BERKELEY, Calif. (BCN) - Four people, including Berkeley City Council candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple, were arrested this morning when police raided a small homeless tent city that was set up to protest the way the city provides homeless services, a city spokesman said.
The city began clearing out the encampment in front of the Berkeley Food & Housing Project, also known as the HUB, at 1901 Fairview Street at Adeline Street, near the Ashby BART station at 5 a.m. today after warning the people there several times to pack up and leave, city spokesman Matthai Chakko said.
About 20 homeless activists have set up encampments at several locations during the past month to protest homeless services coordinated by the HUB.
The first small tent city was located in front of the HUB's office but after police and city officials moved people away from that location on Oct. 7 the protesters moved several blocks away to a median in the middle of Adeline Street between Ward and Stuart streets, near the Berkeley Bowl grocery store.
The tent city was briefly moved across the street to Shattuck Avenue near the Kirala restaurant but then activists moved back to the pavement in front of the HUB about two weeks ago.
Homeless activist Mike Zint, of First They Came for the Homeless, who wasn't available for comment today, said recently that homeless activists are upset with the city's new system for allocating aid to people who live on the street because they think the HUB is disorganized, makes it hard for people to get help and sends homeless people out of the area to get housing.
Chakko said the new system is aimed at finding long-term housing for homeless people and priority is given to people who have a disability and have been on the street for the longest time.
Chakko said the City Council has looked into the possibility that the group of 20 or so people at the homeless encampment can stay on semi-permanently but the group's demands have been hard to meet.
He said the group wants enough land to accommodate 25 people in tents initially and up to 200 people later on, toilets, showers, city services and medical services.
Chakko said the city can't meet the group's demands because, "We have limited resources."
He said most of the people at the encampment agreed to move on this morning but police arrested four people.
Armstrong-Temple's communications director Debra Avery said Armstrong-Temple, who is one of two candidates challenging three-term incumbent Darryl Moore in District 2 in West Berkeley, came to the encampment after Zint issued a call for community support.
Avery said Armstrong-Temple was injured while she was being arrested for offering assistance to 65-year-old disabled activist Barbara Brust, who Avery said provides support at the corner of Adeline and Fairview streets. She said Armstrong-Temple was taken to the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin after she was arrested.
Avery said police officers told Armstrong-Temple that she may be charged with lynching, which the California Penal Code defines as, "The taking by means of riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer."
Avery said Brust, who founded Consider the Homeless, was also injured while she was arrested for allegedly disturbing the peace.
Chakko said that in addition to Armstrong-Temple and Brust, police arrested 48-year-old Michelle Lot of Oakland for allegedly disturbing the peace and a man who emerged from a tent and used a bullhorn to incite others.
He said the man threatened to kill himself and was planned on a psychiatric hold.
Chakko said police may later seek an out-of-custody disturbing the peace complaint against the man.
Avery said Zint asked people to come to the area for a community march to protest the crackdown on the homeless encampment.
Chakko said protesters marched to City Hall but as far as he knows no one was arrested during the march.
Armstrong-Temple has been endorsed by actor and activist Danny Glover.
The other candidate who is challenging Moore in the District 2 race is bookkeeper Cheryl Davila.