Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
One day after a man was shot and killed outside the Occupy Oakland encampment, activists said the killing was not connected to their settlement and vowed to remain despite a city demand that they leave immediately.
Oakland police said they did not believe the shooting victim lived among the 180 tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza, regardless of claims from a camp resident who said the man was her cousin and had slept in her tent.
The victim was shot in the head about 5 p.m. Thursday outside a BART station exit at 14th Street and Broadway, on the doorstep of Occupy Oakland. Police have not released his name, and no arrests have been made. Investigators said witnesses told them the suspect was a frequent resident of the Occupy camp over the past several days.
"This didn't happen in front of Occupy Oakland, it happened on the footsteps of City Hall," said Anwar Ali, who has camped in Frank Ogawa Plaza since the encampment was first set up Oct. 10. "This is a tragedy, one that happens all over the city. It would have happened if we weren't here."
Police hand out notices
While rain spattered the camp Friday, a solemn mood settled over the tents, along with the commonly held belief that the city would use the incident to justify their swift removal. Some packed up their dripping sleeping bags and left, but most seemed settled in for the long haul.
As darkness fell, a half-dozen Oakland police officers arrived and handed out hundreds of notices from the city titled, "Demand to cease violations."
"You must remove all tents, sleeping bags, tarps, cooking facilities and equipment and any other lodging material from the plaza immediately," the notice read. "Your continued use of the plaza for overnight lodging will subject you to arrest."
The reaction was the same as it was to such city demands earlier: near-universal refusal.
"I'm going to go smoke a bowl, take a nap and wait for the raid," one 19-year-old man, identifying himself only as Robert E., said as he gleefully lit one of the notices on fire with several friends. "They won't get rid of us without a fight."
Some city officials said the tent city has devolved from an organized encampment into a street-folk settlement, where longtime homeless people and the mentally ill have clustered with hooligans to create a volatile atmosphere.
"One thing that has troubled me is that we're still calling it 'Occupy,' and this is no longer an Occupy Oakland encampment," said City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who once camped in the plaza. "This is not the original crowd, not the one that was about the principles of Occupy Wall Street.
"What we have now," she said, "is a mix: homeless, anarchists, gang members, and maybe a handful left who are really about Occupy. To pretend that this is one thing does a disservice to the Occupy movement and continues to give cover to things that are unacceptable."
A few depart
Brooks said she had heard of no plan to clear the camp. But she noted that some people were leaving in the rain, and said it was a hopeful sign that perhaps at least a few were heeding the call.
In a letter sent early Friday to protesters, the Oakland police union said it wants activists to leave with their "heads held high" so officers can "get back to fighting crime in Oakland neighborhoods."
The encampment still has its defenders. A group of 34 local religious leaders gathered outside the camp's "Interfaith Tent" yards from where the fatal shooting took place to renew their support, while acknowledging city leaders would probably close the camp.
"If it happens, it can't be a violent action with police involvement," said the Rev. Deborah Lee of the Interfaith Immigrant Rights Project. "It has to be another way."
This article comes from the SFGate (sfgate.com).
Occupy Portland: Campers share mixed reactions to approaching Sunday eviction, show no early signs of leaving
Campers waited in anticipation – some in calm acceptance, others in eager excitement – of their 12:01 a.m. Sunday deadline to clear two downtown parks.
Tents, tarps and booths first erected on Oct. 6 were still scattered throughout Lownsdale and Champman squares. Early morning-risers huddled by the coffee booth. Police officers holding masks lingered by the square corners.
Organizers expect that protesters upholding the original political message will stand on the sidelines, leaving a small number of homeless people and those looking for a fight to face off police at midnight.
Charles Stubbs, 32, said he would stay behind to support the people who are now like family to him. For the last three weeks, he has volunteered to patrol the camps as one of the movement’s peacekeepers. As a show of that support, he said he would allow himself to be arrested.
“I feel like my job’s not done yet,” Stubbs said. “I’ll go peacefully.”
There also appeared to be no signs of armed resistance on Saturday morning. After police officers said they removed a truckload of broken rocks and stones on Friday, campers said that most plan to defy police by civil disobedience, not violence. A kids camp has been vacated, and a group of about 100 veterans are expected to later join the movement.
Volunteers at the medical booth said they would stay until the end of the protest. They hoped to stock up at least a gallon of vinegar to treat bodily reactions to tear gas.
On Saturday morning, one of the medical booth volunteers, police and medical personnel responded to a camper suffering from a methamphetamine overdose. Three other overdoses have been reported over the course of the encampment, all related to heroin.
Mayor Sam Adams said at a press conference this week that he worried someone would die from an overdose in the camps. He said he does not want the camp to be "camouflage" any longer for harmful behavior and cited increasing reports of assaults as the main reason for the ordered eviction.
