 30 at 10:30 a.m. local time

BERKELEY, CA -- More than a year after a string of arsons obliterated Black churches in Louisiana, the congregation of a prominent Bay area pastor and racial justice advocate has been targeted by an arsonist. Pastor Michael McBride, who leads the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and who co-founded the Black Church PAC, received a call from one of his ministers the morning of July 29. The minister found burned trash bins and property damage to the church building. McBride, who has traveled the country challenging white supremacy, had just hung a Black Lives Matter banner from his church, The Way Church. Hours later the church was set afire. Photos show the aftermath of the blaze; trash cans set afire, the side of the church and the concrete in the surrounding area charred by fire.

Pastor McBride will host a press conference outside the church on Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. PST. Persons outside of Berkeley,can join the press conference via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IiDgQZnCQB2L0eXr9NSWnw.

A neighbor reported seeing a suspicious person setting fire in the rear of the building. He and his roommate called the local fire department. Firefighters and police officers arrived and extinguished the blaze, yet failed to notify the pastor or other church officials.

McBride is now considering whether his decades long work challenging police brutality, registering people of faith to vote, or speaking out against white supremacy irritated the suspected arsonist, or whether they were angered by the Black Lives Matter sign hanging from the church. He is also questioning why the police department did not contact anyone regarding the fire at his church, opting instead to slide a card under the front door.

“For decades church fires were used as a means of terrorizing Black clergy and the Black community. I guess in Berkeley, it’s not something worthy of special attention by law enforcement officials” said Pastor Michael McBride, campaign director of the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and co-founder of the Black Church PAC. “Regardless of the intentions of the suspect, we will not be silenced or intimidated. Were it not for an alert and courageous neighbor, my entire church could have been burned to the ground.”

WHO: Pastor Michael McBride, The Way Christian Church

WHAT: Press Conference re Attempted Church Burning

WHEN: Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. PT

WHERE: 1305 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA (Zoom for persons outside of Berkeley)

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IiDgQZnCQB2L0eXr9NSWnw -more-

Page One

What's Behind the Mysterious Shutdown of Berkeley's Post Office Services?

Gar Smith
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 03:22:00 PM

Over the past week, I've made three visits to Berkeley's Main Post Office and everytime, I found the counters mysteriously closed. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, July 26- August 2 2020

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 12:03:00 PM

Worth Noting:

There are four meetings in the coming week so far including the Tuesday 4 pm City Council closed session. There have been a lot of long Council meetings and late nights – expect another.

Monday – The 10 am policy committee on Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community will discuss Racism as a Public Health Crisis. Follow the committee link for details.

Tuesday – The City Council Regular meeting is at 6 pm. Expect a long night with 44 agenda items including 6 action items. Usually items carried over from prior meetings precede the planned action agenda, but instead Item A. Emergency Declarations and First Amendment Curfews is listed as last. Item 36 SB 902 should be opposed not supported as it is another Scott Wiener measure that adds density without what is need most substantial affordable housing requirements. The Annual Housing Pipeline report listed under information deserves a full presentation and explanation.

Thursday - City Council will be meeting on July 30 to finish business before starting the summer recess and per the City Clerk Mark Numainville the agenda will not be posted on the Council website until Monday afternoon. So far only one meeting is expected. https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx

Sunday, July 26, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Monday, July 27, 2020 -more-

Public Comment

Becoming Permanently Unemployed

Harry Brill
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:11:00 PM

Jerome Powell, who is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warns that unemployment could reach the depression level of 25 percent. But like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he is unaware that many experts on labor force issues claim that unemployment is already at the depression level or very close to 25 percent. -more-

Facial Discrimination

Steve Martinot
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 03:18:00 PM

It’s always discouraging when you discover that a person you thought was intelligent turns out to be less so. It happens a bit in a social culture that depends on therapy rather than dialogue. You can almost tell from a person’s body language that they are thinking about how they feel about how you have spoken, that is, what its potential "effect" may be, rather than on what was actually said. This contortion of discourse is a paradigm that emerged during the 1980s. Its driving force was the counter-culture realization that much of the Puritanism on which this country had been founded (the New England branch of white supremacy) held people back from fully engaging each other as people. So a movement emerged that focused on “getting into your feelings.” Unfortunately, the habitual practice of looking inward became a strange self-centered way of developing dialogue with oneself rather than with another. Some of the non sequiturs that were thus produced would have made the surrealists proud. However, while seriously protecting people from subtlety, it oozed a certain minor-league sociopathy. -more-

Smithereens: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday July 25, 2020 - 12:08:00 PM

The Green Screen Is Going Dark -more-

Dress Rehearsal following Trump’s Election Defeat

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:38:00 PM

Using Federal troops in unmarked vans to arrest peaceful protestors was a deplorable action by the President whose clear intention was to intimidate protestors during a crucial election year. This might have been red meat to his declining base but has caused outrage from many Republicans and Democrats alike.

Contrary to claims made by the acting homeland security secretary, Chad F. Wolf, on orders from his boss, Portland was NOT convulsed by a “violent mob” of anarchists but were largely peaceful demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights. -more-

The Odd Couple

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:15:00 PM

A fascinating battle is ensuing between the diminutive lightweight intellectual giant Dr. Fauci, and the heavyweight “genius” challenger, Donald Trump, who outsourced much of his academic work earning a MD (master of deceit) degree. The good doctor follows the Hippocratic Oath (HO), “first do no harm,” and has an approval rating over 65% in spite of a chronic shortage of sleep because of demands on his time by round-the clock media interviews. His opinions are dictated by a close adherence to clinical data. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Malignant Trumpware

Bob Burnett
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:13:00 PM

The United States is beset by two viruses: COVID-19, which is highly contagious and causes respiratory distress; and Donald Trump - a form of malware, which is also contagious and causes acute psychological damage. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste; some cases progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome and 3.5 percent result in death. Trumpware causes massive loss of judgement; some cases progress to cult-like behavior and, in a small percentage, a willingness to grant Trump dictatorial power.

