Bob Plain Digital Journalist
Occupy Berkeley

December 22, 2011

Occupy Berkeley raided by police; officer threatens to shoot videographer

Berkeley, Calif. —

Occupy Berkeley, the last Occupy encampment in the Bay Area and one of the last on the West Coast, was raided by local police last night and early this morning after the city informed activists that camping would no longer be tolerated in the downtown park.

“We had no intention of doing what people are calling a raid,” said Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, the Berkeley Police Department’s public information officer. “A group of officers and public works employees went to take away some abandoned tents and the truck they were using was surrounded by a very entrenched group. The truck was completely surrounded. Force was used in response to that.”

In this graphic Youtube clip (courtesy of OccupyNewsandMedia), one officer threatens to shoot an activist for not backing up in a timely fashion and another officer can be seen hitting an activist in the face with a baton.

Kusmiss said police and protesters engaged one another twice during the night. Once prior to midnight and again at about 2 am. She said police and city personnel were trying to clear the park of abandoned tents and other camping gear.

“When Occupiers saw that public works crews were trying to take the tents they tried to free them,” she said. “There was a little back and forth there.”

An activist who identified himself as “True” described the evening’s confrontation as a “battle.” He said they were able to get some of their gear back from the officers and city workers.

“We massed on them,” he said. “We grabbed all the gear we could and ran the fuck off.”

Two arrests were made. One for resisting arrest during the second interaction. That man sustained injuries during his arrest and was treated by the Berkeley Fire Department. Kusmiss did not know the extent of his injuries, but an activist who identified himself only as Mike said he had several “lacerations” on his face.

The other arrest occurred, according to Kusmiss, when three people showed up at the Berkeley Police Station, which is across the street from the Occupy Berkeley encampment. A man wearing a mask and wielding a crowbar was charged with being drunk and police later found him to be in possession of amphetamines.

Occupy activists said police and public works employees drove vehicles onto the park lawn and over tents. Kusmiss said she could neither confirm or deny this allegation. Activists said the police had no way of knowing if the tents were occupied or not.

This is the scene at the Occupy Berkeley encampment this morning

Kusmiss said the Occupy Berkeley encampment had changed since the camps in San Francisco and Oakland were broken up, including a spike in offenses as well as violent crimes. A man was charged last week with attempted rape on a female camper, she said.

Some activists confirmed that the encampment had devolved in recent weeks.

“The problems all start and end with alcohol,” said Neal Balber, who is camping at the park. “Alcohol is the whole problem with the camp.”

He said there has been a recent rash of what he called “domestic problems” and said there was one man in camp who has “a history of bothering women.”

Kusmiss would not comment on why last night was chosen to cite activists for being in the park after 10 pm. A city ordinance mandates the park be closed from 10 pm to 7 am and to date the city had not been enforcing the rule.

A recent tent count by the city indicated there were 107 tents in the downtown park. As of this morning, there were still at least 20 tents in the park, as well as a lot of camping gear strewn throughout the park.

Kusmiss would also not comment on whether or not police would return to the camp to clear out the rest of the encampment but said they would be keeping tabs on it.

— Bob Plain

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3 Comment(s)

  1. Ustream witness

    It was “obstruction” not “resisting arrest” and it was given to him after he went to the station to request aid for his face that was hit with a baton for filming. His camera and recordings were confiscated and the best evidence he had to contest the charges will no doubt be deleted.

  2. Hanspy

    Why are those cops always so aggressive?
    Are they scared for something from those unarmed peaceful protesters?
    Dont they realize that when they realy harm or kill somebody they are far outnumberd and than they can be harmed to? They loose all goodwil, if they have some left. When those cops where in Holland they didnt have the guts to behave that way. We are not that sweet as you may think. I have walked in many protests and have had some fights with cops. They always lose at the end. They may win a battle but in the end they lose the war. And than they may face the public again.

  3. invictus99

    The thing that drives me insane about the police is that they act like the rest of their jurisdiction never has any crime. They speak like ONLY the Occupy camps have crimes committed in them when really it is simply a spotlight on bigger problems within a city. The sexual assault rate in our country is deplorable. You could pull up the crime data from any college campus and I guarantee you that it would be comparable to any Occupy camp and yet police don’t seem to have even a shred as much concern for the crimes committed on college campuses as they do in the camps. It’s a BS piece of PR bullshit to make the cops look like some chivalrous knights. Fuck that.

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