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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Albany Bulb Residents and their Supporters Plan to March and Campout on Solano Ave

People gather to discuss action.
Resistance to the impending eviction of the 20 year + squatter community, dog park, and rebel art space on the Albany Bulb continues. Solidarity actions, marches, community events, banner drops, protests at the homes of those involved in the eviction, and camp-outs have all been used so far to mobilize both those living on the Bulb and those who use the space that wish to fight to keep it wild. Here's a list of actions that have taken place so far since September:

*September 3rd: Bulb residents and supporters march from the Albany Bulb to the Albany City Council.
*Throughout September, various film showings of "Where Do you go When it Rains?" and "Share the Bulb" take place throughout Albany, Oakland, and Berkeley.  Films are followed by community discussions and panels.
Banner drop on University Ave.
*September 21st, Solano Community Church and friends make chalk messages up and down Solano Ave promoting the message of "Share the Bulb."
*Late September, banners are dropped over the University freeway over pass proclaiming, "Defend the Bulb!"
*September 28th, several hundred people throughout the day participate in community discussions around fighting to save the Albany Bulb and enjoy a potluck and live musical guests.
*October 2nd, between 50-75 people participate in a general assembly to plan actions to defend the Bulb and also stage a "solidarity camp-out."
*October 4th, a Bulb resident, Amber, files a lawsuit against the city of Albany, claiming the city broke the law by failing to provide access to low-income housing. 
*October 5th, a small group of protesters demonstrate outside of Robert Cheasty's home. Cheasty is one of the most vocal proponents of the eviction of the Bulb. Read more about him here.

Monday, October 7th
On October 7th, Bulb residents and supporters are planning to take their battle to the steps of the city and also the up-scale streets of Solano Ave. People plan to gather outside of city hall at 6pm, speak before the council and then march on Solano Ave where they will plan a camp out on the street. Residents and supporters want to show the impact of what 60-70 residents evicted from the Bulb will have on the bourgeois streets of Albany.

For more information on the rally, march, and camp-out, please go here

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reportback from the 9/28 Gathering at the Albany Bulb

 Taken from: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/09/30/18744120.php

People trickled in slowly, on 'bulb time', to the potluck on the neck of the Albany Bulb. Food from East Bay Food Not Bombs, alongside contributions from others, were laid out on a table. On that table hung a banner that read "Defend the Bulb" with the "n" doubling as a squatter's symbol. The food was not only plentiful, it was delicious.

As folks ate, they swapped stories about the bulb. Some people talked about walking their dogs, others about the logistics of having to carry all potable water to their campsite. Some discussed the sculptures, others broke down the finer points of graffiti style present on the bulb. Those at the event were from all walks of life, people who might not have interacted otherwise. Everyone agreed about the importance of "sharing the bulb," of "keeping it how it is" and of the personal importance of the place to them. The bulb residents mingled with the supporters, joking and eating together. One resident had just found a gopher snake. It twisted around her arm as kids came up to pet it.

People announced a camp-out on October 2nd as a practice run before the eviction is imminent. It was requested that people bring water, both for themselves and for sharing, and camping gear. The evening of the October 2nd gathering will also be a time when people come together to clean trash from the bulb. That action was suggested both by the residents as a way of helping them with things they do everyday. It was also suggested by others as a way to demonstrate that the Bulb is self-regulating and in no way needs city or state intervention. From here, the discussion diverged in many directions. People clearly had many different ideas of what would be the best way to defend the space. Rather than let these differences become division, let's open up a wide space of resistance. Many of the suggestions are not mutually exclusive. While a good deal of respect for the residents and their wishes is warranted, a wide range of practices and perspectives can coexist in the struggle to defend autonomous space at the Bulb.

Around sunset, everyone walked back to the Bulb amphitheater to listen to acoustic music. Some bands were invited and others just showed up--the whole evening came together organically. A large campfire was started, fed with last year's Christmas trees. After a folk punk set by a Danny Discord (Modesto, CA), a string band played a song about the Bulb and the sense of freedom people feel there. Everybody sang along. Blackbird Raum played well after dark at the south end of the amphitheater. People danced, tripped over chunks of sidewalks and screamed along with the band. Enjoying the space, making friends around the campfire, listening to acoustic music together--sharing these experiences helped to connect people to that space.

Outside of the residents and their legal team, substantive resistance to the current efforts to evict the Bulb residents and manicure the space for "passive recreation" is still forming. The event on Saturday was an opportunity for people pissed off by the current plans to meet each other and hear updates about the situation. These conversation will continue at the October 2nd campout. Come to the campout, stayed tuned for future announcements and, most importantly, find your own methods in the defense of this wild autonomous space.

The sun lowered towards the Marin headlands as everyone gathered into the cove (the stepped concrete plaza at the neck of the bulb) to discuss the current situation at the bulb and what can be done. One man, there with his two daughters and their dog, spoke spontaneously to open the meeting. He talked about the importance of having wild space and of how his experiences at the bulb over the years have moved him deeply. The legal team came to the meeting with a very interesting announcement. An agreement was reached that will give residents a 7-day warning before they are evicted. Participants in the assembly thought that a week is enough time to plan and execute a response to the threat of an eviction.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Against Political Managers: A Reportback from the Uprising in LA after the Zimmerman Verdict

What follows is an original submission around the uprisings that occurred in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. While much as been written already about the riots and revolts that happened in Oakland for several nights, this piece touches on the drive by various elements to control and manage the events as they happened. The author makes connection between the push by some to manage the revolt and actions of others that has happened both in LA and in Oakland.  



