From Applied Nonexistence:
There is something to be said about the response of state apparatuses against an escalation in what is being billed as a popular, broad-based movement’s progression of objectives. This afternoon was a rather sobering experience for the activist-left in the East Bay – and it’s probably for the better in terms of the evolution of tactical praxis which will ideally follow today’s events. This afternoon’s action can be read in multiple ways yet we believe that the two most pertinent points are as follows:
The sheer impossibility of Occupy taking and the immediate defense by OPD of the Kaiser convention center, proves that the timbre of Occupy Oakland’s demands moving into the realm of the acquisition of private property (indoor space in particular) is much more confrontational, and by extension more desirable, than the tamer stages of Occupy’s initial forays into the repurposing of the public commons. If the implicit threat of taking an abandoned building was enough to warrant such a response which, tactically at least, completely nullified any potentiality which may or may not have existed in seeing this objective to its fruition, then it is telling that it is precisely along these lines which such energy needs to be propelled and proliferated. In national states which have a much more visible squatter’s culture (The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Greece for example) the actual laws around the legitimacy of squatter’s rights and the legality of acquiring previously dormant physical spaces are actually much more lax than what we have here in the US. Seen within this context, in the United States the occupation of private property with the aims of creating spaces for a distinct sociopolitical body is at once almost guaranteed to be impossible – but nonetheless desirable precisely because of this impossibility.
Aside from the obvious critiques in terms of errors in the “on-the-ground” tactical maneuvering (i.e. bottlenecks at Laney/bridge-crossings, self-imposed kettling on E. 14th, linear confrontational exchanges in front of the Oakland Museum) we’d still like to make the case (the same redundant shit we here at AN always say) for “exploring” sites on the periphery. While the carnivalesque atmosphere can often fulfill latent psychological manifestations for some individuals it often is not the most tactically sound site for engagement. If anything it creates a veritable vacuum around the locus of contestation itself – and this is not something which has yet been explored in conjunction with high-profile events like today’s (this would look like “X” happens here, while “Y” happens here – where X is the much more high-profile and accessible action which commands ALL the resources of the authorities, and “Y” are a disparate number of smaller yet higher-stakes actions happening far away from the main spectacle). While the locus always has an undeniable magnetism, laden with the desire to participate in narratives of resistance, the periphery is always more vulnerable and higher-stakes during such carnivalesque moments. Explore the periphery.
Solidarity to the friends arrested and hurt. Solidarity to the FUCK THE POLICE 5 march about to pop of right now.
From Oakland with Love,
From Tides of Flame
On Saturday, November 19th, a group of about 60 people marched from the occupation at Seattle Central Community College in solidarity with Occupy Oakland and against the police repression and evictions of occupations across the country. At the beginning of the march, it was announced that a building would be taken over at the end of the march.
The group moved through Capitol Hill chanting “Banks and landlords, we don’t need ‘em/ All we want is total freedom!” before plunging down 12th Avenue to the King County Juvenile Detention Center. The group stopped outside the main cell areas and made noise for the children and teenagers imprisoned inside. Marchers chanted “Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons,” and screamed that those on the inside would not be forgotten.
After the noise demo, the group marched into the Central District, one of the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in the country. The term ‘skid row’ was coined here at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Central District was 80% black in 1970. Now it is 15% black, with many new condo developments and apartments having sprung up within the last decade. As the march came closer to the soon-to-be-occupied building, the majority of the drivers passing by yelled and honked their horns in approval.
The group surrounded an abandoned building on 23rd and Alder. A banner reading “OCCUPY EVERYTHING – NO BANKS – NO LANDLORDS (A)” had been draped across the front façade. Someone opened the front door and everyone streamed inside, celebrating the occupation of this new space. People started redecorating with paint and other items while a group outside held an assembly to figure out what to do. At the time of this writing, people are still occupying the building. The current plan is to hold it until Sunday where a public re-furbishing of the building can take place.
