By Doug Oakley Staff Writer Bay Area News Group firstname.lastname@example.org
BERKELEY -- Police dispersed a group of campers and cleared out their tents, tables, posters and a tree house at the Berkeley main post office Thursday morning, according to police and organizers of the monthlong protest against the sale of the building.
"They broke up the camp at about 8:30 a.m.," said Dave Welsh, a retired letter carrier and organizer of the protest with the group Save the Berkeley Post Office. "We're very pleased with what we achieved in the campout. It sent a message of resistance that they are going to try and sell off and privatize our post office in Berkeley."
Welsh said people from all over the country heard about the protest, especially other letter carriers opposed to the sale of post offices.
Welsh said the group will host a concert and teach-in on the steps of the post office at noon on Saturday.
Berkeley police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said many of the campers left on their own Wednesday evening and there were no arrests on Thursday.
The police action came just three days after Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel issued a memo to the mayor and City Council warning of an increase in violent crime connected to the campers and telling of harassment of local businesses by those connected to the camp out.
In addition to the tree house perched about 20 feet off the ground alongside the building, people were sleeping out on the roof with alcohol and a dog and using the trash can inside the lobby as a toilet, said U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch. He said Berkeley police and postal inspectors had warned the campers several times during the week that they should move or face arrest.
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