Berkeley Crime Watchers

by Steed Dropout
Sept. 23, 2014

Don’t confuse Berkeley Cop Watchers with Berkeley Crime Watchers. The similarity in these names is confusing.

Unlike Cop Watch, which is a loose international confederation of self-appointed police monitors–Berkeley Crime Watchers are you and me. When we’re out and about Berkeley and happen on police activity, we become crime watchers/police reporters.

Take the other night near Berkeley’s hot-spot, the Caffe Mediterraneum. A familiar face among those hanging nearby gets detained, searched, and busted. A crowd gathers.

The Bust. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The crowd has three concerns. Who got stopped, why, and are cops treating the perp fairly? A police supervisor shows up, but is she being fair? Are those photographers intimidating the police?

The alleged perp, a familiar Telegraph character, “just went off and started babbling about how some alien outer space agency was controlling us all,” according to one witness. When approached by a cop foot patrolman, who told me she had told the man to stop, the man took off, weaving, on his bicycle, pursued by the cop. The cop caught up to the perp outside Shakespeare’s Books, at Telegraph and Dwight. Then came two photographers. The perp, the photographers, and a few onlookers drew a crowd.

After police reinforcements showed up, the perp was cuffed and his backpack searched. An officer on scene told me an illegal weapon and illegal drugs were found.

A Telegraph avenue vagabond, with a flair for the para-legal, told cops the perp had once been hit by a truck, which made him slur. A cop told me they were sure the man was drunk. “I can smell it all over him,” the officer said.

The manager of Shakespeare’s thought the photographers were hassling the cops, but one of the officers said he liked being photographed. “Photographs show we’re doing our jobs. I hope all cops soon wear video cams.”

The Shakespeare manager continued to challenge the photographers. “Our cops do a great job,” the manager said. “They don’t deserve to be hassled.” I was one of two accused photographers and the other was shooting for cop-watch. “Look,” I protested to the manager. “If you will look me up on-line, you will see that I’m a big Berkeley cop supporter.”

“Me too,” chimed in the cop-watcher, incredibly.

As the perp sensed his big-scene theatrical opportunity with the Telegraph Ave. crowd, he yelled repeatedly, “they’re violating my civil rights.”

Who's violating whom? Photo by Ted Friedman.

After the perp was driven off to city jail, the crowd returned to its Telegraph pursuits. The book manager returned to her bookstore.

There are many such crimes on Telegraph, an avenue known for opposing authority.

Whether you happen to happen onto a crime-in-progress or you seek out your next crime fix, Telegraph brings on the action, night after night.

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

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