A Note on "Free Speech" Week, Legislative Accomplishments and Events Around Town

Preparing for “Free Speech Week”

While the details still remain unclear, starting this Sunday, UC Berkeley is slated to host a number of right wing speakers in a series titled “Free Speech Week.” The lineup includes former Breitbart editor and provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos, and according to Yiannopoulous, right wing pundit Ann Coulter, and David Horowitz, creator of an anti-Muslim website. These events are sponsored by the Berkeley Patriot, a student news site. 

Both the University of California and the City of Berkeley are committed to freedom of expression, and honor Berkeley’s role as the “Birthplace of Free Speech.”  However, this is not about free speech, and the organizers know it. They have targeted Berkeley over the past year because of our progressive values. They are intent on coming to our city, whether invited or not, to promote their agenda of hate and division, and cast Berkeley in a negative light. But we all know that these speakers and groups do not represent our city and our values, and cannot stop us from our progress.

Providing security for these speakers costs a great deal in resources and places a heavy burden on the City and UC. The five recent right wing rallies that occurred this year have already cost the City an estimated $600,000, with the total expected to go up. This is funding that could have otherwise been dedicated to building more affordable housing, providing shelter for our homeless, or supporting community organizations doing critical work. We will continue to provide security at events like these in our city, but we must also have an honest discussion about the impacts on our residents.

In dealing with all of these events, my concern has never been the views of any speaker, but rather the way various groups have used these situations to provoke violence. Some of the provocative speakers who come to our community are clearly trying to instigate a reaction, whether to make headlines or sell books, and some who come to challenge them have less than peaceful intentions and merely seek to cause destruction. They should take off their masks and peacefully protest. That’s what Berkeley stands for, and that would be the way to contribute to a real political dialogue. 

Regardless of what anyone says, they cannot stop Berkeley’s progress. We know that Berkeley’s values of inclusivity are woven into our organizations, schools, businesses and City policies--and that no opinion, however controversial, can ever change that. 

After this week is over and the speakers move on to other cities, our work to advance our progressive agenda, including housing the homeless, building affordable housing for working families, and protecting our undocumented residents and students will continue. Our city has amazingly committed employees, public safety officers, and nonprofit partners who are working hard every day to make sure that our community is a great place to live for all. We will do everything we can to keep things running as smoothly as possible in what promises to be a challenging week.

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Members of Berkeley City College hold "Berkeley Stands United Against Hate."

Members of Berkeley City College hold "Berkeley Stands United Against Hate."

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Council OKs Limited Use of Pepper Spray

At a special City Council meeting on September 12, a City Council majority voted to reaffirm its 20-year ban on the use of pepper spray for crowd control, but amended the policy to allow its use for specific violent individuals in a crowd. This recommendation by the Berkeley Police Department comes after a series of events in our city in which groups have committed violent acts against other protesters and the police. I supported this request in order to protect the safety of peaceful protesters and officers.

The amended policy, which I introduced, makes explicitly clear that pepper spray cannot be used on peaceful protesters, used preemptively or on people engaged in legal speech or other expression that is protected by the First Amendment. It will also not be used on people passively resisting, such as sitting or lying down to block a street or doorway. I believe that this is a carefully crafted decision that gives the police more tools to keep the peace without engaging in excessive force.

One Step Closer for Berkeley Greenway Corridor

On September 12, the Berkeley City Council voted to allocate over $2,000 in funding to support an exciting new proposal, the East Bay Greenway. This funding, which will be matched by city and county money, will support a community process to develop a plan for a greenway path connecting Ohlone Park to the Bay Trail and the Bay Bridge Trail via Shattuck and Adeline avenues. (See map below) This project promotes multi-modal transportation and green infrastructure between Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville. 


Berkeley Kicks in $25,000 Toward Oakland Public Bank Feasibility Study

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, cities all over the country are thinking about how to do more socially responsible banking, reflecting the values of more and more residents. This is something Berkeley takes seriously, which is why the City Council has allocated $25,000 toward a City of Oakland Public Bank feasibility study. A public bank would be a regional financial institution that serves Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond, lending money to cities for capital improvement improvement projects without the need to involve Wall Street banks, which don’t have the best interests of the community in mind.

Oakland has already committed $75,000 of the $100,000 it would cost of the study, and with Berkeley’s assistance, the plan can move forward. At a time when Berkeley is actively looking to reinvest its city funds in ethical institutions with socially responsible values, a public bank could represent an alternative that meets city’s banking needs.

Click here to read more about the proposed Public Bank of Oakland.

Town Hall meeting on paid family leave for all Berkeley employees


The Commission on the Status of Women is proposing to give all workers in Berkeley six weeks paid family leave, to supplement the coverage already provided by the state. Come give your feedback on the plan at the City of Berkeley Paid Family Leave Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, September 30 2-4 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, 1901 Russell St. For more information, contact oadhikari@berkeley.edu

Minimum Wage Goes Up, New Paid Sick Leave Policy Goes Into Effect October 1

Berkeley has long been at the forefront of social issues and this includes how we treat our workers. I am pleased to announce that starting October 1, the city’s minimum wage will go up to $13.75 and up to $15/hour in October 2018. Meanwhile, we also want to make sure that all Berkeley employees have the necessary labor protections, which is why we are implementing a new paid sick leave policy that will require that all employers in the city provide 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. This applies to all employees working for any Berkeley company, including part-time workers. However, businesses with 25 or fewer employees can camp the accrual of paid sick leave at 48 hours . See more details here.

