A downtown worker noticed ten sleep-liers-in downtown Berkeley at 8:50 a.m. Monday on his way to work. Some were asleep in or beneath sleeping bags, the worker noted.
I photographed two liers-in at 4 p.m.
Lying is illegal; it's sitting that is being added to a new measure to be debated at City Council Tuesday.
Are police laying off on the eve of the council debate over sit-lie, which is the must attend political event of the year?
And what is going on downtown?
Michael Diehl, a community organizer for a Berkeley outreach program, was posting news of a planned anti-sit-lie demonstration at Tuesdays council meeting, when I stopped.
"Did you see the riot downtown (45 minutes ago)?" We were on Telegraph. I set out on foot to see what I could learn about the "riot."
Incidents involving police at Constitution Square, downtown at BART, have multiplied recently.
The first knowledgeable looking guys I approached said what had occurred was far from a riot, just a "bunch of kids standing around" among some cops.
But a ringleader from what I am calling the "Downtown Gang," or just the Downtowners, described a scene closer to the "riot" Diehl had seen, a crowd of 30-50 (probably 10-20) who were deemed threatening enough that Berkeley Police called in four officers. A sergeant video-taped the event.
They video-tape, they have said in the past, to protect themselves against allegations of police brutality downtown as recently were leveled against police by a well-known Berkeley civil liberties attorney.
According to the Downtowner spokesman, the incident went down as a shoplifting beef. The crowd of Downtowners was berating, or as the spokesman, put it, "educating the police to uphold their sworn moral duties--to uphold the rights of all."
"They are sworn to protect and serve," I said.
"More than that," said the spokesman.
The spokesman agreed that 'typical Berkeley stand-off" pretty much described the incident.
According to the Downtowners spokesman, the hour-long stand-off ended only when the shoplifting suspect was taken off in handcuffs, arrested for "theft," an allegation the crowd felt was untrue. Spokesman noted that the suspect had not resisted the police.
The crowd believed the suspect was suspected of leaving a downtown drugstore with items, he had learned he couldn't purchase because he had forgotten his billfold, according to the spokesman. but the crowd said the accused had left the items in the store.
Readers, it is a foolish reporter who would expect the alleged crime victims, employees of the CVS drug store, to speak about the case with a reporter. Legal issues lead the reasons not to talk list.
But it is a lazy reporter who wouldn't bull his way in.
CVS refused to comment, saying "I'm not going to talk to you," with a sneer.
But I was able to learn that an alleged shoplift had occurred at CVS and that the security officer, who reported it, was still being debriefed at the Berkeley Police station two hours after the incident.
Some street-friendly observers are saying the CVS bust was "arranged."
Southsider Ted Friedman will walk downtown for any and all "riots."