Monday, October 31, 2011
Occupy U.C. Animated Bears
UAW 2865 Resolution in Support of Occupy Oakland General Strike
Whereas we stand for the rights of all people to living wage jobs with affordable health care, quality education, a voice on the job, fair housing and a well-funded public sector, and
WHEREAS: Unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression, and people are staying unemployed longer now than in the Great Depression, 1/3 of California homes are underwater, 1/5 of the foreclosures nation-wide are in California, and San Franciscans alone have lost almost $6 billion in home value costing their city over $74 million, and
WHEREAS: Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Manhattan's Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and the Wisconsin protests earlier this year, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future, and
WHEREAS: the Occupy Wall Street has galvanized public sentiment and a broad-based movement protesting the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations, and
WHEREAS: the National AFL-CIO and Change to Win coalitions have endorsed Occupy Wall Street, a growing number of trade union activists have joined this movement, both as individual workers, and as part of an increasing number of International and Local union contingents connecting their own fights to the larger demands of the movement for economic justice and fairness, and
WHEREAS: Union and Community organizations together have been working in coalition since the crash of the economy to force Banks to pay for public services and to renegotiate predatory loans with home owners, governments, and non-profit agencies, and
WHEREAS: public safety officers have used excessive force against peaceful protesters at Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa) Plaza and violated their first amendment rights when more than 500 public safety officers with firearms aimed at the occupiers, tore down their tents in a predawn raid on October 25; and
WHEREAS: public safety officers on the evening of Oct. 25 again used excessive force injuring and endangering the lives of demonstrators when they marched on the evening of October 25th to protest the violence against the occupiers that morning;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this union will encourage its members and allies to act in support of Nov. 2 actions and honors as a "Sanctioned Union Strike Line" OccupyOakland and Occupy Wall Street, encourages union members and Local unions to participate in the movement, will actively support any unionized or non-unionized worker who refuses to break up, "raid," or confiscate the belongings of protesters, and calls on unions representing DPW workers to not participate in such activity, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this union and its allies stand with our sisters and brothers of Occupy Wall Street, OccupyOakland, and cities and towns across the country who are fed up with an unfair economy that works for 1% of Americans while the vast majority of people struggle to pay the bills, get an education, and raise their families, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UAW 2865 recognizes that protest movements, like strike lines and organizing campaigns, do not have curfews, are not 9-5 activities, and in doing so UAW 2865 recognizes and will work to protect the right for OccupyOakland to protest 24 hours a day, on-site and with proper protection including food, medical supplies, water, and tents, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UAW 2865 has endorsed and will continue to endorse and turn-out members to OccupyOakland rallies and events, to provide in-kind donations like tents and food, and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that UAW 2865 joins its sister unions in the UC Berkeley Labor Coalition in forwarding this resolution for adoption to other local unions and central labor bodies.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Call for UCB participation in Oakland general strike
Not Your Friend: Dissensus and the Police
(“Circle of Truth Hovering over The USA” by The London Police)
On police cooperation with the status quo and occupiers’ cooperation with the police
One of the most heated aspects of the Occupy mobilizations—from the Occupy Wall Street mothership to Occupy Boston (the base of my own direct observation) to Occupy Oakland (site of arguably the worst police onslaught thus far)—is their relationship or non-relationship to the police. Before launching a critique on that matter I wish to present two excerpts, one by a preacher in 1963 and another by a physician in 2011. It is very important that I mention their upstanding professions first, because of the troubling occurrence (and sometimes, though not always, establishment appropriation) of the anarchists versus everybody else. That this discourse is so recurrent in the shadow of a hawkish, conservative Democratic presidency is no great surprise, but rarely do we stop and seriously reflect on what this cleavage means about how we make sense of ourselves as a body politic. Physicians and the clergy are emblems of care and conscientiousness in polite society, while “anarchists” in the dominant lingo imply a shadowy group of subversives (usually men, usually white, usually angry), so it is from this intersection of seriousness of aims and moral purpose, regardless of the dictates of polite society, that I want to read Occupy and law enforcement. Neither letter writer has ever publicly avowed himself or herself an “anarchist” in the definition of the dominant lingo, and neither is a white male.
This is Dr. Martin Luther King on the police in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, written on April 16, 1963 from his jail cell and addressed to eight fellow clergymen:
I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping ‘order’ and ‘preventing violence.’ I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handing the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather ‘nonviolently’ in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: ‘The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.’
Here is a letter by Dr. Rupa Marya, a doctor whose former patient Charles Hill was killed on the Civic Center platform by BART police over the Fourth-of-July weekend this year, just five months after the police killing of Oakland resident Oscar Grant. Her letter on why she joined the BART protests bears reading entirely, but here’s a brief takeaway:
Last month, I learned that one of my former patients Charles Hill was shot and killed by BART police. Per the police, he was armed with a bottle and a knife and had menacing behavior. Per eye witnesses, he was altered and appeared to be intoxicated but did not represent a lethal danger. I remember Charles vividly, having taken care of him several times in the revolving door which is the health care system for the people who do not fit neatly into society. Charles was a member of the invisible class of people in SF—mentally ill, homeless, and not reliably connected to the help he needed. While I had seen him agitated before and while I can’t speak to all of his behavior, I never would have described him as threatening in such a way as to warrant the use of deadly force. We often have to deal with agitated and sometimes even violent patients in the hospital. Through teamwork, tools, and training, we have not had to fatally wound our patients in order to subdue them. I understand the police are there to protect us and react to the situation around them, but I wonder why the officer who shot Charles did not aim for the leg if he felt the need to use a gun, instead of his vital organs. I wonder if he possessed other training methods to subdue an agitated man with a knife or bottle.
