Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Update from Occupy Bay Area

Alert: Attack on Occupy San Jose, Threats Against Occupy Oakland

We received the following from readers:

October 21—Last night the Occupy San Jose camp had been ambushed at 3 AM by the police. Lawyers say they arrested everyone sleeping in the dozen tents of this Occupy camp, then tore up and confiscated all the Occupiers' belongings. The cops now say Occupy San Jose can't return.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the City of Oakland—run by a "progressive" administration—gave out and posted a "NOTICE TO VACATE FRANK OGAWA PLAZA" (renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by the people) to Occupy Oakland, where dozens of tents are set up right in front of City Hall downtown, due to "public health and safety." On Friday, the City issued a new "NOTICE OF VIOLATIONS AND DEMAND TO CEASE VIOLATIONS." It claimed, "The City of Oakland and its police department support and protect the right of all individuals to engage in free speech and their right to assemble." Then in classic reactionary double-speak it stated, "However, this encampment is a violation of the law," and that Occupiers would be arrested if they didn't leave. One occupier told us people feel the City of Oakland is raising "health" in order to shut down the camp admitting its political motives and that people are determined to hold their ground. This is outrageous and people must mobilize to stop it.


A Day at Occupy SF

From a reader:

October 21—Today a surprise announcement called people to Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco at 4:00, where Occupy SF is now located, for a visit from musician Tom Morello.

I got to Justin Herman Plaza where the Occupy SF encampment has been large for days now, with a constant flow of people coming to participate, visit, or to join the camp by staying overnight or longer.

During the introductions at tonight's General Assembly, the crowd of about 200 gathered campfire style was asked—who was there for the first time? Several dozen hands went up and the crowd applauded and twinkled (silent applause signal). These new folks were not a single crew: some were dressed for office work or for the street; they were young, or older, some were pierced and painted, some were button-down, and some were just ordinary people nobody could characterize without talking to them.

All this was during a relatively calm few hours of the camp, but a lot of people of these many "types" were energized at any word of protests and struggles being announced—whether it was the next day's National Day of Protest against Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation—or protesting a gala fundraising SF visit by Obama next week—or their ongoing back and forth with the city officials about the encampment staying on public park ground. 

There were young people who'd come in from the suburbs; one said he lives where it seems no one cares, and he'd come to the Occupy SF camp because he wanted to be with "people who cared." There were runaway teens whose base camp is Haight Street, who saw my newspapers titled "Revolution" and asked me if this was about "not letting the fucking corporations and racists run the world." There was a well-dressed health care professional in his 60s who wanted to convince me that if only the Occupy movement would make "single-payer health care insurance" its leading demand, the government and the health care corporations would have to see the light. He said he had not had nearly as much hope for change like this, before the Occupy movement, but now he is taking time off work to come down and be at the General Assembly all he can.

When Kenneth Harding's mother spoke just before the General Assembly, there were rows and rows of Occupy protesters hearing her voice. Some knew Kenneth's story, some were perhaps hearing it for the first time. There were tears and embraces from some in the crowd as she finished and many said they'll be coming to the Bayview tomorrow for the October 22nd events. [See "October 21: A Day of Defiance in Bayview, San Francisco"]

I ran into knots of people hanging out in intense but communal conversation circles. Activists from protest groups (anti-war vets, young women in the defend abortion rights struggle, older teachers and writers and poets) would run up to greet each other, smiling and bursting with wanting to share news of the day and invite each other to upcoming events. Young people wearing the black T-shirts of Iraq Veterans Against the War would welcome you and encourage you to stay for the General Assembly – and when I'd get to hear their stories, some of them turned out to have only hooked up with IVAW in the past few weeks since the Occupy Wall Street began.

I noticed a couple of men hovering at the edge of one of these conversations, guys who the mainstream media broad-brush as "homeless people looking for free meals." Any city, any place, you might see men who look like them panhandling, it's just the scenery of a normal SF day. Of the 6 men who I met and shared conversation with, 3 were Vietnam veterans and 2 others had served in the first or second Iraq wars. In each conversation, as we introduced ourselves and shook hands, all of them gave heartfelt testimony about how uplifted they feel right now. One white guy, homeless for years, said this month he's found his mission: doing street outreach about standing up in protest, he spends every day now talking to the "countless" homeless veterans on the streets of SF about Occupy Wall Street movement and organizing people in hope of a better world. Another vet, clearly battered and bruised by life on the street—wanted me to write down his words. He said he wants to make his "small, silent voice" heard because so many others suffer worse than he does, but he believes that standing up against the powerful is what the powerless have to do, and he wants to show others that "you can stand up. We are the 99%." He gave me a homemade "We are the 99%" sticker, and I gave him a Revolution newspaper.

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond