Pie in the Sky 

Law-breaking grandmothers ululate, masked bandits make hay, and vehicularly homicidal maniacs run and hide.

Around 5 p.m. on November 30, Christina Oatfield laid a blanket and pillow near the fence framing the oak grove flanking Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Because she had felt cold on that chilly day, the UC sophomore brought the bedding for the protesters lodged in the oaks. "I wasn't here to make trouble," she said. Nevertheless, Oatfield was promptly handcuffed by UC police, who said she was under arrest for violating an October 29 court order in which Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller ruled that the tree-sitters are trespassers and that aiding and abetting them is thus illegal. Oatfield spent four hours in Berkeley City Jail before her dad bailed her out: "He told me that him and my family were proud of me," she told Apprehension.

Oatfield said that before she delivered the bedding, she had "heard of some sort of court order" but hadn't investigated its content — although it was widely reported in the media. "I felt violated on an emotional level" by the arrest, she said.

Eight days before her arrest, a group of Berkeley grandmothers had gleefully broken the law by delivering Thanksgiving meals to the protesters, ululating as the goodies ascended on ropes. That day, a BerkeleyCitizen.org videographer recorded a UC Police officer warning the crowd about the court order and explaining that such deliveries amount to "working in concert" and constitute "civil contempt, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or five days in jail or both." UCPD logs show no arrests on Thanksgiving Day.

Cops met crones yet again on December 2, as more than 100 revelers gathered to celebrate the oak-grove protest's one-year anniversary, crowning an illegality-infused fortnight with further food deliveries. Cheers and jeers erupted as aiders and abettors manipulated a huge "NATIVE BURIAL GROUND" banner to block UCPD officers from filming the Trader Joe's and Semifreddi's bags being hoisted into the hands of bandanna-masked, barefoot aerialists. No sooner would a cop raise a camera than wags would press the banner to the lens. Someone shouted "Group hug!" and meant it. A man in a ski mask and bear suit held a bouquet of helium balloons.

Thanks for nothing: Thanksgiving was less festive for a South Berkeley resident, who reported on a neighborhood-watch listserv that he was robbed at gunpoint en route to Reel Video just before 9 p.m. that night on Fulton Street between Oregon and Stuart streets. When a stranger wearing a hoodie and baggies asked him the time, the resident grew suspicious and crossed the street. His assailant followed, drew a handgun, and "pulled a veil over his face while saying, 'Empty yo pockets, cuz,' over and over, in a soft voice." (The police report calls the face-occluder a "scarf.") Following the gunman's instructions, the victim dropped his wallet and a Reel-bound DVD, and then ran — also as instructed.

Rail rage: What is it about rapid transit that invokes fisticuffs? Two men were arrested at Concord BART station just after noon on November 22: Having asked another man for spare change, according to the BART PD report, they "claimed to be Norteños" and "punched and kicked" their victim, "who apparently has no gang affiliation." At Hayward station on November 26, an "extremely uncooperative" juvenile tried to spit on a cop's foot: "The officer had to wrestle the suspect to the ground to gain control ... in front of an unruly crowd." At Ashby station that night, a female fare-evasion suspect screamed at and attempted to kick the arresting officer. Later that night at El Cerrito Plaza station, "it took two officers and a sergeant to wrestle" into custody a fare-evasion suspect described in the report as "large, violent, and uncooperative." Yeah, those $3 fares are sure oppressive.

Hell on wheels: Did Gary Petersen and Marilyn McGowen read about the Oakland Thanksgiving hit-and-run in which Carmelo Salas plowed his SUV into a Mustang, killing Stephanie Cervantes and Jacklin Munguia-Herrera, then fled? If so, they had no way of knowing that three nights later, almost to the hour, they too would die horrifically under remarkably similar circumstances. On Hayward's Mission Boulevard, Jesus Vasquez plowed his Honda Civic into a motorcycle the pair were riding, and then fled. On a Legacy.com guestbook for fourteen-year-old Cervantes, a classmate remembers how "we would pass notes when the teacher wasn't looking" and "we would laugh upon ourselves." A school counselor declares: "She was and will always be an Angle."

What's up, doc: Robbers wearing surgical masks strike again and again: on November 15 at Metro PCS in El Cerrito, then on November 21 at Radio Shack in Berkeley, where, according to the BPD log, $452 was stolen by a perp bearing a short-barreled dark-metal revolver.

Getting steamed: "Welcome to Jamaican Soul," exhorts the web site of a friendly Berkeley restaurant, "serving Real Jamaican food with a touch of soul." Yet greed and a craving for pilaf trumped soul as someone smashed the establishment's glass front door on November 24 and swiped cash, a TV, a DVD player, and a rice cooker. As cited in the Berkeley Police log, Berkeley's business community took yet another hit on November 26 when two women snatched a sweat suit from Telegraph Avenue's Royalty Couture, and then fled in a "silver vehicle." If you can afford a silver vehicle, you don't need to steal workout clothes.


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