Proponents of the popular narrative in Los Angeles after our displays of rage around the Zimmerman verdict made no effort to challenge the media and police agenda. The initial outrage of community members intent on taking streets (defying both the state and political managers) was an expression against racism and hegemonic power, but as usual, mainstream organizations were intent on urging people to continue enduring structural injustice. This led to controlled protests within days, poised to be easily recuperated by the policy making agenda of institutional power. They did this with constantly appeasing and pacifying rhetoric while demanding people stay in Leimert park or on the sidewalk. In other words: by not being disruptive.

The statewide mobilization at Corcoran Prison, July 13th, in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners, where political managers discouraged taking to the streets, serves as an interesting contrast. We were able to witness the limitations and powermongering of protest politics at its finest. Whereas the planned protest at Corcoran left no room for the questioning of tactics, the uprising after the Zimmerman verdict took a few days to get under the traditional control measures of planned protest. The outrage at the verdict (a legal example of the racism and apologist agenda of the state) led folks into the streets. It is in these ruptures that we are able to act, to carve out our intent. And hopefully, replicate and build this energy beyond the immediate spaces in which we act.

The moderates did not know what they wanted, but they were certain that we should be well behaved according to the propriety of our oppressors. They did this by dictating, megaphones in hand, what the ‘appropriate’ response to our oppression should be, colluding with police and media to manage the organic resistance of impacted youth and filtering our pain and rage into symbolism and vigils.

By the third day following the verdict, mainstream news articles were coming out misattributing the actions of the previous days to ‘outside agitators and anarchists'- a narrative very familiar to Oakland. By the fourth day, Tuesday, the Crenshaw district was under tactical alert (7 choppers, and crews of 6-8 squad cars each combing neighborhood streets). The message was clear- the protests are OVER.

One wonders how aware these organizations are of their role in apologizing and protecting the state from the threat of our collective rage or any real challenge to structural injustice.

Instead of recognizing the willful acts of defiance of the people who took freeways, defied police lines, and marched 11 miles through the streets of Los Angeles, these organizations turn their heads away from us. They are both, 1) entitled enough to believe they have the right to lead the struggle and ‘protect’ people (management usually comes under the mantra of safekeeping) and, 2) are threatened by something outside of their agenda-setting, and thus seek to neutralize and recuperate our energy. The channels for this are well established, the political process and the learned passivity they depend on.

We took to the streets to express our ongoing rage against exposure of the determinant worth that people of color have in this society comparatively to whiteness or assimilation into that whiteness. We were met with brutal retaliation from the protectors and beneficiaries of these systems of
oppression; namely by the Los Angeles Slave Patrol aka the LAPD, though we were also forced to confront homophobic/hetero-sexist bigots, infiltrators, and others of a likeminded fascist variety.

We hold that practice and implementation of resistance is not just against overt enemies, but their apologists (namely organizations that cater to institutional power and seek to manage our people) and believe that our practicing can inspire us beyond space and energy to be replicated and experimented from LA to the Bay.

To discredit the current [mis]narrative we must continue to wage war on white het/cis male capitalist supremacy with our bodies and spirit of unapologetic resistance, not just in the streets, but in every space we hold.

- From your friendly co-consipirators in LA

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rally and March on AC Transit against Fare Hike Wednesday, August 28th


Hundreds March in Solidarity with the Prison Hunger Strikers in Oakland

Last night, over 300 people marched in downtown Oakland in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike throughout California. Recently, a judge has ruled that legally the state can now force feed inmates as a way to break the strike. While Brown uses cooling-off laws to break the BART strike, so too are judges using force feeding tubes to break the hunger strike. Solidarity is needed more now more than ever. Revolt on the inside, revolt on the outside.

To view a great video of the march, go here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BART, AC Transit, and other workers blockade BART Office, August 1st




On August 1st, BART workers rallied and announced that they would continue their strike (which has now been put on hold by the Governor), that was called off a month ago after 4 1/2 days of shutting down the bay area's rapid transit system. Police announced that they would be heavily watching the march in fear that union workers would be joined by Occupy protesters as well. In top form, union heads stated in the media that they would not tolerate any sort of 'occupy violence.' This creation of two tears of protesters, one 'bad,' one 'good,' has been seen again and again in bay area struggles. Those that are contained, organized, and managed by groups that work closely with the government, (such as they unions and non-profits) are "good," as long as they stay in the bounds of the law, while groups and individuals which do not work with the state and take action on their own accord, are "bad." Sometimes they are labeled "occupy," or "anarchists," but the intended effect is the same. Workers and others are scared into taking action outside of the bounds of the law or outside of the direction of their leaders which might place their own struggle in their control. This is why we are including this video of workers taking action blocking the front the downtown Oakland BART office along with rank-n-file AC Transit workers and others. As workers gain experience and confidence in their struggles and make connections with others around them, they can begin to take control of their own struggles.

Both AC Transit workers (who's union excepted a tentative agreement that gives concessions to management) and BART workers are angry that union heads have not brought workers out on strike together. Workers understand that both groups out at the same time would shut the bay area down and give them more power to fight against taking concessions. It was the 1946 Oakland general strike that began just blocks away from where the downtown BART rally took place that set in motion the ruling elite to push the Taft Hartley Act which curtailed the ability of labor unions to launch strikes and helped pave the way for McCarthy attacks on organizers. While labor bureaucrats fear the coming together of the Occupy movement with their own members, the ability of the working class to organize itself and carry out it's own struggles is the only way forward. With the California government possibly placing BART workers in a 'cooling off period,' for several months, denying them the ability to strike, and AC Transit workers stuck with a contract that offers concessions, workers will have to make the choice to organize themselves, together, or continue to lose. This struggle will go out of the bounds of the law, involve workers from a broad range of industries, students, the unemployed, and will come up against the power of the state and the existing union leadership.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Save the Berkeley Post Office Encampment

Recently, police have tried to push out a group of workers, homeless people, and protesters who have set up an encampment outside of the historic Downtown Berkeley Post Office. The group is trying to stop the privatization of the postal service and the closure of the office. The closure would be an attack on the workers who work there and a cut in service to people in Berkeley. David in this video also discusses the encampment as well as the historic 1970 wildcat postal strike.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Upcoming Events!

