It's that same old feeling again. That same old, sick old déjà vu. You know how it is: like, say, when you get the sense that someone out there wants to exterminate you and your kind. It's that old hate-crime feeling again.
On September 17, someone scribbled on a poster in a bus shelter alongside UC Berkeley's Eshleman Hall that had been placed there by the pro-Israel nonprofit Blue Star PR. The police report concisely records it as vandalism "via: swastika." Five days later, that poster and others were vandalized again. Scrawling swastikas and Stars of David with equals signs between them, the vandals also firmly crossed out the words "Jews" and "Israel." Gabe Weiner, campus coordinator of the Israel Peace Initiative, was in Eshleman that night and saw the scrawls — which also included "Free Palestine" — as he exited the building. "I was angry," says the former ASUC senator, "but not totally surprised. This act is just a sign of a general level of anti-Semitism that unfortunately pervades both the city and the university." Chancellor Robert Birgenau swiftly issued a statement decrying what he called "this hateful act ... in this very busy student precinct," declaring that "we must speak out against this anti-Semitic obscenity" to "reflect the ideal of [a] global community here." Weiner was glad to see the letter, but he wishes such crimes were more thoroughly investigated, their perps located and prosecuted: Otherwise, "next time instead of vandalism there could be a physical attack on Jews or Jewish property." After he sent photographs of the vandalized signs to local media outlets, "the Oakland Tribune told us that it simply wasn't a story," Weiner says. Officer Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley PD reports that the initial incident was "investigated ... as a hate crime/vandalism," but that "there are no further investigative leads for us to follow. I am surprised," he adds, "that someone has been making the rounds trying to get as much press as possible out of the issue. "
Too Young to Vote
Other signs did not remain unscathed in Berkeley that day. "Damage to Obama sign" on the 1400 block of California Street resulted in a police report, which describes the suspect as a fourteen-year-old Hispanic male around five-feet, eight-inches tall and 140 pounds, with shoulder-length black hair and a Jansport backpack. He's probably still out there somewhere, so be very careful.
In an escalating display of bravado, East Bay burglars continue to kick and beat down doors — often in broad daylight — to get at the stuff inside. In Orinda on September 15, "four candlestick holders and one brass statue, worth $350 in all, were stolen from a house" whose front door had been forced open, according to police reports. Two days later, Walnut Creek cops were summoned to a house whose residents were away but whose front door had been forced ajar, its jamb splintered. Two jewelry boxes were missing. That same day, a house on Buena Vista Way in the Berkeley Hills had its door kicked in, according to police reports. Oakland Hills neighborhood-watch groups report three separate home burglaries along Alvarado Road during the first half of September. A door was kicked in each time.
Suck It Up
And gas keeps getting guzzled — by thieves. According to Martinez police reports, gas was siphoned from the Childtime Children's Center's bus twice in one week: Its "hose was also cut to be used to siphon the gas. " Nor are alternative fuels immune. According to a UCPD bulletin, on September 19 a 300-gallon vat "containing used cooking oil" was "stolen from Café 3," the dining facility serving student-housing Unit 3. Don't say someone needed it to deep-fry turkeys in.
Bad News, Bears
Bad things happen to cute things, and it's sooo not fair. Police reports show that on September 10, Walnut Creek cops investigated a man who stood in Shell Ridge Open Space "yelling that he is going to kill puppies and start a fire." And on September 18, UCPD officers hastened to Kroeber Hall to investigate a "suspicious circumstance regarding mutilated teddy bears."
Daddy Took the T-Bird Away
On October 15, 2004, day-trader Richard Calebrini shot his wife Michelle five times, their six-year-old daughter Nina four times, and Samantha Foutch, Michelle's nine-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, two times. Leaving the three bodies in their Brentwood home, Calebrini drove his red T-bird to Yosemite, displayed a gun to vacationers, and killed himself with it — after setting a fire that devoured 2,000 acres. Because Samantha enjoyed golfing with her father, the Foutch family established an annual Samantha Invitational tournament at Brentwood's Shadow Lakes Golf Course. Set for October 4 this year, it raises funds for a new public library. Samantha also loved to read. With her huge smile, silvery braces, turned-up nose, and syrup-colored hair, the little girl's "hugs were so tight that they hurt," writes her stepmother, Christina Foutch. "You got your first sports bra and showed everybody! ... You told Dad he was your idol," she adds, and: "You were afraid of the dark."
That'll Do, Pig
Martinez cops had their hands full on September 22 when they got a call, the day's log reads, about a "pig monster in backyard ... [a] brown or tan three-legged pig [is] chasing a raccoon in the backyard and it's huge."
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