I Shot the Sheriff, Berkeley-style

by Steed Dropout
May, 20, 2014


Berkeley police, assisted by Berkeley High administrators, avoided a replay of a student riot downtown, Friday. Dueling video-cams staged their own riot.

The previous Friday, cops had to play catch-up to control an after-school downtown melee when students inexplicably began rough-housing.

Berkeley cops’ well-planned op may have prevented a riot downtown last week, but brought ‘heat,’ to a perp-rich patch named “Constitution Square,” near Berkeley’s downtown Bay Area Rapid Transit escalator.

Several arrests, unrelated to riot-prevention, occurred, Friday.

The presence, at times, of as many as fifteen city of Berkeley police was, apparently, more heat than some Berkeleyans could handle. That was when the shooting began–video-shooting, that is.

Anywhere but Berkeley, an I-Shot-the-Sheriff twosome, would have been charged with obstructing police. A few weeks earlier, an obstreperous perp, who had been repeatedly warned to stand back was jumped by a cop and later charged with resisting arrest when her camera touched a cop. In the YouTube video, you see a young woman rapidly, but too-late, retracting her camera just before the cop chases her and smoothers her to the ground.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this incident, it may be that there is a safe zone between dueling video cameras; a safe zone of inches. Whether or not that is so, or there is safety in numbers at Constitution Square, remains a mystery. The square is a crowded public commons,

Berkeley abounds in such territorial mysteries, like the mystery of a four-foot anything-goes-area at the outer edge of Berkeley streets and its sidewalks. A Berkeley civil rights attorney has told me this sanctuary zone is a legal fiction, but who’s complaining, when it assists street people who need all the space they can claim.

Berkeley Reporter was doing its own shooting, in case riot Friday repeated. BR’s shots, here, capture some of this only-in-Berkeley drama.

Riot Prevention. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Non-Rioters. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Wrong time/place. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Wrong time/place 2. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Inches from Trouble. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Double Gotchas. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Don't Shoot Me! Photo by Ted Friedman.

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