In an effort to get people more on the same page of ongoing events of interest to anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and revolutionary anti-capitalists, we're going to start putting out updates on events. Be they informational, actions, court dates to support arrested comrades, or what have you. For ongoing events at various spaces, such as the Long Haul in Berkeley, the Holdout in Oakland, and across the bay area, please see those websites. These are a couple coming up that are worth checking out.  Hope to keep this updated. Check out the events page.

Solidarity Rally with BART Workers
Thursday, August 1st, 5pm at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th and Broadway). BART workers will rally again with solidarity from the ILWU. Lately, these rallies have been an attempt to contain and direct rank and file anger at union in action, this is still a time when other militants can meet up with each and and discuss the situation. More info here.

'Summer Heat Richmond' March and Rally and Action at Chevron
Saturday, August 3rd, 10am-1pm. From indybay: "[Join us] for an historic march, rally, and non-violent direct action at the Chevron refinery in Richmond marking the anniversary of last year's catastrophic explosion and fire. Join the fossil fuel resistance! We Can Stop Climate Chaos. Meet at Richmond BART 10:00 a.m., and march from there to the refinery." BYOP (Bring your own puppet). More info here

Benefit for Free Association Land Project
Saturday, August 3rd, 6pm-10pm. $20 bucks gets you into see the show, featuring No Parsaran, Moon Bat, and the Brass Liberation Orchestra, and a whole dinner! Speakers will talk about the Free Association Land project, an anarchist land trust out in the woods. Come out and support. At the new 'Out of Line' space located at 4377 Adeline right off San Pablo in Emeryville. More info and to reserve tickets here.

'Life During Wartime: Resisting Counter-insurgency' Book Release (Two Days!)
Thursday, August 8th in Berkeley @ La Pena on Shattuck and Wednesday, August 7th in San Francisco @ Station 40 in SF.

"This talk will explore the domestic application of counterinsurgency strategy and community policing methods, which are predominantly directed at poor communities of color in the US. Kristian Williams will provide an overview of policing and the domestic application of COIN. Kevin Van Meter will explore the currently campaign of repression directed at radical environmentalists, animal rights activists, and others, referred to as the “Green Scare." Jenny Esquivel has worked with Sacramento Prisoner Support since 2006. She has gone on tour multiple times speaking about Eric McDavid’s case, entrapment, and political prisoners."

Eviction Free Summer Action in San Francisco
Saturday, August 10th, 10:30am. Picket the homes of those kicking out AIDS patients in SF under the Ellis Act. "Jeremy is a disabled senior living with AIDS who has lived in the Castro for over four decades. His home is being taken away from him as the new property owners (a company made up of three real estate speculators based in Union City) have served him with an eviction notice using The Ellis Act. His eviction date is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2013 and Jeremy along with Eviction Free Summer will fight to the end! Join the campaign on Saturday August 10th as we travel to the homes of these property owners. Let's make it clear that we will not tolerate the evictions of our senior and disabled community members! You can learn more about Jeremy's story here."

Facebook event here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Statement from Hannibal Shakur as Court Proceedings Begin for those Arrested During Oakland Trayvon Rebellion

What follows is a statement posted on the site, Bay Area Intifada, from Hannibal Shakur, an organizer and writer from the bay area. He is facing felony vandalism charges after an arrest by Oakland police during one of the recent rebellions in Oakland in the after math of the Zimmerman trial. We will post more analysis of the revolt hopefully at a later time, but for right now, Hannibal's statement hits the nail on the head. What is a broken window to poverty, malnutrition, police brutality, incarceration rates, and environmental racism that black people and other poor people are forced to endure in the bay area? While demonized in the media, called out as criminals by those in power (especially the Left), those who have faced arrest in the recent revolts are brave individuals who take to the streets in the face of massive police violence. It is these forces that drive revolt, that push people to want a different world. We need to stand behind those under the gun by the state because they are standing up for us. 

Statement from Hannibal Shakur  Oakland, CA 
 
The political nature of my charges cannot be over-stated here. To give human rights to a mechanical entity constructed solely for the sake of profit and exploitation is a perversion of those rights and what it means to be a human being. In Florida, a white man walks for the obvious murder of a black boy. That young boy, that black child, wasn’t even given the rights of a dog. When the verdict is released, black people across America rise up to protest our non-citizen status. What could be called a riot ensues. A handful of people are arrested with charges of felony vandalism of whom I am one defendant. When Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, he wasn’t even arrested. When a window was broken in Oakland, I was viciously slammed to the ground causing injury to my legs, arms and head. Even though I’m fighting cancer and the disgusting conditions of the Santa Rita County Jail are not conducive to healing, on top of being significantly injured by Oakland Police Officers, I was not allowed to be OR-ed or released to my Own Recognizance. A window is made of sand and can be replicated exactly. A rectangle window, of the dimensions I am being charged with breaking, doesn’t need to be replicated because the manufacturer keeps spare windows around for replacement. The United States justice system considers this a serious crime warranting felony charges. 

