Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Oakland & East Bay Labor Day of Action!

In this photo: David & Sydnee
So yesterday (11.19.11), I went to support the Bay Area Labor Unions and Occupy Oakland by marching around the Lake to Lakeview Elementary school (one of the 5 schools in California to be shut down), and playing musical chairs with children and teachers. I believe the significance of the game was to say, after the 1st 5 schools get shut down that there are only going to be more that do.

By this time, I would have assumed that people would be tired since we had danced and walked and skipped all the way from 14th & Broadway zig zagging through the streets of Downtown Oakland, stopping at banks (that were closed) where the crowds chanted "the banks got bailed out, we got sold out" for a few minutes and then danced onto the next destination around the lake and in front of Grand Lake Theater. There was a sign were the movies would be posted that read "No one can evict an idea whose time has come! Shame on you Mayor Quan". When I read it, my heart smiled; or at least that's what it felt like.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here as I realize that I didn't cover 14th & Broadway when we 1st arrived. the mood was celebratory the entire time. People were dancing and taking photos, talking to get to know one another and showing that they supported each other. The Occupy Movement seems to keep putting me in these situations where I feel intense community and then am later broken up by the law enforcement agencies. Of course, I had to stop and see Running Wolf! He's amazing, and if I had it in me I would totally camp out in a tree! If you haven't visited Running Wolf, please do and bring him some food or other supplies! Ok, so after that I walked around and saw that a music truck was being set up! How awesome is that?! I was so happy that the march would have music. Although we come together because we have problems, now that we are coming together to do something about it I want to celebrate! There is certainly no scarcity of suffering in the world, so if I am a part of a revolution I wan to have fun while I'm there too!

I somehow missed the flash mob. I wonder if I was searching for a friend or if it happened before 1:30pm since there was already a large gathering of people when I arrived a half an hour early for the event. It would have been really cool to see a flash mob at an Occupy Oakland event, although
I'm sure this is not the last one. The one thing that was hard to miss was the police presence amongst school teachers, children, labor unions & community members. It seems as if the state has definitely stepped up its paternalistic nature over its citizens during the Occupy Movement even though these are non-violent protesters. These are our every day community members inside of coffee shops and the dmv, schools and the ports, laundry mats and pizza shops. They are our Mothers, Sisters, Fathers, Cousins, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and friends. Somehow, they all deserve to be policed like criminals for protesting against the very system that is attacking the pensions of the very police officers who throw tear gas cans into the crowd. I'm only mentioning this because as I type this blog the encampment on 19th & Telegraph that was taken during the course of this march is being cleared out by the police right now. I regret that I was not there to film this raid so I have decided to blog and hope that it will not be and has not been violent although I have no real reassurances that the police will not harm innocent citizens. So while quite literally over a thousand people gathered to march on both Lakeview Elementary School as well as 19th & Telegraph, our efforts were once again thwarted only faster this time. I wonder how quickly other schools will shut down since the Mayor and the police chief constantly feel the need to waste our budget on more and more law enforcement and less education. At what point will we ALL sit down and not only say that it's a shame to be closing schools and arresting/beating/pepper spraying students and teachers but actually coming together as a community and doing something about that?

Why is it that the encampment here was so bad? I personally like the tents that were providing services (like over 1400 meals for the homeless etc.) better than I like looking at this pile of mud here. And this water is NOT just from the rain. Oh no! For some reason it is better to once again waste money on turning the sprinklers on in the middle of the winter to create as much mud as possible to try and keep people from retaking Oscar Grant Plaza (Frank Ogawa). I see the "city" wasting a lot more money on trying to oppress the voices of the people instead of helping the movement along and using some of the hard earned money that they have taxed to actually help the people who gave them the money AND voted them in office.

So getting back to the march here! Since I've covered Lakeview let's get to the park situation. Now when I first got there, I didn't even have time to pull my camera out and catch people tearing the fence down surrounding the park (by the way, it was awesome and the park looks SO much better without the fence). People rushed into the park and the music truck pulled up and the party commenced. At 1st there was a lot of dancing on the fallen fence in celebration of taking the park. The childrens art work that was hanging on the fence was taken across the street so that it would not be damaged. People then got together and rolled the fence up. I'm not sure where the fencing was placed afterward but I do recall someone requesting that an announcement be made for someone to volunteer their truck to come and remove the fencing from the area altogether. You'll have to forgive me for not continuing to look for the fencing because it was such a celebratory mood, I was having fun too! At one point I saw a man start dancing with a group of police officers that were walking across the street from the park. One officer seemed to take it really well, even when the guy accidentally knocked his helmet out of his hand. His fellow officer almost attacked the man and was stopped by the nicer one. Seems as if the response you'll get from the officers may vary. If regulation was ever needed, I think it was needed with the police dept.

Anyway, it's difficult to write about this as a victory when I know it has been raided only hours after being set up. I wonder how long it's going to take to get the police department on the side of the 99%? When their pensions are cut? Are they being basically bribed to protect the 1% instead? I know yeaterday was beutiful, but now it's over. Where will the encampment go next? Something tells me the answer lies in squatters rights.

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