And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain.
Failed revolutions don’t end with a bang; they end with a whimper.
That whimper happened today when, unnoticed by the national media, the city of Berkeley evicted just about the last remaining “Occupy” camp of any size in the nation.
Occupy Berkeley? That’s a redundancy if there ever was one. The whole city has basically been one big “Occupy” camp since it took a sharp left turn in the 1960s. (One popular former mayor, Gus Newport, was a proud communist.)
People have often emailed me over the last few months asking if there even was an Occupy camp in Berkeley; since I’ve covered the nearby Occupation movements in Oakland, San Francisco, and at the University of California, but never the city of Berkeley itself, does that mean that America’s most liberal city never even had its own camp? Well, actually, it has had an Occupy camp in Civic Center Park for two months, but I never wrote about it because there was nothing to say. The camp was originally quite small, never organized any protest marches, and was entirely uncontroversial considering the political climate in the city. The cluster of 25 or so activists at the camp were no more radical than any accidental group of strangers waiting to cross the street at any random Berkeley intersection, so Occupy Berkeley barely merited a shrug.
But that started to change recently when refugees from the evicted Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco encampments began wandering over to the Berkeley camp, where there was plenty of room for expansion and no hassles from the city government. Occupy Berkeley rapidly degenerated into crime-ridden squalor as the number of tents increased to 90, most of which were inhabited by the homeless, drug abusers and dealers, and various other unsavory characters.
It got so bad that the Berkeley Police Department issued this press release:
City of Berkeley Police Officers (BPD) officers have continued to conduct daily checks and monitor Occupy Berkeley/encampment site for community, public safety and participant safety. BPD officers have been addressing any criminal behavior that they see. There have been 33 reported calls for BPD services related to Occupy Berkeley since October 23, 2011, 24 of which are classified as crimes. During some of the investigations at the scene, victims did not wish to cooperate with BPD officers. There are crimes and other incidents that may be unreported, thus are not documented by BPD. There has been an increase in calls for police services over time. There have been cases involving violence in the Occupy Berkeley encampment such as batteries, assault with deadly weapons, possession of dangerous weapons and an attempted rape.”
“There has continued to be an increase in serious crimes and violence after the Dec. 15th flyers were passed out including an attempted rape last evening. The latest flyers are now providing warning that the law will be enforced. It speaks for itself. BPD would like the individuals in the park to follow the law voluntarily and the facts as to the encampment’s impact on community and participant safety is clear when reading the lists of crimes that have been occurring.” In addition to those crimes, BPD officers have issued 46 citations since December 15, 2011 for violations such as drinking in public, open containers of alcohol, smoking and other miscellaneous within the park.
The attempted rape was the final straw. Yesterday, the city instructed the police to evict the Occupiers and clear out the camp by today:
More than half of the campers at the Occupy Berkeley camp packed up and moved out last night after the city told them they had to go somewhere else.
Police officers handed out a notice Wednesday evening telling the group of campers that if they stayed another night they would be arrested.
“There has continued to be an increase in serious crimes and violence,” Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said in a statement. “(Police) would like the individuals in the park to follow the law voluntarily.”
Following that, many in the camp decided to pack up and move out. Most said they wanted to avoid conflict on what was expected to be a bitterly cold night.
In recent weeks, the make up of the camp shifted from ideological activists to homeless campers.
While many campers moved out without incident, others pledged to stay in the camp and resist any attempt by police to clear out the tents. A handful of tents were still standing Thursday morning.
There was a brief clash with the cops during the eviction last night, but no arrests:
Now there are only 20 tents left, and those are likely to be gone by tomorrow, despite threats from the few remaining die-hards to fight to the bitter end:
Occupy Berkeley protesters remain camped at Civic Center Park despite a city deadline to leave by Wednesday night.
Protesters were still camped in the park early Thursday morning with no visible police presence nearby. Police did clear some tents the night before that were left unattended, but there was no full-scale raid.
The Contra Costa Times reports that the number of tents had dropped to about 20 from about 70 on Tuesday
Yes, this it it: the final curtain. All the Occupations of any significance from coast to coast have now been evicted, and have faded from memory. The only remaining camps are either so small that they barely merit notice, or so non-confrontational that they have no impact on the political debate.
If you’re a left-wing movement that’s not welcome even in Berkeley, you know it’s time to throw in the towel.