Who Won The Latest Berkeley F the Police Demo

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 27, 2014


From Ferguson to Berkeley: Hands Up; Don't Shoot. Photo by Ted Friedman.

From Ferguson, Mo: “When protesters would try to follow police commands to leave an area, they’d be faced with another group of police pushing them back in the direction they’d come from.”–a Berkeley pastor’s report from Ferguson.

A UC Berkeley research study of 211 Occupy protests concluded demos: “tend to turn violent when officers use aggressive tactics, such as approaching demonstrators in riot gear or lining up in military-like formations.”


Oakland’s Fuck the Police, trying to call attention to police brutality in Ferguson, Mo and Oakland, may have cozied-up with the wrong cops in Berkeley. Angry protesters entering Berkeley recently were met with a 60s style police phalanx from three police departments, including a swarm of California Highway Patrol.

Marchers were led, like cattle, up Telegraph Avenue by twenty squad cars. The demonstrators smashed windows on the Oakland side of Telegraph before arriving in Berkeley, then managed an end run around Telegraph and regrouped downtown, as police formed in great numbers, nearby.

Downtown. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Followed by cop cars, demonstrators returned to Telegraph on Haste Street, stopping outside Amoeba to diss cops and rally.

Back to Telegraph. Photo byTed Friedman.


Both demonstrators and the police could claim victory. The cops in Berkeley, with overwhelming force (sometimes almost out-numbering the less than fifty demonstrators), were able to forestall window-breaking on Berkeley’s Telegraph (a Berkeley tradition). Only two arrests were made, a win for cops.

Two Telegraph Property owners told me they were grateful cops had protected their Teley properties from angry protesters.

A rumored follow-up march to Berkeley did not go down, the following Saturday.

The demonstrators can claim to have cost the cops a lot of men and money, and to have exorcised their own demons. They also can claim to have made the point that local cops will turn out in riot gear when provoked, as in Ferguson.


I was writing a piece on policing–Excessive Force Or Good Policing?–as Oakland demonstrators arrived in Berkeley. Later, I got a first-hand look at excessive force when a Berkeley cop lifted me off the ground by my sweater.

I was trapped behind a police cordon at Telegraph/Bancroft.

I was yanked left (“go there!”) then right (“go there!”)

I tried to exit, right. Photo byTed Friedman.

There were rumors among marchers that cops would use rubber bullets on us. My bad was I had asked an officer in riot gear, “I’m a press photographer; I need to leave.”

Resigned to being trapped like a rat, I got some of my best photos and kicked back with street musician Pink Cloud, 63, a Berkeley street survivor. Cloud told me later that police had credited him with lulling trapped marchers with folk songs.

Pink Cloud. Photo byTed Friedman.

One agitated marcher–hurling insults–pressed his face to an officer’s chest and had to be pulled off by his friends.

Friendly Restraint. Photo byTed Friedman.

Another agitator wasn’t so lucky. In an instant, four officers rushed the young man, snatched him out of the crowd and tossed him, like a potato sack, into the back of a squad car.

My excessive force or good policing piece was based on a recent Telegraph Avenue cop action which body-slammed an “old man” to the pavement outside the Cody Building. As a crowd across the avenue chanted, “you body-slammed an old man for smoking,” cops struggled to bring the “old man” under control. He was accused, to me, by an arresting officer, of resisting arrest and obstructing justice.

'Old Man' Down. Photo byTed Friedman.

Several years of my own Interviews with police officers show that cop-ops start with police enforcing boundaries to control a “scenario.” In the recent Fuck the Police face-off, police used overwhelming force to control a demo that threatened their boundaries.

These views do not represent those of publications in which my work appears.

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