by Michael Siegel – @OakTownMike
Tonight the City Council voted 4-3 to re-appoint me to the Civil Service Board, but that means the vote failed, by Oakland City Council logic. Voting yes were Brooks, Nadel, Brunner, and even Kaplan (although a bit reluctantly), and no votes were Schaaf, Kernighan, and De la Fuente. Because Reid abstained, instead of voting no, there was no tie, and so the Mayor didn’t get to break the tie. Five votes are required for confirmation.
I was honored to have numerous people support my re-appointment in many ways, including folks who made phone calls to the Council offices and came out to the Council meeting, and even some diehards who stayed in the Council chambers until midnight or later. I’m hella appreciative for the union folks from Local 1021 and Local 21, the Stop the Injunction Coalition folks, the Occupy Oakland folks, the Save Santa Fe folks. A special shout-out must go to Hindatu and Malik, of course, who spoke to the Council and appeared at a Council meeting for the first time, respectively.
I’m also very appreciative of the remarks of Desley Brooks and Jane Brunner, who called out Libby Schaaf for pursuing a political vendetta against me, based on factors entirely separate from my Civil Service service. Libby refused to provide a reason for instigating my ouster. Kernighan claimed that there was “one incident” where I showed “very bad judgment,” but she did not say more. Neither Reid nor De La Fuente said a thing on the matter.
As I sit here later tonight, I am kind of intrigued about what Kernighan meant, my “one” incident of “bad judgment.” Although there are many possibilities, here is my best guess. For some reason, my article advocating for the #D12 Port Shutdown got me in a lot of trouble. The Port definitely took notice, as did Phil Tagami. It may be that that was the piece that was the beginning of the end.
Looking back, though, as Hindatu will tell you, I have no regrets about that piece, or any of the other political statements that may have offended De La Fuente, Reid, and Schaaf. They are clearly on the wrong side of history, albeit on the right side of the status quo.
Thanks again to all of you who took time and effort and put yourselves out there. I must admit that it was hard to ask for help for such a personal issue, as compared to everything else going on in the world. But I didn’t want to “go quietly” on this night, and I really appreciate you for standing with me.
*Meet at North Berkeley BART (Acton and Delaware St.) at 6 PM TONIGHT, 5/9. We will march to the Gill Tract Farm!*
At 6:30 AM this morning, UC Police arrived at the Gill Tract Farm in Albany. They set up cement barricades to block entrances to the land, announced that ‘chemical agents’ would be used against those who interfered, and as of now are still mobilized around the farm with riot gear and zip ties. No arrests have been made.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to experience the farm – or if you’ve been there since the occupation began – tonight is the night for us to mobilize in support of this beautiful project. Meet at North Berkeley BART at 6:00 PM (Acton and Delaware St.) and we will march to the Gill Tract Farm to support our comrades, the land and food sovereignty. Bring banners, signs, warm clothes, tents and sleeping gear (if you’d like to stay overnight)!
The UCPD has been issuing daily warnings to occupiers since the occupation began. Today, they escalated these warnings by barricading entrances to the farm, where they remain mobilized. Let’s show UC administrators and UCPD that we will not be intimidated. FARMLAND IS FOR FARMING!
On Earth Day, April 22, hundreds of urban farming advocates – including community members, students and occupiers – reclaimed the five-acre plot known as Gill Tract, planting rows of vegetables, establishing a youth garden and building community in a sustainable and peaceful way.
The land represents one of the only agricultural spaces with ‘class-one’ soil left in the East Bay. UC Berkeley administrators would prefer to develop the plot, ignoring the work and voices of community members for at least the last decade. In 2000, the Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture presented a proposal to the university for the creation of the ‘world’s first university center on sustainable urban agriculture and food systems.’ It was ignored, as was a later one presented in 2005 by Urban Roots to create the Village Creek Farm and Gardens, ‘a farm that would provide Bay Area students from preschool to community college and university with an educational resource par excellence.’
From UCB Professors Miguel A. Altieri (Agroecology) and Claudia J. Carr (Environmental Science):
“The rapid urbanization that is taking place in the Bay Area goes hand in hand with a rapid increase in urban poverty and food insecurity, a situation aggravated by the economic crisis affecting California. Half a million people are at risk of hunger every month. About 38 percent of them are children…Many low-income urban residents in the Bay Area reside in ‘food deserts,’ i.e. in areas having limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly in lower income neighborhoods and communities.
