On Berkeley's crime corridor, Telegraph Avenue, policing the street can be capricious, at best, cheap and malicious at worst.
Shouldn't policing on Telegraph be fair? I've seen fairness and I've seen what seemed malicious and cheap--a real heaven and hell.
I was recently threatened (3 times) with arrest ("You're going into the back seat of my car."…but I'm not a backseat guy) for photographing a 5150 (threat to self or others) outside Pappy's Sports Bar and Grill.
Last Saturday, I noticed that an over-sized street vendor's tent was blocking the walk. I interrupted four Berkeley cops on their lunch break to announce the big news--someone was blocking the walk. Later, one of the officers visited the offending tent.
Why would I be giving tips to the cops? I've been walking the avenue for 43 years and I've never seen a tent this protruding. That's because, according to Janet Klein, head of Berkeley street vendors, the tent was two-feet bigger than allowed. It also was in the street.Big deal?
Big deal when cops consistently roust self-proclaimed "street tramps." They also frisk them and run criminal background checks. Cops invariably find some criminal background, sometimes not, although that is an exception.
Telegraph Avenue is a crime trove.
The street tramps, free to lounge the avenue, are clean or they'd have been perped already.
If you are an insanely popular ice-cream sandwich scam--Cream--you can and will repeatedly block the walk (I have 15 photos to prove it). You will go free, even if you park your car on the sidewalk, as long as you have privilege. If you are a first-time street vendor and block the walk--hey, that's o.k….
In the case of the vendor's tent, a BPD officer, who was alerted to the blockage was not familiar with street vendor regulations, according to Klein.
I'm shocked, shocked, that this is the case.
I've seen cops support the free-speech rights of street crazies. I've seen cops repeatedly assisting people in distress.
There are good intentions on the part of police but no consistency of fairness. -30- Follow Ted Friedman at berkeleyreporter.com.