Police officers are prepared to arrest those who stay after the deadline, Police Chief Mike Reese said, and will try to do so in the "nicest possible manner."
Friday, November 11, 2011
“Yeah, like, we're in a sorority, but we're, like, way cooler than the other sororities. 'Maaaaa'.”
“Yeah, like, the other sororities are like, 'blah blah' and we're just like, 'ma'.”
“Yeah, like, the other girls don't even know and stuff.”
“Hahahahahaha!” Their chorus chimed in unison.
My head was spinning. Blah and ma? It doesn't take a freshman level business class and the first Kanye album to know those aren't even greek words. I don't know what I am doing.
So what am I doing? Partying. In a sorority. I've just entered the lions den. Actually, the lioness den.
“So it's like, Casino Night. 'Waaaaaaa'...” One girl explained.
“Yeah, like a fundraiser. For philanthropy.”
“Ohh, what organizations do you support?” I asked.
“Ahh, like, these T-shirts! Aren't they fab?”
“Yes.” I replied. Merely yes.
“Have a shot! Shot, shot, shot, shot shot! Shot, shot, shot, shot shot...!” Another chorus of voices called out like wolves to the moon. And I shot the liquor.
“So what's your name?” I asked a girl to my left.
“What do you mean?”
“What do you mean, what do you mean? What is your name?” I replied, stunned at the return question.
“'Cccsss'. It's Jessica. Like you even know what that is.”
I needed more liquor.
Several shots and several hours later I found myself in a beer pong game as the first of the fraternity guys arrived.
“We're at the party! 'Yyyyrrrrr'!”
Oh my god. What cruel twist of fate has put me in this place. I wondered if guerillas in the wild used such guttural language. There was nothing Grecian about that meat neck call to action.
“Round a' shots!” A tray of shitty vodka was brought to the table. Here goes... I'm out of here after this drink. 'Slam'.
“Another, 'grrrrraaarrrrr', shot!” The frat guy said. “Shot, shot, shot, shot shot! Shot, shot... and with joy, revel, and applause, we transform ourselves to beasts!”
God damn, I thought, not another sho... wait... “Was that Othello?” I asked the guy next to me.
“Duh, bra.” A tight shirt, body builder brohaus said back.
I took the shot. “Really?”
“This guy needs another one. Pour 'em up, Thad.” Lieutenant Hollister on my left said to the group.
“Well, I'm not...” I stuttered.
“Another round! Another quote!” They all demanded.
Shots raised high, a skinny, horizontally stripped homeboy declared, “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous-”
“Enough Shakespeare, Thaddeus, I grow tired of his decrepit speech!” Hollister interjected. I... Was... Stunned...
Without missing a beat, Thaddeus retorted, “Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says to love thy enemy!” 'Slam'. “Is that contemporary enough for you, Conrad?”
“Why not start blowing lines and reading The Rum Diaries for us!” Conrad retorted snidely.
“That was a Hunter S. Thompson quote?” I asked, utterly shocked at the complexity the conversation had taken.
“No, Sinatra. Thaddeus listens to more of the Rat Pack than the 60's. Hahaha!”
“Conrad, please. You wouldn't know good music if you heard it!”
I couldn't believe my ears.
“So you say your Contemporary Business Theory class is less fulfilling than you'd hoped?” I questioned Jessica, the girl from earlier in the night. Late night had become early morning and we were all still in high gear.
“Yeah, I started in pre-law but found the classes too undercutting for my moral code. You can't fabricate the laws of nature and principle. That seems to be all we study in that class. Far too Machiavellian for me.”
“Wow, I couldn't agree more. Perspective is important. Despite justice being blind, it can be dumb too.”
“Haha. You seem like a nice guy.” Jessica said. “Did you ever figure out my name?”
“Excuse me?” I replied.
“Earlier I wondered if you knew what my name meant? If perspective is your deal then this is good perspective on myself.”
“No, I'm not up on my name origins.”
“For spotting Othello earlier I expected more...” She said coyly as I blushed. “The first use of the name Jessica was in The Merchant of Venice. She's Shylock's daughter. The name also comes from Hebrew. It means clairvoyant. You know, I could tell you were a nice guy when I first saw you.”
“Thanks. Could I get your phone number? Maybe I can call you before I leave.” I asked.
“Yeah, here it is. I know your not in town long but we should go get coffee tomorrow or something. Call me. Ohh yes, and another note about the origin of my name... My daddy's, like, totally rich. 'Maaaaa'. He owns a mega-yacht.” Woof, I must be sobering up.
“Lets have another shot then.” I said. “Here's to a long life and a merry one, a quick death and an easy one, a pretty girl and an honest one, and a cold beer and another one!” 'Slam'.
“Here here!” Jessica smilingly replied.
I woke up the next morning on the floor of the hallway. As I thought back to the night before, I couldn't believe what I remembered. Sorority girls, fraternity guys... thoughtful conversations. I really had fun.
