Homeless community members living in the protest encampment at the intersection of Adeline and Oregon streets, near Berkeley Bowl in South Berkeley, were given a 72-hour eviction notice Friday.
Homeless advocate Guy “Mike” Lee said BPD officers entered the camp Friday afternoon to tell those living there to leave, and the public eviction notice was issued several hours later. On Monday, BPD came to the encampment and removed a picnic table.
BPD could not be reached for comment as of press time.
About 15 people have been living at the encampment for the past three weeks, and it has been an important drop-off spot for materials, such as blankets and food, to help the homeless, Lee said. He explained that the camp is primarily a protest to improve Berkeley’s homeless services and secondarily a survival encampment where homeless people take care of each other.
“Just because a couple of cops come up and tell us to leave, we don’t leave. No retreat. No surrender,” Lee said.
Lee, who ran for mayor in 2016, is well-known for his activism for homeless rights in Berkeley. He has spent much of his time living on the streets since he moved to Berkeley about 45 years ago at the age of 17. This September, Lee moved into permanent housing. Lee said, however, that he is currently “battling” the Homeless Coordinated Entry System, or the Hub; they recently notified him that his rent will increase by nearly 70 percent starting in January and that another rent increase of 150 percent is scheduled for April.
“At the end of the day, what matters is the will of the community, and if I should wind up back on the streets, the battle to make the community voice heard will continue,” Lee said in a statement.
Lee said he knew that there would be more encampment evictions when the Berkeley City Council decided to open emergency winter shelters this year. He said the police “were just constantly on us” after the winter shelters were opened last year. Lee foresees a repeat of last year’s winter season, when he said his camp of homeless people were allegedly evicted 17 times at different locations.
“I think it’s an intimidation tactic,” Lee said. “We can and have learned the lessons the city has taught us. It’s interesting that the city talks about resolving homelessness, and this is the way that they do it.”