Run for Education

Photo courtesy of Berkeley Educational Fund

Photo courtesy of Berkeley Educational Fund

Like to run? The Berkeley Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 19, is always a fun event. Rooted in charity fundraising, this community-inspired race has something for everyone. Experience the best of Berkeley in this loop course that transverses Shattuck Avenue, winds through the scenic tree-lined streets of North Berkeley and then out to the Berkeley Marina. Races this year include 5k,10k, and the Half Marathon with registration details below!

Since its inaugural year, the marathon has aligned with Berkeley Public Schools Fund to support programs that enrich educational opportunities throughout the city. Funds raised by the Berkeley Half Marathon support much-needed programs, including leadership, gardening, math and science programs and more. Learn more about the half marathon and how to get involved here.

Sneak Peek into Berkeley Lab

Located inside Berkeley Lab's dome, the Advanced Light Source is one of the most sophisticated instruments ever built. The ALS is used to run experiments that range from environmental, pharmaceutical, materials and physics. The lab offers free tours to the public each month.

Located inside Berkeley Lab's dome, the Advanced Light Source is one of the most sophisticated instruments ever built. The ALS is used to run experiments that range from environmental, pharmaceutical, materials and physics. The lab offers free tours to the public each month.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is home to 4,200 scientists and staff, and hosts thousands of researchers from around the world each year. Many people know about it, but have seldom visited. But one Friday every month, the lab offers hosts free tours to the public, which offer a fascinating look into the innovative work going on there. This includes the Advanced Light Source, one of the most sophisticated scientific instruments ever built. The ALS produced hair-thin beams of X-rays and ultraviolet light a billion times brighter than the sun. The experiments that are run on the ALS have revealed the structures of nearly 3,300 proteins and analyzed the biochemistry of bacteria found in the Gulf of Mexico following the oil spill.

The Berkeley Lab has been a leader in innovation and science for many years. It’s the place where researchers developed a window coating that prevents heat from entering in the summer and escaping in the winter, discovered dark energy, which makes up three quarters of the universe, invented a longer lasting battery and developed the first experimental cure for Ebola.

The tours begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately two and a half hours. All visitors must have a prior reservation in order to board the Lab shuttle to enter the Lab. The tours are recommended for people 16 and older. The next tours are scheduled for October 20 and November 17. Additional tour information can be seen here.

Cal Bears Football Schedule

The Bears play at home on Saturday, September 30, Friday, October 13, Saturday, October 21, and Saturday, November 4. Please contact the Berkeley Police Department for violations on city property or the UC Police Department for parking issues on campus. The Berkeley Police Department can be reached at 510-981-5900 and UC Police at 510-642-3333.

Upcoming Events

Movies in the Park: LEGO Batman

September 22, 7:30 pm - 10 pm
Willard Park, 2730 Hillegass Ave.

The City of Berkeley's Recreation Division is hosting a FREE outdoor movie series on Friday nights in its beautiful parks, featuring some popular family films. A large portable 20' x 12' inflatable movie screen and premium audio visual movie equipment for outdoor cinemas make Movies in the Park a spectacular event.

Autumn Equinox Gathering

September 22, 6:15 pm - 7:15 pm
Cesar Chavez State Park, 11 Spinnaker Way

Two days out of the year, the sun’s rays shine directly over the Earth’s equator. The Cesar Chavez State Park is the perfect place to witness the equinox at its fullest, especially with its beautiful Solar Calendar stone alignment. As the sun sets around 7 p.m., gather around to welcome in a new season.

Ubuntu Song Sharing Contest

September 23, 2pm - 3pm
Berkeley Public Library, 5th Floor, 2090 Kittredge St.

Come enjoy live music from the Living Room Choir, a member of the Ubuntu Choirs Network. Ubuntu means ‘humanity toward others.’ Concert is hosted by the Berkeley Public Library. All ages and abilities welcome to come watch, sing along, and join! 

Family Game Night for All Ages

October 6, 6pm - 8pm
James Kenney Recreation Center,
1720 8th St.

Bring your family, friends, and favorite board games and prepare to have a great time! Whether you enjoy old favorites like Candyland, Monopoly, and Scrabble or if you prefer games like Apples to Apples and Catch-Phrase, all games are welcome. Light food and refreshments will be provided. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Harvest Festival

October 14, 11am - 4pm
Cedar Rose Park, 1300 Rose St. between Hopkins and Cedar streets.

This year's festival will celebrate foods grown, harvested, and prepared by members of the Berkeley community. To inspire more urban farming, homemade food, and healthier eating, the Food and Garden Expo will host a crop swap, seed swap, and food contests. In addition, there will be guided tours of nearby community gardens, as well as "from garden to table" cooking demonstrations.

There is also the Kids Zone, where they will be able to climb a wall, do an obstacle course, bowl with pumpkins, or make a scarecrow. Other kids' activities include face painting, pumpkin decorating, a petting zoo, and a carnival games with prizes. Live music will be provided by Spazmatics, Tortilla Soup, and Motor Dude Zydeco.

Free First Thursday at BAMPFA

October 5, 11 am-7pm
2120 Oxford St.

Every first Thursday of the month, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive offers a full day’s admission and guided exhibition tours free of charge. Spend an hour, an afternoon, or a day appreciating all that this local institution has to offer.

Contact Us

My office is here to serve you. Visit our website for frequently used phone numbers and to stay up to date with our blogs. You can also call or send us an email with questions or concerns.

Mayor Arreguin:

Brandi Campbell, Chief of Staff:

Jac McCormick, Senior Advisor: 

Karina Ioffee, Director of Communications:

Stefan Elgstrand, Assistant to Mayor:  


Jesse Arreguin