There’s Gold to be Mined in People’s Park Unless a Bomb Blasts

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 13, 2015

Gold in them thar hills. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Dave said he metal-detected People’s Park monthly. He long ago recouped the money he spent on his metal detector, roughly $800.

Reporter commented this isn’t the most lucrative patch in Berkeley. “You’d be surprised,” said Dave. Park people panhandle a bonanza in change, but it falls out of their pockets and becomes buried,” he told me.

Dave said he earns $80 a month detecting.

Once Dave found a rare-cut diamond/ring that was worth thousands. He gave it to his girlfriend.

A university groundskeeper added that he too had found spare change in the park when cleaning.”It doesn’t compensate me for picking up people’s trash, but it often is a few dollars extra for my trouble.”


Just before Dave detected his first quarter in the park, a bomb went off–an M-80, according to a university patrolman. It wasn’t the first time for these pee-wee bombs to explode in the park.

Possible bomb blast site. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Park regulars told me the bombs no longer rouse them.

Although not much bigger than a large fire-cracker, the M-8 was used as a munition in World War1, according to an online source.

Detail. Possible bomb site. Photo by Ted Friedman.

A week later, there was one of those tiresome bomb scares downtown. By the time reporter got there, he could only find one cop, who said, “the bomb scare was bullshit, but we have to take these reports seriously, like we do gun scares.”

Annoying not-really-bombs—just empty abandoned bags (like 50 year-old bowling bags), and boxes close Berkeley streets several times a month. Abandoned bags abound downtown and throughout the South side.

Abandoned bags have become a terrorist trope that has inhabited our minds.

Between false weapons sightings and bomb scares, Berkeley can seem under siege, and then someone kills someone—just to make danger palpable.

The bomb in the park was the real thing, but, as Reporter’s investigation proved, there was no damage, just some shredded paper from the explosion.

Food Not Bombs, a daily Bay Area food give- away in the park might want to announce that the food could come with bombs and to check your change.

That could put Dave and his metal-detector out of business.

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