Sit-lie ordinance protesters march to council meeting

Photo: Protesters made signs opposing a proposed sit-lie ordinance in Berkeley.
Jonamir Ian Ventura/Staff
Protesters made signs opposing a proposed sit-lie ordinance in Berkeley.

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Sit-Lie Protest

Berkeley students and community members gathered together to protest a sit-lie ordinance proposed by the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday.

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A group of about 70 UC Berkeley students and Berkeley community members gathered Tuesday afternoon at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street to protest a proposed sit-lie ordinance in the city, later marching to the Berkeley City Council meeting Downtown.

The protest was responding to a push by certain members of the business community to create a law that would make it illegal for anyone to sit or lie on the sidewalks of Berkeley. The protesters believe this ordinance would target the homeless who rest along these same streets.

Although the ordinance was not on the agenda for Tuesday night's City Council meeting, organizer and Berkeley resident Michael Diehl said they wanted to let the council know what they thought beforehand. Diehl distributed fliers and organized the protest, which was attended by UC Berkeley student groups Suitcase Clinic and Habitat for Humanity.

Diehl said that this is not the first time this issue has come up in Berkeley. He and the other protesters believe that the potential ordinance would be discriminatory and only perpetuate the problems of homelessness in the city.

Protesters met on the corner of Haste and Telegraph at 3 p.m. before marching down Telegraph beginning at 5 p.m. and then continuing down Bancroft Way and Shattuck Avenue, where traffic was momentarily halted as some of the protesters walked up the northbound lane, toting signs and chanting.

The protest remained stationary for a period of time on the corner of Shattuck and Center Street, where more joined and Councilmember Kriss Worthington stopped by to converse with members of the group and commend them.

"What's happening is corporate real estate interests are initiating the proposal and trying to convince businesses to come out in support of it," Worthington said. "Really they just want to maximize their high rents."

The protesters arrived at the council chambers around 6 p.m. to wait for the council meeting where they intend to speak on the issue during the public comment period. The issue is expected to be on the council's agenda sometime in July.


Contact Adelyn Baxter at [email protected]

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