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Kevin Army

Kevin Army
Location
Oakland, California, United States
Birthday
August 19
Title
Executor
Company
Yserba
Bio
Formerly posing as Yserba Berrington, now just posing as myself. In a former life I worked on music creatively for a living. Now I'm a hardworking slacker and occasional writer for no money at all, and I like it that way. I post fiction, ramblings, songs, photos, videos, whatever I feel moved to do. I'm kind of directionless. Welcome!

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NOVEMBER 3, 2011 10:46AM

Occupy Oakland Strike: How To Close A Bank In 8 Easy Blocks

Rate: 17 Flag

 

 general strike

Written at 9 PM, Wed Eve, the day of the General Strike by Occupy Oakland:

Last night the wind was whipping around Oakland in an ominous way. Doors kept banging around in my apartment, and I fell asleep hoping nature wasn't setting things up for another difficult day here. I woke  this morning ready to go to the Occupy Oakland General Strike, and the weather had calmed down, it had become one of those remarkable warm fall days we sometimes get here.

And it was this morning's weather that set the stage for my experience of the day, this beautiful day that I and Oakland needed so much after last weeks troubled times.

 

love sign  

 

I just saw on the news a few regrettable incidents of windows being broken, which made me sad. Not so much about the windows, even though that's not a good thing, but now that the world is watching us, that is the first thing many will see and take note of. I saw film of the vandals at Whole Foods, it looked like a small contingent of anarchists, and there was also film of protestors trying to stop them.

The reporter on local channel 2 said that 99% of the people he saw were mellow, and called the troublemaker anarchists a small element. Mayor Jean Quan said this was a good day for the protestors.

My experience of the day was one of peace, of determined protest, and of many people who conducted themselves with integrity and honor. I don't know if I've ever been in a friendlier crowd, this was Oakland at it's most Oakland-like self.

 

 oakland commune

 

There was hardly any police presence. After last week, I think the city and it's police force are at a loss of what to do. I'm writing this at 9 at night, so that could change. But the Oakland Police Department has to be very cautious about how it proceeds. I saw a couple of handfuls of motorcycle cops, one possible police helicopter. I would guess there were a lot more somewhere, but I did not see them. No riot police.

I think the crowd estimates I've seen of 4500 people are low. I'm usually lower then the news estimates, but I'm thinking closer to 10,000. Possibly more when you add up all the day's activities. But I'm not a crowd counting expert.

 

citi tent 

Closing a Bank

I arrived downtown around 10 AM. I followed a march that wandered for awhile, but eventually it came to several banks. Those banks locked the doors and closed up. I met a man who was sitting in front of the ATMS at Citi Bank named Eric. I interviewed him briefly, and then he asked if I wanted to go shut down the Bank Of America farther away near Lake Merritt. For some reason I just said yes, and followed him. Eric told a young woman Cathy about the plan, and she joined in, and got it to be announced where announcements were being made over a megaphone.

Unfortunately not many people were coming over, but Eric marched on a bit anyway. Cathy and I convinced him to wait and let us go find some more people to join in. It took some work, but eventually we gathered about 20 people. So on we marched, probably about 8 blocks. We walked up to the bank, the bank locked it's doors, and really, it shut itself down. There were a few customers inside and they got escorted out a back door.

 

 

We stayed about 45 minutes, maybe an hour. Then felt it was time to move on, the statement had been made. I made fast friends with Eric and Cathy, I think all three of us had a great, memorable time. We walked back, hung out for awhile. Then I needed to go home for a break, Cathy needed to go pick her kids up from school. Eric went to close down more banks.

 

cathy and eric 

 The March on the Port Of Oakland

I went back at 4:30 to join the march to the docks at the Port Of Oakland. Our port is one of the 5 busiest in the country, so this was a big deal. Though the local unions didn't call a strike, they offered their support and blessings to this action.

Along the way I met an awesome woman named Leigh, a member of the Electricians Union. Once again I was given the gift of a quick and nice friendship, and we marched the 2 miles together and then back to the West Oakland Bart station.

