I'm open to suggestions as to how - if at all - this narrative should be disseminated. Perhaps all of you could distribute this to your contacts via email, Facebook, twitter ... ? I can do the same if you think it's a good idea.
An account of what happened last night,
November 2, 2014,
I wasn’t completely asleep at 11 last night when the beam from a flashlight came through the screen of my tent and hit me in the face. A USPS Police Inspector asked me to step out of my tent so we could talk. He handed me a photocopy of rules pertaining to trespassing on USPS property and asked me to dismantle my tent and leave.
The other five of us who were sleeping on the loggia and steps of the Berkeley Post Office were confronted by Postal Policemen in the same way as me.
We – a few members of the Berkeley Post Office Defenders and First They Came for the Homeless – set up an encampment outside the Berkeley Post Office earlier that same day.
We did this to insert our objecting bodies into the process whereby the Board of Governors, with the illegal collusion of CBRE, intend to sell our publicly owned post office to an as yet unknown private buyer.
The visit from the USPS Police last night wasn’t even a warning. They simply wanted to make sure that every one of us sleeping there knew we were violating Postal Service regulations.
They had no guns or weapons of any kind that I could see, and – aside from badges and bullet-proof vests reading “POLICE / US POSTAL / INSPECTOR” – they weren’t wearing uniforms. Instead they wore a variety of sport shirts, Dockers, blue jeans, and colorful athletic shoes.
I think it’s reasonable to assume they were doing a head count of “trespassers” on public property. They may also have been looking for evidence of other kinds of illegal behavior. With their smartphones they took some pictures, which they may use to search for outstanding warrants on any of us.
If the procedure is similar to the one followed in August of 2013 when we last camped out on the steps of the Berkeley Post Office, our next visit will be from the USPS Police in the company of twelve to eighteen officers of the Berkeley Police Department, at which time we will be reminded we are trespassing and given twenty-four hours to pack up and vacate. I’m guessing twelve to eighteen because they will want to outnumber us by 2 or 3 to one.
Six people standing in the way of the sale of the Downtown Berkeley Post Office won’t be enough to slow down the sale, much less stop it. We need more people to hold onto what’s being stolen from all of us: a source of the wealth we hold in common, a component of our public infrastructure, a tool for resisting the ultimate triumph of wealth over collective will. With many more people in the encampment, the agents of regulation will have to develop a different and more cumbersome procedure to intimidate us. To win this small but potentially inspiring victory against a growing plutocracy, we need more people to stay with us on the steps of the post office.
Written in haste,
Berkeley Post Office Defenders