National Lawyers Guild joins opposition to Berkeley sidewalk measure

The National Lawyers Guild has joined the rising opposition against Measure S, a ballot measure that will prohibit sitting on sidewalks in Berkeley if passed by voters this November.

The proposed law will ban sitting on sidewalks in commercial areas in the city between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A first violation of this law would be categorized as a minor infraction and result in a $75 fine or community service, according to the measure’s text, but a second violation could be classified as either an infraction or a misdemeanor.

“(The Guild) is strongly opposed to Berkeley’s Measure S,” said Carlos Villarreal, executive director of the guild’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter, in a press release. “As lawyers and criminal experts, we have seen that ‘sit-lie’ laws are both counter-productive and constitutionally problematic.”

The Guild’s stance against Measure S stands as an endorsement of No on S, a campaign that has led the movement against the new law.

“We are thrilled,” said Bob Offer-Westort, campaign coordinator for No on S. “The National Lawyers Guild now joins the ACLU in support for us, and these two organizations really know what they are talking about. They have fought these battles in other cities across the nation.”

Mayor Tom Bates and the majority of the City Council approved the measure in July for the Nov. 6 ballot, despite strong opposition from some members of the Berkeley community.

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