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Assembly adjourns in slain union leader’s honor

By Josh Richman
Thursday, January 27th, 2011 at 2:54 pm in Assembly, Sandre Swanson.

The state Assembly adjourned today in memory of Berresford “Berry” Bingham, political director of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, who was found dead Tuesday in his West Oakland home; Oakland Police are treating the case as a homicide.

The adjournment was at the request of Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, who chairs the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and counted Berry as a friend and constituent. Swanson made this floor statement:

“I rise today with a very heavy heart to adjourn in the memory of a constituent, but more importantly, a good friend. Berry Bingham was a Political Director for SEIU Local 1021. For 17 years, he worked tirelessly on behalf of working families in the State of California. Berry was a delegate to the Central Labor Council in Alameda County for 20 years; served our country in the United States Navy for 20 years; was the first African American to serve on the Alameda County School Board from 1994 to 2002; and was an assistant track and field coach at Encinal High School in Alameda.

“It was shocking to learn of his death. He was full of life and energy, believed in the process of democracy, and was a fierce advocate on behalf of working families. Bingham was gentle and kind and engaging to his friends. He was respectful, but always a fierce advocate on behalf of those he represented.

“I saw Barry two weeks ago when I was having breakfast at Ole’s in Alameda with my wife. He walked up to me, smiled, and we embraced. We talked about the brightness of the future of California, which will now be a great memory for me. This is a terrible loss for his family and the community. I respectfully ask that we adjourn in memory of Berry Bingham, an outstanding advocate and a great patriot.”

Bingham’s death is Oakland’s 12th homicide of 2011. A reward of $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the killer or killers; anyone with information can call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers of Oakland at 510-777-3211.

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