Homeless encampment near City Hall disbanded Thursday morning

Micah Carroll/File

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A homeless encampment adjacent to Civic Center was disbanded by a city order Thursday resulting in the arrest of one civilian, homeless activist Mike Zint.

Zint was arrested for violating the building security rules of Civic Center per Berkeley Municipal Code 13.36.065. Zint was held in Santa Rita jail on a $5,000 bail and was bailed out about 2 a.m. the next morning, according to former City Council candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple.

As of press time, Zint could not be reached for comment.

City of Berkeley spokesperson Matthai Chakko said that after a previous encampment was disbanded Nov. 4, many of its members set up in the area near Civic Center. On Thursday morning, Berkeley police came and moved them across the street to the post office steps, which are federal property, Armstrong-Temple said.

The postal police then moved them away from the steps back onto Berkeley Police Department jurisdiction, but BPD threatened to arrest them if they did not move again.

Later in the morning, according to Armstrong-Temple, Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin and City Councilmember Kriss Worthington’s aid Alejandro Soto-Vigil arrived on the scene and negotiated with the police, who eventually agreed to leave.

“At that point they were kettled between both agencies with nowhere to go,” Armstrong-Temple said. “I’m not sure what would have happened without the councilman and the council aid negotiating with the police.”

The encampment then moved to the corner of Milvia and Center streets, where it is currently, Armstrong-Temple said.

When Armstrong-Temple arrived on the scene between 5:30 and 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, Mike Zint had already been arrested. She supposed that Zint was arrested because his breathing difficulties made it impossible for him to move fast enough.

The Berkeley police took all of Zint’s belongings — including his phone, tent, clothing and sleeping gear, according to Armstrong-Temple.

Armstrong-Temple said BPD allegedly endangered Zint’s life by denying him access to an inhaler while in custody.

Chakko said the city has been in conversation with the encampment members for several months. He added that the group demands a piece of land from the city where they can set up camp, a request the city cannot fulfill.

The city issued several verbal and written notices before they disbanded the encampment Thursday morning; however, Chakko could not specify how many notices were issued or when.

Four homeless people have already died in Berkeley this year because they did not have shelter during the winter.

“That’s not acceptable. We have to do better,” Armstrong-Temple said. “In Berkeley, we need to start behaving as if we value human life, and I think we can do that by finding a place for people who have set up encampments and set up a shelter.”

Contact Charlotte Kosche and Brenna Smith at [email protected].