Paul Darwin Picklesimer thinks Berkeley should be a city “that shines and stands out apart from the rest of the nation to set an example of what’s possible,” and to accomplish this, they are running for Berkeley City Council.
Picklesimer officially announced their run for Berkeley City Council against incumbent Sophie Hahn Thursday. They said their platform and priority is to represent the people of District 5.
They have been a vocal animal rights activist and are a fellow of the organization Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, for the past six years. Picklesimer has been arrested several times while advocating.
In 2017, Picklesimer was involved in protests against The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, organized by DxE. Perhaps most notably, they are facing charges for taking piglets from a Utah farm in 2017.
In an email, Picklesimer called their work “a public service in the interest of providing transparency and resistance to our country’s corrupt, destructive food system.”
Picklesimer said they are realistic about what changes can be made in Berkeley. Although they support the Animal Bill of Rights, or Rose’s Law — which would guarantee animals certain rights such as the right to a home or habitat, the right to legal representation and the right to be free — Picklesimer said they are not under the “illusion” it could be passed in the near future in Berkeley.
Picklesimer still said, however, they hope to bring some ideas about rights from the animal advocacy movement into city government beyond animal rights policies.
“We can look at the entire community and ask ourselves, ‘Who is lacking in basic rights?’ Is that people living under the highway because Berkeley is OK with it because it’s not on their property?” Picklesimer said. “I think that we all deserve a home or habitat, and I want to work hard to make sure that happens.”
Picklesimer also supports the Black Lives Matter movement and said they are “in awe” of what it has accomplished. They added that they are doubtful, but hopeful about the idea of a 50% cut to the Berkeley Police Department budget.
Kitty Jones, a friend of Picklesimer who is also a fellow at DxE, said Picklesimer cares deeply about a variety of social justice issues.
“Someone who is so passionate about these social issues is someone who should be in office, because those are the issues that are affecting everyday people,” Jones said. “We shouldn’t have people in office that have so much ignorance and privilege that they don’t feel like they have to address these things.”
Picklesimer said although they have never seen a year like 2020, they are “excited” and “energized” about the change it has brought.
“In some ways, 2020 has just been catastrophic, but at the same time, we see the change start to spark up where people in communities are taking power,” Picklesimer said. “I really want to come in and be a part of real progressive, radical change.”