‘Home-Free’ Man Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Stabbing Another with ‘Makeshift Spear’ at a Berkeley Homeless Camp

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By Serene Chang

ALAMEDA, CA– Frank Christiana, a man who once described himself as “home-free” to the San Francisco Chronicle, was sentenced in Alameda County Superior Court Monday to a two-year state prison term for stabbing a man with a knife attached to a metal pole in a West Berkeley homeless encampment.

Christiana was taken for a mental health evaluation after his arrest and the Alameda County Superior Court recommended Christiana participate in a mental health treatment program while in prison.

At a homeless encampment on Eastshore Highway, 21-year-old Christiana was arguing about “property” with a 51-year-old man who also lived at the encampment, according to the Berkeley Police Department.

Christiana was reported to have stabbed the 51-year-old man multiple times with a “makeshift spear,” leading the victim to sustain severe injuries.

Christiana was arrested one day later in West Berkeley.

The court granted Christiana 102 days credit for time served, which was said to be a typo by defense attorney Emily Elizabeth Klein.

Klein explained that Christiana has actually been in prison since the beginning of October in 2020, giving him 302 days credit for time served.

The DDA and judge agreed with this correction.

Christiana moved to Berkeley from Massachusetts in September 2015 at the age of 18. The SF Chronicle found him “tottering on a skateboard with his new dog — a pot-bellied shepherd mix.”

He formerly resided in a settlement outside of Berkeley’s former City Hall building, known as Liberty City. It was created in protest to Berkeley’s homeless ordinances and developed into a more permanent “mini society,” as deemed by homeless activist Mike Zint.

The inhabitants received meals, held concerts, created labeled trash and recycling bins, and instituted a “quiet hour” at 11 p.m.

In response to the city’s warnings about the illegality of the settlement, the squatters put up a laminated permit created by its residents, writing: “We give ourselves permission to be here.”

Members of Liberty City were drawn to the settlement for various reasons, some seeking a refuge from societal norms.

Christiana, for instance, had similar motivations.

“I kind of just wanted to travel on my own spiritual path,” Christiana remarked to a SF Chronicle reporter in 2015.

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About The Author

Serene Chang is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying History, Journalism, and Human Rights. She is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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