The benefits of urban agriculture go beyond producing food: they extend to the promotion of local economic development, poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the poor — and of women, in particular. Urban agriculture also contributes to the urban ecosystem by greening the city, productively reusing urban wastes, conserving pollinators and wildlife, and saving energy involved in the transport of food (in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions!).”
From ‘Occupy the Farm’:
“We are reclaiming this land to grow healthy food to meet the needs of local communities. We envision a future of food sovereignty, in which our East Bay communities make use of available land – occupying it where necessary – for sustainable agriculture to meet local needs. This particular plot of land is very special:
- These are the last acres of Class One soil left in the urbanized East Bay. Ninety percent of the original land has been paved over and developed, irreverisibly contaminating the land.
- Students, professors, and community have fought for decades to save this amazing land from development and use it for sustainable agriculture.
- UCB capital projects currently administors this land and has slated it for rezoning and redevelopment in 2013 (i.e. supermarkets, parking lots, and apartments).
- The University uses the land to research corn genetics. This research can be conducted anywhere as opposed to this unique site.”
More info: http://www.takebackthetract.com/
UCPD, WE DON’T NEED YOU!
FARMLAND IS FOR FARMING!
LONG LIVE THE GILL TRACT FARM!
by DB Scott – @OCCCavalry
First off, saboteurs are generally throwing bottles and bricks from behind the crowd as I observed on Oct. 25th of last year. I suspect these bottles were thrown by provocateurs (cops) themselves, but that’s my popular opinion and a whole other issue. How then, will they be identified and snatched without undercover amount the ranks? Answer; They won’t. May first, I suspect, will be shoulder to shoulder undercover for this to work with any success, so be aware without being paranoid. The last thing anyone needs is for some school teacher from Iowa being falsely outed for being a suspected cop. And if you suspect you’re already on a snatch list; mask up.
Second; I predict even more violence from and to cops due to the close up nature of snatch and grab. Officers MUST rush into crowds in small teams to extract people, often times leaving themselves surrounded by not-so-happy people. Given the spirit of Oakland in particular, this may not be a smart move. A cornered or surrounded animal is a dangerous one and anyone who IS within reach of a cop in this instance is at great risk for violence. These cops are still carrying live ammo handguns and I don’t think they’d hesitate to use them if they felt in imminent danger. (Even though it would be their own actions that put them there.)
Which brings me to my third point; Rushing into a crowd armed and violent often does one thing; It causes a stampede. We saw this January 28th when demonstrators were corralled into a chain link fence on Telegraph and 19th. OPD for whatever reason, warranted or not, fired tear gas in one corner of the park, causing hundreds of people to rush into a fenced off area trying to escape (Disperse) after an inaudible dispersal order was given with no route to leave. (The inaudible part admitted by Jordan by stating the new policy would include “Clearer dispersal orders prior to arrests”.) Luckily, it was a chain-linked fence at the other end of the park and people weren’t trampled or trapped in a gas-filled area with riot cops shooting projectiles and swinging batons at them. The fence was breeched and demonstrators were able to disperse. Scores of first-hand reports even suggest that people TRIED to disperse but were met by the usual stoicism and deaf-eared policy of OPD and NOT allowed to. This suggests to me they intended to make this mass arrest regardless of crowd control polices in place which had been ignored at every other demonstration.
My fourth issue is the actual chance these new policies will be adhered to. TEN YEARS after agreeing to a three year time frame to adopt and practice improved crowd control policies, NO change what-so-ever had taken place. It’s written in black and white on their own website and MOUNTAINS of footage and testimony prove that nearly every policy was totally ignored. Jordan has lied several times in regards to weapons and means used during recent demonstrations which includes stating that the loud explosions being heard October 26 were M-80′s being thrown at police when the truth was that flash-bangs were being thrown at the crowd. It includes the misinformation released saying business in downtown was dropping when it actually rose. (This one has always floored me when common sense dictates that if there are more people in an area, more business would follow.) The list of lies goes on, so how then are We The People to have any confidence in anything different than what’s happened before? Blatant provable lies from the Chief of Police and nothing is done.
