Public Comment

New: Dealing Sensibly with Occupy Berkeley--Learning from Oakland's Mistakes

John Vinopal,Resident, District 4
Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 04:57:00 PM

As a nearby resident of Civic Center Park, I've cast a wary eye on the "Occupy Berkeley" encampment since it metastasized away from the B of A circle. Dated signs ("No Taxes For Star Wars") reinforce my impression that Berkeley has never not been Occupied and this just becomes an excuse to put up tents in the park. I figured the ardor would cool come the rains. Friends who grew up here suggested the sprinklers would put an end to it (as they recalled some of their high-school evenings concluding). All saw a risk of People's Park West and wondered how it might conclude or how bad it might get in the meanwhile. 

Well thank you Oakland for the clear instruction in how not to deal with the situation. An ombudsman kiosk, a line of port-a-potties and a case of rat poison would have been vastly cheaper in dollars and national reputation. What was City Hall thinking? What sort of magical thinking is required to forget the 2009 riots? 

It is profoundly dispiriting to read the official OPD press report of Oct 25 (8:05pm) which states that officers did not use flash-bag grenades. In the video posted on BDP, an officer can clearly be seen throwing one into a crowd of people (attending to an injured person no less). The midnight press release merely states "less than lethal munitions". Residents of Oakland should call for the ousting of Police Chief Batts. Oh right, he quit two weeks ago. Smart guy. 

So what should Berkeley do? My modest proposal is to allow tents in the two westward triangles next to the skate park. Allow no tents in the oval and enforce this with nightly sprinkler use. Expect to service the porta- potty more often. This will be far cheaper than the $100k Berkeley will spend on 50 beds for the Winter Homeless Shelter Program and sleep just as many.