Public Comment

The Berkeley City Council Should Not Approve Police Agreement with Federal Agencies

By Carolyn Scarr
Friday May 11, 2012 - 09:50:00 PM

At the May 15, 2012 City Council meeting, I will be urging Mayor Bates and City Councilmembers to NOT APPROVE the proposed agreements between Berkeley's police department and the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and the Urban Areas Security Initiative. Please join me. 

I find it appalling that anyone even consider sending "suspicious activities" reports to some central agency. It is not suspicious to take pictures of public buildings. I have taken many pictures of the Oakland Federal Building for a number of perfectly valid and innocent reasons. Hate to think that taking a picture of our lovely old city hall might be considered a suspicious activity. As a Cal alum with many fond memories, I think taking a picture of the campus where I spent my courting days should be an activity which would not get me an FBI entry or something like that. 

Of course as a white Norte Americano, my photography would probably not be considered suspicious. You all know as well as I do, that foreign tourists and parents of international students taking graduation pictures are much more likely to be the subjects of suspicion. This discrimination is disgusting and Berkeley should not be a part of anything that tends to racial and religious profiling. 

The whole idea of urban warfare is horrifying. And turning our police into a military force is what urban warfare training will lead us into. We the citizens are not the enemy. Or we should not be considered so. I experienced being targeted as an enemy by the Oakland police who were driving up and down Berkeley's streets looking for trouble. It was bad when Jerry allowed Oakland to be a training ground for urban warfare. I don't want that here in my home town. And training our police to look at citizens as the enemy is exactly what led to the serious wounding of that young man at the Oakland Occupy. That is not an Urban Shield. It is an Urban missile. 

The City’s Mutual Aid Policy should be modified such that our police department will not send our officers into jurisdictions where dangerous so-called non-lethal weapons are used. Police from other cities or counties should not be invited into Berkeley to police us with teargas, tazers and the missiles which were shot at anti-war demonstrators at the Oakland Port. They went so far as to shoot at a woman in her 90s. Fortunately she was a tough old bird. But if they had hit someone on blood thinners (like me) they could have killed her. Our city should not send our police to help quell the exercise of First Amendment rights.