Protesters arrested after City Council votes to continue Urban Shield

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Joshua Jordan/Staff

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Amid protest from a crowd packed into the Longfellow Middle School auditorium, Berkeley City Council voted Wednesday morning to continue participating in the controversial Urban Shield police training program.

Every vote taken at the special meeting — Urban Shield, the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, or NCRIC, the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative, or UASI, and a grant application for an armored police van — was approved to an increasingly dismayed audience.

Upon approval of Urban Shield about 12:30 a.m., the crowd rushed the front of the room in protest. Two protesters were arrested by Berkeley Police Department officers for storming the stage at the end of the meeting.

“Stop, stop, stop Urban Shield,” protesters chanted as they unfurled a banner calling to end the “militarization of our communities” on the council dais before marching out of the building.

Activists, including members of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition, formed a circle outside the auditorium and stated their intent to continue opposing Urban Shield until the city of Berkeley withdrew entirely.

Mayor of Berkeley Jesse Arreguín said in an emailed statement multiple council members feared for their personal safety when “the audience in the meeting rushed the dais.” In his statement.

Arreguín noted in his statement that two people inside the auditorium were arrested “on charges of obstructing, delaying, or resisting an officer, and for the obstruction of a Council Meeting,” but “both were cited and released,” citing reports he received from BPD and personal observation.

The officers gave people multiple verbal warnings and asked them to get off the stage,” Arreguin said in the emailed statement. “When they did not, they arrested two people inside the auditorium.”

Initially, Arreguín introduced at the meeting a motion to suspend — rather than terminate — Urban Shield involvement until a newly created subcommittee determined how to proceed on the issue. Councilmember Susan Wengraf, however, suggested suspension should not be considered until after Urban Shield training in the fall.

City Council voted on and passed the amended item 6-2 — with Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Cheryl Davila voting against — continuing the city’s partnership with Urban Shield. Protesters began rushing the stage before Councilmember Kriss Worthington could announce his vote.

The voting occurred after a four-hour, near-universally aligned public comment section against continuation of the programs.

Urban Shield was the particular target of almost all public commenters, many holding signs plastered with the words “Berkeley Resident Against Urban Shield.” Audience members participated in chants led by members of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition throughout the meeting.

The training program was repeatedly criticized by speakers for alleged racism and promotion of police militarization.

“The way that the program functions is that there has to be a nexus to terrorism,” said Mohamed Shehk, a Stop Urban Shield Coalition organizer, at the meeting. “That logic and that drive is actually what frames all the exercises and scenarios.”

BPD representatives spoke at the meeting in favor of continuing the city’s partnership with Urban Shield. BPD Police Chief Andrew Greenwood argued Urban Shield provides BPD with “invaluable leadership and practical experience” for its officers.

“We are always working to make sure we are as prepared as possible,” Greenwood said at the meeting. “The Urban Shield tactical scenarios present a unique opportunity for our staff to test our local strategies, tactics and approaches against a challenging set of several dozen simulation scenarios held over 48 hours.”

Councilmember Ben Bartlett said his perception of the situation had been altered after experiencing the recent spate of violent protests and rallies in Berkeley over the past year, and expressed support for the Urban Shield training.

“As an attorney, I think about liability,” Bartlett said. “Our job here is to protect people and make sure that the 100,000-plus people who live in this town are safe.”

Gus Newport, a former mayor of Berkeley, criticized the council for considering further participation in Urban Shield.

Newport urged the council to consider the interests of its people over the police’s analysis.

“I cut my teeth in the Civil Rights Movement by getting brutalized by police at the age of 11,“ Newport said at the meeting. “I would hope that you all got the principles, the heart and the concern for the people of Berkeley to make sure this thing does not go any further. Ten years is enough.”

The city’s Urban Shield participation will continue with a training session in September. The new council subcommittee will be in charge of researching Urban Shield and NCRIC.

Key tasks for the subcommittee include attending and observing Urban Shield exercises, reviewing Urban Shield scenarios from the past three to five years and gathering feedback from other Northern California jurisdictions who don’t participate in the training, according to the approved item.

The decision to suspend or terminate participation in the programs, including Urban Shield, may be made at a future date.

Harrison, who voted in opposition to the Urban Shield item and NCRIC, cited potential misuse of power as a critical issue and referenced the police brutality of the 1969 People’s Park protests as evidence.