 

 leigh

 

At one point we sat down on an overpass and watched the Occupiers walk by. It was endless, it never stopped. Every single person I saw was well behaved and good-natured. When we got to the docks, there was a party atmosphere. A band was playing with amps powered by people on Exercycles. I turned and said hi to a young woman next to me, and we had a nice talk about what a great day this had been.

After what happened to me the week before, I needed today. I ended up sinking this weekend into a rarely seen victim mode, blaming myself for being assaulted and teargassed, feeling ashamed from getting attention for that. It felt good and healing to come out of hiding, and to see the kindness this world can be capable of.

 

 crowd 2

 

As I write this Oakland is still mostly in a state of peace. I've seen rumors on twitter of police gathering, I'm just seeing a large contingent of police from the suburbs on their way here on the news. The strike and protests will keep going for awhile tonight, possibly reconvening at the docks at 3 AM. Those who know me know my health isn't perfect after 2 major surgeries this past year. My day of striking is done. I need to lay down and get a lot of rest.

I pray I don't wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a text message alerting me of another police action. I pray there's no more vandalism, I pray that the peaceful spirit I saw all day prevails throughout the night. And that it can prevail for the duration of this protest, this Occupation in my hometown that I love so, this Occupation that I hope endures and steers us onto the road of change we've been afraid to travel for far too long.

 

tents 3  

 

UPDATE, 7 AM the next morning:

At 2 AM, the things I feared happened. I woke to a text message alert that police were moving in. There was tear gas, rubber bullets, around 100 arrested. I watched a live feed briefly, I could not stand to watch any longer.

Once again, it was a large coalition of various police forces. According to reports on local news stations the problems were caused by a splinter group, the police acknowledge it was a minority of Occupy Oakland. The first incident I've heard of was a group taking over an abandoned building.

Sometime after that, a splinter group turned violent, throwing things, breaking windows and spraying graffiti all over downtown. The pictures on the TV of the graffiti are extensive. What happened is being called a riot. I'm saddened that this may be what the world will see today. As I write this, there are occupiers out cleaning up what they can.

The camp still stands. There is still a small group keeping the Adeline entrance to the Port Of Oakland closed.

I'm sure I'll learn more throughout the morning. I wish I was healthy enough to go out and document this as it happened. None of this will change the goodness of all the Cathys, Erics and Leighs I've met, the feeling of walking with many thousand of them, the goodness inside most people that I hope can endure these acts of harm, wherever they come from.

I fell back asleep around 3:30 to the sound of helicopters in the distance. More ominous then the wind the night before, more definite and sad.

 

closed with water 

 

*****

ADDITIONAL UPDATE, Thurs 3 PM

 

I went to survey the damage from last night, and to see what was being done. City workers, business owners and Occupiers had been working through the morning to restore things. A lot of progress had been made. I've added the picture below of 2 of the Occupiers getting ready to start painting over graffiti. I heard that the Occupiers are talking about how to deal with this sort of thing in the future, and what can be done to deal with what happened last night.

painters
 as always, many thanks to everyone who spoke with me.

all content by me.

 

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Kevin - thanks for keeping us up on this - again great reporting - I wish i knew more about Oakland so I could visualize the geography. Keep the faith - and keep working for what you believe in!
Kevin,
I admire what you do and all the work you put into this. I too was saddened by the Tullys and Whole Foods etc being damaged. It gives the march a black eye even though it was a splinter group.

People trashed a Whole Foods because they believed a rumour that the management would not let their people march. How stupid is that? KRON is reporting a few million dollars in damage to buildings (banks etc.)

You are doing something you believe in it and I am proud of you and the rest of the peaceful marchers. We have had disagreements about this whole Occupy thing as I do not think its being handled the right way and friends losing business because of it.

But those are opinions and as friends we respect each other. Too bad that splinter group could not have a little respect.

Carry on!
HUGGGG
I support the peaceful protesters and am furious with those that are causing property damage and putting the other activists in danger. And yes, there is danger to the police as well, although let's get real, it will be another innocent that is critically injured or even killed. A vacant building still has to be insured, and the damages will have to be paid by the owner one way or another. The Occupy movement will be immeasurably harmed by violent and/or destructive "splinter" groups. All eyes are on Oakland.
I've said this before about other groups, and I'll say it here, a few bad apples spoil the barrel, the sad thing is the main stream media reports the bad apples.

