Stabbing near post office demonstration raises questions about safety

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In the days after Thursday’s violent stabbing of a man protesting the sale of Berkeley’s main post office, protesters have become concerned about the future of their efforts to stop what they describe as the privatization of the building.

Rumors about police efforts to clear the protest site spread within the encampment of approximately 20 people on Saturday, two days after the stabbing of Nick Shaw, who was injured in the thigh during the attack. No formal action has yet been taken to remove the protesters despite the rumors. Protesters were previously told that they could demonstrate as long as they were not on the post office’s property.

According to protester Pastor Preston Walker, an officer told the protesters on Saturday that they had an hour to leave the encampment, but no action was taken. Walker added that late Sunday night, members of Berkeley Police Department stopped by again to issue trespassing warnings to the protesters. However, neither of those claims could be confirmed by BPD or independently verified.

A post office official described the engagement with protesters as an effort to ensure public safety.

“Right now, we’re just having what we call a campaign of education,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch. “Our main concern is for the safety of the employees, customers and protesters. For example, coming and going up the stairs is a concern with all of the tents and people, but at this point, we just want people to voluntarily cooperate.”

According to a BPD report, Thursday’s stabbing incident began around 4:30 p.m., when protesters confronted the perpetrator, who had allegedly slapped a woman after stealing a cellphone. Shaw claimed that both the woman and perpetrator were not affiliated with the protesters.

After protesters told the suspect he had to leave, he grew angry and began throwing things at those who confronted him. When the perpetrator began to flee, Shaw chased him. The suspect then grabbed Shaw and stabbed him in the thigh with a knife.

BPD later apprehended Cassius Scott Wilson nearby. Shaw was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries.

The stabbing did not deter Shaw, who returned to the encampment at 3 a.m. the next day.

“Things like (being stabbed) don’t scare me,” Shaw said. “It will take a lot more than a knife to slow me down.”

Shaw was quick to point out that the the encampment was a safe place and that the incident did not occur on the post office’s property.

“What happened didn’t have anything to do with (the encampment),” he said. “I just saw a guy that was attacking a girl, and it happened to be in the view of the post office.”

Contact Nico Correia at [email protected]