To Berkeley City Officials:
Thanks for your participation in the collaborative community effort to protect the Berkeley Post Office from sale and privatization. The ongoing efforts of people who are homeless, activists, union members, members of community organizations and those holding public offices has created a powerful coalition capable of preserving our commons in the face of powerful opposition and manipulation. At this time we face a serious obstacle to our collective efforts.
The community garden on the west side of the post office is under siege. We community members who tend it have found syringes, human excrement, rotten food, trash and bicycle parts in the garden. Recently we have been yelled at by those apparently using drugs, and/or those storing their belongings in the garden. People in the area have been exposed to second hand smoke from drugs used in the garden and tents and other gear have destroyed many plants.
The garden has provided food and flowers, and a place of natural beauty for many. Students from Berkeley High School, Berkeley City College and UC Berkeley as well as people from community organizations visit, help, donate plants, water and write articles about the garden and the First They Came for the Homeless protest.
As community members we are concerned about people destroying plants with their belongings and lack of care, littering and using drugs in the garden. We are particularly concerned for the well being of high school students and those who are connected with the garden or passing by on the sidewalk.
We wish to emphasize that we have no concerns about, and are partnered with, the First They Came for the Homeless protest and its residents, some of whom are signatories. They help to support and maintain the garden, and suffer as much, or more, from the problems around the corner we have described. We respect their First Amendment rights and believe they are making a powerful statement against homelessness in our community.
We urge the City Manager, the City Council, the Berkeley Police Department and other public agencies to intervene immediately to insure:
– That people in the Berkeley Post Office Community Garden area are respectful of our common resource;
– Procedures are in place to prevent open drug use across the street from the high school;
– The city provide homeless people shelter, a place to store their belongings and immediate health care resources including options for drug treatment and mental health services for those who need them who are in the garden area.
Please let us know what actions you are taking to address this urgent situation.
— Berkeley Post Office Defenders