Berkeley citizens blocking AT&T’s illegal 5G installation forcibly removed by city cops

Fascism, that is.

For Immediate Release

In the dark of night, police back AT&T in clash with Berkeley neighborhood over 4/5G antennas 

Stand off!  Berkeley police do AT&T’s bidding, forcefully removing residents who were trying to prevent wireless antenna installations in the public commons.

October 6, 2020, Berkeley, CA

Long before 1:00 AM on October 5, twenty people arrived for two vigils in north Berkeley in hopes of stopping installations of “small” cell wireless antennas on utility poles in the public rights of way at Monterey Market and near Berkeley Natural Grocery. Workers arrived at 3:30 AM and called police. Seeing that they would not leave of their own accord, Berkeley police forcibly removed the people. Grounding wires were installed, but not the antennas and meters.

Former Planning Commissioner Clifford Fred who lives nearby said, “I’m shocked that city officials knew that AT&T violated Berkeley Municipal Code 16.10.040 by not notifying people within 500 feet of the 1321 Gilman or 1550 Hopkins poles before the controversial cell towers were approved, but let AT&T get away with violating the city laws. Officials used to care but now are keen on letting big telecom companies have their way.”

Because neighbors and activists had prevented work eight times in recent months by refusing to leave three sites when workers arrived, ATT had beat them to the sites on September 21, noisily setting up tall chain link fences at 2:00 AM, then waiting until 7:00 AM, when Berkeley law allows work to begin, to install ancillary equipment. Since then, an elder and a young neighbor have slept in a tent on site. This week, “pole protectors” beat the workers to both sites, but were dragged across the street by police.

Cynthia Papermaster, who wondered if her arm was being broken as she was hauled off, said, “More important than my pain is that we were removed from a public sidewalk so that a private multibillion dollar company, with help from local cops paid by our taxes, could perform non-essential work in the middle of the night against Berkeley’s laws.”

Jason Winnett wrote of the incident to the City Council, “I exercised my constitutional rights where crews were attempting to erect a cell tower which has been protested, clearly unwanted by residents.  According to my understanding, there were actions by private parties as well as Berkeley police that have questionable legality… 24 hours later, I am experiencing lingering injuries, pulled muscles from being handled roughly.  I was appalled to witness women in their 70’s, concerned citizens, who after being up in vigil all night, were roughly handled by a large number of young, strong officers… We seem to be heading into what is known as fascism.”

Sargent Ronnie Hernandez asked a co-founder of WIreless Radiation Education & Defense (WiRED), Phoebe Sorgen, what the fuss is about.  She replied, “Antennas emit EMF/RF microwave radiation that sickens people and harms flora and fauna. They increase fire risks, and overloaded, weathered poles sometimes fall! Business and property values plummet nearby. 5G is an energy glutton, too. Wired connections—whether copper or fiber—will always be faster, greener, safer, more reliable, and more secure than wireless. We need to preserve our right to privacy. Furthermore, there’s no ATT service gap here, and the people don’t want it. It’s only about greed.”

ATT has permits to install twelve more antennas, many near residences, schools, and healthcare facilities. Most of the permits expired in August, but were extended until 2021, though the public had urged the City Manager to exercise her option of requiring ATT to reapply. WiRED, which has been lobbying and educating locally for the past three years, hired Ariel Strauss of Greenfire Law to craft stronger local laws and lobby for them.

Press Contact:  Phoebe Sorgen
Phones: 510-528-9428 home/main
510-919-6431 cell

photos available upon request.   90 sec. vimeo:

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