Safety ambassador intervenes to stop attack near UC Berkeley

The ambassador ran up to intercede when he heard the fight and saw a man standing over a young woman readying to deliver a kick, SafeBears said.

A Streetplus safety ambassador caught part of the attack on camera.

A safety ambassador intervened over the weekend to stop a man from attacking a young woman near UC Berkeley, averting what may otherwise have led to serious injuries, a Cal parents group has reported.

The ambassador was part of a parent-funded private security pilot program in March that ended Saturday.

SafeBears, a nonprofit group created by UC Berkeley parents last year, has been working to raise awareness about safety issues around campus and advocate with Cal to address them.

Sagar Jethani, SafeBears president, said the safety ambassador was on patrol near Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way early Saturday, shortly after midnight, when he heard voices raised in anger.

Hearing what sounded like a loud altercation and doors slamming, he broke into a run to see what was going on. He also recorded a portion of the attack.

Read more about crime near UC Berkeley.

When the ambassador got closer, he saw a young woman on the ground as a man towered over her and shouted at her. Nearby, other men were waiting and watching from a stopped car.

The safety ambassador saw the man who was standing over the young woman raise his leg to deliver a kick.

The ambassador shouted at the man to get him to stop. At that point, Jethani said, the assailant tried to get into the car with his friends, but the safety ambassador slammed the door and asked the woman if she was OK.

The assailant muttered an apology about how the situation had gotten out of hand and then managed to get into the car and leave the scene.

Meanwhile, the woman stood up, visibly shaken by what had happened, Jethani said.

The ambassador gave her a bottle of water and she asked him to walk her back to Kip's Bar and Restaurant, where she had been before the incident.

The young woman did not want to call police and did not provide details about what may have led to the attack, Jethani said.

She said she did not know the assailant, but she and others in the area said they were grateful for the ambassador's intervention, Jethani said.

Private security pilot funded by Cal parents starts tonight
The safety ambassadors will be easily identifiable by their bright-colored jackets that sport the words “security” and “SafeBears.”

The private security team, which works for a company called Streetplus, is unarmed and relies largely on de-escalation techniques and the deterrent effect of its presence to make a difference.

Jethani said the safety ambassador did "everything exactly by the book" by verbally intervening but not getting physical.

He said the March pilot program had gone smoothly and that community feedback about it had been positive.

"We're horrified that this happened," Jethani said. "But it's also significant that one of our private security guards was able to take a bad situation and stop it from getting worse."

UC Berkeley parents launch SafeBears to promote safer Cal
“We want the administration to engage with us as real stakeholders dedicated to making Cal safer,” said SafeBears president Sagar Jethani.

The pilot program ran from March 6-23 and saw six safety ambassadors working in the Southside neighborhood near UC Berkeley from 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

Cal parents raised about $40,000 to fund the program, which they hope will inspire UC Berkeley to launch a similar team around campus sooner rather than later.

Read more about SafeBears on The Berkeley Scanner and on the SafeBears website.

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