YSERBA

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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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JANUARY 29, 2012 9:37AM

Occupy Oakland Move In Day

Rate: 20 Flag

 

 commune move in

Saturday, Occupy Oakland had their largest action since the Port Shutdown in December. It was “Move In Day”, and the intention was to Occupy a vacant building. I wasn't really sure how I felt about this action, partly due to the necessity of the Occupiers having to keep the identity of the building secret. 

Still, I hadn't been sure about the camp at the start, and after visiting the camp several times, I saw something beautiful grow that I had never expected. Given that, I've learned to give Occupy Oakland the benefit of the doubt.

The day began with a rally at noon at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza. I asked many people if they were planning on entering the building. Most said they were uncertain, they would wait and see how things were going. There were about 500 people gathered.

The march to the building left at 1 PM. Right away a man tried to drive his car through the march, got mad, a handful of protestors got mad and it was not looking good. Some people stepped in, cleared the way, and after a while he drove off. The tension of that moment was something that carried through most of the day and into the night, though there were moments of relief too.

 riot police

After a few blocks police were lining certain streets blocking them off, herding the protestors through Laney College. By this time there were over 1,000 protestors. It was becoming apparent the police knew where Occupy was going, the secrecy didn't work. I ended up walking around and out of the way, as I had vowed I would not get arrested or hurt by the police. I learned the targeted building was the Henry J Kaiser Convention Center, and I proceeded with caution. The Kaiser center is vacant and is not currently being used.

I got to where the larger group was moving towards the building, and it looked like a trap to me. Very soon after they arrived at the Kaiser center the police fired teargas into the crowd. Those of us standing 2 blocks away could taste it from where we were. Later I spoke with many people who had been in front and everyone said the Occupiers had done nothing to provoke the teargas other then being there.

 pepper spray

The police had effectively made it impossible for the Occupiers to carry out their plan, so the protestors moved on. A few blocks away a standoff occurred where the police fired many things into the crowd, some thought it was tear gas, some thought it was pepper spray bombs, some thought they were smoke bombs. Also, I believe this was when they fired some bean bag shots at the crowd, later I met one man who had been hit.

Eventually people went back to the plaza. It was announced that there would be a break, and then a second attempt would be made to occupy a building. 

 marchers

One of the remarkable things about Occupy is how people are to each other. As at other events I met many good and decent people who I had great conversations with. Most of these people really care about the state of our world, and have embraced this movement with gratitude for having a place where they can work on finding ways to take that caring and turn it into tangible action.

I point this out because no matter what the mainstream media will say about Saturdays action, there's a big piece of the story that can only be absorbed by walking with these people and getting to know them. The heart of Occupy Oakland is so good. It's been a bit broken by all the repressive police actions , ranging from waging war on the Occupiers the day of the first raid, to arresting people for things as petty as taking a blanket out of a garbage can. Recently they invoked lynching laws to arrest people, and that's too long and convoluted to go into right now in my exhausted state. In spite of all the attempts to break that heart and destroy it, it continues on, beating strongly and moving forward.

 revolt

When it was time to go on march number 2, the crowd was probably back down to about 700. That crowd was remarkably upbeat and determined. We arrived at the “alternate” building, and got herded away by the police. So people marched around, continually getting corralled and surrounded. I stayed behind, and the friend I was walking with noticed police coming at us from both directions. We decided to get out as it looked like a really bad place to be. Our only way out was toward the police. On our way an officer told us to turn around. I held out my homemade press pass and said we just wanted to leave and he told us we couldn't and said “you choose to be here”. He was pretty angry sounding, and we were getting pretty worried. We turned around, which basically meant we were heading right into the adjacent street where everyone was being corralled. But, the police veered towards that crowd, leaving enough of a gap for us to move past them and get out.

There was a wire fence on one side of the Occupiers, and some of them pushed it down and everyone escaped across a vacant lot. They ended up in front of the YMCA on Broadway. I heard reports some entered the building and ran out the back, not to occupy it, but to get away from the police. A large group in front of the Y got surrounded by police. Many were arrested.

Then it was reported that some people had broken into City hall. I went down there and they had come out of the building and police were blocking it off. Someone burned an American flag, which I'm sure will be the most written about moment of the day.

 

injured woman

I saw ambulances coming down the street. I saw a very young woman on the ground in pain. She had been beaten earlier, the pain had grown, and she had to go to the hospital. She was screaming in pain as they carried her on a stretcher to the ambulance. Apparently she had been doing nothing except being present when she got beaten.

 arrest

I heard similar stories of the police randomly beating people or arresting them throughout the day, often just going for whoever was closest. The radio (KCBS) said over 300 people were arrested, which explains why by 11 PM there were so few people around.