Trayvon Martin was a human being. There will only ever be one of him and we have lost him and the joy he brought to this world forever. A human life is priceless because it can never be replaced. Trayvon Martin could realistically have grown to be a political leader who would bring peace to warring nations. He could have grown to cure AIDS, cancer or diabetes. We know this to be realistic because the brother was a high achiever in school earning a 3.7 GPA. He could have developed some new treatment for drug addictions. The point I’m trying to make is, aside from being the pride and joy of his family and community, he could have made the world a better place for all of us. He could have stopped wars, cured diseases and got people off of drugs. At this point we will never know what we have lost aside from the fact that he was a beautiful young black boy who was loved and cherished. His murderer was given freedom and even got his murder weapon back with which, God forbid, he may murder another child with. This is the impotency of the US justice system, incapable of treating black people as human beings. In the same token, in Oakland, California, a place considered to have some of the strongest enforcement of civil/human rights, we are charged as felons, a charge that could land us in a penitentiary, for a Men’s Warehouse display window that was broken, yet caused no injuries to any human beings. While America is incapable of enforcing the rights of Trayvon Martin, a human child with a 3.7 GPA, corporations have been legally recognized as human beings and are being protected with the full extent of the law. I’d like to see the California ID that was issued to Men’s Warehouse. 

With the handling of my case and the endangerment to my vulnerable cancer-ridden body, combined with the acquittal of Zimmerman, it would appear that the US justice system has no value for human life or even more troubling, it has no value for black life. While Obama gives a televised speech on the oppression of black boys/men I am being railroaded for a broken window. I am the black life that he claims we need to have a higher value for. While my own plight is troubling as it is, the idea that we are setting a new precedent of violence against black men and boys is terrifying when I think of the kindergartners in Martin Luther King Elementary and the infants in Highland Hospital. I write this with teary eyes because as a grown man I understand what I’m facing: but how do we prepare children to face specific and targeted genocide against themselves?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Power, Community, and the 5th Ave Development

by: Charlie Wallflower

It’s so hard to feel alive and well, connected with one another in this network of crises called the city. At the same time, though, I’ve always felt drawn towards this semi-functional relationship between the city and its inhabitants – the beauty in the hustles, getting over on the system, playing the game, finding the holes in the plot, and seeking out others who feel similar – but I know all too well I didn’t create the city, so how could it ever really work for me?

Life at times feels precarious, and it’s certainly been designed to be that way. After all we live in a society where our relationships are based off of somebody not having something, where being destabilized is not the exception, but the rule. The hard lesson I’ve been taught is that we’re made to be out for ourselves. Capitalism is a numbers game, and those with the most have more power and ability to make larger decisions, ones that impact more people. Now, I’m not saying I was raised to run over people, but this world is organized top-down, and I’m caught up in the mix feeling like everybody else, trying to get what I can get, and I think my inabilities to properly resist are catching up with me.

I’ve been feeling the stress wear upon me. Day in and day out I toil with questions, searching for guidance within the depth and complexity of it all. The obvious is true – Politicians, Liars, Thieves – six of one, half a dozen of the other. They all must go! I yearn so bad for a snap, for the kids and grown folks to smash up the street and hurl the paving stones at all those that have ever committed them to a life of servitude: for the day people take the chance yet again at the unknown, for the times we swear we are infinite.

Cities are made up of neighborhoods, and in them are spots we’ve held close and dear with laughter, cutty corner spots we’ve formed an uncanny attachment to, and sidewalks where we’ve wandered across knowing we’ve traced every crack in the concrete below. The walls with throw ups and tags are etchings of an urban landscape where stories are told, even if we don’t know the authors. What reads on our weathered walls and streets is an earnest example of what is to come. While the concrete may change and fall apart, the memories and relationships created on its surface are the substance of our lives. The important part is that we, and not any developer, have the say in the pages of our story.

Even now, in the rented home that I’ve grown to love I feel the schism between the love for a place and not having control over it. I’m interrupted. The Realtor parasite gleams his predatory eyes into my room and with a big smile across his smug face exclaiming how great this space – my living space – is! After clearing this home of its inhabitants, he can’t wait to sink his teeth into the backs of future tenants and suck from their cash flow. On to my friend’s room next. I say ‘No, you can’t go in’. It’s hard to steady my hand when all I want to do is tear his face off. My home is an enjoyable place to live because it is part of a rhythm we created, and now I face eviction as the landlord seeks to sell the building. I always knew it was borrowed time.

Homes and neighborhoods can disappear as a result of political maneuvering. They can be pulled out right from under us. Development shapes not just the roads and buildings, but the economy and culture of the city. It is part of a process of restructuring neighborhoods. Residential shifts, urban planning, population migration make gentrification. It is the mechanisms of power at work: everybody fighting for their piece of the pie and out goes any sense of community. These mechanics are control.

All my life I’ve seen the spots that I’ve held close and dear, that I’ve helped shape, fall to development corporations. I’ve seen artists be used by developers or become developers themselves. Now I feel what might be my break, my last straw, the largest sweep that I’ve seen. Down the block they want to wipe out the 5th ave Marina neighborhood and place cafés, high rise condos, boutiques, galleries, work-live lofts, promenades, streets that have “an urban village character,” – a new population. They call it the Brooklyn Basin. It’s a $1.5 Billion dollar city land development. The ‘they’ I speak of are the President of China Xi Jinping, Gov. Gerry Brown, Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan, and regional developers like Signature Development Group. All of whom have risen to power under banners of populist reform, against corruption, but it is still clear that their concern has always and will always be primarily about how much money and authority they can grab and how fast they can do it.

No amount of detail paid to window placement, sidewalk width, or creating walk spaces of “sculpted vistas” could convince me that their calculated, fabricated, manufactured way of life is more enjoyable than the time I spend at the run down docks of 5th ave with my friends, lovers; exploring, reminiscing, laughing. I spoke with a worker at a local restaurant about the proposal and she said it best: “This community needs a lot, but condos are not it.” The planned 3,100 residential units, approximately 200,000 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space, and a new marina with slips for luxury yachts, decidedly mean nothing to me but more police, code enforcement, bureaucracy, and an atmosphere of paranoia and distrust.

