Public Comment

Berkeley Mayor NOW cares about law(s):
one said to give City Manager total decision on Urban Shield!

Gene Bernardi-Chair; Jane Welford-Executive Secretary; *SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)
Saturday July 07, 2018 - 10:50:00 AM

Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s abrupt announcement, at the June 18, 2018 Ad Hoc Council Sub-Committee on NCRIC and Urban Shield, that he was withdrawing his vote to ban Berkeley police from 2018 Urban Shield because “I’m not here to break laws…I don’t think I took an oath to do that” reaches the height of hypocrisy . (Also, Councilmember Wengraf’s interpretation of the Berkeley City Charter’s Powers of the City Manager is not founded. –see paragraph 11 below.)

Mayor Arreguin and the majority Council’s violation of Federal, State and Berkeley laws dates back to February 2012. The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley (an organization which met with Councilmember Arreguin in City Hall in its early stages, and at least once in his office) on February 10, 2012, sent a memo to Mayor Bates and City Councilmembers urging the Council “Not approve the agreement with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC)” and “Not approve the agreement with the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

The Coalition expressed their concern that these programs may violate our First Amendment right to free speech and assembly and our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. (SuperBOLD* distributed to Councilmembers at their 2/14/12 meeting, a copy of the City of Berkeley Oath of Office to which each Councilmember had sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of California against all enemies both foreign and domestic.)

However, despite these expressed concerns of the Coalition, of which Councilmember Arreguin was a member, Arreguin at the 2.14.2012 City Council meeting, distributed a last minute revision changing his position to encouraging the Council to approve both NCRIC and UASI. The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley followed suit with a hurriedly crafted memo to the Mayor and Council canceling their previous call for No approval on NCRIC and UASI. This Coalition memo actually made reference to Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) 2.04.170 and 2.04.190 but did not spell out in detail what these Berkeley laws require and encompass.

At the February 14, 2012 City Council meeting, and thereafter every year, often late in the fiscal year for which they are considering renewal of UASI and NCRIC, the Council majority which included Arreguin (until 6.20.17 when he voted no on renewal of NCRIC) voted to approve renewal of the Department of Homeland Security UASI program which funds the Berkeley Police Department’s (BPD) participation in Urban Shield, and the FBI’s NCRIC program. NCRIC calls for the FBI deputizing three Terrorism Liaison Officers (TLOs) in the BPD who are sworn to secrecy. Arreguin (with the exception of 6/20/17 when he voted no on NCRIC) voted for renewal of these programs despite the fact that in doing so, he violated the Oath that he had sworn to defend the U.S. and California Constitutions that protect our First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as Berkeley’s own laws BMC 2.04.170, 2.04.180 and 2.04.190: 

BMC 2.04.170 (Ord. 4640-N.S. #3, 1973) of Article 3 Agreements with Law Enforcement Agencies requires “all terms and conditions of such agreements, understanding or policies shall be reduced to writing and presented to City Council…” (emphasis added) 


All terms and conditions of UASI’s agreements, understanding or policies regarding the tactical scenarios and other Commands as well as those regarding the Vendor Convention of military equipment and other UASI trainings have not been presented by BPD in writing to the City Council. Only the fiscal agreement with S.F. City and Co, the fiscal agent for UASI’s funding has been presented. 


The Police Department’s G.O. summaries of UASI and NCRIC do not meet the requirement of reducing to writing of: “All terms and conditions of such agreements, understanding or policies”. (emphasis added) 


BMC 2.04.180 requires that the above documents “together with supporting statements and documents shall be made available to the public in the office of the City Clerk”. This Berkeley law, and the former, have been violated without any concern shown by the Mayor or the City Council, despite these BMC codes (ordinances) being brought to their attention by SuperBOLD’s* memo and Public Comment communication starting with a May 6, 2012 memo to Mayor Bates and the Council (see letter 18 [1] 5/15/2012 City Council Agenda Packet and Supplementary Reports). 


BMC 2.04.190 Period of Validity-Renewal states “no such agreements, understanding or policy shall be valid or effective for more than one year following Council approval…”. Since the June 20, 2017 vote was the first vote (a retroactive one) on NCRIC and UASI in fiscal year 2016-2017 that means UASI and NCRIC should have been considered invalid for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. However the City Manager, without City Council renewal approval, on November 1, 2016 signed the UASI fiscal agreement with the S.F. City and County fiscal agent. This appeared to be in preparation for the City Council to vote on December 13, 2016 to accept the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant to fund the purchase of a Panel Van (from the Armored Group) equipped with ballistic grade panels and windows. 


As for Councilmember Wengraf’s, and Mayor Arreguin’s deference to her opinion, that the Charter of the City of Berkeley gives the City Manager authority over city employees and their training, there is no reference to training in the Charter. In Section 28 Powers and Duties of City Manager, the very first statement is “The City Manager shall be responsible to the Council for the implementation of Council policy…”. 