I feel this situation quite deeply. It is hard to watch our civil servants (police) brutally handle a person and their body when i spend my time and energy as a civil servant (physician) honoring the dignity of that person, regardless of their race or social class, their beliefs or their affiliations. I know it is not my job—nor the police’s job—to mete out justice or judgment of a person’s worthiness. It is also hard because Charles has no voice, no one to speak for him now that he is gone. It would be easy to let this slide and move on with our busy lives, as we all struggle to make ends meet in this expensive city during a recession.
Friday, October 28, 2011
March Against the Police State: Saturday, 8pm
The following statement was made at last night's Occupy Oakland general assembly. It went over really well:
I want to preface by saying that many of you are new to Occupy Oakland, many of you are white and middle class. This means you have most likely not experienced police violence in the same manner as those who are queer, people of color or poor. As this movement grows, we ask for respect of our lifelong experiences and the recognition that self defense is not violent.
This Saturday evening, nearly a year after the murderous pig Johannes Mehserle was sentenced with a slap on the wrist and just days after police beat, gassed, shot, kidnapped and hospitalized our fellow occupiers, we are calling for a march against the police state. We encourage everyone to wear black in memory of all those who have been murdered by the police. In the name of Oscar Grant, Raheim Brown, Kenneth Harding, Charles Hill and our countless martyrs, we will march this Saturday, immediately after the Speak out from 6-8pm.
March against the police state.
Justice for Scott Olsen.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
At Occupy Oakland, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Occupy Oakland General Assembly Calls For A Wed Nov. 2 Oakland General Strike/Mass Day of Action
More info at Occupy Oakland.
Below is the proposal passed by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on Wednesday October 26, 2011 in reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza. 1607 people voted. 1484 voted in favor of the resolution, 77 abstained and 46 voted against it, passing the proposal at 96.9%. The General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.
We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.
We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.
All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.
While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.
The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.
The Strike Coordinating Council will begin meeting everyday at 5pm in Oscar Grant Plaza before the daily General Assembly at 7pm. All strike participants are invited. Stay tuned for much more information and see you next Wednesday.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Public Higher Education and Debt Abolition
Original post from Social Text here.
In 1970, an adviser to California Governor Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign commented on the state of public education: "We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That's dynamite! We have to be selective on who we allow to go through higher education." After his reelection in 1970, Governor Reagan followed through on this advice by dismantling the University of California's policy of free tuition. A similar campaign unfolded subsequently in New York, with President Ford using the fiscal crisis of the city in 1975 to force the City University of New York to terminate its 129-year-old policy of free tuition.
In place of this model of public education as a human right, a new model predicated on education as an investment in one's future was established. Students were encouraged after the establishment of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program in these years to borrow money in order to pursue tertiary education.
This was, of course, part of the much broader effort to generate higher rates of profit during the 1970s. The elements of this project are surely familiar: breaking labor unions, lowering wages, offshoring production, smashing the social wage, financialization, etc.
Today this neoliberal project is in crisis on multiple fronts. One of the most serious of these is the investment model of education. Student loan debt is expected to hit $1 trillion by the end of this year, surpassing credit card debt and leaving many individuals in debt for their entire lives.
How to respond to the increasingly desperate plight of the legions of indebted students and ex-students in our society? In this talk at Occupy Wall Street, Andrew Ross offers a radical lens through which to see student debt and proposes a pledge of refusal to spark a movement for the abolition of student debt.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Solidarity Letter from Cairo
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.
The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.
So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.
In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .
What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.
But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.
We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.
It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.
If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.
By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.
Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.
Request for Support from Occupy Cal
Inspired by the ongoing occupations of Wall Street and of public spaces around the country and the world, students and workers at UC Berkeley have decided to construct and maintain a Wall Street-style encampment on our campus. Over the next few weeks, we'll be organizing in preparation for the encampment, and will then set up camp during the two-day walkout scheduled for November 9-10.
We need your help to make this happen! Will you and/or groups you organize with contribute to making the camp a well organized, inclusive force for transformation at UC Berkeley?
If you want to see publicly funded and universally accessible higher education, if you support the interests of UC workers, and if you oppose President Yudof's proposal to raise tuition as much as 81% (which would bring in-state tuition to $22,000 dollars a year), please sign our statement of support.
If you'd like to be a part of the encampment working group, we'll be checking in as a group every Wednesday, during the breakout sessions of the Public Education Coalition (6-8pm, 2070 Allston Way, Suite 205).
