City Council tables items on police action during December’s protests

Alvin Wu/File

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Berkeley City Council decided at their Tuesday meeting to table several items that would respond to police action at the December protests.

During demonstrations over grand jury decisions not to indict police officers involved in the killings of unarmed black men, police released tear gas and rubber bullets to try to contain the crowd.

After community concerns were raised, Councilmember Jesse Arreguin drafted the items, which were scheduled to come before the council at their Jan. 20 meeting.

During that meeting, the items were tabled until Tuesday night, when the council voted to postpone consideration for another two weeks, leaving many frustrated.

“I think it’s a grave injustice. The (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has asked the city to pay attention to this long before the protests,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “It’s unfortunate that the community’s concerns are met with defensiveness, denial and delay.”

The first of Arreguin’s items endorses the National Demands of Ferguson Action, a list drafted by protesters that advocates for demilitarizing local law enforcement and supporting the End Racial Profiling Act, among other propositions.

Additionally, the second item would amend the Berkeley Police Department’s regulations on crowd control, use-of-force and mutual aid, while the third item would direct the city to conduct an independent investigation of police response to the Dec. 6 protests.

Another item was co-sponsored by councilmembers Arreguin, Linda Maio and Darryl Moore and directs the city to develop a plan that would implement the use of dash and body-worn cameras for BPD.

Worthington said during the meeting that though the meeting was running late, many people had been waiting “for hours” to give testimonies about their experiences during the protests. Mayor Tom Bates, however, proposed moving the agenda items to the next City Council meeting Feb. 10, because other issues had taken up a large portion of the time.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn issued a press release Wednesday standing in solidarity with Arreguin’s agenda items.

“Any attempts to further delay or water-down these measures would represent another sign of disrespect to students, particularly students of color who are overwhelmingly affected by police brutality,” Quinn said in the press release.

Quinn also said she hopes to “roll out a lot of students” to speak during public comment about their personal experiences at the protests. Worthington agreed, saying he hopes the number of students speaking during public comment will double at the next meeting.

For UC Berkeley senior Destiny Iwuoma, the City Council’s decision to table the items for two consecutive meetings is “frustrating,” adding that it “won’t be necessary” to go to “a meeting where they will table our issues.” For Iwuoma, the decision is another example of institutions ignoring black voices.

“Am I surprised? No,” Iwuoma said. “This story has happened again and again, and it’s just another battle.”

Adrienne Shih is the lead city reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @adrienneshih.

A previous version of this article stated that City Council passed a proposal to develop a plan to implement body-worn cameras for the Berkeley Police Department at its Tuesday meeting. In fact, the item was tabled to Feb. 10.