Commission Discusses Handling of Protests

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The Berkeley Police Review Commission held a public meeting last night to address concerns about police crowd control tactics that were used during protests over the Marine Corps recruitment within the last month.

Several individuals from Berkeley Copwatch and anti-war groups Code Pink and World Can't Wait spoke at the meeting and expressed concern at the actions of police.

"They basically came out, destroyed our equipment, pushed us into the street, and left. It seemed like they were just there to intimidate us," said Giovanni Jackson, a member of World Can't Wait.

The meeting culminated in a decision by the commission to start a subcommittee to investigate the crowd management policies of the police.

Additionally, a public hearing with the city manager and the police was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. If there are time conflicts, two commissioners will relay public opinion to the police.

Evidence, including a video that showed police shoving people to the ground and knocking over an elderly war veteran, was used to demonstrate violent behavior by police at protests.

But Marca Lamore, a Berkeley resident and former U.S. Army captain, said the video was carefully edited for the anti-war protesters' purposes.

Other speakers said that the police were biased in favor of pro-military activists. Anti-war activists said that the police joked around with right-wing activists who had visible knives, but reacted violently towards the anti-war protestors.

"(The police) did everything to facilitate a right-wing hate-fest," said Forrest Schmidt, an anti-war activist. "The police are continuing to act as an auxiliary to pro-war forces."

Despite claims that there was an excess of police at the protests, Lamore said the numbers were justified.

"It is utter stupidity to think that one cop could handle the situation," she said.

The chief of police was invited to the hearing, but could not attend because of short notice, according to commissioner Victoria Urbi.

Many speakers said they were outraged that there were no police at the meeting and said there is discrepancy between police tactics and city policies that needs to be addressed.

"There is quite a difference between what the City Council supports and what is being enforced on the streets," said Copwatch member Andrea Prichett.

Tags: MARINE RECRUITING CENTER, POLICE REVIEW COMMISSION, BERKELEY COPWATCH


Contact Mai Fung at [email protected]



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