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All the News You Missed This Week + Ways to Get Weird

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Sorry for the delay in this week’s news wrap, but without further ado, here’s your week of California burning, Berkeley’s weekend rally and fallout, courtroom updates and some weird shit to do with Burners on your day off.

Berkeley rally: public versus the police

The result of Sunday’s much anticipated “No to Marxism” rally and counter-protest was 21 damaged city vehicles, 20 arrests and some torched garbage cans. Unfortunately, the coordinated event in Portland Saturday ended with several wounded, including one man who suffered a head injury when his helmet was penetrated with a canister shot by police. In Berkeley, police in riot gear maintained an effective and somewhat military-style barricade between the opposing sides and skirmishes between the public and police didn’t get nearly as heated this time around. However, police actions in both events are being scrutinized for the perception of bias toward conservative and alt-right groups, as we report on further in a separate article.

Smoke from burning garbage can and possible use of chemical agents by police during Aug. 5, 2018 protest in Berkeley, Calif. Photo by Nik Wojcik

The one-year anniversary of Heather Heyer’s murder in Charlottesville, Virginia approaches Monday, as does a weekend of “Unite the Right 2” rallies to be held in Washington D.C. Aug. 11-12. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency as the city braces for potential unrest, Tiki Torches or not.

The whole damn state is on fire.

At least that’s what it feels and smells like if you’re anywhere in California today. There are approximately 16 substantial active fires burning throughout the state, with at least four above the Fresno line that are drawing heavily on emergency resources. The Mendocino Complex, which combines the Ranch and River fires, has grown larger than the size of the city of Los Angeles and has scorched over 300,000 acres collectively  Crews have been able to reach 87 percent containment at the River Fire but the Ranch Fire is still threatens more damage with only 49 percent of the area under control. The Carr Fire has burned over 180,000 acres and is just now over 50 percent contained and those around the Ferguson Fire are getting some relief with 80 percent containment, although nearly 100,000 acres have already been destroyed.

TOPSHOT – Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire,as it continues to spreads towards the town of Upper Lake, California on August 2, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo courtesy of MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Golden State has pulled in resources from across the country and around the globe in an effort to gain some control over what is shaping up to be the worst fire season in the state’s recorded history. The loss of life, family homes and other property has been simply devastating so far this summer. The president finally mentioned the California fires in a couple of inexplicable Tweets where he neglected to offer condolences or offer words of support but instead placed the blame on Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s “bad environmental laws.”

*Sources: Inciweb and Cal Fire.

Ghost Ship Pleas Up for Consideration

The family and friends of Ghost Ship Fire victims were given two days, Thursday and Friday, to have their voices heard out loud before defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris are handed down their formal sentences. The sentences were all but considered final after Almena and Harris entered no contest pleas and struck a deal to avoid trial, with Harris taking a six-year term and Almena agreeing to do nine years. Had they gone to trial and were found guilty of all 36 counts of manslaughter, each could have received up to 39 years in prison. Many families expressed anger and disappointment in the reduced sentences and lack of accountability from the warehouse owner and the city of Oakland.

Keith and Sue Slocum, parents of Ghost Ship victim Donna Kellogg, leave the courtroom following the end of the first day in the sentencing hearing for defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. Almena and Harris plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of 36 people at the deadly Dec. 2, 2016 warehouse fire. (Photo courtesy of Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Impact statements were a mixed bag, celebration of what made their loved ones unique and emotional pleas that eventually caused presiding Judge Jim Cramer to announce that he would reconsider the lenient deals handed to the defendants. We’ll continue our courtroom coverage Friday and will bring you the full story shortly after things wrap up.

Motion to Dismiss

David Emery Misch was back in court Thursday where he plead not guilty and his attorney requested a motion to dismiss. The 57-year-old has been charged with the brutal 1986 Fremont murders of Michelle Xavier, 18, and Jennifer Duey, 20. It is also suspected that both young women were raped before being left dead about a mile from Mission Boulevard. The case rocked the Fremont area as over three decades came and went by without an arrest. Authorities announced in March they matched DNA evidence from the crime scene to David Emery Misch, who was already incarcerated for an unrelated 1989 murder committed in Alameda County.

1986 Fremont murder victims, Michelle Xavier and Jennifer Duey. Photo courtesy of People

Families of the victims laid eyes on Misch for the first time at a hearing in March. At that same hearing, Misch’s attorney complained of a broken light in his client’s cell and requested dietary changes.

The judge at East County Hall of Justice, Alameda Superior Court Thursday awarded the defense time to prepare the motion, setting a hearing for October 19. However, the judge also set a pre-emptive pretrial date for October 23, “since we don’t know what the result of the motion will be.”

Weird shit to do on your day off

In the mood for some rummaging? Go up to Bernal Heights Saturday to see how the rich people live and walk away with a piece of their junk you can turn your treasure. The 2018 Hillwide Massive Garage Sale runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features items from over 150 homes, which is free to enter – but make sure you’ve got your singles and bargaining powers ready.

Photo courtesy of Statistic Brain

If you weren’t lucky enough to score tickets to Outside Lands this weekend, or aren’t comfortable stealing the show (and if you are, we’ve got some ideas for you here), you can mingle with some Burners at the Midway for a “Beyond the Fence” trunk show, featuring DJs, food and of course some really out-there costumes from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, and the best thing is it’s free of charge.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.