It’s certainly hard to find stability and figure out what we want and need when we are swept up competing for validity, security, money, space, and power. City design keeps us separated and warring individuals. We carry our own troubles, histories, ghosts, and crutches in silence and solitude. The gunshots I heard last night were such a reminder. “You still gotta take care of yourself” was the advice from the man at the corner store when we spoke about all the troubles of the world. My friend reminded me of an old saying: “We accept the love we think we deserve”. I guess it was his way of reminding me that if we allow ourselves to be worn down we’ll accept our shitty situation and spit it back out in the world, so we must keep questioning and exploring.

So how do I accept something better, take care of myself and stand a better chance at self-determining my current and future conditions? What does real community look like? What does movement that we, the dispossessed, create look like? I know there are others who desire a world where all people have agency and control over decisions that affect them, and where power is spread out horizontally to all, not concentrated at the top.

To me power that we create looks like the Anti-gentrification Block party that happened on Cinco de Mayo, the Farm Occupations in Albany and Hayes Valley, and the 5th ave marina residents having  neighborhood assemblies. It looks like the vicious attacks on properties on Valencia st. last year that kept the gentrifiers from getting any rest. It’s community, as in the commune, as in something worth defending. Community – a place where neighbors not only relate with one another, but participate in joyous activities and in common defense, where our poetry is in the streets, where we ask for nothing from those who impose authority but where we figure out problems and questions together, where we develop, inspire, and take. Community is knowing we can stay in our neighborhood without the threat of displacement from ICE or city developers, where people can live in homes without fear of eviction from a landlord or of a utility company turning off power or water. It’s where kids can grow and play without the police on their back, and if we work – without the threat of a boss firing us. Community is a practice of brave hearts confronting their fears and overcoming obstacles. It is not angry, it is anger, it is our hearts hardening and becoming wiser. It is a pitched street battle and a space where we have control rather than delegating our responsibility to politicians, non-profits, and spiritual leaders – control over our own lives.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Oakland Noise Demo Raises Ruckus Outside of Downtown Oakland Jail for Hunger Strikers in SHU

Anti-prison banner carried at noise demonstration in Oakland.
On Thursday, July 4th, a group of about 100 people marched from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Glen E. Dyer Detention Facility as riot police staged inside the Oakland Police Department Headquarters. Marchers were acting in solidarity with hunger strikers in the SHU (Special Housing Units), 'prisons within prisons,' where inmates are kept in solitary confinement. Hunger strikers in the SHU are calling for an end to hostilities between racial groups within prisons all the way down to county jails in order to call attention to inhuman and tortuous treatment of prisoners. This is the latest in a series of hunger strikes that have been started by SHU prisoners that have gone on to include thousands of inmates. Several have already died from previous hunger strikes. Prisoners within the SHU can only leave the isolation units after they inform on others, a policy called, 'debriefing,' even if they have no information to give to prison authorities. According to an article posted on truthout.org:
On July 1, 2011...thousands of other prisoners went on hunger strike to protest such draconian conditions. As reported in Truthout last year, for three weeks, at least 1,035 of the 1,111 inmates locked in the SHU refused food. In the SHU, which comprises half of California's Pelican Bay State Prison, prisoners are locked into their cells for at least 22 hours a day. Over 500 people have been confined in the SHU for over a decade, over 200 for more than 15 years and 78 for over 20 years. The only way that a person can be released from the SHU is to debrief, or provide information incriminating other prisoners. Even those who are eligible for parole have been informed that they will not be granted parole so long as they are in the SHU. "They are told they can debrief or die..." The Pelican Bay hunger strike spread to 13 other state prisons and, at its height, involved at least 6,600 people incarcerated throughout California.
Fireworks outside of Alameda jail.
Tonight, marchers played music, passed out informational flyers, wrote graffiti slogans and put up informational stickers, and upon reaching the jail on 7th and Clay streets, shot off fireworks for about 20 minutes. The fireworks lit up the night sky and prisoners responded by throwing up raised fists in the window and turning lights on and off to let those know outside that they could hear them. Someone spray painted in large letters across the front of the building, "Fire to the Prisons!" After the fireworks had been shot off, people returned to the plaza and held the intersection of 14th and Broadway for about 20 minutes before dispersing. 

For more information on the hunger strike, go to:

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Thursday, July 4, 2013

SF Tenants protest at Rick Holman's Home as part of 'Eviction Free Summer'

Tenants facing eviction from the historic 17 Reasons building by developer and landlord Rick Holman protested outside of his home in South Park in San Francisco this Tuesday. Since the start of the eviction process, Holman has used a variety of tactics such as illegal lockouts of tenants, harassment from security guards, as well as a web of surveillance systems against those paying rent at the building that he wants gone. During a recent block party against gentrification in the Mission District, Holman also worked closely with the police to ensure that the building would not be "occupied" by protestors, and also issued an 'unlawful detainer' to residents inside on the day of the event. How many times have we all had landlords come to our homes, walk around, issue demands, and threaten us? Landlords hold great power over our lives and also take massive amounts of money out of our hands that we make by our labors and put it into their pockets. Thus, it's great to see people taking the fight to their doorsteps and raising a ruckus in their bourgie neighborhoods. Often, most people are too afraid to stand up to the cops, the landlords, and the developers, but we need only keep in mind that are all united in our experiences and our desire to live freely. Hopefully, this is just the start! According to the group, Eviction Free Summer:
Our first action was a smashing success!! With a crowd of over fifty, we loudly took over the narrow SOMA street of South Park, where landlord Rick Holman does business. Neighbors and park dwellers looked in curiosity as tenants from Holman’s building  on 17th St. at Mission (and their supporters) took to the mic to give Holman a piece of their minds. The street reception was mixed, but many passers by were more than willing to take a flyer asking them to call Holman directly. Holman is a local investor, who recently purchased the 17th Street property. Since the beginning of the eviction process Holman has used intimidation tactics, such as locking out his tenants, hiring private security, and installing hidden security cameras.
The Fog City Journal posted an article on the protest which states:
Packing the upscale South Park neighborhood with protest signs, loud chants of “No more evictions!” and flyers calling for landlord Rick Holman to “stop evicting San Francisco tenants,” more than 50 tenants and supporters launched their “Eviction-Free Summer” campaign Tuesday to put landlords, developers and speculators on notice that they will defend tenants who are being pushed out.
 