The Oakland Police were just court ordered to report everything they plan on doing to a federally approved overseer, and if they don't start controlling their violence the judge will have the federal government take the department over. I couldn't help but wonder if they just decided to say a big fuck you to the judge and take their violent behavior to another level.

Whether this action was right or wrong, the tactics and actions of the OPD I witnessed and heard of were pretty extreme, and they were irresponsible to the citizens who weren't involved in any of this. While walking along Lake Merritt to the Henry Kaiser Center I saw two mothers with strollers that had young children in them. They didn't look like Occupiers, so I stopped them and told them there was tear gas ahead. They gave me a strange unbelieving look, and then looked around, and realized I was right. They turned around, looking fairly disturbed. There should have been officers on the periphery to warn people of what was going on.

Later in the night I saw some graffiti, some things like newspaper racks thrown into the street. As always, these things were done by a small group. The great majority of people I talked to throughout the day were committed to non-violence and to not vandalizing things. The radio reported three police were injured. They weren't specific at all about the level of injury.

cops move out 

Some good moments: Marching to happy dance music at dusk, just before the police corralled everyone. A group that broke into a nice version of the Star Spangled Banner at the Y in front of the police. A man I didn't know who smiled and waved at me, just being friendly. All the kind people I met, and all the people I've met before who came up and said hi. The good people I walked with throughout the day.

Right or wrong, I knew I was with people who care, who care enough to risk being assaulted by the police, to risk arrest and injury. Some might look at that and think it's insane. I think insanity is looking at how things are these days and doing nothing. I'm open to other ideas. But for now, Occupy is the best idea around. Even when it's a mess, and things don't go right, and I'm not sure what I think, it's a great, inspiring idea.


sign and teepees 

 

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Comments

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My spirit goes with them all the way, but I think it contradictory for a peaceful protest to use a clenched fist as a symbol on a poster. That symbol has been used by violent revolutionaries all over the world. If I were a cop I'd take that as a definite threat. (Especially if I were just looking for any little thing to excuse a violent assault on the protesters.)
.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
I read it this on Salon and there are now 90 comments.
May the occupy force be with you my friend.
HUGGGGGGGGGG
well done
Kevin, like Linda I also saw this on Big Salon earlier and congratulations on being featured so prominently there. Thanks for the 'up close and personal' reporting on this significant story!
Skypixieo, you're right about the fist. Plus, consider how many of the Occupiers aren't even from Oakland. Mayor Quan had it right asking that Occupiers not use Oakland as their playground. She notes, correctly, how they are hurting the very people they claim to represent by damaging city property (taxes from the 99 percent will pay for that) and forcing police to neglect their regular duties. The police like it, I'm sure, because they like getting overtime pay. But it is interesting - a mostly white group from the suburbs and wealthier towns coming to "minority-majority" Oakland to break into their city hall and smash their children's artwork. And that is "power to the people", according to Rwoo5g.
" ...there's a big piece of the story that can only be absorbed by walking with these people and getting to know them." This is why I read your takes on what is happening, Kevin, because of the unique perspective you're giving on events. The gloves have clearly come off, and your thoughts re: the judge vs the police may be spot on.
Skypixie and Peter- A clenched fist has become a symbol of many things among many political/social movements. In this instance, as with many of those others, I see it as a symbol of strength, solidarity, and of a link to those movements of the past that used it. There are many symbols and graphics for Occupy Oakland, made by many diverse people, representing the diversity of the group. I found the poster laying in front of the miniture teepees, which was right on the ground where people had previously camped, to be touching and nice. But we can all see things differently and I appreciate your comments.
Skypixie, if a police officer who has teargas, riot gear and non-lethal projectiles takes a poster with a fist as a threat, something is really wrong.
Peter- This was an Oakland based crowd yesterday, and it was diverse in age and race, just like Oakland. The city and the police could have allowed the beautiful and peaceful encampment to stay, which was helping with issues like homelessness and hunger, and that would have saved the 99% a ton of money. The waste of money by the city to stop it's citizens from having a voice is not the Occupiers fault.

Rw005g- Thanks for the comment.

Linda- Big Hugggggggg back!

Designator- Thanks for your support.
The comments on Salon proper are very interesting. There appears to be a concerted effort by one or more people or one person with a bunch of puppet accounts to derail the conversation. That's interesting, all in itself.

