OCCUPATION STATION Your Guide to Hella Occupy Oakland 10/14 -10/20 Welcome to the second edition of the Occupation Station. The first week of this occupation was simply amazing. Tons of people came out to show their support in all kinds of ways including donating and preparing food, building and improving the infrastructure of the camp, organizing workshops, and planning actions for the future. Because,after all, if we don’t get out there and do something, what’s the point of all this? Just a quick recap of end of last week. Friday saw the group Bay of Rageset up a march that had an escort of police as it toured downtown before heading back to the main encampment. Obviously intimidation was on the cops’ minds but the people couldn’t be frightened. Saturday the JobsNot Cuts rally saw almost 2,500 indignant Americans marching from Laney College to Occupy Oakland (that’s what Spain’s protesters are calling themselveslos indiginados, the indignant). It also brought Danny Glover to the steps of Oscar Grant Plaza’s amphitheater to show solidarity with the protesters. Sunday was a pretty quiet day, at least for Oakland. David Hillard, an ex-Black Panther, came to speak, and there were a number of workshops taking place throughout the camp. Things weren’t as peaceful at Occupy SF.At about 10:30 at night the police raided the camp, taking food, water, and batteries, among other crucial supplies. 5 people were also arrested during the raid, and one was sent to the ER.Just keep in mind, Oakland, that this could easily happen to us if we don’t remain vigilant.
Be Careful What You Wish For One trend I’ve noticed emerging in the GA’s is a growing interest in compiling a list of demands or goals for the occupation. To quote the Occupy Oakland website, “There is no specific thing you can do in order to make us ‘go away’. And the last thing we want is for you to preserve your power, to reinforce your role as the ruling classesin our society.” It’s become clear that the current capitalist system we suffer under is not tailored to benefit us, the 99%.That is why we have come together. So why do we have a wish to reform the system? History has shown time and again that whenever a radical movement begins to negotiate with the Establishment, it loses effectiveness. Look at the Populists in the 1890’s or the March on Washington in 1963, which Malcolm X called, “…asellout. It was a takeover.” Let’s not let Occupy Oakland be taken over. Let’s not sell out becausewe’re too impatient to see something get done. If we let this end on their terms, nothing will have changed.
Berkeley, What’s Goin’ On? To start the week out, I decided to drop by Berkeley’s Occupation on Monday and see how they were doing. Occupy Berkeley has two camps, the main one sitting right in front of the Bank of America at Shattuck and Center. I stopped by there first at about 5:30, and only saw two
activists. The other camp was in the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park down the street, and sported three tents to house its small population. Neither of these camps was big. Occupy Oakland could swallow both without a hiccup. And, I was told by some of the activists that they are fighting an ongoing battle with thieves who raid both camps, taking donations boxes and personal belongings. So why do the protesters stay? Talking with the activists, I could tell that they know how small Occupy Berkeley is, but that doesn’t make it unimportant to them. If anything it becomesmore vital that someone stand up and say what needs to be said when no one else will, whether from fear or laziness or whatever. The Berkeley Occupiers stay becauseit needs to be done. So, Occupy Oakland, if you get some spare time drop by and let ‘em know that their comradesin the OAKare right there with them. And hey, while you’re there, invite them to come check out what we’re doing. Oakland, I Missed You The Berkeley Occupy was good to see, but nothing beats the sight of Oscar Grant Plaza in the early evening. There was a bit of buzz in the camp when I arrived. Occupy Oakland received a surprise visit from the three hikers who until recently had been imprisoned in Iran. Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd spoke to the crowd at 5 on Monday to show their support for and solidarity with the occupiers in Oakland. More importantly, they wanted to express solidarity with the California inmates who are currently staging hunger strikes across the state. In Oakland’s General Assembly more signs of improvement to the organizational structure were apparent. The south side of the amphitheater (near 14th st) has become the “smoking area” and forum topics were being introduced nightly to open up new lines of communication between the protesters. Also, a satellite camp was started at Snow Park a few blocks away, but we’ll get to that in a minute. There was one proposal on the docket Monday night, regarding a proposed letter to City Hall. It was well written, clever and funny, and to the point, but in the end none of that mattered.