As I found my phone I realized I had a missed call and a new message from Jessica. I checked the message. As I listened, it became apparent that it was a pocket dial. Most of the conversation wasn't clear until I heard, “My daddy's like totally rich. He owns a mega-yacht.” And then in my own voice I heard, “Another 'Bbuuffmm'! Shot, shot, shot, shot shot! Shot, shot, shot, shot shot!”
“Fuck yeah!” Jessica then slurred.
Had what I thought about last night been a hallucination? It all seems very real- the conversations, the people, the true connection I felt with this new group of friends. It couldn't have been fake, could it?
As I walked out of the sorority, I saw a lot of the same faces from the night before. Without comment I eased my way outside. Once through the door I recognized the brohauses from the beer pong table.
“Dude, you were, like, 'maa' last night, bra.” One said to another.
“'Cccssshhh'! Whatev dude, you were like 'blah blah' and I was like 'mcgrrrrfffff. Right onto Jessica!”
“Dude, it was all those shots man. Shitty vodka, WTF.”
“Next time just tell Thaddeus to quit quoting Shakespeare and we'll be all right...”
I wrote this as my little drummer boy thank you to Nicole, her roommates, and the nice girls of Kappa Kappa Gamma that I met today. Thanks again for the hospitality!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Organization has been one of the most astounding elements of every Occupy Camp I have visited. You can hear real fatigue in the voice of Mark Bond, the organizer of the Bozeman Occupy march two weeks ago, during our interview after the event. I have heard this in all of the organizers I have talked to since then. It takes tremendous energy to facilitate a social revolution. In this movement, we are all self appointed. We have no leader but each other. And this might just be the scariest part of our undertaking. Given the chance to organize, organizers will step up. Given the chance to antagonize, antagonizes will act out. Given the chance to challenge, challenges will be made for and against our movement. Yet given the chance to live, many have stepped up to create the society we want to see. All of these things have happened. And that is why this movement needs exactly what has occurred: voices en masse, different and similar, coming together to demonstrate life and democracy. Democracy is a messy process when dealing with all of the elements that deserve a voice, not just the convenient ones.
I hear this when I ask people about the major successes and set backs of their camps. Unanimously the biggest problem being the presence of the homeless, addicted, and mentally ill individuals in camps and their associated issues: safety, drug use, and general undesirableness. The other unanimous consensus I find is the decision that these people are as much a part of the movement as anyone else. And though they may take a lot of energy to deal with, evolving society has to start with them. Democracy is a messy process when dealing with all of the elements that deserve compassion, not just the convenient ones.
This isn't the easiest thing for myself, not in philosophy but in practice. One element of the Portland Occupation was the vast number of homeless the camp housed and, again, their related issues. The group of people that welcomed me into their camp also welcomed in a lot of vagrants. And while I know that the only way to have a real social revolution is to address, head on, the problems that these people face, it is still hard for me to feel comfortable in their presence. Democracy is a messy process when dealing with all of the elements that deserve understanding, not just the convenient ones.
So, if democracy is a messy process when dealing with all of the elements that deserve attention, not just the convenient ones, who really needs an education? The middle class in my blood would say we need to educate the street people who need help. But the street person, a very new side to myself no doubt, says my middle class blood needs an education in how to care for real. Homeless, transient, addicted individuals have problems innumerable to my own. They aren't dealing with debt, war, or even a recession. They are dealing with themselves. And many of us turn away in reaction. The real education needs to teach understanding amongst the middle classers, for we are the ones who can change.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
A lot of people got maced. A few got arrested. Part of it felt like a “mock”-military operation. Lots of people used language like, “guard the door,”, “send runners for reinforcements,” and even, “MEDIC!” The most common thing to hear was, “BANG-A-RANG!” That meant more cops cited. It was certainly very intense and a couple of times I thought I would get kettled in with some of the more aggressive elements of the crowd. (Kettling is a tactic using some sort of fencing to surround protesters and arrest them.) Before last night I heard a lot about a non-violent movement at GA and elsewhere but tonight was anything but non-violent.
A lot of people called last night a “victory”, further exemplifying the militaristic ideals many of the protesters held. I don't know if that is how I see it. I saw a lot of aggression amongst both sides, police and public. Argo-perspectives were equal on either side of the picket. And while I totally agree that this has now set a precedent for any hotel that decides to host a Bankster ceo, it worries me that the macho victory that the camp sees will only escalate the stakes next time this occurs.
I thought going into this that a non-violent movement meant everyone is on the same page. Seeing last night really made me rethink that. Non-violence is not the absence of violence but the presence of mind behind the scenes to deal with the ramifications of violence and make preparations to deal with it in the future. I will only call last night a "victory" if it doesn't happen again. Somehow I doubt that as I write it.