“It’s not about whether our department is racist,” Harrison said at the meeting. “It’s about the power of information to drive racism.”

Councilmember Davila voted against every proposed item.

At the meeting, Davila called on her colleagues to “show some courage” and “be a fearless city” by ending the city participation in the programs.

“We’re a sanctuary city. We have to protect every citizen.” Davila said at the meeting.”I don’t know if this will happen if we continue these agreements.”

Edward Booth covers city government. Contact Edward Booth at ebooth@dailycal.org and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.

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  • still trying

    Just saying a few hits to to head and a person does not think clearly. You are a case in point.

  • Jeff

    Wow, I thought that the last election had returned Berkeley to having a progressive city council and mayor. Guess I was wrong. Everyone who voted to stay in Urban Sheild needs to be targeted in the next election.

    • lspanker

      Maybe not everyone is a paranoid hysterical fruitcake like the anti-Urban Shield protesters. Most if not all of those clueless fools have NO idea what a REAL “police state” is like. The spectre of the citizenry of one of the most Politically Correct cities on the planet when it comes to policing, wetting their panties over police training and acting like they are living in Cold War era East Berlin, is absolutely ludicrous. It’s eejits like you that are the reason most people in the rest of the country don’t take Bezerkeley or its inhabitants seriously.

      • Jeff

        Why are all you trolls on this website? You don’t live in Berkeley, don’t share our values, and have no connection to the school.
        As to your disgusting comment, do you know what context is or is that beyond your right wing pea brain? In Berkeley we expect the police to share our progressive values when it comes to dealing with demonstrations and demonstrators. We don’t want them militarized in any way, there is absolutely no need for that here or in most other places for that matter. And I suppose that you’re also totally ignorant of the fact that the militarization of the police in the U.S. is driven by a bloated military budget that has the military giving police departements equipment that it doesn’t need and should never have purchased in the first place.

        • lspanker

          Why are all you trolls on this website? You don’t live in Berkeley, don’t share our values, and have no connection to the school.

          BSChE Cal Berkeley, 1995. Any other stupid comments you care to make?

          As to your disgusting comment, do you know what context is or is that beyond your right wing pea brain?

          This “right wing pea brain” is at least a half of a century old, has traveled to at least 30 countries, and damn well knows what a REAL “militarized” place looks like, of which Berkeley is NOTHING of the sort. If guns and police make you wet your panties, that’s your personal little snowflake problem, not mine. Maybe when you have gone through some of the same life experiences as I have, such as being pulled out of your rental car at gunpoint by Fatah militiamen at some roadside checkpoint on Highway 60 in the Palestinian West Bank, or come across a bunch of guys with AR-15s and SUVs blocking the road in the Sonora Desert, not having any idea if they are local cops, Federales, Mexican Army, or a bunch of narcotraficantes collecting “taxes” (or possibly worse), THEN maybe you will know what militarization is. Until then, you’re a hysterical child as far as I’m concerned.

          In Berkeley we expect the police to share our progressive values when it comes to dealing with demonstrations and demonstrators.

          In other words, people who agree with you are allowed run amuck, break sh!t, and fight with the cops – but if they DON’T agree with your “progressive” (in reality Marxist-Leninist) point of view, they are fair game to be beat up by Antifa and BAMN types while the cops do nothing. Screw you and your interpretation of so-called “Berkeley values”.

  • still trying

    I find it interesting and troubling that BPD felt it necessary to strike Seniors who were protesting peacefully, but feel using force against a (younger) group of people who are assaulting peacefull protesters and damaging public and private property is wrong and feel doing nothing is the appropriate response to a riot. Berkeley, there is something terribly wrong with your critical thinking skills.

    • lspanker

      I find it interesting and troubling that BPD felt it necessary to strike Seniors who were protesting peacefully,

      Unsubstantiated claim…

      • still trying

        Sorry Spanker. It is well documented that this occurred, all you have to do is read.

        • lspanker

          Read it where? Come on, sources and cites, please.

          • still trying

            When commenting, Spanker, please read from more than one source if you want to be relevant
            “Police using batons at a Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday night arrested two people and struck protesters, including a 73-year-old man,”
            http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/2-arrests-in-protest-of-Berkeley-City-Council-11236336.php

          • lspanker

            I HAVE read from multiple sources, and Pietro’s summary of the event is even-handed and reasonably accurate. You and your ilk are trying to whip up fear and hysteria among the dumb-bunny 20-somethings, which is why all of you are in full spin mode on this topic…

          • still trying

            If that were true you would have not made such dumb comments and stating no one was clubbed.