Hopefully your reports are getting in the right hands....

RATED!
Snowden- Thanks! I should include a map sometime. Everything took place within a 2 mile radius, from the Port on the bay to downtown. All flatland!
Linda- Yes, the splinter group that vandalized things showed a lack of respect for just about everyone but themselves.
onislandtime- Thanks for the comment. Violence is harmful from any side it comes from.
Great job, yet again. Fight the good fight.
Tink- Unfortunatly vandalism is much more exciting news then pacifism.
Beth- Thanks!
~nodding~ Violence sells thats for sure!!!
Of course they locked the doors. I would seeing a crazy mob that has already incited violence heading to my place of business!

You are not a movement, you are a bunch of directionless slackers. Nice job with the fires and the vandalism, are you proud of what you incited? You own those violent acts. It's your mob, it got violent as mobs often do, but you whine and blame the "splinter group". It's your fault. If you weren't there, none of that would have happened.
Stop blaming everyone else that the 99% is broke. Look in the freaking mirror. There lies the reason for your impovershed lives. It's not me, its not Bill Gates, or Johnson and Johnson. It's you.
If you really want to accomplish something, start a business and make jobs for others...oh wait that would involve working.
The only thing this Occupy nonsense is accomplishing is urban blight, interference with people trying to go to work and violence.
You already have a democratic republic, use it. Pack up your bongos and your bongs and talk to your representative.
I doubt you will. It's easier to sit around with signs and chant, at least until the next wave of violence. You own those acts, every last one and if someone dies, you will own their death. Nothing good ever comes from mob mentality.
I have seen it and lived it first hand in eastern europe, the middle east, south america. Some one always gets out of control and stirs up the violence. Then us grown ups have to stitch up the wounded and carry off the dead.
Have you ever had to wrap up the body of a child killed in a "peaceful protest"? It's not pretty. How about a decaiptated college student? Crushed pregnant woman? This is what occupy is going to come to. The fires have been started, the fuses are lit. Are you ready to die for your beliefs? I don't think so. Go home and act like an adult in the free world.
I am so grateful to you for reporting this. Overall, it's heartening and exciting.
Kinda lost me on this one. I really don't see the benefit in closing any kind of business. I am all for the right to demonstrate but not when it impedes with the livelihoods of bank tellers and destroys property. Occupy has to take some control or someone is going to get hurt.
How sad about the minority that were doing the vandalism. Those who are eager to discredit the Occupy protests will point at that minority and use the damage they did to smear all the people who were positive and respectful, yesterday.

Nevertheless, I'm glad the march yesterday was so effective and positive, Kevin! Never doubt the power of non-violent civil disobedience!

rated
Pauline and Shiral- thank you for your comments.
Susie- I understand and respect your comment. I don't support the destruction or vandalism of property. I do think banks have yet to show that they can conduct themselves in a responsible manner, and a message needs to be sent some way, and as long as that way is peaceful, it's OK with me. That said, I really do respect you, I love your writing, and appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
this was such a wonderful inside look...I love the comtemporary details of stopping to pick up kids, etc...

It saddens me to hear that a group has gone against the wishes of the whole - and turned violent. We've been so very fortunate in WI that with crowds 100,000 plus, there hasn't been a stitch of violence. That didn't stop our Gov. from considering planting some agitators among us, however, as he was caught on tape explaining. It makes me wonder how many of your "agitators" may really be working for the other side? It's possible.

loved this - thanks
"A band was playing with amps powered by people on Exercycles."

Love it. Good reporting, bad banks.
@Poppi Iceland

Please read this http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/728.1

The people are protesting because the USA did not follow the same procedure that your own country did to pull itself out of the economic crisis. Iceland refused to bail out its banks for behaving greedily and is now doing much better. You should appreciate the policies of your own country.
Great post Kevin. I wish I could have been there.

btw, Spocko at FDL posted an interesting article yesterday asking for Occupy Oakland participants to help identify the hooded anarchists:

http://my.firedoglake.com/spocko/2011/11/03/time-to-identify-the-occupy-vandals/

He says he’d “like to know who caused (the violence) and what their motivations are.”