Oh and Chief; If you really want violence and property damage to end, keep your provocateurs at home and quit starting shit. This technique has been exposed time and time again at protests throughout the U.S. and is no doubt being used here. It’s another lie you obviously feel comfortable using against the citizenry you suggest you want to keep safe. Quit playing victim and start being honest about things that are happening at these protests if you actually want change. I suspect as with every politician, that your canned responses are nothing more than spin and C.Y.A. Why are you suddenly concerned about the safety of Oakland after multiple examples that that is not your priority? Could it be the Feds are MAKING you and you actually have no personal desire?
Just asking questions.
by Scott Johnson
For nearly 150 years, May 1st has been an international day to celebrate and defend the rights of the working class. While the immigrant rights movement and the Occupy movement have helped bring it back to the United States in recent years, May Day originated in the American labor movement in the 19th century.
The first mass labor protest on May Day was held in 1867 to celebrate an Illinois law mandating an eight-hour workday. When employers refused to abide by the law, the celebration turned into a rebellion. Chicago police, “long used as if [they] were a private force in the service of the employers,” as one author would later declare, were called on to break the strike wave. The movement was crushed and the law went unenforced.
After nearly two decades, May Day was resurrected when the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada (later the AFL) proposed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s work from and after May 1, 1886.”
Even more significant than the Federation was the Knights of Labor, whose motto was “An injury to one is the concern of all.” The Knights opposed wage labor and believed in solidarity for all workers, regardless of race, gender or skill-level. However, the Knights were held back by the conservative leadership of Terence Powderly, who opposed going on strike for the eight-hour day and instead called on workers to write letters on the subject to be printed in newspapers on George Washington’s birthday.
Regardless, hundreds of thousands of workers joined the Knights expecting militant action on May Day. Their membership grew from 28,000 in 1880 to 700,000 in 1886. Powderly even put a moratorium on new chapters and suspended organizers to halt this growth in numbers and expectations. “The majority of the newcomers were not of the quality the Order had sought for in the past,” Powderly complained of these militant new recruits, but the Knights grew in spite of his efforts.
Nonetheless, anarchists and socialists continued to organize for a strike – and not a letter writing campaign – on May Day. Among the best known radicals was Albert Parsons, a Confederate soldier at 14 who later published a pro-Reconstruction newspaper in Texas that defended the rights of newly freed slaves. Moving to Chicago, the center of workers’ struggle, he participated in the national railroad strike of 1877, leading to him being blacklisted and his life threatened for being the “leader of the American Commune.”
By April of 1886, the hunger for an eight-hour day grew with 62,000 workers in Chicago pledging to strike, 25,000 demanding an eight-hour day without committing to a walk out and 20,000 already winning a reduction in their hours. Workers wore “eight-hour shoes” and smoked “eight-hour tobacco” in solidarity with workers who already won their demands. As the strike approached, the demand grew from a reduction in hours from eight to ten, to “eight hours of work for ten hours pay.”
On May 1, 340,000 workers across the country marched with 190,000 of those going on strike. New York saw a rally of 20,000 workers in Union Square – the recent home away from Zuccotti Park for Occupy Wall Street – and there were 10,000 each in Baltimore and Chicago.
The rebellion continued through May 3 when a confrontation with strikebreakers in Chicago resulted in police shooting and killing 4 workers and injuring many others.
On May 4, 1,200 workers gathered at Haymarket Square in Chicago to hold a meeting about the police killings. The number in attendance declined to 300 due to rain and Parsons left with his wife and children. The mayor of Chicago, also in attendance, even told the police – who were prepared to break up the event at any time – that it was a peaceful meeting and there was no need to attack it.
Suddenly, nearly 200 police officers stormed the meeting with no provocation or warning. Just as suddenly, dynamite was flung toward the police and exploded, killing one instantly and wounding 70, seven of them fatally.
In the following days, a full scale war was declared on the labor movement – meetings were broken up, radicals arrested and the strike wave was crushed as the jails were filled with the radical leaders of the workers’ movement.
Eventually, seven people were singled out and tried for killing the police officers, even though there was no evidence that they had any role in the bombing, which may have been carried out by a provocateur. Some of the accused were not even in attendance at the time of the explosion but that hardly mattered, as the Chicago establishment openly stated.
“Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial,” declared Julius Grinnell, the prosecutor in the case against the Haymarket martyrs. “These men have been selected, picked out by the grand jury, and indicted because they are the leaders. They are no more guilty than the thousands who follow them. Convict these men, make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions, our society.”
Ultimately, seven men were sentenced to death and another to 15 years in prison. But rather than hide from the accusations of radicalism, they defended their views at trial. “I am an Anarchist,” announced Oscar Neebe. “What is Socialism or Anarchism? Briefly stated it is the right of the toiler to have the free and equal use of tools of production and the right of the producers to their product. That is Socialism.”
Another defendant, August Spies, told the judge upon being sentenced, “If you think by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement…the movement from which the down-trodden millions, the millions who toil in want and misery, expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out…”
An international campaign was launched to defend the Haymarket martyrs, led by Parsons’s wife Lucy, a former slave and a revolutionary herself, but to no avail. On November 11, 1887, Parsons, Spies, George Engel and Adolph Fischer were executed. “Hurrah for anarchy!” shouted Engel from the gallows.
A fifth died in prison, committing suicide by exploding a stick of dynamite in his mouth, and two others had their sentences commuted to life in prison.
But the “subterranean fire” could not be put out. The struggle against capitalism continued, ultimately winning a shorter working day as mass strikes were organized by workers throughout the 19th and 20th centures, inspired by the martyrs who led one of the greatest rebellions of American workers.
*This article will appear in the May Day Issue of the Occupied Oakland Tribune
By DB Scott – @occcavalry
My support for Occupy Wall Street and, more specifically Occupy Oakland runs deep. I am a card carrying Occupist, through and through. Over the years, I’ve quite vocally let people know my thoughts on what seemed like the slow death of ideals and principals of what, I thought, America is all about. Unfortunately, my heart bleeds and somewhere along the way, I lost faith. In recent years, I’ve gone so far as adopting the mantra, “This is not the country I grew up in.”
Seriously considering expatriation, I was told by a friend, “If you hate it so much, do something to change it.” This is surprisingly different than the usual American response of, “If you don’t like it, get the hell out.”
Change it. Unfortunately these words seemed impossible, particularly after our long stretch with Bush Jr., two wars we should have ended years ago, and the American nightmare: The Patriot Act. (Recently made to look like a parking ticket next to The National Defense Authorization Act.) This country had become mean, frightening and indifferent and my response was to withdraw from “the grid” and refuse to be a part of the game. Then came Occupy Wall Street. At first it seemed like a few like-minded people clawing at the floor as we’re dragged one final time into a world of militarized conformity and corpo-feudal serfdom. All in the name of National Security. “For our own good.” Again, this didn’t seem like the country I grew up in. Maybe I feel safer against “terrorists”, I don’t know. I’ve never actually had one foreclose on my house, deny me health care or take away my habeas corpus rights while they continue to become exorbitantly wealthy by stealing my tax dollars and avoiding prosecution.
But I digress. 911 scared us all into doing what we were told to do at the expense of the very rights we were defending from “them”. I fully expected Occupy Wall Street, like most actual meaningful issues in America, to fade away and disappear in an ocean of sales at Walmart and Kardashian boredom. But it didn’t. It grew and gained support like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. It let me know that there are Americans, and World Citizens, that are listening, sharing, thinking, questioning, educating and DOING SOMETHING about the very problems I’d been lamenting over most of my life. It wasn’t a campaign slogan that restored my faith in change and justice, it was “We The People.” A LOT of people. Occupy began to spread at incredible speed, popping up in every major—and dozens of smaller cities—around the world. To date, the movement has been joined by 951 cities in 82 countries. That’s a lot of unemployed, unclear, dirty, drum circles. By January of 2012, Occupy groups had organized no fewer than two major General Strikes, shut down The Port of Oakland twice, prevented multiple foreclosures, facilitated mass migration of an estimated 650,000 people from major banks to credit unions, and forever changed national dialog. The list continues.
