A 35-year-old woman has been charged with a hate crime this week after she reportedly accosted a Black man delivering Amazon packages in Berkeley in April and called him a derogatory name, according to court papers.
Berkeley resident Julie Walrand became upset with the man’s driving, according to court papers, as he delivered Amazon packages April 18 on Delaware Street near McGee Avenue in North Berkeley. Walrand and her boyfriend, both of whom are white, police wrote, followed the driver “to confront him.”
Walrand caught up with the 25-year-old man in the 1700 block of Delaware, then parked beside his van “in a manner to prevent escape,” police wrote. The deliveryman attempted to drive away to deescalate the situation, police wrote, “but was unable to because Walrand grabbed his steering wheel and hands.”
It was then, police said, that Walrand called 911 and told authorities the driver was “trying to escape.” Police said she screamed curses at the man while grabbing the steering wheel.
When the driver got out of his van, according to court papers, Walrand again cursed at him and used a derogatory term for Black people. Fearing for his safety, police said, the man got back into his van and was able to drive away.
Police said a portion of the confrontation was recorded on video by Walrand and a witness. Those videos have not been released by police to the public.
On Wednesday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Walrand with the hate crime — identified as a civil rights violation of Penal Code section 422.6(a) — as well as two counts of battery and disturbing the peace by offensive language. All four of the charges are listed as misdemeanors.
Walrand, who used to be a server at a high-end Berkeley restaurant, took down her website after news of her arrest became public in April.
She is no longer in custody and is scheduled for arraignment July 1 at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, according to court records online.
Hate crimes in Berkeley
Hate crime arrests have become more common in Berkeley, or at least better publicized by authorities, following the wave of anti-Asian hate incidents across the nation earlier this year. As of May, the most recent data available, police said there had already been about a dozen hate crime reports in Berkeley in 2021. There were 12 hate crime incidents reported in Berkeley throughout all of 2020.
In January, police arrested a 55-year-old woman on suspicion of a hate crime after she reportedly “yelled several hateful statements about people of Mexican descent” during a violent encounter downtown. She was ultimately charged only with misdemeanor battery in connection with that incident, according to court records. The same woman was charged with a hate crime in early May, however, after reportedly making anti-Asian slurs during a different interaction in Berkeley.
In April, in addition to Walrand’s confrontation, police also arrested a 29-year-old man on suspicion of a hate crime when he allegedly followed two men and made disparaging remarks about their Chinese heritage. Also in April, a 39-year-old man reportedly vandalized a Berkeley synagogue and burglarized a Jewish community center; he was later charged with a hate crime.
Berkeley police reported arrests in connection with three other hate crime incidents in May, at least two of which resulted in criminal charges.
A hate crime is defined as any crime against a person, group or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceiving protected social group, police said in a prepared statement, adding: “The Berkeley Police Department recognizes and places a high priority on the rights of all individuals guaranteed under state and federal law. The commission of a hate crime is a serious offense, which will not be tolerated in the City of Berkeley.”