By some friends of OO, from Indybay
Last night, after one of the most remarkable days of resistance in recent history, some of us within Occupy Oakland took an important next step: we extended the occupation to an unused building near Oscar Grant Plaza. We did this, first off, in order to secure the shelter and space from which to continue organizing during the coming winter months. But we also hoped to use the national spotlight on Oakland to encourage other occupations in colder, more northern climates to consider claiming spaces and moving indoors in order to resist the repressive force of the weather, after so bravely resisting the police and the political establishment. We want this movement to be here next Spring, and claiming unused space is, in our view, the most plausible way forward for us at this point. We had plans to start using this space today as a library, a place for classes and workshops, as well as a dormitory for those with health conditions. We had already begun to move in books from the library.
The building we chose was perfect: not only was it a mere block from Oscar Grant Plaza, but it formerly housed the Traveler’s Aid Society, a not-for-profit organization that provided services to the homeless but, due to cuts in government funding, lost its lease. Given that Occupy Oakland feeds hundreds of people every day, provides them with places to sleep and equipment for doing so, involves them in the maintenance of the camp (if they so choose), we believe this makes us the ideal tenants of this space, despite our unwillingness to pay for it. None of this should be that surprising, in any case, as talk of such an action has percolated through the movement for months now, and the Oakland GA recently voted to support such occupations materially and otherwise. Business Insider discussed this decision in an article entitled “The Inevitable Has Happened.”
We are well aware that such an action is illegal, just as it is illegal to camp, cook, and live in Oscar Grant Plaza as we have done. We are aware that property law means that what we did last night counts as trespassing, if not burglary. Still, the ferocity of the police response surprised us. Once again, they mobilized hundreds of police officers, armed to the hilt with bean bag guns, tear gas and flashbang grenades, despite the fact that these so-called “less-than-lethal” weapons nearly killed someone last week. The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect one landlord’s right to earn a few thousand every month. Why is this? Whereas the blockade of the port – an action which caused millions of dollars of losses – met with no resistance, the attempt to take one single building, a building that was unused, met with the most brutal and swift response.
The answer: they fear this logical next step from the movement more than anything else. They fear it because they know how much appeal it will have. All across the US thousands upon thousands of commercial and residential spaces sit empty while more and more people are forced to sleep in the streets, or driven deep into poverty while trying to pay their rent despite unemployment or poverty wages. We understand that capitalism is a system that has no care for human needs. It is a system which produces hundreds of thousands of empty houses at the same time as it produces hundreds of thousands of homeless people. The police are the line between these people and these houses. They say: you can stay in your rat-infested park. You can camp out here as long as we want. But the moment that you threaten property rights, we will come at you with everything we have.
It is no longer clear who calls the shots in Oakland anymore. At the same time as OPD and the Alameda County Sheriffs were suiting up and getting ready to smash heads and gas people on 16th St, Mayor Quan was issuing a statement that she wished to speak to us about returning the building to the Traverler’s Aid Society. It is clear that the enmity between the Mayor and the Police has grown so intense that the police force is now an autonomous force, making its own decisions, irrespective of City Hall. This gives us even less reason to listen to them or respect the authority now.
We understand that much of the conversation about last night will revolve around the question of violence (though mostly they mean violence to “property,” which is somehow strangely equated with harming human beings). We know that there are many perspectives on these questions, and we should make the space for talking about them. But let us say this to the cops and to the mayor: things got “violent” after the police came. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and then the barricades were lit on fire. The riots cops marched down Telegraph and then bottles got thrown and windows smashed. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and graffiti appeared everywhere.
The point here is obvious: if the police don’t want violence, they should stay the hell away.
(Occupy Everything! Editor’s Note: Also see the article Taking space – Beyond Adverse Possession: Seeking Revolution in Oakland’s squats from Slingshot! and An Open Letter to the Black Bloc and Others Concerning Wednesday’s Tactics in Oakland)