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IN THIS ISSUE

Shifts.

Join us for our weekly shifts throughout the month of May! We'll be out in the streets witnessing and documenting police activity and doing outreach. No experience is required - we'll train you in the essentials for documenting police activity and staying safe in the process.

Friday 5/6, 8:00 PM
Friday 5/13, 8:00 PM
Saturday 5/21, 8:00 PM
Friday 5/27 - 8:00 PM

Please RSVP by calling/texting (510) 224-5950 or emailing crivka@sonic.net so we can update you if we make changes to the schedule. Check out our Facebook Event for more info.

Maria Moore speaks about her sister Kayla in a still from the 2013 film Stories of Transformation: Justice for Kayla Moore. Watch the video.
Roleplaying during the Know Your Rights Training 4/26. Photograph: Devon McNaughton

Demanding Justice for Kayla Moore.

 
Three years have passed since Berkeley resident Kayla Moore was killed in her apartment by the Berkeley police. In October 2016, her family will at last have their day in court.  Please join us as we demand “Justice for Kayla Moore!”

On February 12, 2013, police were called to Kayla’s Shattuck Avenue apartment by a friend who was concerned about her mental health. Police arrived and immediately attempted to place her under arrest. Kayla was an African American, transgender woman who weighed almost 350 pounds. When officers wrestled her face down onto a futon on the floor, they should have known that this could impair her breathing. Up to six cops, using their full weight continued to restrain the panicked woman and even called for a “spit hood” to be placed on her head. Ultimately, they didn’t get a chance use it. They thought she had calmed down; in fact, she had stopped breathing.

If you are concerned about racism, trans* issues and the treatment of people with mental illness by the BPD, we invite you to work with us to bring this case to the attention of the public. The number of people suffering from mental illness in Berkeley continues to rise, yet they are often provided with police responders instead of mental health professionals. This has to change!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Please join us on May 16 at 2022 Blake Street at 7 p.m. to discuss ways to organize around the October court date and to compel this city to de-militarize mental health care!

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Know Your Rights Training.

 
We had a great KYR training on April 26, and new copwatchers presented to a room full of people. It is our hope that each person trained may spread the consciousness of copwatching and all the information that helps to make us effective in the field and keep us safe as we watch. Contact us if you would like to attend a training in the future, or if you would like to schedule a training for a specific group or occasion.
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Mental Health Watch.

 
With shifts going out each week, we have noticed, especially recently, many 5150s, or incidents when police are called to deal with someone who is having a mental health crisis. But where are the mental health workers?

For example, on 4-15-16 we witnessed a man in crisis who decided to call 911 to get help. Though he was suffering from mental health issues, the help he received was a firetruck, an ambulance and about six uniformed officers. Not one mental health worker.

A recent East Bay Express article discussed how police are increasingly having to act as first responders to mental health crisis. However, we are not seeing increased resources toward de-escalation techniques –instead, we are seeing more resources toward militarized approaches to policing. We are seeing federal and state funding toward further arming the police. We recently learned that BPD has secured $125,373 in grant monies toward an armored vehicle and that OPD purchased a license for social media monitoring software Geofeedia for $9,234. Yet we are not seeing the same kind of energy around mental health care, in spite of the fact that mental health-related calls are on the rise – the article states that OPD is receiving about thirty mental health-related calls each day.

Bay Area "CIT" training is a meager eight-hour voluntary training compared to the forty-hour intensive model, and is not an adequate substitute. And while Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is an important part of police training, we have seen many instances of CIT-trained officer killings of people in crisis – most recently Luis Gongora in the San Francisco Mission.

On Friday 4-22-16, we saw an elderly black man in handcuffs sitting in the cold in just his thin t-shirt. His coat and shirt were on the hood of the police car. The officer standing over him decided to let the man, who appeared to be homeless, go. When we inquired, the officer explained that the old man was an alcoholic and needed to “get his life together.” The officer also explained that he was CIT trained and that he knew what he was talking about. Copwatch wondered why a CIT officer would strip an elderly alcoholic man down to his t-shirt in the cold, and how this intervention was helpful or necessary at all.

This disturbing trend is a danger to people living with mental illness. The police should not be first responders to mental health crisis.

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Wishlist.

 
In order to achieve our goals this year, we need some stuff! We're looking for a new police scanner and a new computer, as well as the funds to help print materials and revamp our website. Or, if you would like to donate some money to our general fund, that would be amazing too! Berkeley Copwatch is an all volunteer organization that is supported by the community. If you have any leads, or would like to donate, please email us.
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Grassroots House
2022 Blake Street
Berkeley, CA  94704
(510) 548-0425
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