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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

Don't get baited by provocateurs

Berkeley, California (Friday, August 03, 2018) - There have been social media calls for a rally and a counter-rally on Aug. 5 at Civic Center Park, where the City will work to manage any possible events and you can do your part by separating yourself from violence.

Mass gatherings of any kind attract a broad variety of people and, inevitably, that means an array of different motives and intentions. Many come with a peaceful purpose.

However, in protests in Berkeley over the past 18 months, we have seen a small portion who come seeking to hurt others or to destroy property. We have seen individuals who come armed and armored use peaceful protesters as a cover for their violent actions.

If you are at a demonstration and you see violence, separate yourself. Keep a distance from violence. If you can do so safely, report it to police.

This is the best way to keep yourself and others safe. It allows police to focus on and apprehend criminals while keeping bystanders safe. People with cameras who surround violent incidents can complicate the safety of other peaceful bystanders and impede police. When individuals commit violence surrounded by a peaceful crowd, police are always concerned about how the violence might spill over onto those who are not committing any crime whatsoever.

Don't get baited by provocateurs. The best way to deny them the attention they seek is to not engage and avoid such events entirely.

Language used to announce a protest may be effective at enticing supporters, luring counter-demonstrators or provoking conflict. Others lure people by promoting spectacle. But, if you don't know the person, groups or source personally, use caution.

It is a challenge for police to ensure the safety of those who are reckless with their safety and that of others. The City of Berkeley, our police department and our partners will continue to develop strategies focusing on safety for all at demonstrations, each of which has its own unique dynamics. We will work to identify, investigate and arrest anyone who commits crimes in our community. That will not end when the event does.

Consider whether the approach others advertise is the style and venue for you. Reaching out to organizations or individuals in need is an alternative to conflict. When people at an event act in a way that compromises your values and goals, separate yourself. In an age of social media, there are many ways to assert your values and speak to the causes you support. Stay away from conflict as there are many alternative ways to respond.

Subscribe to alerts from the Berkeley Police Department using Nixle, a free text and email messaging service you can find at http://www.cityofberkeley.info/police/nixle. Create a login and tailor it to your needs. Those updates will also be posted on our Twitter account, @berkeleypolice, where additional messages may be posted.


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