Berkeley shootings spark concern

Degen Gleason-Hyman,

Berkeley residents gathered on Jan. 29 at the Frances M. Albrier Community Center for a meeting to address shootings that occurred in the city on Jan. 25.

At the meeting, which was organized by councilwoman for West Berkeley, Cheryl Davila, police officials said they received several calls on Jan. 25 reporting gunshots.

Roughly 200 people, most of whom live in south and west Berkeley, listened to city council members and police officers discuss the recent shootings in the area and what is being done to prevent similar incidents. Afterward, audience members voiced their concerns about the shootings. The investigation is still ongoing, and police Lt. Angela Hawk stated early in the meeting that no deaths or injuries had been reported.

Davila led the meeting, along with a panel of Berkeley city officials, including councilmember Ben Bartlett from District 3 and current Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin. Interim Chief Andrew R. Greenwood and several police officers also attended.

Passions rose when community members spoke about looking after each other’s safety. People nodded, clapped and cheered at the end of most speeches like local Cessie Glenn’s when she said, “Let’s get up and let’s walk around.” Glenn referred to people living in Berkeley District 2 — which reaches from Seawall Drive to California Street, and District 3, which spans from MLK Jr. Way and ends at 62nd Street — should be more active in their communities. She suggested that a way to do this would be to walk around so they can be vigilant and aware of what’s happening in their neighborhoods in order to be prepared if things take a turn for the worst.

Chief Greenwood encouraged the audience to band together and form a neighborhood watch. “That sense of community and communication to the department is important regarding crimes that happen in your neighborhood,” he said.

Audience members reminded city officials of their experiences with losing loved ones to shootings in recent months and criticized police response to those incidents. Some mentioned local rapper Alex Goodwin — also known as Ayegee — and his death on Aug. 18.

People in the audience, mostly Goodwin’s close friends and family, wore shirts with his stage name “Ayegee” in capital letters. Some brought in several large signs that said “Justice for Ayegee” and “Long live King Ayegee.”  

Goodwin’s grandmother Sarah Patterson talked about how even though her grandson was shot outside her house, she would not be afraid. Patterson even put up a mural to honor her grandson outside of her house. “I’ve been there for over forty years and will be there till I’m dying,” she said.