The Scanner Today, Feb. 10

Friday turned out to be a day of regrouping, intense reporting conversations and checking into a number of inquiries that did not become stories. Some days are like that!

As a result, this newsletter will be a bit unusual in format. But I wanted to give you a sense of the plates I'm juggling and what's coming down the pike.

  • We continue to hear from people who have interesting insights to share about various aspects of the new district attorney's office. We're continuing to deepen our understanding of those issues. On Friday, DA Pamela Price's office also announced the creation of a new countywide Mental Health Commission. We want to know more about that, too. After an initial phone conversation today, we are set to meet with members of her staff in person next week about a range of issues.
  • Folks asked about police activity on Mabel Street where officers had taped off a home's front yard Friday morning. We got the sad news that a man had died outside his home; police said it did not appear suspicious. As we were preparing to send this newsletter, a community member kindly let us know that the man was their neighbor who "died while working on his mother’s memorial garden in the front yard. He will be missed!" The coroner's office identified the man as Chaeo Premo Ahsar. He was only 63.
  • We had inquiries about a cyclist crash Friday on University Avenue near Trader Joe's where a driver reportedly doored the cyclist. (Thank you to Walk Bike Berkeley members for the alert.) Details remain scant but BPD said the cyclist was taken "Code 2" to a local hospital. That means the injuries did not immediately require an urgent trauma response, which is a positive indicator. We're aiming to learn more.
  • We've gotten reports about some water quality issues at Aquatic Park with the discovery of "three dead rays and two dead sharks, all floating on the surface of the water." We are trying to learn more. City offices were closed Friday and are also closed Monday, so it may take some time. The Berkeley Paddling & Rowing Club is keeping us in the loop.
  • In response to our recent Public Records Act request, we received some concise but interesting records from the city related to the fire at Bayer that left two flooring contractors with serious injuries. We've asked for some clarifications but will soon share what we know.
  • We've added a lot of new members and subscribers this week. That's always exciting to see. Thank you all for your continued support: editorially with amazing tips; emotionally and psychologically with your heartfelt encouragement; and, of course, financially. We could not do this work without you.

A couple of stories have come up around the web recently that are likely of interest.

The death of local baker and media activist Jen Angel during a robbery Monday in Oakland made national headlines. A fundraiser to support her business and her loved ones has raised more than $130,000.

The devasting tragedy sparked concern from those who say the incident was only the latest indicator of how violent crime seems to be spiralling out of control in Oakland.

Angel's family has said she would not have wanted her death to be used to push that narrative, however, and that her loved ones are "committed to pursuing all available alternatives to traditional prosecution, such as restorative justice," if arrests are made.

Oakland baker dies after brutal car break-in
The owner of an Oakland bakery who was severely injured in a robbery has died. She was...
Oakland baker Jen Angel dies of injuries sustained during attempted robbery
Angel’s family and friends say that she would have opposed “putting public resources into policing, incarceration, or other state violence that perpetuates the cycles of violence that resulted in this tragedy.”

J. News had the story last week about several Jewish billboards in Berkeley and Oakland that were reportedly defaced by anti-Zionist Jewish activists.

This is a story we've been hoping to cover but have not had the bandwidth to pursue. And J. did a thorough job with its reporting.

Anti-Zionist Jewish activists claim credit for latest billboard defacement – J.
An anonymous group of anti-Zionist Jewish activists took credit for defacing three JewBelong billboards Wednesday, plastering over and replacing words on three signs a little more than a week after two others were similarly vandalized.

This week, authorities also announced "the takedown of an organized retail theft ring responsible for the theft of more than $1 million worth of goods from Apple stores" throughout California and beyond.

We tried to find out if any of the crimes took place in Berkeley, but the CHP told us that some of those details are still being sorted out. To be honest, we had no idea the CHP had a retail crime task force, so that was interesting to read about in itself.

Gov. Newsom created the task force in 2019 and since then, according to his office, the CHP "has been involved in 1,469 investigations, resulting in 853 arrests, and the recovery of stolen merchandise valued at over $28 million dollars."

Months of hard work by the California Highway Patrol's (CHP) Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) along with our...

Posted by CHP - Golden Gate Division on Thursday, February 9, 2023

We also wanted to make sure to mark the recent death of the very lovely Susan Felix. She was a generous, vibrant, talented woman who added to the Berkeley community in so many ways. I was touched that Berkeleyside featured my photograph of Susan (taken several years ago at a City Council meeting) in its obituary. This is a beautiful remembrance.

Remembering Susan Felix, bold ceramicist who served as Berkeley’s art ambassador
A Berkeley resident since 1967, she helped found the Jewish Arts Community of the Bay and the Berkeley Cultural Trust. She hosted Bay Area ArtBeat on local cable TV.

Anyway, we've gone on quite long enough. Here's wishing everyone a good weekend.

Our plans include catching up on the new season of Fauda and getting the last of the tax documents to our accountant. Wish us luck!

Have pressing questions about public safety? Alert The Berkeley Scanner.