If you can offer donations for the encampment, please let us know either through our statement of support or by emailing email@example.com. We're looking for: tents, blankets, tarps, sleeping bags, cooking supplies, camp stoves, electrical workarounds, food, medical supplies, banner making materials, tables, financial support, and materials for an info table / library.
We're also working on compiling a schedule of events for November 10th, the second day of the encampment. If you and/or a group you organize with are interested in giving a training, delivering a public address, performing a dance or music piece, giving a poetry reading, facilitating a discussion on a particular topic, or doing anything else that we can put on our schedule of events, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you on the 9th of November, if not before!
the encampment working group
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Oakland Book Bloc Strikes Again
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Declaration of Support for Strikes from Occupy Oakland
The following statement was approved by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly:
1. From this point forward, we offer our support for all strikes taking place in the Bay Area and specifically within Oakland.
2. We commit to offer practical and creative support to those who walk out from union or non-union work places, with or without union leadership.
3. This statement also applies to student strikes.
By issuing this statement, we wish to send a message to everyone in this city, that if you are fighting back, then we got your back. Talk to your co-workers and fellow students. Every grievance against this system is worthy of a collective response.
We encourage everyone, ourselves included, to no longer let our discontent boil beneath the surface. We believe the time to act is now.
First Official Action from Occupy Oakland, 10/22
All out for the very first official Occupy Oakland action
Occupy Everything! Liberate Oakland!
Mass Rally & March
Saturday October 22 2011
Amphitheater of Oscar Grant Plaza (formerly Frank Ogawa Plaza)
14th and Broadway, Downtown Oakland
12 noon March
Through Downtown & around the north side of Lake
We live in a world where unemployment and staggering levels of debt are the new normal, where poverty and homelessness are met by police violence and incarceration. The entire global economy is broken, and politicians in the US and elsewhere remain powerless to do anything about it. It's time to take power into our own hands, to occupy the spaces from which we have been excluded and reclaim everything that has been stolen from us.
- Solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement
- Opposition to an economic system that has never worked for us
- No gang injunctions, no youth curfews
- Keep Oakland schools and libraries open
Please note that this is not a permitted march but is being organized to encourage maximum participation
facebook: Occupy Oakland
March agreed upon by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on October 19, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Two Photos: Occupy Denver, Debt
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Birgeneau Gets Served
Six individuals, including former and current UC Berkeley students, have filed a federal class action lawsuit alleging that four campus officials violated their constitutional rights by punitively arresting and jailing 66 people participating in a December 2009 demonstration.
According to the complaint — filed Oct. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California — the plaintiffs seek damages for violations they alleged to have occurred during the “Open University” demonstration in Wheeler Hall, which occurred from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11, 2009.
The four campus officials — Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya and UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode — were served with the complaint Monday afternoon, said Kevin Brunner, an attorney with Siegel and Yee, the law firm representing the individuals filing the lawsuit.
The complaint seeks to stop the officials from continuing what it alleges is a policy of sending nonviolent detainees taken into custody during campus protests to the Alameda County Jail rather than citing and releasing them.
“The policy of jailing non-violent protestors is punitive and a violation of the protestors’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly,” the complaint states.
According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, the lawsuit is still being reviewed by campus counsel.
“We can’t comment on the details of the lawsuit at this time because it is still being reviewed by counsel,” she said. “Nevertheless, we are confident that the university’s actions were legally justified.”
Sunday, October 16, 2011
On OWS, and what it means to 'make connections'
The following statement in support of the wall street occupation is currently circulating amongst UC faculty. At the moment, it has more than 600 signatures:
We, members of the faculty of the University of California, write in solidarity with and in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement now underway in our city and elsewhere. Many observers claim that the movement has no specific goals; this is not our understanding. The movement aims to bring attention to the various forms of inequality – economic, political, and social – that characterize our times, that block opportunities for the young and strangle the hopes for better futures for the majority while generating vast profits for a very few.
The demonstrators are demanding substantive change that redresses the many inequitable features of our society, which have been exacerbated by the financial crisis of 2009 and the subsequent recession. Among these are: the lack of accountability on the part of the bankers and Wall Street firms that drove the economy to disaster; rising economic inequality in the United States; the intimate relationship between the corporate power and government at all levels, which has made genuine change impossible; the need for dramatic action to provide employment for the jobless and protect programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, in part by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes; and the disastrous effects of the costly wars that the United States has been conducting.
Only by identifying the complex interconnections between repressive economic, social and political regimes can social and economic justice prevail in this country and around the globe. It is this identification that we applaud, and we call on all members of the University of California community to lend their support to the peaceful and potentially transformative movement.
A question this statement raises, and partially addresses, is how the occupy wall street movement could give way to large-scale social transformations. The petition suggests that a commitment to make connections between particular moments of social antagonism is a precondition of such transformative force, and it commends the wall street protesters for "identifying the complex interconnections between repressive economic, social and political regimes."
