Berkeley Police Review Commission talks police tactics in aftermath of Aug. 27 rally

Anissa Nishioka/File

Related Posts

Berkeley’s Police Review Commission, or PRC, met Wednesday for the first time since July to ask questions about the aftermath of the Aug. 27 rally and discuss policies involving citizens’ rights to record police officers.

Wednesday was the inaugural meeting for two new commissioners, Clarence Ford, a campus graduate student studying public policy, and Sahana Matthews, a campus junior and political economy major.

Berkeley Police Department Lt. Angela Hawk and Sgt. Rashawn Cummings answered questions about the department during the meeting. According to Hawk, Chief Andrew Greenwood could not make the meeting because he has been planning for several upcoming protests.

PRC Chair George Lippman asked Hawk and Cummings when the commission would be receiving an after action report for the Aug. 27 rally. He said although he appreciated BPD’s response at the rally, it has been a week since the rally and the department has yet to issue an after action report.

“I appreciate the department’s ability to turn on a dime and de-escalate,” Lippmann said. “(But after action reports are) required 72 hours later. … It has been a week.”

PRC Commissioner Andrea Prichett raised concerns about BPD not getting in touch with the organizers of the Aug. 27 “alt-right” rally prior to the event, which was attended by Trump supporters and white nationalists. She said the community has concerns about the police treating Antifa as dangerous but not doing the same for the “alt-right.”

At the meeting, Prichett asked BPD for inventory documentation after Aug. 27 to see what equipment BPD used during the rally. Prichett alleged that while at the rally, she saw officers with prohibited items, such as crowd-control pepper spray and tasers.

“Were outside agencies briefed?” Prichett asked at the meeting. “I’m not seeing the evidence of that happening.”

The commission spent the majority of the meeting reviewing a draft, proposed by Prichett, of the policy General Order W-1 concerning public recording of law enforcement activity.

Prichett proposed deleting language that could imply that recording is an illegal activity. According to Prichett, removing the proposed sections would impose the least restrictions on citizens viewing and recording police officers.

The commission made some edits to the policy, co-opting some of the language from a similar San Francisco policy, but it was unable to completely adopt the policy before the end of the meeting. The commission agreed to defer further discussion until the next meeting, which will take place Sept. 27.

At the meeting, former PRC member Alison Bernstein also received a certificate of appreciation from the commission for her work during her time as chair. During her acceptance speech, Bernstein emphasized the importance of BPD homicide units not neglecting homicides of Black victims.

Other PRC members thanked Bernstein for her time on the commission.

“(Bernstein) joined when a new voice was needed,” Commissioner George Perezvelez said.

Kate Tinney is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @K_Tinney.