BERKELEY -- Postal authorities increased the pressure on protesters seeking to stop the sale of the historic downtown Berkeley post office Tuesday.

At around 4 p.m. more than a dozen uniformed postal police and nonuniformed postal inspectors handed warning notes to those occupying tents on the post office steps, according to activists.

Protesters have been camping in front of the building since July 24, protesting the U.S. Postal Service's decision to put the historic 57,000 square-foot building up for sale.

"They're more than welcome to protest," postal inspector Jeff Fitch said earlier in the day. "We appreciate their enthusiasm. We support free speech."

He added, however, that protesters cannot affix signs to the building or keep the tents on the steps. "They can't sleep at the facility," Fitch said.

The notice given to protesters targeted, in particular, the possession of alcoholic beverages and controlled substances -- noting that "medicinal marijuana in not recognized under (federal law)." It also noted that "All U.S. Postal Service property is closed to the public after normal business hours."

Activists met Monday evening to make plans for eventual arrests. Some say they will risk arrest; others plan to move their tents off federal property.

"Our plan is to stay here in direct defense of the post office," said retired postal worker David Welsh, who has camped on the steps for more than a week. "We're saying this is our public commons.


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"It belongs to the people and should not be sold off to private interests."