Last week, group of Berkeley street performers or buskers gathered together in front of the Downtown Berkeley Post Office located at 2000 Allston Way in Berkeley to perform “Music on the Steps” a free concert that took place starting at 1pm on the steps of the post office. The event was the culmination of events that began in late July 2013, when a tent city emerged on the steps of the Post Office.
Colorful signs and banners with slogans like “Our Post Office is not for sale” and “This is our in-tents commitment to the post office” along with informational brochures made available at tables announce that the tent city was established to protest the proposed plan to relocate the branch and sell the historic building in which it currently resides.
“Music on the Steps” which featured music by Dave Welsh, Rude Boy, Hali Hammer, Damian Keyboard Magic and other guest musicians, was the first organized musical event held on the steps, although the Berkeley Post Office Defense has had a steady stream of musicians casually performing for the duration of their now month-long occupation.
“The event was about saving the post office. These brothers and sisters that performed here are people from Berkeley, from the streets, who are performers, who are homeless.” said occupier Chuck Copeland
Saturday, August 17, 2013 was the first organized and promoted event, but it may have had unexpected consequences. The very next day, a member of the group that put on the concert was given a notice to vacate the premises and told he was trespassing. He left, but returned the following day. On the 20th, a protester was arrested by local police. The protesters in the tent city consider themselves Occupiers, taking the phrase from the Occupy movement.
When asked if there would be another performance this weekend, an occupier who chose to remain nameless said:
“I don’t know. There was going to be more music events, but the police have been hassling us lately.”
Save the Berkeley Post Office, another group that is organizing events relating to saving the historic post office, has been actively opposing the proposed relocation of the branch through petitions and marches since January.