Berkeley police may not respond for calls for help with protesters if authorities in another city are cracking down with force. This move could have other cities examining the way they respond to calls for mutual aid. The city of Berkeley passed a standard mutual aid agreement, but it still wants to set parameters around its decision to help other police departments.
Incidents that took place during the Occupy Oakland demonstrations and during one of the Occupy Cal protests at UC Berkeley led the city of Berkeley to refuse mutual police aid to Oakland and the university last fall.
"We don't necessarily want police to automatically respond. We should seriously evaluate whether we should respond and how we respond," said City Councilmember Jessie Arreguin.
Now Arreguin wants to make it clear the city will not offer mutual aid to crackdown on political demonstrations.
"And the things that I saw there, in terms of abuse of police authority, are not the things that members of the armed forces went in to the service to defend and protect the Constitution," said Francis Grinnon from Veterans for Peace.
The proposal calls for Berkeley police to handle civil disobedience as if it were managing an event. It requires the police chief to call off mutual aid if the atmosphere does not provide human rights safeguards and it would prohibit the use of tactics taught during federal Urban Shield exercises.
"Civil rights organizations across the country are actually watching this particular decision. There's a lot of concern around some of these agreements," said Veena Dubal, a civil rights attorney.
But many of the peaceful protests have evolved into all out riots.
"We want to be as non-violent as possible. We want the demonstrators to be as non-violent and we want to be as non-violent as possible, but if things get out of hand, we'll respond accordingly," said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.
In response, the Oakland Police Department says even if Berkeley refuses to offer it mutual aid, they will still give Berkeley mutual aid if Berkeley asks for it.
The proposal for these special conditions will be analyzed by the police review commission and the city council will likely will likely vote on it in early May.