From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, Public Information Officer:
The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) did not "raid" the Occupy Berkeley encampment in Civic Center Park last night or early this morning. (December 21/22, 2011). We had no intentions of conducting a large scale enforcement operation, but rather as our consistent message has been - “City of Berkeley Police Officers (BPD) officers have continued to conduct daily checks and monitor the Occupy Berkeley/encampment site for community, public safety and participant safety. After the warning flyer was passed out regarding the enforcement of 6.32.020 of the Berkeley Municipal Code (Park Hours), beginning at 10 p.m. Wednesday, December 21, 2011, many campers voluntarily packed their belongings or abandoned items and left. We are grateful for that action and appreciate their cooperation.
There were two confrontations between encampment participants and BPD officers this morning. An individual was seen approaching the Ronald T. Tsukamoto Public Safety Building with what appeared to be a crowbar, an unidentifiable canister and a gas mask. Due to information that there had been “talk” within the encampment to damage or vandalize the PSB, the male and two others were detained and brought into the PSB lobby forofficer safety. The suspect seen with the items, Joseph Paul Briones, 30, of Los Angeles, was arrested for violation of 647(f)PC – Drunk in Public and 11377(a)HS- Possession of a Controlled Substance/Amphetamines. When participants from the park learned of the detentions, a group ran to the front of the Public Safety Building, yelling and remaining there for some time.
A group of BPD officers took this opportunity to drive to the south side of the park and remove several abandoned tents. When campers in the park and many in front of the Public Safety Buildin noticed the officers’ activity, they began running back to the park. They surrounded the truck and charged officers. Some officers used force, their batons, to push the group back so that the officers could safely drive away.
A second confrontation occurred at approximately 1:15 a.m. when a City of Berkeley Public Works crew arrived in front of the Public Safety Buildin with a truck to remove the tents and items that the officers had taken from the park. A group swarmed the Public Works crew, began climbing on the truck and attempted to get the property.
A team of officers exited the Public Safety Buildin, engaged the group, some using batons to push individuals back. Crowd management is some of the more unpredictable and dangerous work in policing. BPD officers reacted to what they were seeing – movements of individuals, people charging and maintained a skirmish line so that the Public Works crew could accomplish an exit/escape.”
A male approached officers and reported an injury as a result of the confrontation. City of Berkeley Fire Department paramedics assessed him at the scene. Afterward, a BPD officer issued Robert John Liening Jr., 32, of Fairfield a misdemeanor field citation for 148(a)PC – Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer as he was positively identified as being one of the group who obstructed officers.
Neither arrest made by members of BPD this morning were made in Civic Center Park. Both were arrested near the Ronald T. Tsukamoto Public Safety Building. Aside from the man mentioned above, no other encampment participants claimed any injuries. No BPD officers were injured.
This afternoon, December 22, 2011, at approximately 1:00 p.m. members of BPD participated in a collaborative project in the park. They accompanied teams from COB Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Environmental Health, Fire Prevention/Inspection and Animal Services. The goal for BPD was to go to the park and provide low key security for the teams so that they could remove abandoned property from the exodus the previous night/morning as well as assess conditions. As we approached the park, some members of the encampment packed up and left. The teams moved through the park doing cleanup work and there were no physical confrontations. The landscape of the park is much different than it had been on previous days. A handful of tents and campers remain. BPD passed the warning flyers out to each individual that was present at the end of the project.
There were questions as to decision-making and other related factors. As is policy and protocol, we deferred questions regarding the City Managers, actions of Public Works, Fire and other city departments to those entities. No community members, campers, city team members or members of BPD were injured during the project.
Sgt. Mary C. Kusmiss S-6
BPD Public Information Officer