This seems right to me, as far as it goes (even if it's perhaps overly-optimistic about the politics of many OWS encampments). But we'd want to ask what the signatories and authors of this statement mean by "making connections." Is this merely a matter of slogans and speeches (i.e. the relatively public and programmatic acts of speech and writing associated with the movement)? Or does it also involve connecting the bodies and psyches of those fighting different forms of oppression, those caught up in previously discrete spheres of antagonism? Does it mean, for instance, enabling students to recognize their ties to those engaged in exploitative service/care work, and to realize forms of mutual solidarity with such workers? Or might it mean taking inspiration from dock workers who've often acted against police violence, mass incarceration, and the colonial occupation of Palestine?
It's worth proposing then a slightly expanded account of what it would take, in our moment, for the wall street protests to give way to large-scale, emancipatory transformations.
Three preconditions for such transformations are: the spread of Wall Street-style plaza occupations to new locations; the linking up of such occupations with mass strikes, seizures, and mutual aid efforts carried out across a range of social sites, including universities and other workplaces; and the undoing of repressive state forces. Not only are these preconditions for broader, emancipatory transformations, but also for the survival of the occupy wall street movement itself. As we saw this week, city and state governments will temporarily call off their armed agents only if they are afraid of an intensification and expansion of plaza occupations.
If stasis sets in, the state will move against us.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Cops, Or, This Morning at Occupy Wall Street
If, after everything that's happened, you still think the cops are on your side, you will be the next one who gets punched in the face and run over by a motorcycle. Also, this:
Cops will detain you using whatever amount of physical violence they feel like using. It will almost always be wildly disproportionate to whatever crime they are alleging you have committed. (Remember, you don’t have to commit a crime for police to detain or arrest or hurt you. That is how police work. They will hurt you and detain you first, then allege a bunch of stuff later.) In a protest situation, where there are lots of cops and lots of people to be arrested, this any-means-necessary modus operandi is often intensified, cf. macing wildly into crowds, random batoning, etc.
Also, you don’t have to be “committing” a “crime” to be violently arrested and detained. It does not matter what you’re doing (just ask Oscar Grant). Cops make arrests because it is their job to make arrests: in New York it’s an open secret that quota systems are in place among mid-level police administrators, meaning that more arrests = job security. (Which side are cops on in the class war, btw?) You just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Police are accountable to basically no one, which makes unfounded arrests not only easy but necessary to the job description.
Whether cops are swinging and spraying into crowds or just hanging out on your block, it’s important to remember that your fourth, fifth and sixth* amendment rights are basically nil. You will not be told what you are being detained/arrested for. You should think of these rights with the same beleaguered cynicism with which you regard all liberal notions of subjecthood (or lol if you believe you have rights maybe you should just leave right now—go get arrested and report back, in fact), and the cop who abides by your constitutional rights to, say, know why you’re being detained or to be detained “without” excessive use of force as the exceptional cop, who goes above and beyond for reasons maybe having to do with your (yes your!) perceived socioeconomic status, or maybe just depending on the cop’s mood.
Basically, remember that police are allowed to have guns and whoever has guns can usually do whatever. Excessive use of force is what is regular for people who get arrested, as is the routine denial of constitutional rights to alleged criminals.
Oscar Grant Plaza
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Some Videos from Occupy Oakland
Be sure to check out the new Occupy Oakland website. And some great pictures (including the one above) are over at Indybay. Now for some videos.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Invitation and Statement from the Oakland General Assembly
From the blog of the occupation:
To the people (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!We are reclaiming public space to use as a forum for the people to come together, meet one another, listen to each other, and build power for ourselves. Occupy Oakland is more than just a speak-out or a camp out. The purpose of our gathering here is to plan actions, to mobilize real resistance, to defend ourselves from the economic and physical war that is being waged against our communities.
We look forward to making this occupation a space that is welcoming and inclusive of the diverse communities of Oakland (and the bay area). We will acknowledge and learn from each other’s histories of struggle. And we commit to challenging oppressive ideas, behaviors, and politics, even – or especially – when they come from ourselves or our comrades.
To the Politicians and the 1%: This occupation is its own demand.Since we don’t need permission to claim what is already ours, we do not have a list of demands to give you. There is no specific thing you can do in order to make us “go away”. And the last thing we want is for you to preserve your power, to reinforce your role as the ruling classes in our society.
It may not be obvious to you, but the decisions you make daily, as well as this system you are a part of, these things are not working for us. Our goal is bring power back where it belongs, with the people, so we can fix what politicians and corporations have screwed up.
To the Media: Our struggle won’t fit in a 15 second soundbite.This occupation is a beginning, and we have a long way to go. And while we have much in common, we believe the people are stronger united behind many banners, rather than a single one. We want to make it very clear that Occupy Oakland is not putting forward leaders, tactical or strategic directives, or a uniform message or political platform.
- October 8th, 2011 Message from the Oakland General Assembly in preparation for Occupy Oakland!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Occupy Oakland Today
4pm. Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza. 14th and Broadway. Be there.
More info here. Posters and images here. Read the OEA's endorsement here.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Harsh Repression Against Student Protesters in Chile
Rough translation of an article from the Mexico City daily La Jornada [more pictures from yesterday's clashes here and here]:
Santiago, October 6. Heavy clashes took place this Thursday in several parts of Santiago between Chilean police and marching students, during a day in which the police fired tear gas and water cannons against the protesters. There were 130 arrests, 25 police officers injured, and dozens of civilians wounded.
