To: Berkeley City Council and Dee Williams-Ridley, City Manager
City of Berkeley: Stop Raids on the Homeless
We, the undersigned, urgently request that the City of Berkeley ESTABLISH A MORATORIUM ON RAIDS ON HOMELESS CAMPS. The raids are inhumane, costly, and achieve nothing.
Each raid involves dozens of police and City workers costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. The City specifically targets the visible homeless for drawing attention to what's lacking in the City's approach. Furthermore, the raids invite lawsuits by destroying personal property, inflicting health risks on particularly vulnerable people, and punishing whole groups of people for crimes committed by individuals. The City provides no explanation for what is accomplished by pushing human beings around from spot to spot.
The City should use staff time and taxpayer funds to find solutions that reduce the burden on emergency services and protect the human rights of our unhoused neighbors.
Why is this important?
The City of Berkeley has raided one particular group of homeless people 14 TIMES IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS. These homeless people are engaged in a protest of homelessness and the City’s policies related to it. They have set up tents, been camping in highly visible places with banners and signs, and established camp rules against alcohol and drugs. During each raid, personal property and survival gear of the homeless protesters has been DAMAGED, DESTROYED, AND/OR CONFISCATED. Neighbors often check conditions of the camp and observe police behavior during raids, which usually happen around 5am. AT ONE RAID, A CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE WAS ARRESTED while trying to protect a disabled woman who was being bullied by the police. PEOPLE IN THE CAMP HAVE PROFOUND HEALTH ISSUES including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), insulin-dependent diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, bipolar disorder, and PTSD and some require wheelchairs and canes to get around. The homeless camp invites people to visit and share about their visit on social media.
The protesters are calling for:
1) Legal and sanctioned camping space and other stable solutions (such as a communal house or tiny homes) as an alternative to shelters.
2) A moratorium on police raids until #1 happens.