Surely the City Council can determine policy regarding the training of the police, especially when that training (i.e. Urban Shield) is administered by the Department of Homeland Security which includes ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). ICE, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Zero Tolerance Policy toward brown and black immigrants, which has led to blocking immigrants’ rights to Asylum Hearings, instead tearing children from their parents, breaking up families and placing them in indefinite detention, incarceration in badly run private prisons or tent concentration camps. (One proposed for 47,000 immigrants in the Concord Naval Weapons Station on the S.F. East Bay) 

Speaking of training, neither Arreguin or Wengraf were on the City Council when it voted October 14, 2003 to adopt the “Precautionary Principle (Res. No. 62,259 N.S.). The “Precautionary Principle Resolution states that this “…Principle seeks to prevent harm before it happens and advises that when there is a threat of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the City to postpone measures to prevent degredation of the environment or … the health of its residents or workers.” 

Mental health is recognized as an important segment of our community members overall health. The actions of ICE and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are causing trauma not only to families with relationship to the atrocious separation of children from their parents at the border. It also affects the emotional health of a proportion of citizens that feel responsible for the actions of their Federal Government funded by their taxes. While the children and their parents at the border are the most traumatized, the horror of the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE actions instill fear and anxiety in all brown and black people as well as those supporter activists of all hues. 

The “Precautionary Principle” Resolution called for an annual progress report to be submitted to the Community Health and the Environmental Advisory Commissions If not now happening it should be resumed. Mayor Arreguin’s statement at the June 18, 2018 Ad Hoc meeting, that the report [to the City Council] should make it clear that 

“there are no established negative outcomes for our police department in participating in the [Urban Shield] program” flies in the face of the City’s “Precautionary Principle”. It was learned, after the fact, at an Alameda County Board of Supervisors March 2018 meeting that the County’s Sheriff Gregory Ahern, had included ICE in the 2017 Urban Shield exercises. 

“No negative outcome”? Check out the June 15, 2018 article in the British newspaper The Guardian titled “police worked with violent pro-Trump activists to prosecute left wing group”, and sub-titled Anti-Fascist defendents in Berkeley case say police behavior shows ‘a pretty clear statement of choosing sides’.” Since this article was published, the Berkeley Five defendents have been aquitted. “Choosing sides” by our police department surely indicates biased policing in favor of an armed far-right supremacist who has posted “fascist memes”. 

Although the Center for Policing Equity, chosen by our BPD to do a study of Berkeley Policing, is funded in large part by the U.S. Department of Justice now under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, their report nevertheless found that Berkeley policing involves racial profiling. 


We believe the Berkeley City Council needs to set aside the lure of UASI grant money and consider the apparent and insidious influence these Federal programs are having on our police force. 

The Center for Constitutional Rights, Color of Change and the Kramer Law Center, are now litigating under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to uncover how the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are monitoring and surveilling protests regarding police violence, racial justice, and the Movement for Black Lives. Hundreds of pages of emails, reports, policies and surveillance documents were turned over to the litigants. However many were fully redacted (such as The Race Paper) or partially redacted. It is clear from their substance that the FBI and the DHS are surveilling the Movement for Black Lives and “reinforcing a law enforcement narrative that broadly criminalizes Black protesting”. (Color of Change and Center for Constitutional Rights “Briefing Guide: Color of Change v. FBI and DHS) This surely looks like the “negative outcome” of DHS’s Urban Shield training which Mayor Arreguin claims has not been established. 

UASI funds the FBI’s NCRIC and their Terrorism Liaison Officers (TLOs) sworn to secrecy. TLOs are reported to keep Black Lives Matter activists under surveillance. 

(E.Bay Express 4/15-21/2015): Also it has been reported that TLOs furnished addresses of undocumented immigrants to the NCRIC intelligence center information sharing network program. This violates Berkeley’s Sanctuary City Resolutions. 

UASI and linked NCRIC are clearly programs fraught with bias especially under the current racist, zenophobic U.S. Administration which is violating our U.S. and California Constitution and International Human Rights Treaties by creating a chilling effect on freedom of speech, assembly and the right to privacy by incarcerating children separated from their immigrant parents in violation of basic human decency, constituting torture, and obviously human rights. 

How can our Mayor and City Councilmembers after 6 years of the City Council, Commissions, and members of the public’s valuable time spent in lengthy deliberations over renewal considerations of UASI and NCRIC, now say they were engaged in discussing and acting on matters not under their legal jurisdiction?!? 


Mayor Arreguin has stated that the consideration of renewal of UASI, its Urban Shield exercises and NCRIC will be on the July 24, 2018 City Council meeting agenda (after the end of the fiscal year for which they are considering renewal!?) 


Mark your Calendars. Be there and demand a NO vote on these agregious programs with their biased, immoral and inhumane outcomes.