Fed up with the epidemic of evictions plaguing The City, tenants and activists have organized the Eviction-Free Summer campaign to support tenants fighting evictions while pressuring landlords to stop displacing city residents.

Today’s target: landlord Rick Holman, who is evicting a group of tenants at the historical “17 Reasons Why” building at 17th & Mission. The tenants, many of them lifelong Bay Area residents, are part of In The Works, Rincón, and Food Not Bombs collectives—groups that organize a weekly soup kitchen and support community-building projects in the Mission. Holman, a partner at Asher Insights, Inc., a company described as “security brokers and dealers,” owns several properties in The City and across the Bay and has a history of evictions and tenant conflicts.

Holman recently bought the historic Mission District building and immediately began trying to drive out the tenants, both through legal eviction and by changing locks, installing cameras, and hiring uniformed guards to harass them.

A member of one of the collectives, fearing reprisals if he gave his name, said: “It’s time that San Franciscans push back and let landlords know that enough is enough. We’re not selling out, we’re not surrendering, we’re staying right here in San Francisco. We’re going to fight to defend our spaces, our homes and our city from those who only want to make profit.”

Angel, a member of the In The Works Collective, added, “We’re a part of what makes San Francisco a beautiful, flourishing city. Shame on people like Rick Holman who force us out for the sake of profits.”

The tenants from 17 Reasons learned Tuesday that their eviction settlement conference had been delayed until July 24, and their trial date pushed back to July 29—allowing them more time to pressure Holman to end the evictions.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, longtime housing rights activist, added: “Tenants and homeowners are fed up with the evictions and foreclosures happening all over the city, displacing us and our friends and neighbors and we’re not going to take it anymore. We’ve taken enough.”


Monday, July 1, 2013

Strike Wave Hits Bay Area

Today, BART workers across the bay area went on strike, effectively bringing the bay area to a crawl as hundreds of thousands of people were forced to find other means of transportation. Joining the BART workers on strike were Oakland City workers who are engaging in a one day strike, rallying in downtown Oakland. While AC Transit bus operators and mechanics, represented by the the same union as some bart workers, ATU, are still in contract negotiations, at the moment it looks as though they will also be on strike by possibly Tuesday. Such a shutdown hasn't hit the east bay since the 1946 general strike in Oakland.

Unions representing BART and AC Transit workers are focusing largely on "safety" as a key concern, calling on more police on transit lines and against management calls for private security. While attacks on BART and AC operators has gone up, the reasons why such incidents occur is that fares on both BART and AC have gone exponentially over the past several decades. This rising cost for transit pits operators and riders against each other while in reality they both have the same enemies and are allies in a struggle against the agencies and corporations which profit off us. More police on BART and AC buses will not make us safer. People need free transportation.

Bus and BART drivers at the same time have seen attacks on benefits, the loss of vacation days, and in AC Transit drivers case, a wage free since 2000. While the transit bosses rake in the big bucks, the workers are getting screwed.

Riders have also faced massive cuts in service at AC Transit over the last several years. At the same time, business interests pump money into free shuttles for Downtown Oakland and rapidly gentrifying sections of the east bay. With the ongoing construction of the new bridge and the downtown SF transit center, the gentrification process already underway in full force on both sides of the bay will only increase.

Today, there is a call for a march in Oakland during the strike, marching on the AC Transit and BART offices starting at 1pm at 14th and Broadway. Read the call out here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

San Francisco Police Swarm Gezi Gardens to Prevent Re-Occupation

People outside of Gezi Gardens.
As with many things, I was stuck at work when friends, neighbors, and those brave enough to face down the San Francisco Police tried to re-take Gezi Gardens last Friday. In between breaks at work I attempted to check the twitter stream and see how the march was doing and texted friends to make sure that they weren't in jail. After talking to several participants who attended the march and attempted to re-occupy the garden I feel on one hand great admiration for those brave enough to risk a nightstick to the back of the head but also great sadness for the destruction of Gezi Gardens. Many of the youth that helped occupy the park were some of the same people that squatted and kept open the SF Commune, which was likewise evicted by the SFPD in a huge raid with automatic weapons.  I hope these youth will not lose hope. I hope that they will not leave the bay area and leave the struggle, fed up with the police repression and constant attacks.

While degraded in the media as 'outsiders' and often written off by some revolutionaries for being homeless and not up on the latest revolutionary theories, the homeless kids who made up the backbone of the encampment were the foot soldiers that made the space possible. Many were radicalized and politicized during Occupy SF and the wider Occupy movement and have continued to involve themselves in ongoing struggles. Occupy was the most important recent political event because of this; it pulled in many people on the bottom of American society, outcasted, rejected, and from the gutter. This came with warts and all. Many kids I met at Gezi Gardens came from hard lives and the streets, but in Occupy they found a family and a community. They found a commune. The bourgeois media overlooked this and tried to play on middle-class fears, but in doing so they missed out on what was most subversive thing about Occupy. That it created an event that brought so many of us together and united us in a project. One part resistance, one part simply living. In doing so, we came up against the state, it's repression and surveillance and police, as well as it's media, and also the Left, which attempted to channel us back into political parities and non-profits.

