Berkeley occupation updates

February 21, 2018

This showed up in my email. Thank you, whomever transcribed it.

Transcription of Brian Edward-Tiekert on KPFA, 2/12/18, 7:27 am

…. a move by the City of Berkeley to dislodge homeless encampments from the grounds around Old City Hall. Possibly of much larger significance because Berkeley is currently the target of a federal lawsuit over its repeated evictions of homeless encampments, how the judge will feel about a short notice eviction – this was done on 24 hours – we may find out in the near future.

I was super-curious because I went out there to watch the eviction and there were a lot of city staff and a lot of police there. You know, what’s the price tag on evicting homeless camps, cleaning up after them, and then doing it again, wherever the people have moved to. And in fact, people were kind of moved on by police, people who’d been camping at city hall, people from two other locations they moved to that day.

I followed some people to basically a gravel lot where there used to be a rail right of way close to Berkeley Bowl West, and they had already been threatened with arrest by a Berkeley police officer who came by mid-afternoon. They were picking up their things and moving again in the dark, kind of panicked, they didn’t have flashlights, although some good Samaritans were bringing cars by to help them pack up and move out to the marina.

Friday [I] went to talk to some people who had moved their things next to the new city hall, the Berkeley Civic Center, and started to set up a couple tents and a banner. They slept there one night and police came by and gave them a written formal notice that they’d have to clear out. It was basically copied word for word except the address from the one that had been given the people at Old City Hall. They weren’t sure where they were gong to go, but they were also packing up in a rush as dark was closing in.

So Karin Smith, who was covering this for our news department and I, we put in a couple repeated requests to the City Manager’s office, the city spokesperson Mattai Chakko, you know, asking how much this costs. He said we don’t know, “we won’t be able to calculate the cost of evicting the homeless camps, at least until timecard data is in,” which I thought was interesting because given the number of people I saw out there you would think someone would have at least penciled out a number, you know, what’s this going to cost?

How does it compare to setting up extra shelter beds for everybody? Giving everybody a hotel room for a couple nights? But apparently the city doesn’t calculate things that way. We said, well can you tell us how many people were involved, give us a head count, so we can get a sense? Eventually at the end of the day, this is what he [Mattai] came back with, and he’s including the efforts that were done the day before the camp was evicted to reach out to the people in the encampment, to inform them they were risking arrest if they stayed and to put them in contact with city services. 20 civilian staff, 30 sworn officers, I was trying to figure out, what does this cost. I called Andrea Prichett, who’s on the Berkeley Police Commission and knows a lot of the police on sight, how many high ranking officers were there. She said, “well I counted three lieutenants” and she named them, so I believe her. The spokesperson I talked to, a sergeant, that’s right below a lieutenant, and I saw at least one other sergeant on site. A lieutenant of middling seniority, I looked up the figures, they’re public, cost the city in pay and benefits, nearly $190 an hour, a sergeant costs nearly $160 an hour, and a regular officer costs nearly $130,000 [sic] an hour.

So to plug in the numbers, on average people were putting 4 hours, and nobody was making overtime, which is highly unlikely, at 5:00 am you had that many cops involved and nobody was ringing up time and a half, I get a figure in the vicinity of $15,000 to $20,000 dollars that the city’s laying out. And I think the big question that our cities haven’t grappled with the explosion of homeless encampments, not what’s the cost of housing people, but what’s the cost of policing people, like what are we spending dealing with homelessness as a police issue?

–Mike Zint

And another note from Mike Zint dated February 21, 2018:

I just got this. When it comes to cool things, this one is up there in ranking.

Mike: Several weeks ago–actually perhaps even a month ago–HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) passed the following Resolution. Perhaps you could pass it on to the FTCFTH folks? Hope all going well. Can you confirm you’ve gotten this e-mail? –Robert

HUFF supports the struggles of the Berkeley intentional community–which has various called itself First They Came for the Homeless, Here…There, Snub the Hub, and the Poverty Tour. They have repeatedly overcome government deportation and property seizure. They have reestablished themselves as a viable campground and provided emergency shelter to its participants over the last 15 months. They have effectively formed alliances and used legal tools to challenge those who would sweep them away without a trace. Their example and their presence has pressured unwilling “progressives” to drawback their attacks on other Berkeley encampments. We commend their struggle for the right to be free from property seizure and harassment, to create their own shelter and community, and by their existence to educate the broader California community regarding the false promises of authorities and the real power of those outside to form independent bonds with the community if free from criminalization.

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