published : 2023-09-17

Fierce Clashes Erupt as Berkeley Landlords Celebrate End of COVID-Eviction Moratorium

Eyewitnesses report physical confrontations between landlords and tenants

A photo of a peaceful protest in Berkeley, showing tenants advocating for their rights, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Physical fights broke out as landlords celebrating the end of the COVID-eviction moratorium were confronted by protestors at their party in Berkeley, California.

Several Berkeley tenant groups crashed a celebration at a local bar where members of the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA) were rejoicing the end of the moratorium.

Eyewitnesses and participants recount that the confrontation quickly turned physical, with tenants shoving landlords, a landlord allegedly slapping a female protestor, and a tenant punching an elderly landlord in the face.

This violent clash marked the end of the COVID-era eviction restriction in Berkeley, one of the last places in the country with a moratorium.

Berkeley's COVID eviction moratorium officially ended on September 1, 2023, after being implemented in response to the pandemic to protect renters facing financial hardships.

Landlords in Berkeley claimed significant financial losses over the past three years due to the moratorium, alleging that some renters who could pay used it as an excuse to avoid making payments.

An image capturing the vibrant atmosphere of the celebration at the Freehouse Pub in Berkeley, where landlords gathered to mark the end of the COVID-eviction moratorium, taken with a Nikon D850.

To mark the expiration of the moratorium, the BPOA organized a celebration at the Freehouse Pub, which was disrupted by over 100 protestors demanding 'NO PEACE FOR EVICTORS.'

Protestors chanted outside the bar, hurling insults at partygoers and criticizing landlords, while the tension escalated.

Around an hour into the protest, some protestors made their way inside the bar, where further altercations occurred.

Reports indicate a male attendee slapped a female member of the Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC) and pushed her, triggering a series of physical altercations.

Videos captured a protestor knocking the glasses off a landlord's head, while another party attendee retaliated with a swing of his fist.

BPOA President Krista Gulbransen, who tried to intervene in the clashes, expressed her disappointment in the lack of action from the Berkeley Police officers present at the scene.

A photo of a heated exchange between a landlord and a tenant during the clashes in Berkeley, highlighting the intensity of the confrontation, taken with a Sony Alpha a7III.

Gulbransen recounted, 'I told our members to remain quiet, peaceful, and not engage when the protestors entered. Unfortunately, some of the protesters got confrontational, and the situation quickly escalated into people shoving each other.'

The picketers left shortly after the violence erupted, leaving BPOA tenants still at the bar to process the events that unfolded.

At the time of this report, both the BPOA and TANC have not provided any official comments regarding the clashes.

Despite the chaos, it remains to be seen how the conclusion of the moratorium and the physical clashes will impact the housing landscape in Berkeley, as both landlords and tenants grapple with the aftermath of this contentious event.