Charges dismissed against Nanci Armstrong-Temple after arrest last week

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The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges Monday against City Council candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple after she was arrested last week for allegedly intervening in a police officer’s attempt to arrest a protester.

Armstrong-Temple, a candidate for District 2, was arrested while the Berkeley Police Department dismantled a homeless encampment Friday. She was charged with felony lynching after allegedly interfering when a BPD officer tried to arrest Barbara Brust, a homeless disabled woman, and move her into a van, according to a statement from Deputy City Manager Jovan Grogan.

A group of approximately 40 supporters, including members of the homeless encampment such as mayoral candidate Guy “Mike” Lee, gathered in front of the Wiley M. Manuel Courthouse, where Armstrong-Temple’s hearing was held Monday morning. Supporters awaited the initial reading at 9 a.m., singing in solidarity with Armstrong-Temple.

“In the interests of justice, we declined to file charges in this matter,” said spokesperson for the attorney’s office Rebecca Richardson in an email.

Armstrong-Temple said she felt incredibly relieved after hearing that District Attorney Nancy O’Malley would not be pressing charges. She then called on O’Malley to investigate the actions of the Berkeley Police Department in the incident.

Armstrong-Temple said she came to the encampment Friday because her friends said they needed help.

Four people were arrested during the dismantling of the encampment. A video of her arrest circulated on social media, which showed Armstrong-Temple on the ground, face down, with her right arm tucked under her head as she asserts that she is not resisting arrest.

“They are trying to break my arm, I am not resisting,” Armstrong-Temple repeated in the video.

Armstrong-Temple was held at Santa Rita Jail with bail set at $55,000. With the help of a crowdfunding campaign, she was able to post bail and was released early Saturday morning.

The arrest occurred just four days before the City Council elections Tuesday. Spokesperson for Armstrong-Temple’s campaign Debra Avery said that, surprisingly, the news of her arrest has resulted in an influx of both interest in her campaign and donations.

“We’ve actually been getting more support than ever,” Avery said. “We’ve had people even this morning signing up to endorse Nanci on our website, we’ve had people signing up to hand out literature, to make phone banking calls, it’s just been tremendous.”

Avery said the root causes of the encampment and Armstrong-Temple’s arrest are issues integral to her campaign, such as police accountability and housing as a human right. According to Avery, Armstrong-Temple plans to make sure the voices of those who need housing will be included in any plans she makes to improve housing conditions in the city.

“There’s a fundamental distrust of unresourced people,” Avery said. “For people that are marginalized in the community, they don’t have options, and so the community’s response to that is often to use violence … like deny a right to camp or deny access.”

Pressly Pratt is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @presslypratt.