According to various people interviewed and internet reports, people gathered close by Gezi Gardens and attempted to march on the space. With police surrounding the entrance, people then tried to get into the garden from the side only to find that another swarm of police were already inside the garden. Marchers then took to the streets, shooting fireworks and blocking traffic. Several arrests occurred. According to the People's Record
Gezi Gardens organizers & supporters marched around the farm, shutting down two intersections during rush hour. The National Park Service was also called to the space after hummingbird carcasses were found, as well as nesting crows in the eucalyptus trees, so the construction & demolishing has been halted (for now)! An archaeologist has also been called to go into the land to confirm that it is a sacred indigenous burial ground. 

People work vacant lot in Richmond.
While writing this report, I drove by Gezi Gardens, but only saw several police vehicles around the space and the front of Laguna blocked off. Talking with a friend on the phone, I also learned that the plot of land in Albany most recently occupied by Occupy the Farm has recently had a fence placed around it. Likewise, a vacant lot in Richmond that high school youths and Occupy gardeners that was being worked on has likewise had a fence and lock placed around it by police. It's disgusting that in an area torn apart by violence and shootings that when people do come together to plant food and start a garden the land is fenced off by police. This move by the state is the essence of white supremacy and the naked violent nature of the state and the police that serve it. More interested in control and suppression of community power, it is willing to keep people off land that is unused than allow them to take control of one small aspect of their lives. It is fear of black people rising up and it is fear that others will link up with them in this struggle.   

At Gezi Gardens, the trees have been cut down and the crops plowed over, but the spirit of the SF Commune remains. For all of us who took part in the occupation of this land for two weeks the experience of living together and fighting together will not dissipate anytime soon. The seed of revolt that has been planted inside so many of us continues to grow. The fight against gentrification and displacement must and will continue. The battle for a new relationship to the land outside of capitalism and against the state will go on. Because quite simply, we have no other choice.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Riot Police Raid Gezi Gardens and Evict Tree-Sit; People Prepare to Re-Occupy on Friday

Black eye from SFPD.
As police in Turkey continue to try and remove people from Gezi Park in Istanbul, last night over 100 riot police raided the encampment at Fell and Laguna, arresting 7 people, removed tree sitters, and destroyed crops and structures. A seen in one video, one tree-sitter fell from their tree while being removed, although it is unclear if they have any serious injuries. According to Liberate the Land, "Folks are gathering at Patricia's Green on Octavia Street between Hayes Street and Fell Street now after a night time lightning raid by SFPD on #GeziGardens, the former site of Hayes Valley Farm on Oak and Laguna Streets, with guns drawn. Folks who just went through the raid and supporters need food, a kitchen, sleeping bags, banner making materials, paint, etc. Come gather with us today, meet up for a discussion at 6pm, and definitely plan to come here Friday at 6pm for a reconvergence. Let it build."

Police blocking of street in front of garden.
Police appear to have the area around the garden blocked off while they destroy the rest of the encampment. As was planned, people will continue to gather at Octavia and Fell Streets to prepare to retake the land on Friday at 6pm. People are encouraged to take part in the mobilization and bring supplies if they are not able to make it out. Occupiers have planned a weekend long festival from Saturday to Monday, to coincide with the construction of the new development on the site of the garden.

Police outside of garden.
As usual, most mainstream media reports are now heralding the raid, portraying protesters as out of town idiot hippies with no community support what-so-ever. Interesting how when hundreds, including many locals came through the gates for a festival last Saturday, most media was remarkably absent. The media loves a good protest story, but they love the happy ending of the government coming in, cracking skulls, and sending those that would dare resist to jail. It's a tale that they constantly repeat and it serves as a warning to anyone else that would dare stand up to the forces of the state and business as to where struggling will get you.

Police removing tree-sitter.
The luxury condo development which is slated to take place where the garden now stands will be part of an onslaught of developments which will add to the gentrification of San Francisco and the continued displacement of many of the current residents. As the Guardian recently wrote: "Regional planners want to put 280,000 more people into San Francisco — and they admit that many current residents will have to leave."

While the construction plans call for half of the site to be "affordable housing," this is based on half of the median income of the city, which is around $60,000, still much more than many people, including many families are able to make in the city. Trust me, if some Hayes Valley Residents are uncomfortable rubbing elbows with Occupy protestors working a tomato plant, they aren't going to allow a family from the Tenderloin or Hunter's Point to move in next door.

Festival planned this weekend.
San Francisco is still a city swimming with thousands of vacant properties. According to the San Francisco Business Times, "[The city] has more than 30,000 empty homes according to 2010 U.S. Census data. That means about 8.3 percent or about one in every dozen homes is vacant — more than any other surrounding county." There is a reason for all the vacant homes as many are taken off the market by landlords so they will not be rent controlled or purposely made empty so they can be converted into condos through the Ellis Act. As in Turkey, the struggle at Gezi Gardens is not just over green space or a few trees, but a class struggle over the power of wealthy and powerful people to control and exploit our lives.   

The struggle at Gezi Gardens is still far from over. See you on the streets Friday!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Occupation of Gezi Gardens Continues as Hundreds Attend Saturday Event

Turkish dancer performs at Gezi Gardens.
Despite several days of police issuing trespassing notices to people on the ground at Gezi Gardens and pressure from the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association to raid the occupation at Fell and Laguna Streets, people are still holding down the land at the former Hayes Valley Farm, 24 hours a day. This occupation is historic, both in the sense that it is the first public tree-sit in San Francisco, but also as it is one of the largest and longest lasting public occupations of land to stop the construction of luxury condos against gentrification. While downplayed in the media, the occupation is also one of the largest and most militant direct acts of solidarity with the ongoing Turkish rebellion, with many from the Turkish community participating in actions at the park and strengthening the link between the two struggles currently being waged.

