An open letter to the City Council of Berkeley in response to Linda Maio’s Dec. 8 statement about the protests (Opinion)

Steve Martinot
Tuesday December 09, 2014 - 10:27:00 AM

When I first read Linda Maio’s statement about the protests, what I wanted to say was this. If you don’t want violence to occur on these demostrations, all you have to do is send the police home. There will be peacefulness. But then someone convinced me that that wouldn’t be enough. What you, Linda, and the rest of the city council need to do is get out there with the demonstrators, make yourselves known, march with them, and offer some solidarity with their cry for justice. You do believe in justice, don’t you?

Do you know the difference between a police department and an occupying army? The role of a police department is to protect people's rights, especially their right to call for justice from their own government. The role of an army of occupation is to insure that people obey the rule of power, and that any disobedience be squelched. And that inherently implies violence.

But after the people took over interstate 80 and shut down the Bay Bridge I realized that you have a bigger job. In fact, the job you have is so big I don’t think you can even see it. It is, as they say, too big to see. 

And that job is, to sit down with the demonstrators, and negotiate with them. And by negotiating with them, show that the city of Berkeley can do something that no other governmental entity in the entire US is up to doing. That is, being responsive to the demands made by the people. 

Can you dig the difference between being responsible (to whom?) and being responsive (to the people)? 

To negotiate will mean going among the demonstrators, calling them to a meeting right where they stand (or sit, or walk), and through discussions, figure out how Berkeley as a city can play a role in getting justice for the many victims of police violence (including our brother Oscar Grant, our own Kayla Moore, the young Michael Brown, the distressed Eric Garner, and the some 20 odd others that have been shot and killed by police since Aug. 7, 2014. 

The demonstrators are calling for justice for all these victims of police violence. These victims were all shot by members of the same Fraternal Order of Police to which the Berkeley police also belong . Your cops are members of the same organization as those that murder people all across the country. That is a place to start. Get the FOP to take a stand against murder. Get the FOP to declare murder a crime, no matter who commits it.