The main debate centered on whether or not people even wanted that type of dialogue with the authorities. Overwhelmingly, they told the GAthat they didn’t. That’s how it goes. Personally I think that communicating with the city would be a good thing. Not so we can follow their rules, but to show that we can be just and give everyone a chance to speak. But the GAvoted against, and that’s the people’s will. An Eventful 9 th Day Tuesday was quite a day at Occupy Oakland. Day 9 saw the first real threat of police action, a flying table, and some signs of the improved communication called for the day before. At the General Assembly the first thing I noticed was a few people translating the announcements and speakers into sign language. Translators have been in demand practically since day one so that was great to see. And just when I started to think that more languageswould be even better a couple activists got up and gave a speech in Spanish and English. We need to include translations as a permanent part of the GA’s, and add even more languages. More languageswould mean more dialogue between oppressed folks like the ones that have already gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza. Then we would be that much closer to uniting the working people under a common ambition. Unfortunately not everyone was in the spirit of communication. A camper managed to interrupt the GAwhen he got into an argument with his neighbor in the tents. At the General Assembly confusion over the noise led many to think that police had entered the camp and rush over to find out what was going on. When they realized that the only thing to see was a shirtless man yelling at no one in particular they returned to the meeting. Not long afterward the same offender went to the food area and began breaking water containers and other valuable supplies, even throwing a table at someone working there. The entire story doesn’t need to be rehashed. In the end the activists managed to make him leave the camp, and he hasn’t been seen since. This incident did bring up some interesting questions, the more so becauseit occurred inside Occupy Oakland, a space for personal expression. When does someone’s right to express themselves become oppressive
to others? Who can make that decision? What do we do with that person? I think that this was a pretty clear-cut instance, but a meeting was held after the GAto discussjust these types of problems. Look, I said it last week. We cannot afford to be seen fighting amongst ourselves, for a number of reasons. For one it would be fundamentally the same as asking the cops to invade our space. Not to mention the fact that it makes us look bad in the eyes of the media, and more importantly in the eyes of those who consume that media. Someone at the GAsaid, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Well, I would like to change that to show that we are all responsible for how the world views Occupy Oakland. How about, “An embarrassment for one is an embarrassment for all.” Let it Snow Occupy Snow, the auxiliary camp to Occupy Oakland, received notice Tuesday morning that the police would be shutting it down at 10PM that night. The city cited the fact that Snow Park, located at Harrison and 19th, is a wildlife preserve when it made its decision not to allow campers to remain. If Occupy Snow were shaping up to be the same as the original camp, I could understand the city’s apprehension. But those who moved over to Snow Park were a small group, looking for quiet that they weren’t getting in Oscar Grant Plaza and more than willing to help maintain the park. Tuesday evening activists at Snow were getting ready to face the police in their own way. They stressed the wish to keep the Occupy Snow camp non-confrontational and to respect the environment. They talked over the best ways to accomplish this while resisting the will of the Establishment. A few folks who showed up started yelling at police cruising by but were quickly silenced by the majority. Meanwhile, a number of activists were scouting the neighboring streets and garages for any signs of a police buildup. They continued searching until just before the 10PM deadline, when about 50 people gathered at the camp to see what would happen. And do you know what? 10 o’clock rolled around and the cops never showed up. A few circled the park and once or twice swept the camp with a searchlight, but that was it. News vans had been showing up since about
8:30 or 9PM. I’ve never seen so many disappointed looking reporters. Make Me Laugh I Got to Oscar Grant Plaza on Wednesday just in time for the General Assembly, and a good thing, too. On Day 10 comedian Samson Koletkar, who brought down the amphitheater, opened the GA. It was a great idea to have an comedian perform if you ask me. Even though we all know (or should know) how important the GA is, let’s be honest. They can get pretty boring sometimes. And a comedian, or any type of entertainment beforehand, is the perfect thing to get people feeling good and feeling relaxed before we sit down for 2-3 hours to debate and make decisions. After that came the GAproper, and there were quite a few items on the docket to hold attention. Let’s start with possibly the most important. A group comrades brought to our attention the gross injustices that have been plaguing the camp, namely assaults on female activists in and around the tents. They believed, as did (as far as I could tell) everyone else in the GA, that this MUSTNOT continue. To that effect a women’s area was set up away from the main body of tents, near the large oak tree. I can’t crack any jokes about this. Whoever is responsible for making our comrades feel unsafe in an environment they are helping to maintain, and you know who you are, you should be ASHAMED. On a much happier note, a proposal was put to the General Assembly to plan the first official Occupy Oakland march/action since we took over the plaza. Keep in mind that the march last Saturday was MoveOn’s, not ours. The proposal was accepted almost unanimously. As such Saturday, Oct 22 will see the Occupy Everything! Liberate Oakland! march and rally starting at 11AM. Unfortunately this issue won’t be out until that afternoon, so good luck to everyone! Another Lost Day I missed another Thursday sitting at home writing, and apparently it was a doozie. The city released a document entitled, “Notice to Vacate Frank Ogawa Plaza.” Any guesseson what it said? I’ll give you the rundown. Apparently we’re dirty, angry, and all on drugs. The city
doesn’t want us around anymore. Check the Tribune; they said pretty much the same thing. End result? The city planned to kick us out on Thursday night. The 10PM eviction time rolled around on Thursday with no police invasion. And Friday passed peacefully as well; as far as I knew at 10PM Friday another day had gone by without the eviction being carried out. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, or at least be attempted. They will come for us, as they begin to realize that we’re not under control any longer. We must stand united and ready.
Can’t Stop Moving I would like to end by saying that we cannot be stopped. Even if all of the Occupations worldwide were to be shut down today, what they symbolize – the righteous anger and indignation of the 99%– will not disappear. This is, “…the period of the revolutionary transformation of [capitalism] into the other.” At Occupy Oakland we have the unique opportunity to shape and create the “other.” What do you want it to be?
That’s it for the second issue. Thanks for reading! If I pestered you with questions, thanks for answering! If you want to help out with the next issue (I need help printing and with notes for times I’m not around) or saw anything that you think should be written about or that I missed or just didn’t quite get, drop me a line at email@example.com -- Yolamite