Berkeley Cops Arrest Protestor, Squelch 5G Protests at AT&T’s Bidding 

Update on Berkeley California protests by WiRED co-founder and jailbird Phoebe Sorgen (with a little help from her friends)

After holding educational forums, protesting, and lobbying for three years for stronger local telecom laws, Berkeleyans are engaging in non-violent direct action to stop 4th and 5th Generation cell antennas that are being rolled out throughout Berkeley.  An all-night vigil near Berkeley Natural Grocery began at 12:30 AM on Oct 28, but antennas were installed later that day on the corner of Nielsen as well as at Monterey Market.  Community organizer Stephanie Thomas mused, “The police must have approached slowly with headlights off because it was as if a space ship landed. About six police cars came out of nowhere with lights flashing around 4:30 AM like a tornado, suddenly surrounding us. It was like they were playing war games and had a predetermined plan – not a decent engagement with peaceful protestors allowing for things to unfold in a humane manner.  Cops immediately announced they had a vehicle to take us to jail if we didn’t move.”

Phoebe Sorgen said she didn’t hear that announcement because she and Richard Koenig. were distracted, frantically trying to chain their arms around the pole.  Veteran activists expect three clear warnings to disperse. Sorgen was arrested and hand-cuffed behind her back. Before being forced into the wagon, she had second thoughts and offered to leave the vigil voluntarily if allowed to, but officer Shedowdy replied, “That train left the station, lady.  You’re going to jail!”  She spent the rest of the morning in a Berkeley jail cell after search and finger-printing processes that took two hours.  Mayor Arreguin kindly replied to her email, “I have reached out to the City Manager to find out what happened and asked that any charges be dropped against those engaged in civil disobedience opposing the antenna installation.”

Now that the 5G roll out has begun, contractors noisily erect tall fences in the middle of the night to keep protesters from occupying the sidewalk around utility poles.  After being locked around a pole at People’s Park for four hours on Oct 20, on her way home, Sierra Murphee spotted a gap in the fence where there is now an antenna on MLK near Berkeley High School, across from Washington Elementary. Fashion model Jessica Wall distracted the contractors while Murphree, Cynthia Papermaster, and Sorgen ran in and sat on the sidewalk by the pole, linking elbows or knees and telling the startled workers, “Party time!” BPD was called, pried them apart, and roughly dragged them out.  At a previous action, police bruised Papermaster, O’Connor, and Jason Winnett who wrote to the City Council, “24 hours later, I am experiencing lingering injuries, pulled muscles from being handled roughly. I was appalled to see women in their 70’s, concerned citizens who, after being up in vigil all night, were roughly handled by a large number of young, strong officers… We seem to be heading into what is known as fascism.”

WiRED members (WIreless Radiation Education & Defense) had delayed an antenna at the BUSD building on Bonar, where Oxford and other school children will study, by demanding to see a current permit.  After a trench in the gutter is bored to the transformer, and the “smart” meter installed, that one will go live.  Antennas are planned near Crowden and Jefferson schools on Rose, on Dwight across from Herrick Medical Center, on Fourth Street, and on the roofs of apartment buildings including HUD housing on Cedar at MLK.  Some are 4G.  5G, which emits millimeter wave radiation, works with 4G which emits microwave radiation  Murphree insists she has just been waiting for the bus, but Meave O’Connor explained, “We’re protecting our public commons and children who are more vulnerable.”

Sorgen said, “I was treated roughly and my dignity trampled.  I hesitate to complain, given the police brutality that Black people routinely endure.  I want to use my privilege to help others.  People who are EMF (electromagnetic field) sensitive would have suffered terribly in the Berkeley jail.  I was there for them.  Four of them confided that life won’t be worth living if 5G is deployed as Big Telecom plans, with antennas on every block and no escape from involuntary exposure 24/7, causing myriad health probs as proven by 1,000+ peer-reviewed studies. Antennas lower property values and increase fire risk. NASA says 5G will decrease weather prediction accuracy by 30%.  Furthermore, we’ve tested, and there’s no gap in AT&T service.  The installations are unneeded and illegal.  Civil disobedience is a last resort.  We’ve waited hours to give one minute public comments at countless Council meetings. We raised funds and hired attorney Ariel Strauss to get the City Council to adopt protective amendments, as in other cities like Encinitas.”

Dozens of neighbors near Monterey Market and Berkeley Natural Grocery signed affidavits attesting that they never received the required notices that AT&T claims were sent.  Former Planning Commissioner Clifford Fred said, “I’m shocked that city officials knew that AT&T violated Berkeley Municipal Code 16.10.040.”  The City Manager could have revoked telecom permits that expired in August.  Instead, she extended them into 2021 and got the local police to protect AT&T instead of the community. She wrote of one action, “The vendor (AT&T) was billed the full cost for overtime needed to staff this response with our officers.”

Photos embedded here:

Brief video of the Oct 28 dastardly deed:

Brief video of police excessive force on Phoebe and Sierra Murphree Oct 20 at MLK/Bancroft near BHS/Washington School:

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Share Source: Environmental Health Trust