Another Week, Another Tree-sitter 

Vulgarity menaces Martinez, phony locksmiths cut and run, and another trespassin' Berkeley tree-sitter sits.

On March 6 Apprehension joined a crowd — not all of it congratulatory — thronging an oak tree near UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall in which a protester calling himself "Fresh" had lodged since February 26. UC Police, who could have arrested Fresh for trespassing but didn't, stood nearby. "Get a job," said a silver-haired observer to Fresh and his supporters, who included perennial protester Zachary Running Wolf. The senior suggested that the protesters retrieve the fruit peels littering the asphalt below the tree. (Fresh was on a "lemonade fast.")

"Do you know how many Native Americans are in the Phoebe Hearst Museum?" Running Wolf boomed, getting within punching distance of the senior, who asked him to back off. "I can stand where I want to," Running Wolf countered. "Do you know you're in Indian country? ... It's the cowboys and Indians all over again, and the cowboys are gonna get their ass kicked."

Face wrapped in a scarf, Fresh waved at Apprehension.

"They make nuclear bombs," he said of the university when asked what spurred him, pronouncing it nookyuler.

"Unmask yourself," a Cal football player demanded, to no avail.

Bagels and locks

Oakland Police Officer Kaizer Albino issued a warning to merchants and residents this month about hundreds of scammers listing themselves as locksmiths in the "phone book, fliers, or via the Internet. These suspects are of Middle Eastern descent ... show up in personal cars wearing no type of uniform or identification," and want cash only. "They cause damages to the door locks and inform the customer they ... need to leave for additional tools or supplies [but] never return therefore taking the customer's money." He listed fake companies using addresses such as 300 West MacArthur Boulevard that "do not exist and/or are empty buildings." Members of a Temescal crime-watch listserv argued over whether mentioning their ethnicity was racist. But Randy Reed of Reed Brothers Security explains: "The culprits are actively identifying themselves as Israeli ... this is a 'cover' they use on the basis that their victims usually respond positively to it." The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services and other local agencies are tracking the scam, which is spreading nationwide.

Crims luv rims

Temescal residents are reporting a rash of spare-tire thefts: from a Honda CR-V, a Honda Passport, a Toyota RAV4, and other SUVs. "That's because they're exposed and you can get to them," says Joanna Hagerty of Mark Morris Tires. Thieves "can take the rims in and get sixty bucks for 'em — not as scrap metal, but for the resale value of rims, even plain ugly-looking ones. Nowadays everything's worth something."

By poplar demand

A Tacoma, Washington jury found Oakland violinist Briana Waters — indicted in the multimillion-dollar 2001 firebombing of University of Washington buildings where Earth Liberation Front activists mistakenly believed poplars were being genetically altered — guilty of arson on March 6, but deadlocked on other counts, including conspiracy. (One juror told the Associated Press he was influenced by the existence of Waters' toddler daughter, Kalliope.) Two women convicted in the case say Waters acted as lookout; she denies it. Her ex-beau, Justin Franchi Solondz, is now a fugitive, possibly abroad; the FBI calls this 150-pound carpenter "armed and dangerous and an escape risk." Another indictee in the case committed suicide. Anarchistnews.org helpfully posted running transcripts of the trial, which a blurb at Indymedia and Students for a Democratic Society web sites urged activists to attend: "Our presence will be the support she needs. Please come dressed and leave the wacky at home."

Going postal

The stocky young baseball-hatted gunman looks incongruous standing before a rack stocked with merry greeting cards. Happy Birthday! Get Well Soon! Yet the security camera at Jack London Mail — seller of stamps, bubble wrap, etc. — caught him on March 4, clutching a weapon close to his stylishly oversized white T-shirt. His victim alerted members of her Jack London Square-area neighborhood-watch group that the perp asked if she was hiring, then flashed the gun. He got $320. "I should be fairly happy not to have lost more money" or been shot, she adds. The thief rode off in a silver SUV.

Emergency, emergency

Someone called the cops from the Martinez Marina on March 1 to report a "group of subjects near the horseshoe pit. Several are being vulgar." A Walnut Creeker called the cops on February 29, according to the daily log, to report that "her gold charm bracelet has been missing for two years."

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