Bay City News--Members of the Occupy Berkeley camp are preparing for the worst tonight after being served with a notice that police plan to enforce laws preventing lodging in the park the encampment calls home.
The notice, which is dated Dec. 20, 2011, says that Civic Center Park, where the camp has existed largely unchallenged for the past two months, is closed at 10 p.m. and that those persons in the park when it is closed will be subject to arrest.
"Starting December 21, 2011, anyone found camping in this park will be required to remove their tent and other property being used for lodging here," the notice reads. Anyone who fails to remove his or her property used for lodging will also be subject to arrest, the notice reads.
Several Twitter users have tweeted that an "emergency" General Assembly is scheduled for 6 p.m. in advance of the possible eviction.
Earlier this month, one Berkeley councilman had said that officials were monitoring the encampment because of concerns about sanitation and crime.
The two-month-old camp has continued to grow, especially after occupations in Oakland and San Francisco were dismantled. City Councilman Jesse Arreguin, whose district includes Civic Center Park, said two weeks ago that there was no rush to do the same in Berkeley.
City of Berkeley spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said that last week Mayor Tom Bates and the City Council were notified by interim City Manager Christine Daniel that the situation had deteriorated at the park.
"There has been a substantial increase in illegal activities and safety violations in the park associated with the current encampment," Daniel wrote in the Dec. 14 letter to city leaders. "Staff will take enforcement action as necessary to respond to illegal activities and safety and sanitation issues."
According to the Berkeley Police Department, officers have been conducting daily checks of the site and addressing criminal behavior.
Police said there have been 33 reported calls for police services related to the encampment since Oct. 23, 2011, and 24 of those reports were classified as crimes. Police said that there has been violence at the camp, including an attempted rape on Tuesday night and a stabbing on Saturday morning.