The campout on the steps outside the downtown Berkeley post office building continued this week, despite repeated warnings from federal police officers that the occupation is trespassing illegally and should prepare to be removed.
According to one of the protesters, a no trespass letter had been filed with the city and police had warned campers that arrests would be made.
Community group Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office (www.savethebpo.com), meanwhile, issued an announcement saying that its participation in the encampment, dubbed "In-Tents Defense of our Post Office" had ended as of noon on Aug. 18 "because of the need to focus on legal, legislative and community matters" related to preventing the sale.
"The encampment has not moved off the steps but Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office is not supporting it," group member Margot Smith said.
The group called the encampment a success in attracting wide publicity and community support for the cause and keeping pressure on the U.S. Postal Service to consider alternatives to the sale.
"To build on these successes, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office are now concentrating on the lawsuit challenging the post office sale, legislative action by our state and federal representatives, and a city of Berkeley effort to rezone the downtown as a governmental, cultural and educational district," the announcement stated.
The effort includes collaborating with groups trying to stop the sale of post office buildings in other cities.
"We're continuing our work on saving our post office," Smith said. "We appreciate everyone's support and we're moving forward every way we can."
Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office "will still have tables and information in front of the post office to keep people aware of the issues."
A second protest group, Berkeley Post Office Defense, was continuing with the encampment this week.
backpacks galore: Drew Gooden, who grew up in Richmond and went on to basketball stardom at El Cerrito High School, the University of Kansas and the NBA, was back in his hometown on Aug. 16 to give out school supplies and offer advice to children in the summer programs at the Richmond Recreation Complex on Macdonald Avenue.
Gooden talked about his career and told the youngsters about the importance of getting good grades -- even for an athlete -- and how important it is to save and manage money wisely.
Gooden has established a foundation that has worked to help kids in Richmond, including holding toy distributions at Christmas and sponsoring summer programs this year at five community centers in the city.
The hope is to inspire young people to success and to give back to the community, said Maurice Braxton, who works with the DG Foundation. The foundation teamed with financial firm PWC for the backpack event.
"They need to see somebody who made it from here," Braxton said. "We're trying to find every outlet we can."
RPAL and partners 4Richmond, Target, and Walmart gave out filled backpacks to 400 students on the first day of the carnival and another 300 sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric and KTVU on the final day of the event.
There were also rides, games and live entertainment for families.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: Learn the basics of saving seeds from your tomatoes, lettuce, beans and peas and other plants at a free class at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 in the community room at the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza. The class is hosted by the Richmond Grows seed lending library (www.richmondgrowsseeds.org), which is also holding a crop swap (bring homegrown produce to trade) at 5 p.m. that day.