In the video the ambassador, whose name has not been released, is arguing with two men near a dumpster as a second security ambassador watches. The heated argument culminates with the security ambassador throwing a surprise right hook punch. The ambassador then moves in to pummel the man with repeated punches to his face while the second ambassador holds the other person at bay.
The security ambassadors are private employees of Block By Block, a company that specializes in providing staff to business improvement districts like the Downtown Berkeley Association.
Private Cops On the Public Dime
A Ban On Sitting?
Today the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) announced that the security ambassador in the video who started the fight has been fired, and the other security ambassador suspended for not stopping the fight.
In a press release issued by the DBA earlier today the organization’s CEO John Caner wrote that he was “was shocked by this totally unacceptable egregious behavior, that runs completely contrary to the extensive training, protocols, and mission of hospitality and outreach of our Ambassadors, Block-by-Block (our contractor / service partner), and the Downtown Berkeley Association.”
“I want to personally, and on the behalf of the DBA board and staff, apologize to the victim of this beating, and the entire Berkeley community,” wrote Caner.
The Downtown Berkeley Association is a business improvement district (BID), a form of quasi-private local government funded by assessments on property owners in business districts. BIDs have proliferated across the Bay Area’s cities over the past ten years as property owners in commercial districts have sought ways to provide services like landscaping, transit, and security in areas hit hard by public budget cuts.
Block By Block is owned by SMS Holdings, a Kentucky holding company that owns other private security and services companies with lucrative government contracts. Block By Block also has contracts to provide security ambassadors to the Downtown Oakland Association, the Jack London Improvement District, and two BID’s in San Francisco.
Blair McBride, the president of Block By Block also apologized for the assault. In the press release issued by the DBA McBride wrote: “What happened is intolerable. The attacker has been terminated and his partner has been suspended pending an internal investigation. We are also cooperating with law enforcement officials as they continue their own investigation.”
Check out Berkeleyside’s coverage of the assault for more information.