Two students from UC Berkeley were arrested for spray painting “F*** White Ppl” and “Kill Cops” on car hoods and fences around town, along with the Antifa logo. Ismael Chamu and Peter Estrada were charged with felony vandalism, and it all started with a Facebook post that accused police of profiling.
Police responded to a report of a possible car burglary on June 26 at around 3 a.m.. They noticed Chamu, who matched the description of the suspect, ducking behind a car. He appeared to drop something on the ground. When they contacted him and found the item, it was a switchblade. They took him into custody for possession of an illegal knife.
They also learned that there were 17 tires slashed in that neighborhood that night. But he was only charged with the weapons violation.
As soon as Chamu was released on that charge, he posted on Facebook that the only reason he was arrested was because of “racial profiling” by police.
“The Police racially profiled me for being Mexican. For looking like a ‘Burglar’ for appearing ‘Dangerous.’ I will never forget this,. I did no … wrong but exist in my Brown skin in a predominately upper White class neighborhood. I need justice and I will obtain it by any means needed.” Ismael Chamu on Facebook (his account is no longer public)
Someone tagged the Mayor of Berkeley in that post.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin is a member of several radical groups on Facebook. He commented that Chamu’s claim was “Unacceptable this happened.” That jump to conclusions helped make the post go viral. The Mayor demanded answers from the Police Chief, and Student Senators wrote a strongly worded letter.
Meanwhile, police were conducting another investigation, one for vandalism and hate crimes because of at least 35 incidences of spray painted words on cars and fences: “F*** white people” and “Kill cops,” and those 17 slashed tires.
By Thursday, they went to Chamu’s home and arrested him on a warrant for felony vandalism causing $400 or more in damage, the commission of a hate crime, hate crime enhancements and conspiracy. Peter Estrada was also arrested for those crimes on Friday. Both men are being held on an $85,000 bond.
The Mayor issued a statement backtracking on his comment, sort of.
“Without having specific facts from BPD, which I requested, but had not received at that time, I posted that comment. I probably should have phrased it differently maybe stating ‘if the allegations were true.’ I can see how people would perceive my comment to mean that I had jumped to conclusions.” Mayor Arreguin
“Racist and anti-police rhetoric is completely unacceptable, as is vandalism of any kind. This kind of extremist behavior only fosters hate, harms innocent people and continues to perpetuate a climate where Police are put at risk. All of which are completely unacceptable. We will follow this case as it goes through the legal process, including the allegations by Mr. Chamu of police misconduct and racially charged comments by law enforcement.” Mayor Arreguin
Featured photo: Berkeley PD