Noise Annoys 

Tires galore get slashed in Berkeley, lawn thieves strike Oakland, and a man claims to be sexually assaulted in a Castro Valley cab.

Disturbing the peace is so subjective — because few words are more amorphous than "disturbing" and "peace." After Jack London Square residents called the cops to report loud wee-hours music issuing from a 4th Street warehouse that they described as an underground club on July 12, the venue's host made a furious post at a neighborhood forum. It is not, he wrote, a profitmaking club but "a home that is used for benefits. Had ANY of you complainers ONCE stepped foot into our space, you would see lots of art hanging on the walls, smiling faces all giving thanks," and even a dancer "who used to perform with Circe De Soleil" [sic]. The cop who appeared that night "apologized for the visit actually, citing a 'rude complaining old lady.' ... We turned it down and continued on after offering the officer some food."

The host, aka "Muchthump," challenged his neighbors: "You complain about someone smoking a pipe? Why not ask them what they are smoking instead of insinuating that the hippies are smoking anything other than some medicine they might be prescribed? ... I feel sorry for individuals so unconnected to the actual area they call home that they feel the need to gossip about the art forms they know nothing about. ... Grow a pair and shake a hand or two." Now he's "assembling a legal team to help with any future events. ... If it means we have to shut down earlier than our usual 7AM, then so be it." But he pleads: "Don't send some officer who hates the fact they have to show up to something that we all know is ... not really that important in the face of gangsters, killing, auto theft, and other crimes with far more horrible consequences then some people dancing till the sun comes up." Oakland's Municipal Code 8.18.10 prohibits "any excessive or annoying noise ... with a repetitive pattern, shrill frequencies, and/or static-like sounds, including loud music ... which persists for ten minutes or more." Code 8.18.02 prohibits "the persistent maintenance or emission of any noise or sound produced by human, animal or mechanical means, between the hours of nine p.m. and seven a.m. ... which, by reason of its raucous or nerve-racking nature, shall disturb the peace or comfort." A notable exception is "the blowing of a bugle ... upon the public streets."

Anything That's Not Nailed Down, Part XVIII

A homeowner in Oakland's Maxwell Park area reported to her neighborhood group that around 2:00 one recent morning, she heard her dog barking — and at daybreak realized that the dog had apparently interrupted a theft-in-progress. The backyard lawn she had just installed a few days earlier was reduced to "a few rolled-up piles. I don't know who would want to take grass," she wonders. Well, according to police reports, lawn lamps and lawn furniture were stolen in Berkeley on July 19 and 21. In other news, in Martinez on July 23, according to police reports, someone stole a cockatiel.

Another Kind of Road Rage

Someone hates Berkeley drivers. Twelve cars parked along the residential 1300 block of Carrison Street had their tires slashed on July 21. Within the next two days, one car parked on the 700 block of Cragmont Avenue in the hills had its tires slashed and head- and taillights smashed and another on nearby Poplar Street suffered a broken antenna and bent license plate. Late-night antenna-bending plagued the hills earlier this year, but the rampant rubber-ripping is new. "Pretty rotten, huh?" muses BPD Officer Andrew Frankel.

Cab Grab

Compared to public transit, taxis are safe havens — right? According to BART police, a man who entered a taxi after exiting a train at Castro Valley station around 11:30 a.m. on July 19 "was accosted by a female acquaintance of the driver. She got into the back seat with the passenger and made a lewd advance on him, grabbing his thigh and reaching for his crotch. The passenger jumped out of the cab and called police," who arrested the woman promptly.

Serial Fugitive Seeks, Loses Freedom in Oakland

After his third escape from a Colorado jail, Melvin Vierra was caught in Oakland by FBI agents on July 22. With a rap sheet that includes burglary, domestic violence, assault with a firearm, and parole violations, the slightly built, squinty-eyed, soul-patched, hell-bent Houdini flew the coop (and was caught) in 2002 and 2003. He fled minimum-security Morgan County Jail this May 17 by kicking out a recreation-area roof screen. In the comments section of a Rocky Mountain News article about the escape, someone wrote: "THAT"S MY BOY!!!!!! The recreation area always has blind spots from the cameras and the guards are too lazy to get off their fat asses. It is almost too easy to grab the steel work and kick the corners loose on the grating. Once on the roof a quick trip to a low corner and a jump-roll onto the grass and a leisurely stroll away from the building." From Oakland, Vierra had a road trip: "We sent two deputies by vehicle to pick him up," affirms Diana Evans, secretary of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office."

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