As the nights get colder and other Occupy encampments are shut down, the Occupy Berkeley encampment in Civic Center Park is only getting bigger. And with its growth comes growing anxiety from Berkeley High School across the street, Berkeley police and, it seems, Occupy strategists, according to buzz floating around the Web.
Occupy Berkeley has come to be more about getting along in the camp and surviving the elements than a protest against corporations or banks amassing wealth.
Berkeley Police Department public information officer Sgt. Mary Kusmiss told Berkeley Patch in a Q& A published today that there have been numerous incidents of assault and battery – especially in recent weeks. Some of those fights involved weapons. Police are monitoring the encampment and trying to maintain a presence there, she said.
Across the street from Occupy Berkeley sits Berkeley High School and its 3,000 students. Principal Pasquale Scuderi recently sent a letter to parents telling them that the Occupy encampment has “complicated” its ability to supervise students at lunch and after school.
For one, the encampment has made drugs and alcohol more available to students and for two, police and school administrators walking through the encampment have a hard time distinguishing camp residents from high school students who might be truant. The Daily Cal chronicled the concerns in an article today.
Meanwhile the City Council, which has been supportive of Occupy Berkeley from the start, is showing signs of growing weary of it. Councilman Jesse Arreguin, whose districts encompasses Civic Center Park, recently said the local Occupy movement might want to think about its ongoing strategy since camping is raising health and safety concerns, according to a column in the Berkeley Daily Planet and Twitter feeds from around Berkeley.