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!


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