Those occupying the space have turned away and kept out not only workers that had come to cut down trees on the site to make way for development, but also the police which have made several attempts to enter into the garden. In one instance police tried to open the gate at space and people literally shut the gate in their faces, proclaiming that police were not allowed inside. This 'cop free zone' brings to mind the Occupy Oakland encampment, in which police were not welcome.


People gather to listen to presentation from Occupy Gezi.
On Saturday, June 8th, several hundred people responded to a call to help occupy the park and enjoy a community festival and took part in the occupation of the space, viewed the garden, listened to speakers and workshops, and also took part in a mass assembly discussion on the future of the garden. The festival occupation was also joined by people from the local Turkish community, some of whom had been to Gezi Park in Istanbul and expressed solidarity to those continuing the occupation of the garden. A workshop was also given by several Turkish comrades on the ongoing social rebellion in Turkey which was attended by a large group of people. The group discussion that soon followed on the future of the space was varied but well attended. Out of that meeting it was discussed and decided that if and when the police raid, the next day people will gather at "at 6:00PM at Patricia's Green - Octavia and Fell - to reclaim the Gardens." Several bands also performed Saturday and lots of food was shared. As the day turned into night, people set up a projector with films and watched documentaries on the South Central Farm and the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

March to solidarity rally with Turkish rebellion.
The next day, people at the farm marched to a Turkish solidarity rally in San Francisco holding banners and chanting slogans. Many people from the solidarity rally then returned to Gezi Gardens and spoke there. At the rally, people read a statement of solidarity with the Turkish rebellion. Read the full statement here. People are still holding the space down and have planned a three day festival next weekend although they are buckling for a police raid on the encampment which they expect soon.   

For more info, pictures, and updates, check out: Humanbein.org

Friday, June 7, 2013

Police Threaten to Evict Gezi Gardens as Support Grows for Saturday Festival

Another badass flyer. DIZAM!
Last evening at around 7pm, SFPD issued an eviction notice citing 'unlawful lodging, disorderly conduct,' and 'health and safety laws' to the Gezi Gardens, the occupied community green and garden space on Fell and Laguna Streets slated to be turned in luxury condos. Occupiers, made up of those on the ground and supporters from around the city and the neighborhood, are planning a festival on Saturday, June 8th, starting at 12 Noon. Participants believe that police will attempt to raid the camp before the festival as a way to drive away community support for the space. Support is needed at the gardens now more than ever! Solidarity with Turkey, Defend Gezi Gardens!

From Twitter:

"Tree sitters, activists and community members have been served with a notice to vacate the land known as the former Hayes Valley Farm, now christened Gezi Gardens. Police cite Trespassing , Disorderly Conduct, health code, and fire code violations. We reject the conversion of greenspace into luxury apartment developments, and encourage the community to assist in creating an alternate vision that provides the affordable housing the city needs without compromising one of our last open spaces.

Is 'Brickman' up there? GULP!

Contact: 201-388-2367

CONVERGENCE TONIGHT AT FORMER HAYES VALLEY FARM (Laguna and Oak Streets, SF)
PRESS CONFERENCE TOMORROW, FRIDAY June 7th 10:00 a.m. (Laguna and Oak Streets, SF)

This is one of three urban gardens and permaculture farms in San Francisco that are slated to become housing developments by the end of the year. This is during a fervent dialogue about the need for more spaces to grow local, organic food and current statistics of 36,000 vacant units."

On Saturday, June 8th at 12 Noon, there will be a festival held at Gezi Gardens as well as a community discussion forum about the future of the space. Please come and support the gardens and the occupation by coming and spending time there and helping to build support for the event on Saturday. The more people on the ground, the less likely a police raid. 
"I like the way you plant it...No Diggity!"

Having walked around the camp today taking pictures and conducting interviews, I can personally say that the camp is coming along very nice. I was only there for about 20 minutes before going to work, but in that time several people in the neighborhood stopped by and walked around, many taking flyers back to their buildings. The neighborhood seems very white and upper-middle class and along the lines of, "What petition can I sign?," but overall I haven't heard one negative comment regarding the project. One young person I talked to said that she now, "Hangs out there," instead of down the street at the coffee shop and also volunteered to take posters and put them in her building. One couple drove their SUV into the lot and donated several flats of pears; others donated pastries. The kitchen area was well cleaned and there was a stove and eating area. The garden itself was very impressive. At this point, a large amount of land has already been planted on. One woman, (shown in the picture), agreed to have her photo taken while she was planting. There are several treesits that have been constructed, many very high up. There are also several other structures that are being worked on or that have been built, as well as a common area, art space, free store, and library box.

Tree-sit with banner.
People overall seemed concerned about keeping trash and waste to a minimum and also keeping camping and personal items away from common space areas and making the garden overall inviting to people. Lots of dogs playing. Would have been a nice place to read a book if I didn't have to go work! I'll save my further analysis for a later time, but what makes me most sad is that I haven't even had enough time to get in the dirt and plant. Can't wait to put these black and green thumbs to work! The old People's Park slogan bodes well here. 'Everyone gets a blister!'

In other news, Susie Cagle, radical-journalist on hand to uncova the scoop and author of 9 Gallons, a comic about doing time with SF Food Not Bombs, even managed to give yours truly an honorable mention in one of her comics, ...ah, ala Twitter. Apparently the offer to trade jobs of bus driving in Richmond and writing (and getting paid!) was funny enough to share with others. Keep prole and take a stroll. 

SFPD is some party-poop pas.
Facebook event here

Link to PDF flyer here

Link to Ryan Rising Interview on Gezi Gardens occupation on Bay Waters here.