More than 100 people attended a rally at the Berkeley main Post Office this afternoon, Saturday, in opposition the U.S. Postal Service's plan to sell the building.
Several local officials – including Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley City Council, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and state Senator Loni Hancock – have taken stands against the sale.
On the speakers list at today's rally were Councilmen Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, historian Gray Brechin, and several other supporters of the Save the Berkeley Post Office campaign.
The Postal Service has been selling its large old post offices and transferring its dwindling operations to smaller spaces as a way to reduce its financial losses. It decided this spring to proceed with the sale of Berkeley Post Office, despite strong local opposition.
Carrying a sign saying, "Stop the scheme to kill our US Postal," Berkeley resident Kelly Hammargren said she was there because of "the theft of our Post Office."
Kelly said she wasn't optimistic about stopping the sale since it has the backing of powerful political forces like Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, board chair of CB Richard Ellis, which earns income as the commercial real estate firm handling Postal Service properties.
"I don't think we can really stop Richard Blum and what's happening in our Congress," she said, "but it makes me feel feel better to stand with our neighbors and try to save our Post Office."
Opponents of the sale not only object to transfer of the Berkeley building into private hands but also seek restoration of the Postal Service as a public agency instead of conversion into a private enterprise.
The grand building in Berkeley with large columns and arches – built in 1914 and modeled after the 13th century Hospital of Innocents in Florence – is on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the defining buildings of Berkeley's downtown.
The state Legislature on May 21 approved a resolution asking the U.S. Postal Service to rescind its plan to sell the building.
Mayor Tom Bates helped organize a campaign with other cities to save their traditional post office buildings.
Some of the protesters at today's rally brought sleeping bags and planned to stage an all-night, according to Bay City News.
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