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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | East Bay | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Health, Housing, and Public Services
On the Eve of Our Repression: Communiqué on The Squatting Struggle in Oakland 2/10/13
Communique on Immanent Squat Evictions in Oakland
In our time squatting we've learned unconventional methods of survival. A blurring of means and ends. Not least of these is the ability to adapt, to disappear from one circumstance and hold our ground in others. To understand the difference between defensive and offensive actions.
And once again, the need for action and for offense rises in our hearts. The calls for passivity and obedience ring hollower each day, as building by building our autonomous experiments collapse at the intervention of the Police or the County Pigs. We are forced to look at the escalating repression of squatters and autonomous spaces from within the situation, as new partisans in a social war of evolving terrain.
*The Stayaway has received notice to vacate for Wednesday, February 13th at 6:00am,
*The Hot Mess/RCA Compound (Oakland's Squatted social center) teeters at the outer limit of ability to delay eviction in court, with a final judgement ruled against them on February 8th. Both spaces could face raids on or before Valentine's Day.
The forces of Capital and Order have been chopping the Bay up like a pie, each slice more lucrative than the next. Hot Mess/RCA stands as a bulwark of autonomy amidst a West Oakland landscape that is rapidly transforming into posh condos and shops for the petit-bourgoise of San Francisco's commuter class. An anonymous communiqué from BayofRage published last year spells out the plans for The MacArthur Transit Village, and in a broader sense, the MacArthur Corridor, of which Hot Mess/RCA occupies an important point on:
“Once constructed, the Transit Village will be more a part of San Francisco than of Oakland. The transit village is designed as a commuter enclave. Without ever stepping into the surrounding north Oakland neighbourhoods, yuppies can live near BART, travel to and from work and, on their Friday nights, visit the upscale restaurants on Telegraph. This is not to say that the Transit Village will have a neutral effect on surrounding areas.... there is talk of revitalizing an ailing neighbourhood or, worse, reducing the existing neighbourhood to a blank canvas on which developers can capitalize on a “booming real-estate market.”...the construction on the Transit Village can be anticipated to bring an increased security presence, a fresh assault on graffiti and street art, and scores of new residents sympathetic to the police and unaware of the neighbourhood in which they live.”
- “Oakland is for Burning? Beyond a Critique of Gentrifcation” Bayofrage.com
The Stayaway is an intervention on a different aspect of Capital's restructuring project- the Foreclosure Crisis. This four unit apartment building in the Highland neighbourhood was foreclosed on by Bank of America and left squalid and vacant for years. Bank of America left the house to rot, but in November 2011, squatters were invited by an adjacent neighbor to restore the building, and they methodically scaled back the ivy and blackberry vines that were threatening to swallow the entire property.
The Stayaway is only one among the tens of thousands of foreclosures that have swept across Oakland since 2008. The majority of these foreclosures were on families of color, especially Black and Latino residents of West and East Oakland. In 2011 and 2012, over 40% of foreclosed property sales were to Real Estate Investment groups, not families or individuals with planned tenancy.
This glut in foreclosures has led to countless stories of blighted and vacant properties forgotten by their Mega-Bank owners, who found themselves unable to juggle the thousands of homes they were now responsible for maintaining. The Stayaway has frustrated Bank of America tirelessly in their efforts to resist eviction, having already fended off the Sheriffs successfully in September of 2012 through a combination of barricades, thorough planning, and the presence of over 40+ supporters upon the Sheriffs 8am arrival.
But the eviction notices have come anew, and that is why on the eve of coming repression we find it necessary to define the terrain of our struggle, to elaborate a discourse on autonomous spaces that is simultaneously more than a How-to-Build-The-Barricades manual and more than a screechy list of our grievances and injuries. We are not a militant vanguard , nor are we liberal Citizens clamouring for our rights. We are a counter-power, organized outside of the logic of rental agreements and mortgage payment, landlord and property value. Our ability to hold and maintain space rests not our lines of credit, or valid immigration documents, or building our home-additions up to code: instead our social fabric is woven from a will-full rejection of all of these things.
We'll examine the evident:
1. Capital and the State have begun a massive restructuring and up-scaling of the Greater Oakland area that is inherently hostile to our project of growing autonomous spaces.
2. This re-organization by its nature will seek to eradicate autonomous spaces by swallowing them back into Order and Society. Every formerly Autonomous space will be tamed by re-imposing the social relationships of the Landlord, the Leaseholder, the Tenant, and the Home-Owner.
3. Every eviction of an autonomous space strengthens global capitalism and weakens our ability to organize against it. These evictions reinforce the oppressive social and economic relationships we are seeking to live outside of.
The trajectory of a “Renovated Oakland” in the era of San Francisco's second Tech Boom is as obvious as it is alarming- the creation of infrastructure for an extended commuter metropolis, new surveillance systems with the latest cameras, and the proliferation of Private Security “Ambassadors” who work with business interests and the police to maintain control of the streets. San Francisco will tower over the west coast as a model of The New Tech City, responsible for much of the social infrastructure that increasingly comes to define middle and upper class identity in the era of smart-phone Facebook log-ins and OkCupid dates.
Gentrification and development will march in lock-step through the very streets on which we had once sought reprieve from them.
Social Centers will be demolished to build condos, and squats in foreclosed homes will be evicted by Investment Groups, who will oversee their gutting, remodelling, and finally their marketing for sale.
Much of our shared history of resistance here will be willfully erased, not only by bulldozers and development but in the minds of the new social class arriving that will have neither seen nor care to see the battles for freedom that we've waged here, in recent years and across history, from the Indigenous Ohlone People to the Black Panther Party.
To Draw a Line in the Sand
Against these lapping waves of repression we choose to draw a line in the sand, across our doorstep and before the boots of the fascists. We look at these “Notices to Vacate” from within the situation and understand all the threat of violence that piece of paper implies, the entire Apparatus of State power that throws their weight onto these documents.
We have not forgotten the multiple raids on autonomous spaces here in Oakland and San Francisco.
We have not been deaf to the repression of autonomous spaces close to us in Portland and Seattle.
We have not been blind to the crackdown on squatters in Moscow, Athens, Barcelona, and throughout the world: on the contrary we have watched closely and found recognition of our struggle in yours. They are the same struggle, the same position against the system that is not reducible to ballot-casting or Voting Yes, but a real and tactical position in contested territory of the Social War.
We have exhausted ourselves in the courts of Bourgeois justice, stretching our knowledge of legalese and eviction law to their extent. But the courts were not able to save us; they were not designed to legitimize our struggle. Instead, we return to the defensive position we began in, holding a space and refusing to move.
Our call then is not only for the protection and defence of The Stayaway and the Hotmess/RCA, but for a renewed offensive of cracking houses in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the world: One, One Hundred, One Thousand Squats! And if we succumb to eviction, then we would see the boarded windows of our former homes fall to the crowbar and hammer, we would see the fences clipped full of holes and torn down for the continuance of our struggle for new social arrangements in opposition to the system.
LONG LIVE ANARCHY
IN SOLIDARITY WITH SQUATTED SPACES EVERYWHERE
IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE 100 GREEK COMRADES ARRESTED DURING THE RE-OCCUPATION OF VILLA AMALIA IN ATHENS
FOR AN ANARCHIST REVOLUTION AGAINST PROPERTY AND THE STATE
TOWARDS THE BUILDING OF EXARCHIA
- Some Oakland Anarchists