BERKELEY -- Ten activists woke up to donated coffee and pastries Sunday morning, having spent the night in tents on the steps of the downtown Berkeley post office. They want to stop the sale of the historic building.
"We're all in agreement," said Mike Wilson, who had spent the night. "We want to hold this position as long as we can." Wilson said they want to make it clear to potential buyers that "there are always going to be people here who oppose this privatization, even if it does happen."
Activists said they'd held a discussion Saturday evening around their goals, then spent the night in conversation with supporters and watching movies. They continued the day with music and civil disobedience trainings.
"We're keeping the building for the community so that we're not losing it to corporations," said one camper who identified herself as Mama Jude. Jude said Berkeley police had come by during the night, observed them, and moved on.
The United States Postal Service is selling many of its historic buildings across the country, contending that it is necessary because it is losing millions of dollars every year.
Activists say the red ink is due to the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the postal service to pay retirement benefits 75 years in advance and to restrictions on the post office, such as restricting it from shipping wine and beer. They say Congress can change the law and lift the restrictions.
Sandy Sanders, among those who had spent the night, said the act of setting up an encampment at the post office "is a big step in saying we're not going to tolerate the sale. We're going to resist this in every way possible."