This all seems idyllic except for one minor detail. Generally when you push someone, eventually, they push back. And when the ones pushing back are wealthy beyond imagination and have nearly every politician on the payroll thus effectively controlling national resources, law enforcement and, in a not-a-stretch theory—the military—you get pushed hard. 6,846 arrests, bogus charges, tear gas, rubber bullets, projectile bean bags, batons, media misinformation and misrepresentation, and property destruction on an overwhelmingly non-violent population. What are “they” afraid of? As far as I can figure out, the fear is that “we” are on to them and to “them”, the threat of knowledge among the masses is a far greater threat than any commandeered jet liner or I.E.D. The threat is not property damage, loss of life or some Sharia take-over of our Homeland. Pure and simple—this being a capitalist society—it’s money. To pretend the motives of Capitalists are freedom and democracy is laughable. By it’s very nature, Capitalism capitalizes on whatever it can. It’s designed to make money at any cost. The conservative move towards less regulation is a clear indication of this. They don’t care about YOU, they care about how to make more money OFF YOU.
All of this and a lot more, has me fighting for the success of this movement. You and I have a vested interest in its success, unless you make a few million a year. I want this movement to work. But how?
“Diversity of tactics” is a phrase being used particularly here in Oakland that refers to an “other than non-violent” response (or is it reaction?) to issues being faced by Occupy. My knowledge as to the reasoning behind it is limited, so please feel free to correct me if I’m off. “Smashy smashy” is the term used for, you guessed it, smashing things generally associated with the focus of one’s disdain with the intent to “get things fired up”. The spark, so to speak, that ignites the flames of change. After all, it’s easier to burn a house down and build a new one than it is to remake a half burnt house. Problem is, this appears to scare the shit out of Joe Public and he then supports further repression of the movement. Support and understanding gets lost. Like I said, my understanding of the tactic is limited but if I’m having a hard time with it, then I can almost guarantee, the vast majority of people out there are too. It is, at least on some level, harming the cause. That’s a fact.
Non-violent resistance. According to Wiki, it is: “The practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence.” It’s the stuff of our moms and dads. Gandhi’s struggle, Vietnam war protests, civil rights protests. All examples of non-violent civil disobedience. All examples of it working. However, in recent years, mere protest hasn’t been enough. During the start of the Iraq war, it seemed the entire world marched in protest. Never had the world seen those numbers come together in protest for a common cause. It seemed “they” would have no choice but to rethink their actions and stop the invasion. It didn’t happen. Marches become less frequent and visible support dwindled to nothing. Just marching with signs, though it serves to unite and shows a very tangible example of support base, isn’t enough anymore. Even civil disobedience has waned. I’ve personally taken hits and sampled the fine bouquet of CS in the refusal to disperse from “unlawful assemblies” and though it did expose a very different view of law enforcement to the public, its sting has quickly numbed. Let a kid watch enough slasher movies and after a while seeing someone have a pair of scissors implanted in their gut becomes old news.
Which brings me to the third part of non-violent resistance. Economic and political non-cooperation. Capitalism feeds on money. No money, no capital. No capital, no Capitalism. So far, our efforts in this area have proven fruitful. Banks have been hit through monetary migration from big banks to credit unions, port shut downs have cost corporations millions, boycotts and education efforts as to who’s doing what with our money has changed national conversation and the bill for police overtime has our “leaders” sweating. Money. Its misuse, its vicious pursuit and the massive imbalance of its distribution is what this movement is focused on. Hit them where it hurts most. The wallet. Unfortunately even tactics within this strategy have become derailed. My personal take on move-ins is that a great deal of energy and resources are being concentrated on something that will never happen for more than a day or two. While it feels phenomenal each time a building is liberated, my second thought is, “I’ll give it a day, tops.” This isn’t defeatist, it’s just reality. Unless permission is given by the owners of the building, we will be evicted, arrested, and defeated. It’s an ongoing battle that, I’m afraid, can’t be won.
So what’s the answer here? If the question is to concentrate efforts on what works and what will help the movement flourish, the answer seems simple. Organize on a wider scale to hit them where it hurts and where it scares them the most: MONEY, public awareness and greater numbers. Taking buildings isn’t hurting them. Smashing windows isn’t hurting them. Just marching isn’t hurting them.
May 1st we have another opportunity to do this. To spread awareness, to educate, to bolster numbers, and to hit them where it hurts most…their bottom line. Be there and do something. Or as a wise friend used to tell me; “You don’t have to do everything, just do something.”