Protesters march to City Council meeting to urge passage of items regarding police action

Benjamin Shenouda/Staff

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A group of approximately 100 students and community members marched to Berkeley City Council’s meeting Tuesday, urging councilmembers to pass agenda items regarding police action at last year’s December protests.

The march, organized by the UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College Black Student Unions, began at about 5:30 p.m. at the intersection Oxford and Center streets and continued through Downtown, ending on the steps outside City Council’s chambers at Old City Hall where various demonstrators spoke.

The first agenda item 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.

The second item would amend 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.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin drafted the three items in response to controversy over police actions during the demonstrations over grand jury decisions not to indict police officers involved in the killings of unarmed black men, including the firing of tear gas and rubber bullets.

The three items were set to come before City Council at their Jan. 20 meeting, but were tabled twice until Tuesday, when the council voted to approve the three items.

“We’re here to remind people that black lives matter every day of the week,” said Kadijah Means, a Berkeley High School senior and Black Student Union president.

Councilmembers Arreguin and Max Anderson, who stood in solidarity with protesters, spoke to the crowd. Arreguin maintained his position that nonviolent protests should be an option available for people to voice their concerns, and Anderson cited the protesters’ “steadfastness” as the reason why Arreguin’s items were able to appear on the agenda.

Spencer Pritchard, a UC Berkeley senior who helped organize the march, said the demonstration “shows that the movement hasn’t gone anywhere,” adding that he hopes to highlight what he called “the unjust arrests of black people in the city.”

“We are looking for real change,” said George Lippman, vice chair of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission.

Staff writer Alexander Barreira contributed to this report.

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