A University of California police bomb squad truck is parked in Sproul Plaza during a suspicious package investigation, in Berkeley, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Photo: David Yee

The University of California Police Department announced the evacuation of part of Sproul Plaza on Wednesday afternoon.

In an alert at 12:46 p.m., UCPD said its bomb squad was “investigating a suspicious package.” The full message read, “UPCD EOD Techs are investigating a suspicious package. Evacuate the southwest area of Sproul and follow the directions of law enforcment [sic] personnel.” (EOD stands for “Explosive Ordnance Disposal.”)

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel, already on scene for planned rallies on Sproul, said the suspicious package may be in the student center, as police are moving people away from that area. (See her video below.)

In a Nixle alert just before 1 p.m., UCPD extended the evacuation to the MLK/Student Union: “MLK/Student Union is evacuated and closed. Follow directions of law enforcement personnel. Do not return to evacuated areas or buildings.”

Dinkelspiel said, as of about 1:15 p.m., the plaza was cordoned off and no one was being allowed through the area. Some small discussions related to the earlier rally were still going on. Some Trump supporters remained by Sproul Hall, and members of the media were interviewing Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson and Tusitala “Tiny” Toese. “Based Stickman” Kyle Chapman was also still in the area, but did not appear to be doing much.

Police blocking off access/exit to the plaza. Student Union partly evacuated. Photo: Mikeontheroad
A K-9 and its handler investigate around the student union during a suspicious package investigation at the University of California, in Berkeley, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Photo: David Yee 

Berkeleyside contributing photographer David Yee saw what appeared to be a bomb-sniffing dog and its handler on Sproul around the time of the evacuation.

The bomb squad truck is also on scene next to the student union, Dinkelspiel said, just before 1:20 p.m.

Update, 1:23 p.m. UCPD says it has removed the suspicious package: “Evacuation order for parts of upper Sproul Plaza and MLK/Student Union STILL in affect.… UCPD EOD Techs continue investigation. Continue to avoid the area and follow the directions of law enforcement. Do not return to evacuated areas or buildings.”

Update, 1:34 p.m. Police have lifted the evacuation order: “All clear given for Sproul Plaza and MLK/Student Union. Evacuation order lifted. Area can be re-entered.”

Update, 2:25 p.m. Berkeleyside’s Dinkelspiel reports that “activity on Sproul Plaza has dropped to low roar so we are leaving.”

Update, 2:41 p.m. A community member told Berkeleyside he “was at the amazon store and my girlfriend saw someone turn in a package to the staff that they found. The guy said he found a weird package and said it was addressed to UCPD.”

UCPD declined to confirm that, but said there was “a report of a suspicious package, in the Amazon Store in the MLK student union building. Our EOD technicians investigated and determined it to be unfounded.” UCPD spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Reich said the Alameda County sheriff’s office and UCPD were notified about the package. No further information was provided.

Seb Green streamed live on YouTube.

YouTube video

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...