After the collapse of the dialogue between the right-wing government of President Sebastián Piñera and representatives of the student movement on Wednesday night, the police attacked an unauthorized march through the Santiago Regional Government Building (intendencia metropolitana) when it was just beginning peacefully at the downtown Plaza Italia and starting to move down Alameda Bernardo O'Higgins Avenue toward the presidential palace of La Moneda.
The violence of the repression was of such magnitude that even student leaders were assaulted, among them Camila Vallejo, who ended up soaking with water and affected by the tear gas, along with various journalists and photographers from the local and international press. Radio Cooperativa de Chile reported that two journalists were wounded and a third was arrested.
The tear gas made it impossible to breathe, and several people who had been affected by the chemical gas and by the police's baton strikes had to be taken to hospitals. Many protesters responded by throwing sticks and rocks against the police, which spread the skirmishes through various areas of the city center.
The police charged indiscriminately, thus resulting in the injury of CNN journalist Nicolás Orarzún and Megavisión photographer Jorge Rodríguez. In addition, Chilevisión journalist Luis Narváez was arrested and "taken for a ride" in a police vehicle along with other arrested protesters.
Against accusations from the regional governor (intendente), Cecilia Pérez, that the student leadership was responsible for the "disorders" and that legal action will be taken against them, Vallejo deplored the way in which the government had confronted the movement.
"The intendencia gave them absolute freedom to repress, in order to not permit meetings in public spaces, and this is unacceptable because it violates a constitutional right," said Vallejo, spokesperson for the Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile (CONFECH). She added that "the government is guilty because they have denied us everything: we ask for permission to march and they refuse, we ask for free education and they refuse again. What is the government trying to do?"
The Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, defended the so-called "anti-occupation" law, announced last Sunday by the government, through which it will seek to sanction those who occupy schools, public or private buildings, and those who cause damage during protests. The official said that he was sure that the members of the right-wing government represent the majority of Chileans.
After negotiations with the students and professors fell apart, the Minister of Education, Felipe Bulnes, declared that the Piñera government was "committed to advancing free education for the most vulnerable as well as credits and scholarships for the middle class, but not for all students." He added that they would continue to be open to dialogue.
He insisted that making education free forall would mean that "the poor would have to subsidize the education of the more wealthy." Along these lines, during the second meeting with the student leadership the government only offered the benefit to 40 percent of the student population, which finally lead to the collapse of the dialogue with the student movement.
Camila Vallejo said this morning that CONFECH would only be open to returning to the negotiating table if the Executive presents a new proposal with respect to the demand of free public education. While she affirmed that the attitude of the movement isn't "all or nothing," she emphasized that the will not continue discussions that are based on the government's current plan.
She noted that Minster Bulnes had said that the government doesn't want the poorest sectors to pay for the wealthier ones, and added that "we don't want this either, what we want is for the rich to pay for the [services used by the] poorest and middle class sectors. This will happen through tax reform."
Everything You Need to Know About Occupy Oakland
Occupy Oakland will begin at 4 pm on Oct 10th, in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street and the dozens of other occupations taking place across US, as well as indigenous resistance day. A delegation from the Glen Cove encampment will be present at the opening of the occupation.
The organizers of this encampment want to link up Oakland with a growing social movement, but also adapt it to the realities and needs of our city with its rich and powerful political history.
There will be a final meeting to prepare for the occupation on Saturday, October 8 at 4pm in Mosswood Park.
For more information:
On the web: http://occupyoakland.wordpress.com/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=290818544264175&ref=ts
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/occupyoakland
Download flyers and other propaganda here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/07/18692504.php
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Call for Witnesses from September 22 Day of Action
Richard Dereck Clemons (arrested UC Berkeley, Tolman Hall, East Wing) is charged with Battery on Peace Officer, Resisting Arrest, Escape from Custody, all misdemeanors. Anyone with any information should email his lawyer at email@example.com.
Newfield rips ex-chancellors' pro-privatization letter
Over at Remaking the University, Chris Newfield posted the text of the letter, annotated with his critical comments. It's pretty devastating. Here's a highlight:
Contrary to public perception, all the evidence suggests that that higher tuition is not a barrier for students—including low-income and minority students—as long as it is combined with adequate financial aid.
So you all agreed? Sadly, you all are wrong. During the twenty years that states have been shifting university costs from the taxpayer to the student, relative degree attainment has declined, continuation rates are flat or falling, and the US has completely destroyed its international educational advantage. For the first time in its history, younger people are less educated than their baby-boomer parents (p 10). The proportion of U.S. students starting college who actually finish is now 56 percent, placing the U.S. with its world's highest tuition levels twenty-ninth out of the thirty countries measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Tuition increases have degraded affordability and reduced attainment (p 8). California, one of the world’s wealthiest places, has seen one of the most astonishing declines in college achievement. The state’s continuation fell from 66 percent to 44 percent in just eight years (1996-2004). California’s rank among states in investment in higher education declined during the same period from fifth to forty-seventh, according to Thomas Mortenson, a higher education policy analyst (ibid). The idea that financial aid protects low-income students is a myth, one that dies a thousand deaths in an exacting study of a unique public university data base, William G. Bowen et al's Crossing the Finish LIne, which shows that low-income students borrow more than higher-income students and increase their borrowing with each ongoing year in college, among other disturbing findings.
