Why Berkeley Needs a New Police Review Commission—And Why it’ll Have to Wait Two Years to Get One

(Published in The Berkeley Daily Planet on August 5, 2016 by Andrew Beale.  Beale is a graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He's reported for national and international outlets including the Associated Press, Vice and al-Jazeera from the US, Mexico, Turkey and Palestine.)

On Thursday, July 21, the City of Berkeley’s Administration building was mysteriously under lockdown. Police officers on bicycles and plainclothes security officers ringed the building, refusing entry to Berkeley citizens. A city spokesman posted outside the building (which houses the mayor’s office, the City Council chambers and various other critical city functions) offered no clues, saying only “We’re having some security concerns, but we’re not discussing it broadly.” 

Around two o’clock in the afternoon, the source of the “security concerns” became clear: a small group of protesters was trying to enter the building to speak with City Council members about the council’s failure to reform Berkeley’s Police Review Commission. The activist group included students, an attorney and 2016 City Council candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple. Despite an invitation from current Councilmember Kriss Worthington to meet with him, even Armstrong-Temple was prevented from entering the building. Hours later, Worthington eventually secured permission for the activists to come inside, but by then they had left, tired of standing on the steps of a city office building in intemperate chilly weather. (Armstrong-Temple and several other protesters penned op-eds for the Daily Planet about the experience.) 

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