One video he presented shows the hooded vandals (one who was un-hooded by the protesters) and clearly shows that the “real” occupy protesters were trying to stop the violence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=86XhCwHhwn8#!

Spocko’s investigative reporting may lead to some interesting results.
Good for the Occupiers that they are refusing violence and taking the high road. I'm proud of them and you!
good job, with intimedation and fear. That is the tools you useful idiots used to close the bank. Hopefully anyone needing the services of those banks will still be able to go online. Your not going to be well recieved by the elderly that go to banks to deposit their SS checks to pay their bills and get their perscriptions before they all dye. because you fucks think squatting in the middle of intersections will do anything good or actually change anything. why you dumb shits aren't protesting government corruption is beyond me. oh thats right, statism is a nobel corrupt free political philosophy. bwaaahahahahahaha.
Great read. Thank you!
The Corporate Occupation of the United States

Our corporate controlled government (through corporate lobbying and election funding ) is out of the peoples control. People want government control back. Makes sense to me... I feel US corporate capitalism (corporatism) is a type of economic fascism: To have a corporate being where the chain of command eventually muddles all responsibility to any human being. These corporate beings are running your life and controlling your government. (Enough to really make an individual mad and protest.) The corporate being does not exist, and when it comes to face it's corporate responsibility, it is a piece of paper. That is plain and simply wrong. Restore capitalism to individual responsible chains of command, or this struggle will be lost. (This also includes corporate lobbying and corporate election funding, being outlawed; and a new form closer to individual control is established.)

Please Sign the petition to amend the Constitution for revoking corporate personhood at:

movetoamend.org

January 20, 2012 – Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!

Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark this
notorious date — Occupy the Courts — a one day occupation on Friday January 20, 2012, of the Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States and as many of the 89 U.S. District Court Buildings as we can. Inspired by Dr. Cornell West, who was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court last month, Move to Amend will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.


http://open.salon.com/blog/kennspace/2011/10/28/corporate_occupation_of_the_united_states_1
Heidi- Thanks!
Tr ig- It was an amazing sight. My picture of the band didn't come out, I wish I could have captured it.
Jan- thanks for the comment!
Razzle- Thanks!
Steven- Thanks for the links. I keep wishing I had the money and time to go visit more Occupy sites, but I'm glad through OS we get to know about what's going on in each other's cities.
Urban- Thanks!
Kenn- Thanks for the info.
@ Poppi iceland

There is no way that a grown person could be as ignorant and dumb as you pretend to be. I see you are not from this country and not really familiar with our rich history of making political changes through protests. In fact, that how this whole country started. Try picking up an AMerican history book, and ask someone to explain it to you.
And I wondered why some trashed the Whole Foods store! What a shame and a waste. Sitting on the other side of the bay, watching the coverage of these events, it sure does look far worse, or so it was being portrayed on the local news. My daughter and her boyfriend live fairly close to the area of interest. Too close for comfort for the Mama Hawk. They each work two plus jobs plus school, so couldn't join the strike and risk losing any of their jobs, etc. Tough for the 99% who must work and go to class to survive, but also a reminder that most of the working class can't afford not to work. Saddest part of all this, all over the country, that while the message needs to be heard, so very many small business owners are being so adversely affected and may go out of business...the very opposite result we want to see occur while our voices are being heard, loud and clear...
James (and earlier Jan)- Thanks for responding to Poppi, I just didn't have it in me today!
Cathy- The vandalism to Whole Foods seemed pointless to me, it hurt to see them as a target.
I'm only able to go to as many Occupy events because I'm self employed, so this is how I've been spending my time off.
Regarding the small business owners, it's a tough issue. The protest has to happen somewhere, but it is sad that it's hurting some of the businesses. I was going to go down and take a survey, but I don't think that's a good idea right now. I've talked to a few that said it's been helping (cheap food places), but I know there's some it's hurting. I think this is an issue that the movement needs to learn to deal with in order to minimize the impact on the smaller merchants. Still, what this movement is protesting has hurt a much much larger amount of small businesses, mine certainly. I now work 50% more for 50% less, give or take a little some weeks.
If I was a parent and watched the news the last few weeks, I'd be worried too! Thanks for your well thought out comments.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--upton sinclair

