For several weeks people prevented AT&T from installing 5G devices in the first two locations in Berkeley. A key part of the project consisted of placing antennas on utility poles at the corner of Gilman and Neilson streets and near the Monterey Market on Hopkins Street. These are tiny business districts with coffee shops, restaurants, a natural grocery and other small shops in a residential area.
Residents and workers feared negative health effects from the radiation, that 5G just might even turn the district into a slow-acting microwave oven. So whenever AT&T’s installation crews showed up with trucks and equipment, small groups of activists and residents would gather around the base of the poles, occupying the sites and blocking the work. Thus, eight installation attempts were thwarted.
Police did not intervene. Mayor Jesse Arreguin and the city council were allowing AT&T to proceed with their installation plans, while at the same time not allowing police to intervene or arrest protesters. But since a multibillion dollar corporation was involved, it was not certain how this might play out.
Finally, in October, AT&T came up with a new tactic. Instead of coming in the daytime and having the locals meet and block them, they decided to come on Monday, October 5th at one A.M., put up a fence around the pole to keep protesters away, enabling the subcontractors to install the antenna.
To counter this our home team called for a midnight vigil, sending out an email saying in part, “This looks like the crucial moment. . . . If you cannot come at midnight, please come at 7 AM for the second shift.” The idea was to get there first.
Midnight? I’d attended one or two of the previous events, in the daytime of course. I didn’t really know how dangerous this 5G might be, but anyone who’s ever put food into a microwave oven must know that microwaves can burn. Even high voltage power lines are not harmless to people who are unfortunate enough to live under them. A friend of mine is an electronics engineer who worked around antennas and radio frequency radiation for many decades, considering that to be harmless till he developed symptoms of leukemia.
Our city should exercise caution.