          • lspanker

            I have no reason to believe anyone was clubbed, as there are certainly other ways to get head injuries, which I have experience first-hand myself when I had a 30-lb piece of machined aluminum part whack me upside the head…

          • still trying

            So that is your excuse.

        • Pietro Gambadilegno

          People keep making this false claim, so I will repeat a commented I posted elsewhere:

          The article in the Chronicle makes it clear that the elderly man ASSUMED that the police had hit him without actually having any way to know.

          As Williams stood in the crowd, he said, someone knocked off his
          glasses and when he bent down to pick them up, a baton struck him on the head. “I felt this blow on top of my head and then blood came streaming out,” Williams said. “It seems totally gratuitous that they would hit me like that. I didn’t see it coming.”
          http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/2-arrests-in-protest-of-Berkeley-City-Council-11236336.php

          Get it? He didn’t see what hit him. He just felt a blow on the top of his head. He assumed it was the police.

          In fact, he could have been hit by a pole holding the banner, which was being jostled around, could have been mistakenly hit by a demonstrator, or could have had some other accident of the sort that can easily happen when you are in a melee and bend down in the middle of a group of people who are pushing and jostling each other.

          There is no evidence and no reason to believe that he was hit by the police.

          Note that the one person who was seriously injured was someone who bent down in the middle of an angry, pushing crowd – which can easily lead to accidental injury. No one else was seriously injured by the police. It most likely that the police were acting with restraint and that this person was injured by accident. It is not very likely that the police were acted with restraint against everyone else but they picked out this one person to injure.

          • lspanker

            Thank you…

          • still trying

            Please check out police reports regarding protest. There were several witnesses that stated they saw him being struck by a police officer’s baton when people did not back up fast enough. Also listening to police scanner it was mentioned that complaints were coming into BPD about rough police actions against the public. Come on, how can you defend the police when they did nothing regarding several destructive protests in the past, but take action against a relative peaceful protest. Sure, there were some rabble-rousers but go after them, not the entire crowd. The crowd was not that big or rowdy to require aggresive police action against the entire crowd.

          • lspanker

            Also listening to police scanner it was mentioned that complaints were coming into BPD about rough police actions against the public.

            So freaking what? There are hard-core lefties. They think they are entitled to a different set of rules, and they lie all the time as to play the victim and get their way. Get over it – even in Berkeley, people are starting to figure out the games they play…

          • still trying

            Spanker- “So freaking what?” That was the freaking point.

          • lspanker

            The freaking point is that hard-core lefties lie all the time. Your fellow travelers are in constant spin/propaganda mode, and will readily distort the truth whenever necessary to advance your own agenda. As Pietro pointed out, the old man who was supposedly “attacked” by police never even saw who or what hit him, nor was there any officer within swinging distance of him.

            Lefties lie. They lie about the intentions of others, calling people “racists” and “bigits” merely to silence them when they can’t win an argument. They make phony accusations of hate crimes and violence against them in order to play the victim card and get sympathy from others. Don’t think anyone else doesn’t know that either, because even in Berkeley, people are catching on to your tactics…

          • still trying

            We do not lie. You are just gullible and poorly informed.

          • lspanker

            We do not lie.

            BS. You lie all the time, and you damn well know it.

          • still trying

            Please explain and provide examples, I do. In debate, the one that did not prepare were the first to scream liar. It looks like you lost

          • lspanker

            Did I lie about you hiding your comments? No. Did you lie about saying I had never seen a real militarized country? Yes. Looks like YOU lost this one.

          • Pietro Gambadilegno

            Let’s see links to the police reports or to any other evidence. So far, the only link you provided is to the Chronicle story that shows the man claimed the police hit him though he actually has no way of knowing.

            You damage your credibility by claiming the police did nothing against the more destructive protests, when there actually were dozens of arrests:
            http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/04/26/despite-dozens-arrests-no-charges-yet-filed-berkeley-protests/
            http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/05/26/eric-clanton-charged-four-counts-assault-deadly-weapon/
            You seem to be factually challenged.

          • still trying

            Try looking up Riots in Berkeley. The only time Berkeley makes arrests or uses force is when the crowd is old and grey. Sure a few arrests were made, but they are usually dropped after a closer look.

