The Occupy Berkeley encampment at Civic Center Park has grown over the past few weeks. Photo: Arturo Snuze

Berkeley High School Principal Pasquale Scuderi says supervising BHS students during the lunch hour and after school has become more challenging for the school with the growth of the Occupy Berkeley tent-city in Civic Center Park.

In a letter to the BHS community sent out by email Wednesday, Scuderi noted that the burgeoning camp has made it more difficult for school administrators and safety staff to keep an eye on and visually identify students among the settlers in the park, a number of whom “may not be connected to or interested in the advocacy being conducted by the actual Occupy Berkeley movement”.

Scuderi, who estimates there are now around 90 tents in the park, says there have been no negative interactions with the campers. The school currently has two administrators monitoring the park during the lunch hour.

As Berkeleyside reported earlier this week, the Occupy Berkeley camp, which is one of the few Occupy encampments in the country not to have been disbanded or threatened with eviction, is undergoing internal schisms as the discrete groups who make up the tent-city try to learn to live together and set ground rules. About half the campers are estimated to be homeless, and there are ongoing challenges for the campers handling residents with mental illnesses, as well as cases of on-site thefts.

To date, the city has not taken an official stand on the Occupy Berkeley camp, although the City Council adopted a resolution supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement in general. The city manager has issued several notices to the camp since it was established on October 15. On October 24, the demonstrators were issued a notice ordering them to cease camping out; this was followed by several notices asking the campers to take action on matters on health and safety, public safety and alcohol.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington visits the camp most days. He says he has seen evidence that the campers, while often divided philosophically, have responded well to the city-issued directives. “They have created policies at their general assemblies to respond to city requests,” he says. Worthington says that after one notice about the food area, a concerted effort was made to clean up the area and address concerns.

In his letter, Scuderi said he did not want to be alarmist and supported the expression of free speech. He concluded: “We will continue to monitor the situation and will regularly consult with district, city, and law enforcement representatives, as well as folks involved in the movement, so as to stay current on all developments and on the plans of all involved.”

Occupy Berkeley remains, but experiment is proving fragile [11.28.11]
Occupy Berkeley consolidates camp, supports Oakland [11.02.11]
All quiet at Occupy Berkeley camp at MLK Park [10.26.11]
Berkeley joins 900 cities to condemn corporate greed [10.16.11]
Wall Street protests come to Berkeley [10.09.11]

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...