"One withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas."
--victor hugo


occupy party reaches critical mass/seismic effect--now what?
Kevin, I posted a comment about an hour ago (or thought I did). It didn't show so I went to some other sites while waiting to return to see whether it's here. It's not. O.K., so I'll ?"take my lumps"? and try again. Don't want to be too longwinded but I just was so hugely much absorbed by this excellent post of yours. Impressed by, and grateful to you for, your persistence and commitment of act and involvement and the clarity and information-richness of your post. _Terribly_ sorry you were injured previously; hope your recovery both of body and hopefulness improve. Thank you for all you've done and are doing. And yes, Oakland is a wonderful place!! ;-)

R++++
podunkmarte- I've had the same thing happen, who knows where comments disappear to. Thanks for coming back and giving it another try. I really appreciate your comment- Thanks!
Don't shut 'em down.
Break 'em up!

http://open.salon.com/blog/oddsox/2011/10/10/too_big_to_fail_too_big_to_begin_with
The vandalism being done by the corporations is much worse; keep it up they can't keep their power and scams without the help or complicity of the 99%.
What a load of smug, self-deluding drivel. Did your splinter group get that designation from what it does to windows? People with long memories, or properly versed in history, find it particularly terrifying when mobs break glass. A reminder of what went on the evening of Nov. 9, 1938 in the principal cities of Germany. Congratulations on closing down a bank. That is a great contribution to society.
Nazism???

Uh...no. I doubt anyone currently camped out in any city in America is thinking about locking up other Americans in death camps. The movement has far more in common with the sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and the anti-war protests of the Vietnam era. Both went on for years without resulting in anything REMOTELY like the Third Reich.

For 30 years in this nation, the political tone has been "Make the Rich Richer" and "Trickle Down." The anger that is now evident is the realization that making the wealthy wealthier didn't pan out very well for anyone else. College is harder to afford, good jobs are being shipped overseas, and we don't like the way next year is shaping up, either. Oh, and then there was the last president who started a first strike war of agression to find WMD's he damn well knew weren't there and spent a trillion dollars on it, but somehow found a way to give the have-mores in this nation a tax break in the middle of it. We then saw big Wall Street Firms hand out millions of dollars in bonuses paid with tax payer's money after one of the worst job performances in HISTORY. Class warfare has been going on in this country for 30 years; people have finally woken up enough to protest. That does NOT make us Nazis in any way, shape or form.
Hang in there, Kevin! Great job of being there and reporting on what you see.

Yes, of course the major media outlets will spend ten seconds on the peaceful part of the protests and another five minutes on the violence. Why wouldn't they? It's their bosses that would be adversely affected if the rest of the 99% provided their support by seeing what's really happening on the whole and not just getting a slanted view that promotes the discreditation of the Occupiers.

There will always be someone unhappy with someone else's view. This is part of what makes a democracy so important. It's not the view that we have to take issue with, it's the actual actions.

Concentration of wealth is the road to loss of freedom. Those who are wealthy and well off do not have to respect the same law as the rest of those who cannot afford the most expensive attornies. Those who can afford to send their children to private schools can chafe against taxes and scorn the masses of those educated in a public system as being 'lesser' valued. They don't have to mix with them.

Concentration of wealth leads to concentration of power. Concentration of power leads to despotism. Don't believe me, just take a look through the last 6,000 years of history to see the truth. Democracy is a relatively new and untried idea and ideal. Feudalism, monarchy and plutocracy have been the accepted norms from the time since money became a measure of power.

Those who rail against the Occupy movements clearly do not understand the difference between fair and balanced reporting, versus what the media giants of the world promote as "news."

Stay peaceful, stay civil and stay strong. I cannot march, I cannot occupy. I can lend my voice in support. I do what I can.

--r--
I’ve been off of OS for a week so just seeing your post now, although I read in the press what happened in Oakland. Thanks for your continued personal take on the events. Sadly, there will always be a few who will act opportunistically but the good folks can’t let them derail things.