There is no known antidote to COVID-19. We're all trying to avoid contracting it by preventative actions such as washing our hands often, avoiding close contact when outside our homes -- maintaining a protective distance of six feet, and covering our mouths and noses with cloth face covers.

There is an antidote to Trumpware; it's the presidential election on November 3rd. Nonetheless, in the next 100 days, there are steps you can take to avoid being contaminated by the Trump social virus. The first is to understand it.

Malicious software --malware -- has been around since at least 1988. It is software designed to intentionally damage elements of a computer network. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Internal Work of Managing Symptoms

Jack Bragen
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:17:00 PM

Sometimes there is only a hair's breadth, metaphorically speaking, between my consciousness rejecting a delusion versus believing in it. It requires unrelenting effort to recognize and nullify delusions, and this process is far from foolproof. Psych medication is the precondition; it is far from being a complete solution.

In addition to being medicated, a person subject to severe psychosis should probably do a lot of "reality checking" where practicable and should find a reliable person with whom to discuss thoughts. We can practice at teaching the mind to pinpoint a delusion. Nullifying a delusion also entails not being emotionally attached to the erroneous belief. The ability to let go of a belief to which a person is emotionally attached is improved with practice.

Clinical depression is probably not without a psychotic element. If depressed, the patient's perception of life is exaggerated toward everything being bad and hopeless. If not depressed, the same circumstances would likely be interpreted as workable. But how does a person obtain this better attitude, this more positive perception? Normally it would be accomplished with medication and therapy. You wouldn't normally be able to create it on your own. This is not to rule out independently working on oneself. -more-

Uigur Genocide

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:41:00 PM

There is growing concern that China may be omitting genocide against the Uigurs limiting their numbers by a systematic program of mass sterilization and incarceration. Pro-democracy activists are being targeted in Hong-Kong with dire threats of life-in-imprisonment. Stung by US criticism, the Chinese government has lashed out at US war crimes in Central and South America, Iraq and Afghanistan. For decades the US military has engaged in brutish terror against many of the most vulnerable people of the world undermining democracy and the rule of law. The notorious former “School of the Americas” trained many of its graduates in torture techniques to “discourage“ political dissent in their home countries. Massive grassroots efforts by US activists under the banner, ‘SOA Watch’ has finally closed the "School of Assassins" also known as the "School of Coups." Abuses SOA graduates have alleged to have committed include "the death or disappearance of 200,000 Guatemala…is one of many abuses. -more-

An Apology and a Correction

Glen Kohler
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:37:00 PM

Mayor Arreguin pointed out that my report that the City wants to hire 'rent-a-cops' to perform traffic duties is incorrect; that in fact the City intends to hire more City staff, not a private contractor. And yes, I did say as much in a posting on NextDoor.com.

Please excuse me for wrongly referring to the intended staff members as rent-a-cops. That was wrong. But the essence of my complaint is not wrong.

Traffic duties are best performed by trained professional police officers. 'Routine' traffic stops can and do turn into much more serious situations: when the person being stopped reacts with violence. Has just committed a robbery and stolen items are in plain view. When drugs or alcohol or extreme mental/emotional states are involved. When the driver is violating parole. When the other driver is unlicensed. When the stopped car has been stolen. When a disgruntled parent has illegally abducted a child. When a driver accelerates instead of stopping. -more-


Distance Learning: Berkeley Must Make the Best of It

Becky O'Malley
Saturday July 18, 2020 - 02:14:00 PM

Parents of school age children in Berkeley and elsewhere got the bad news this week: the kids will be at home for a while longer. There’s no question that this will be hard at times for all concerned: parents, students and teachers. But there’s also no question, for anyone who can understand the scientific reports, that this is the right decision.

I’m just glad that all my daughters and now even my granddaughters are grown, so it’s not my decision. I have one granddaughter, two grand-nieces and two more young family friends who are scheduled to start college in the fall, and they all must decide whether the offering at their chosen schools (probably some version of online, plus perhaps a modicum of in-person teaching) will be worth what it costs.

My guess is that most will take a year off instead. That’s disappointing, but it’s reality-based. -more-

Back Stories


Public Comment

Becoming Permanently Unemployed Harry Brill 07-24-2020

Facial Discrimination Steve Martinot 07-25-2020

Smithereens: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 07-25-2020

Dress Rehearsal following Trump’s Election Defeat Tejinder Uberoi 07-24-2020

The Odd Couple Jagjit Singh 07-24-2020

THE PUBLIC EYE:Malignant Trumpware Bob Burnett 07-24-2020

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Internal Work of Managing Symptoms Jack Bragen 07-24-2020

Uigur Genocide Jagjit Singh 07-24-2020

An Apology and a Correction Glen Kohler 07-24-2020


Pastor Decries Attempted Arson, Criticizes Berkeley Official Response Becky O'Malley with Kelly Hammargren 07-30-2020

Press Release: Arsonist Sets Fire to Church of Prominent Berkeley Pastor Jennifer R. Farmer, SpotLight PR 07-30-2020

What's Behind the Mysterious Shutdown of Berkeley's Post Office Services? Gar Smith 07-25-2020

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, July 26- August 2 2020 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 07-25-2020