Thanks for being there and then telling us about it. The violence is worrisome, if for no other reason than I'm not really sure who is inciting it. I've started to suspect you've got a little COINTELPRO the Second going on. :/
I was intimidated by the 300 or so comments on Salon. I imagine there were trolls...or at least people like Peterchullo here, claiming it was all the work of outside agitators. To me, it looks like a lesser version of Syria, but with the same spirit behind it...on both sides...
VA- I'll be interested to see if the judge says or does anything this week.

Odetteroulette- The derailment in the comments on Salon is fascinating. I thought I'd gotten onto the wrong page at one point.

Myriad- I can't imagine the strength the protestors in Syria must have.
Well, I disagree with your conclusion that the OPD's actions were illegitimate in breaking up the protest actions. Read my latest post on why the public either supports, or at least does not oppose, vigorous police action in policing, in fact repressing, Occupy protests
Kevin, I hear through the grapevine that there is going to be a building take over by an OWS group at your house next weekend. Are you going to feel the same way when it's your property that is being torn up and repairs that you are going to have to pay for? Somehow I don't think so.

I'm sorry, I can't think of the word. What is it we call people who do criminal acts? The end doesn't justify the means.
Thank you for helping to keep hope alive, Kevin. Congratulations on the EP!
Excellent reporting. I love reading the real story that none of us get anywhere else.
rated with love
baltimore- The intention of the building occupation had a productive agenda which included a place for homeless people to stay and a place to feed them, two goals that the voting process has failed to do very well so far.
Jejune- I think a lot of the public is appalled by the OPD's behavior.
Catnlion- There was no intention by Occupy to take over a smaller building, or a building that is currently in use.
However, all three of the above, thanks for reading and for voicing your thoughts. If I come off as crankier then usual, I am just very tired today.
Erika- If I've helped even just a little, that makes me very happy.
Romantic- As long as there's a story to tell that isn't what the larger media shows, I'll be out there!
Thanks to both of you for your support.
Get Up!
Stand Up!
Stand up for your rights.
Get Up!
Stand Up!
Don't give up the fight.

Now you've seen the light
Stand up for your rights!

--r--
The same week Occupy Oakland tried to take over an abandoned building to use as a community service center, the 3 community centers managed by the Jane Addams Hull House Association here in Chicago closed down for lack of funds.

Working class communities desperately need community centers like the one that Occupy Oakland is planning and the ones that were recently shut down here in Chicago.

I commend the courage and vision of Occupy Oakland.
"There's a big difference between financial manipulation and capitalism."
--newt gingrich,

“Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money, or is that somehow a little bit of a flawed system?”
--newt gingrich

"Crony capitalism, where people pay each other off at the expense of the rest of the country, is not free enterprise. And raising questions about that is not wrong."
--newt gingrich

"Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?"
--matt lauer

"I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms..."
--mitt romney

"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid dens of crime that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern. "
--cs lewis

gamechanger-- occupying republicans
"One of the remarkable things about Occupy is how people are to each other. As at other events I met many good and decent people who I had great conversations with. Most of these people really care about the state of our world, and have embraced this movement with gratitude for having a place where they can work on finding ways to take that caring and turn it into tangible action. "

thank-you for reporting this. that's my impression of OA too. but it's disturbing how much villifying is happening in the conservative media...
This should be an EP. I wish that we could pool our funds so that a fixed place could be rented or had. Be careful and don't give up. Did they find out who (or what govt agents) did the violence?


" I think insanity is looking at how things are these days and doing nothing. I'm open to other ideas. But for now, Occupy is the best idea around. Even when it's a mess, and things don't go right, and I'm not sure what I think, it's a great, inspiring idea."

EP! EP!
Great post. I was watching on livestream the other day.

All Power To The People!
daisy- Thank you for being here and reading!

dunnitowl- great song to quote.

Bob- And all these buildings will probably sit around vacant and unused. Sorry to hear of the closings in Chicago.

deloresflors_d- The villifying is disturbing.

zumalicious- The blame is getting thrown all over the place. The city and the mainstream media are doing their best to spin it, mayor Quan has been particularly hyperbolic the past few days.

Alaska- Livestreaming is amazing, isn't it? There are now livestreamers all over the place on days like Saturday, which is such a good thing.
Thanks again foryour on-the-ground reporting Kevin. Comments are interesting too. Like the usual suspects who profess to believe that the protesters should stick to voting. Let the status quo reign!
littlewillie- Thanks!!
Abrawang- As always, thanks for your support!!
I'm no fan of the police, but according to Reuters, the protesters were throwing objects at them. Even if it was morally justified, I think they hurt their cause a lot by doing that.