Facing possible flood of protesters, Berkeley council cancels meeting

Berkeley City Council cancels meeting in face of possible flood of protesters invading the chambers

The Berkeley City Council has canceled Tuesday night's meeting in the face of a possible flood of protesters invading the chambers.

On the heels of three consecutive nights of demonstrations that have turned violent, Mayor Tom Bates scrubbed the meeting. He cited capacity issues.

"The council chambers can hold about 125 people, and we understand substantially more people are interested in attending the meeting due to recent events in Berkeley," Bates said in a statement.

About 1,500 people demonstrated in the city Monday night, protesting grand jury decisions in the deaths of unarmed black men Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Demonstrators brought traffic to a standstill on the busy Interstate 80 while Bay Area Rapid Transit briefly closed its downtown station there. Nearly 160 people were arrested.

Over the weekend, crowds numbering 600 marched through the city, and some threw rocks and bottles at officers, according to the California Highway Patrol.

City officials were already expecting a large crowd at Tuesday's meeting, with one new and three reelected council members inaugurating a new council term, said Bates' special assistant, Charles Burress.

In the past, the city has opted for a bigger venue when a large crowd is  anticipated, as in a meeting in May over Berkeley's minimum wage ordinance.

"There wasn't enough time to move to a different venue," Burress said.

The City Council meeting has not yet been rescheduled, he said.

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