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BREAKING: President Biden says he will step aside, not seek reelection

Planters replace “free store” near People’s Park

David Abercrombie
Flickr / Creative Commons
CHP officers in riot gear, last month, outside Berkeley's People's Park

The move follows several weeks of occupation by People's Park support running a 'free store' that distributed supplies to residents in need.

Telegraph Business Improvement District Executive Director Alex Knox said in an interview Friday: "We really think this is a really important spot aesthetically, for just the pedestrian environment, and are trying to do whatever we can to make it just make it nice for people, while it's not really a usable space."

Knox described the planters as a temporary facelift to the area, which was opened to the public in October after being closed following its designation as a median in 2019.

He said he hopes that the slip lane that allows drivers to make a right-hand turn onto Telegraph Avenue from Dwight Way will be closed to traffic so that a larger pedestrian plaza can be built at the location.

Until last week, People's Park supporters were using the location as a 24-hour mutual aid station, which opened during the protests that followed the Jan. 3 clearing of People's Park by law enforcement officials. The dissolution of the 'free store' located there was organic, with organizers trading its semi-permanent setup for pop-up aid stations.

Activists attempted to replicate the mutual aid situation that was present in People's Park up until Jan. 2, but ran into challenges.

Within a few hours of the installation of the planters, a group of Berkeley residents rearranged them to create community sitting space at the location, spending a portion of Friday and Saturday socializing there.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.