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Teenagers loot Telegraph shop

By Matthew Artz Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday October 30, 2002


A group of roughly 30 high school-aged students ransacked Telegraph Avenue shops slightly before noon Tuesday. The teenagers made off with about $2,000 in merchandise form one sporting good store and prompted neighboring shops to close their doors for part of the afternoon, according to the Berkeley Police Department. 

Officer Mary Kusmiss noted that the incident coincided with a nearby protest in support of affirmative action, and though a connection could not be verified, police and residents remarked that a similar protest last year invoked nearly identical disturbances on Telegraph. 


“We have to find out how this happened again because it is outrageous,” said Telegraph Avenue Association President Kathy Berger, who speculated that local high schools once again allowed students to attend the UC Berkeley protest (See Page 3) without supervision. 

“It all happened so fast,” explained Thomas Ma, a manager at the Telegraph Avenue Foot Locker where merchandise was stolen Tuesday. Ma refused to comment further on the incident, but Jose Garcia an employee at nearby Greg’s Pizza described what he saw. 

“About 35 kids, mostly guys, a few girls, all black, grabbed shirts and caps,” he said. “Everyone was laughing and guys were passing shirts back and forth to each other. A few of them came into [Greg’s Pizza], but then others said ‘hey where are you going,’ and they all ran away.” 

None of the teenagers involved were caught, police said. 

According to police, the teenagers got off an AC Transit bus near Durant and Telegraph avenues. Some immediately went into the Foot Locker, but then left and went into the Gap across the street. Police said that about 8 to 10 kids were reported inside the Gap, throwing clothing on the ground, but were stopped by store security when they tried to walk out with merchandise. 

The kids then left the Gap and returned to Foot Locker with another dozen youth, police said. They broke a display and shoved one employee while he tried to close the door to prevent them from entering. The kids then grabbed sports jerseys and other merchandise and proceeded to run south on Telegraph. The force from pushing on the front door caused the glass to break at the bottom of the door, police said. 

Foot Locker and several other area shops lowered their security gates immediately after the incident, but re-opened later that afternoon. 

On March 8, 2001, several shops on Telegraph were similarly stormed by high school students. An Athlete’s Foot store, just a few shops down from Foot Locker, was the hardest hit. 

A rally in support of affirmative action was also taking place when the 2001 robberies occurred. The group Fight For Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) was the organizer of both rallies which took place at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. 

BAMN members and UC Berkeley officials could not be reached before press time. 


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