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.   

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