And so on--there is no evidence that non-debt aid keeps up with tuition increases, or that further hikes won't futher damage overall US educational levels, the improvement of which is the main reason why public higher ed was built out in the first place. All we see here is a group of former chancellors radiating an indecent complacency about access, one that is out of touch with current research about the damage done to educational attainment by the Great Cost Shift to students.
Put It All In Pepper Spray
(pepper spray starts at about 20 seconds)
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Pictures from Debtors' Prison Flash Mob
Poster & flier for Nov. 9-10 student strikes
Please share around! Also, the date of the general assembly to plan for the november actions has been pushed back to Monday, Oct. 17. It will probably happen in the union hall (2070 Allston), but could be moved onto campus...
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
The Absent Professors
Today, the Daily Cal reports what we've known for awhile: that faculty, with a few important and inspiring exceptions, are no longer part of what is now a student-worker alliance against the privatization of public education.
“The faculty is a whole range — we don’t agree on anything except that we want this place to be great," Jacobsen said. "We differ on tactics, on strategy, even sometimes on what great means, but we want this university to be great."It's important to acknowledge that this phenomenon is not new -- it just took the Daily Cal a year or two to figure it out. Since the 2009 September walkout, faculty have remained deeply divided about potential responses to privatization -- from embracing tuition hikes to preserve "excellence" and proposing that flagship institutions like UC Berkeley become autonomous from the rest of the UC system to attempting to channel popular outrage into support for a California ballot initiative and Democratic party legislators (a faith in in the Democratic Party which has had devastating consequences for California public higher education).
Split between the more politically moderate SAVE and the more activist Solidarity Alliance, ladder-rank faculty willing to speak out against privatization were from the very beginning a tiny fraction of total faculty. Although there are exceptions, ladder-rank faculty have historically shown little to no interest in supporting, for example, ongoing university staff labor union struggles and opposing UCOP's infamous pattern of intimidation and open contempt for organized labor -- from unionized graduate students to unionized librarians.
We've been discussing these issues here for some time. Last November, for example, we examined the comments made by a number of faculty members regarding the round of protests, walk-outs, and occupations that took place in 2009-2010. What they said made clear that they no longer saw themselves as participants or even understood the rationale for public protest, let alone potentially disruptive protest. There was a strong sense that the faculty saw themselves instead as "standing on the sidelines, observers of what is essentially a student movement...bystanders." Though ladder-rank faculty are simply not impacted by the tuition hikes the way students themselves are, many faculty (especially those without tenure) hate the way the university is being managed but often continue to observe the education "movement" as though they were outside of it and as though it were a single homogeneous organization.
More recently, of course, we examined the striking lack of solidarity found in the recommendations of the Academic Council of the Academic Senate, seen in the Daily Cal article as the one remaining site from which faculty are attempting to contest the administration's plans. In these recommendations, the Council not only comes out in favor of tuition increases for students but also endorses the expansion of contingent/precarious adjunct labor at the UC -- a superexploited class of lecturers with no benefits, health insurance, or job protections which as others have pointed out is a fundamental policy tenet of the privatization of higher education nationally. Obviously these views do not represent the entirety of the UC faculty, but the distance between these recommendations and the original general demands of the SAVE faculty group are stark:
"To ensure the future of the University of California as the world’s premier public university system:
- We demand that Gov. Schwarzenegger, the legislature, and the Board of Regents fulfill the Higher Education Compact (2005) and reaffirm the commitments set forth in the Master Plan for Higher Education (Donahoe Act; 1960).
- We oppose the Board of Regents’ privatization strategies and call on the Office of the President to act in concert with faculty to preserve the highest level of excellence in the core teaching and research missions of the University.
- We urge UC alumni to support these missions as their highest priority.
- We insist upon greater administrative and budgetary transparency in recognition of the principle of shared governance."
Chilean Government Criminalizes the Student Movement
Criticism rained down after the right-wing government led by Sebastián Piñera signed a bill that adopts new criminal charges. The law, which seeks to stiffen measures against public disorder, arrives in the middle of intense social protests, especially the marches and mobilizations carried out by Chilean students over the past five months.(picture via)
Under this law, protesters who participate in illegal occupations of educational establishments, such as primary or secondary schools or universities, could face a sentence of up to three years of jail time, since it criminalizes the "illegal occupation or invasion of property," including homes and commercial, industrial, religious, or educational spaces, whether public, municipal, or private.
The law constitutes an attack against the primary instrument of leverage that the student movement has used, having forced the end of the school semester because of the government's failure to make advances in negotiations. The initiative also aims to punish the lack of respect toward police officers, regulate the sanctions for incendiary bombs, and make it an aggravating circumstance to wear a mask.
