Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. [Photo: Flickr/mattspoon3
Impromptu memorials are common along the side of the road where someone might have have been hit and killed or on the sidewalk in the spot where a victim of street violence fell but to remember an animal killed by police? Not so much.
That's not the case in Berkeley, where a street memorial complete with flowers, incense and emotional messages has been set up near the spot where police shot and killed a mountain lion last week after they were unable to chase it out of a residential neighborhood.
One of the messages at the corner of Cedar Street and Shattuck Avenue reads: "In Honor, Respect and Remembrance of the slain Mountain Lion. May your spirit rest in peace. May we protect our wildlife. If we save them, we save ourselves."
However, another note defends the actions of Berkeley police, who killed the mountain lion in the driveway of a house at 1630 Walnut St. shortly before 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 31.
The note reads, "Thank you Berkeley police for all the times - including this one - that you've done the right thing for the safety of
Berkeley residents, even when it's dangerous, unpleasant and unpopular with a certain crowd."
Police said they killed the cat because the public was in danger. They pointed out that there are schools and businesses nearby and homeless people frequent the area.
The note continued, "To anyone who thinks the police should have dithered around until a zookeeper could show up with a dart gun, what would you say to the family of someone who became the lion's dinner?"
The writer said, "It's time to get in tough with your common sense Chakra."
Another person who defended police wrote, "Let's not be naive. We are not talking about a puppy a raccoon or a deer. We're talking about a creature that literally eats people - not often, but not never, either."
Someone responded to that note by scrawling, "They could have anesthetized it and relocated it."
Berkeley police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said police and other city officials have been "inundated" by calls and e-mails about the incident, and that some of the messages involved "a fair amount of verbal abuse."
Kusmiss said some people even called 911 to complain, which she said is "not appropriate" because it could delay officers from responding to crimes.
She said people who want to comment on the shooting of the mountain lion should call 311.