At first, the scene Thursday looked like a demonstration, and one of the "demonstrators" said it was, but it turned out to be a "Block by Block" cleanup.
Block by Block is the recent replacement downtown of the Host-Ambassador program, which still flourishes on Telegraph. Host-Ambassadors and Block by Block are not the same organization.
According to BBB, the program works like this: "Security Ambassadors are under the direction of a single Operations Manager and management structure. Security Ambassadors are responsible for patrolling on foot and bike to serve as additional ‘eyes and ears’ of the Berkeley Police Department.
While serving as a visible deterrent. Ambassadors will report all activity that is deemed to be out of the ordinary and engage low level quality of life crimes in order to seek compliance through verbal request. All Ambassadors will provide a high level of engagement with workers, residents and visitors to improve perceptions of safety."
Boil this down and you get a "patrol' with not much more power than a citizen, who can report dangerous behaviors, or even—if they know how—make a citizen's arrest. But to downtown street tramps, the security ambassadors are just cops.
Yesterday, an operations manager and crew were hosing down and cleaning what has become the successor scene to Constitution Square at the Bart exit. Street tramps have moved to alongside the Berkeley Library on Shattuck, under threat of harassment they say.
Some tramps say they've moved downtown where panhandling is better than on Telegraph, and some feel threatened by recently resumed police patrols on Telegraph. Meanwhile, Telegraph appears less trampy, although the persistent street scene outside Amoeba's annex continues, uninterrupted.
Southside Planet reporter Ted Friedman went downtown to compare Teley to Shattuck.