"Whosoever attempts to disrupt the tranquility and normal life of citizens or to attack public or private property will face strong and firm legislation establishing punishments that correspond to criminal acts," said Piñera, in an attempt to fulfill one of his campaign promises: to reduce criminality in the country. Polls show that the public continues to judge him harshly in this area.
"We are going to pass this project on public disorders as fast as possible," added the Interior Minister, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, yesterday, generating more criticism from student and opposition leaders. "Public disorders are going to be a crime. And when, with force, with violence, there is looting, occupations of public or private buildings, among them hospitals, educational or religious establishments, streets, or public services, these are going to be crimes... We must keep minorities from kidnapping the rights of the majority," added Hinzpeter.
In this context, the president of the Federation of Students of the Universidad Católica, Giorgio Jackson, said that the measure "responds to a logic of looking at the symptom and ignoring the disease. I feel from what is being attacked that once again what is happening here is a superficial approach to the issue."
He added that he had participated in the occupation of his university and "it was absolutely peaceful, in which students together with workers and professors developed work plans on art and culture. In no way would I think that this represents a criminal attitude. These laws, which will probably lead to repression, have to be carefully reviewed, and each case has to be analyzed separately. The spokesperson of the Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH), which organizes traditional universities, insisted on local radio that "occupying schools and stopping classes has never been a hobby. Rather, it's a reflection, a shout and a call to the authorities, and in this case the entire city, to reflect on the issues of marginality, segregation and other social problems that are being experienced in our country."
Judges also entered the fray, after Piñera explained that the bill would call into question the rights of those charged with aggression against police officers. The president of the National Association of Judges, Leopoldo Llanos, declared these statements as "improper," because of the fact that they interfere with "the jurisdiction of other public powers."
Finally, part of the opposition agreed that this yet another sign of the government's failure to understand what is going on, since it once again reiterates its view of the phenomenon as "eminently subversive" just at the moment when dialogue with the students has begun, according to opposition member Pepe Auth.
Monday, October 3, 2011
What if they reported on a walkout, but it never happened?
The Daily Cal is up with an article about a 'nationwide' university walkout scheduled for this Wednesday at noon. The walkout was originally called by NYU students, who plan to leave classes Wednesday and then link up with the occupation of Wall Street. They want to take a stand against student debt, which, of course, Wall Street speculates the hell out of. But will anyone outside of New York actually join the thing and ditch classes?
Here's an excerpt from the Daily Cal article that reveals the strangeness of this historical moment:
Occupy Berkeley is one of the many groups joining the Occupy Wall Street network. According to the website of Occupy Together — an unofficial hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street — there are more than 130 cities forming protests in the United States alone.
It is not clear if Occupy Berkeley plans to join the college walkout planned for Wednesday. However, the group has a scheduled meeting Saturday to discuss the proposal to occupy the area around Berkeley’s Bank of America to promote democracy, according to the Facebook event.
Occupations seem to be cropping up everywhere, and yet some that are called never materialize, and no one seems to know whether anyone is actually organizing for them. They're like ghosts in the social media machine.
What's particularly odd about the phantom walkout in the context of UC Berkeley organizing is that we're actually planning, on the same date and at the same time, a bit of protest theater: a debtors prison flash mob (info below).
Of course, this low-key action is likely to be a minor affair. Though it could get interesting if a few hundred, or even a thousand, students walked out at noon and joined the gathering in front of Dwinelle. There's actually no reason it couldn't happen. It wouldn't even be that hard. Students could tell their instructors Wednesday morning that they planned to join the walkout, and could ask whether the class might take a vote on joining as a group. Maybe twenty or thirty classes would be canceled. And a mass could begin to take shape in front of Dwinelle. Maybe we could start marching. Could reclaim a building on campus, and get going in earnest with another occupation....
Stranger things have happened.
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Debtors Prison Flash Mob -- 81% fee increase = a life of debt
UC President Mark Yudof wants to increase fees to over $22,000 dollars in the next 4 years, which will lock out low and middle income students as well as students from marginalized communities. For those who do make it in, a life of debt awaits.
In order to inform the campus community about the current scheme of university privatization as well as to show how the budget cuts are affecting our own personal lives as students and ...workers, the Public Education Coalition is inaugurating what we intend to be a series of flash mobs to inspire the community to creatively fight back.
This Wednesday from Noon-1PM in Dwinelle Plaza, our first flashmob, "Debtor's Prison" will dramatize the burden of debt that students and workers face as a result of fee increases and pay cuts. Participants will mark a circle on the ground around them with chalk and the statement "this is my debtor's prison" and wear signs around their necks with a statement about debt.
Join us and participate in this low-intensity creative action! Chalk will be available for you to mark your own debtor's prison-cell and organizers will be in Dwinelle Plaza with cardboard and markers starting at 11:30am so you can make your own sign.
A zombie-themed flash mob, "Day of the Living Debt," will take place next Wednesday at Noon, location TBA.
To get info on future info on future flash mobs sent to your phone: text 'follow calflashmob' to 40404.
To join our facebook group, join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/operationstopthecuts/
For an excellent primer on our future of debt read: http://www.reclamationsjournal.org/pdfs/pamphlet%20debt%20pdf.pdf
In solidarity with the occupy Wall Street Movement and The Affirmation participants!
