New: Councilmembers Arreguin and Worthington will meet the public tonight at 7 on the steps of the Old Berkeley City Hall despite cancellation of council meeting; Arreguin's statement

Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Tuesday December 09, 2014 - 03:47:00 PM

Thank you all for reaching out to me regarding the recent protests of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and police brutality in general.

I am personally outraged over these killings and strongly support overall goal of these protests which is to raise awareness of the inequities in our criminal justice system and to make it clear that black lives matter. I have participated in these protests over the last two days to show my solidarity for this movement. However, as the Councilmember for the Downtown, I am concerned over incidents of vandalism and violence by a small fringe segment of these protests whose goal is confrontation and damage not advancing the broader movement.

I understand that these protests have elicited a wide range of feelings on all sides, which is why even though the Mayor has cancelled tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilmember Kriss Worthington and I will be on the steps of Old City Hall (2134 MLK) tonight at 7 pm to hear from the protestors and from residents about their views. 

Hopefully through non-violent action and through dialogue we can heal as a community and a country, and make positive change to prevent these incidents of police brutality from happening in the future. 

- Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley City Councilmember, District 4 

Below is my official statement in regards to the recent events: 

First, it is important that the message that black lives matter does not get lost in the unfortunate events of the last 48 hours. 

I strongly support the overwhelming majority of protesters who are peacefully opposing the racial inequities in our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, there is very small and antagonistic fringe engaging in senseless destruction and violence that undermines the legitimate demands to reform our justice system. This fringe cares about mayhem, not the message. 

I also support our officers to the extent that they have been working to keep our community safe and apprehending violent agitators. However, their indiscriminate reaction in such a stressful situation has not been perfect and may have added fuel to the fire by targeting both peaceful and non-peaceful protesters alike with tear gas and rubber bullets. Witnessing firsthand the protest at its early stages last night, it is unfortunate that many innocent participants and members of the media have been literally caught in the middle of a cycle of violence. 

My heart goes out to those peaceful protesters who were injured by both aggressors and the police, and to the many businesses who were vandalized and whose property has been damaged. I hope going forward that the police will partner with peaceful protesters to proactively identify, isolate, and arrest those who have no respect for our community by committing violence and destruction