          • lspanker

            So you think that the Antifa crowd didn’t need to be arrested?

          • still trying

            Check and see who actually was charged and went to trial.

          • still trying

            By the way. This is not the first time BPD clubbed old people, nuns and priests. They, the City, just settled a lawsuit pertaining to just that. Assault with a night stick by BPD.

          • still trying
          • lspanker

            The editor of the Daily Planet is a known fruit-loop just like you.

          • lspanker

            You mean it’s not the first time that fruitcakes like you have lied in order to gin up sympathy for your silly cause, correct? You’re all a bunch of sheltered neurotics who have NO idea what REAL militarization is, because you have spent the majority of your pathetic, wasted lives in the alternative reality Berkeley bubble.

          • still trying

            Spanker. Have you ever been in a militarized country? Thought not. I have, several, and this is how it starts. In the 60’s when it was much worse, multiple police shootings and bombings were common, but there was no need to militarize the police, why now when things are safer and calmer. I can see the need for an armored vehicle, but not every town needs one. Since the cities are so close, how about sharing. It will not look as bad.

          • lspanker

            Spanker. Have you ever been in a militarized country? Thought not.

            I worked in Israel for a while, staying in Ashkelon, 15 miles as the crow flies from Gza City. I used to give rides to IDF reservists in full uniform carrying weapons, and there was an armory where I worked so settlers from the kibbutzim could store their weapons, in fact, I remember the clearing barrel next to the front entrance. I spent time in Jerusalem talking to IDF soldiers patrolling near ha kotel, and even met Palestinian Waqf soldiers in East Jerusalem. I traveled past IDF checkpoint entering into Judea and Samaria (what we call the West Bank), and recall one instance about two weeks before the start of the 2000 intifadah where I was stopped and pulled out of a car at gunpoint by Fatah militia types (funny end to that story, but that’s for another day). In my working career I also spent time in Northern Ireland at the tail end of the Troubles in the 1990’s, Mexico, the Philippines, and other garden spots. I have also flown in and out of Europe enough to not be surprised by armed soldiers in full tactical gear patrolling Heathrow, Schiphol, Frankfurt-Main and railway stations in large cities. So, thanks once again for that example of how people like you LIE and make up BS when you have no intelligent argument to make.

          • still trying

            Not the same, Isreal has proven the need for a strong military presence. How many times has Berkeley been invaded. I was part of a team that saved Isreal from the Syrian,Egyptian invasion of 1973. Isreal had less than 24 hours before falling to an overwhelming force, and was preparing to surrender, when we flew combat missions against Syrian and Egyptian tanks. In my almost 30 years in Berkeley, I never had to bare arms defending BPD. Again you use countries that are always under assault as examples of why BPD needs to become an army. Get real.

          • lspanker

            Thanks for once again doing your best to misrepresent what I said:

            I’m quite aware that Israel needs a strong military presence, and have certainly not criticized them for that one bit (and if you really did fight for Israel at one time in your life, good for you). However, the idea that buying an armored van and/or participating in local training exercises is the same as starting an army in Berkeley, you’re way over board. My point stands: screaming about “militarization” in Berkeley compared to what goes on in the rest of the world is ludicrous, and doesn’t speak highly about your sense of proportion or common sense.

          • still trying

            Buying anrmored van is not my complaint. But when the police start receiving special forces training, I wonder why. Things were worse in the 60’s and 70’s and that type of training was not used. Why now? Back then, there was a war against the police. Now it is gang against gang and the police do not need those types of training. Other training would be more appropriate. And do not say we did not have SEALS, We had them till 1975 when they were disbanded, I know first hand.

          • lspanker

            Now it is gang against gang and the police do not need those types of training.

            It’s also gang against police,you should know better.

          • still trying

            When was the last time a Berkeley cop has been shot by a gang member. NEVER.
            Cops major threat is a family dispute, then a common traffic stop. Gang activity is not even on the list. And when they are needed a SWAT team is sent in. Not every day cops. Gang on cop is very rare.

          • lspanker

            On the subject of “militarization”, you might also talk to any military vet who spent time in Germany during the Cold War, where armored columns on maneuvers moved through local viilages near the Fulda Gap on a regular basis for nearly 50 years…

          • still trying

            ME.

          • lspanker

            Ich auch.