UPR Strike in Solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Open Letter to Chancellor Birgeneau Regarding Tolman Hall Arrests
To: Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, EVCP George Breslauer, Chief Mitchell J. Celaya III, Stephen Stoll, Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, Tyrone Morrison, Records and Communications Supervisor
Accounts from on-site witnesses and from videos raise some disturbing questions about the behavior of UCB Police last Thursday night, September 22, toward students participating in the open occupation at Tolman Hall. According to witnesses, sometime shortly after 9 pm, police blocked the outside doors of the building, deliberately preventing students from leaving the building. The police did not communicate to the students their reasons for taking this action nor did they give any other information to the students prior to or after the unexpected blocking of the exit doors. No dispersal order had been given. One protestor when trying to leave was tackled by police and restrained aggressively. That protestor was subsequently arrested was refused medical care while in custody. Students had previously planned to respect the closing time of the building and to leave the building when the police gave an order to disperse. We reiterate the fact that the police did not give such an order, nor communicate any instructions at all. Since the actions of students had been entirely peaceful, the sudden blocking of the doors to keep students in without explanation was unexpected, illogical, and traumatic to the students inside.
We request that the administration and the Police Review Board undertake an immediate review of what happened at Tolman Hall and we ask that the administration and UCPD provide answers, in a document to be published in the Daily Cal, to the following questions:
Who was in charge of the police response to the student activities on September 22, 2011? Who decided that police should block doors and prevent students from leaving? When was this decision made and when did the police at Tolman know of it?
What policy or policies govern the level of aggression and risk of injury permitted in police responses to student protest activities? To what degree were police actions consistent or inconsistent with those policies?
Given that the police are carrying guns, what are the guidelines guaranteeing the safety of those they are supposed to protect, or, in cases of protest, to monitor? What are the guidelines guaranteeing the safety of the police officers? Of bystanders and people from the media?
Upon what authority did the police tackle and injure the student who tried to leave the building? What was the reason for that violent response? Why was that student not allowed to receive a medical examination and care while he was in custody?
Do the police or administrators claim that one or more students engaged in any violent or aggressive act that justified this threatening and violent response? Or does the current policy and practice allow UC Police to violently restrain students whose behavior is not actually violent or threatening? What are the current criteria for arrest of students on campus?
Amanda Armstrong, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Kyle Arnone, Trustee UAW 2865 (UCLA)
Jessica Astillero, UC Berkeley undergraduate
Andrea Barrera, Undergraduate, Rhetoric Dept.
Joi Barrios-Leblanc, UC Berkeley Lecturer
Axel Borg, Librarian, Shields Library, UC Davis, Vice-President for Legislation, UC-AFT
Shane Boyle, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Gray Brechin, Dept of Geography
Natalia Brizuela, Associate Professor, Spanish & Portuguese
Jordan Brocious, Sgt. at Arms UAW 2865 (UC Irvine)
Chris Chen, Department of English
Natalia Chousou-Polydouri, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Mandy Cohen, Recording Secretary UAW 2865 (UC Berkeley)
Jean Day, UC Berkeley staff, UPTE member
Ivonne del Valle, Assistant professor/Spanish and Portuguese
Cheryl Deutsch, President UAW 2865 (UCLA)
Charlie Eaton, Financial Secretary UAW 2865 (UC Berkeley)
Katy Fox-Hodess, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Judith Goldman, 2011-12 Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry, Dept. of English
Ricardo Gomez, UC Berkeley undergraduate
Jane Gregory, graduate student, Department of English, UC Berkeley
Lyn Hejinian, Professor, Department of English
Shannon Ikebe, Member, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Nick Kardahji, Trustee UAW 2865 (UC Berkeley)
Kathryn Kestril, UC Lecturer
Elliott Kim, Southern Vice President (UC Riverside)
Seong Hee Lim, Graduate Student, History Department, UC Santa Barbara
Larisa Mann, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Brenda Medina-Hernandez, Trustee UAW 2865 (UC Davis)
Blanca Misse, UAW 2865 Guide (UC Berkeley)
Dustianne North- UCLA Social Welfare, Doctoral Candidate
Megan O’Connor, Graduate Student, UC Berkeley English Dept.
Gabe Page, Steward, Comparative Literature, UAW 2865
Gautam Premnath, Dept of English
Brian Riley, Student Unity Movement
Manuel Rosaldo, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Robert Samuels, Lecturer, Writing Programs, UCLA, President, UC-AFT
Chris Schildt, Head Steward, City and Regional Planning, UAW 2865
Sara Smith, Northern Vice-President, UAW 2865
Ann Smock, Department of French
Michelle Squitieri, UCB Alumna and Field Representative, UC-AFT
Daniela Torres-Torretti, PhD Candidate in Education, UCD, Student Unity Movement
Jennifer Tucker, Unit Chair, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
David Vandeloo, graduate student, Department of English
Megan Wachpress, Recording Secretary, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865
Josh Williams, Head Steward, UC Berkeley, UAW 2865