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East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Barricades and Encampment Erected at Albany Bulb to Halt Eviction
by FireWorks
Tuesday Nov 19th, 2013 1:52 AM
Report on current encampment against the eviction of the Albany Bulb.

In the late evening of Monday, November 18th, after marching through the streets of Albany to the Albany Bulb, a group of about 30 people gathered near the beach to discuss the current situation facing the wild and autonomous space. Earlier that day, a judge had thrown out a stay away order for the City of Albany launched by Osha Neumann's team to halt the impending eviction of the near 70 or so squatters on the landfill site. The order would have blocked the eviction on the grounds that the city is only offering shelter during the winter time for only 30 Bulb residents, depending on if they have an income, are not on drugs, and are willing to live in a portable housing unit. While it remains unclear when and how the police will start to evict those living on the Bulb, it may begin at any time.

People have been camping on the Albany Bulb since the 1990's and have continued to do so even after a major eviction of the space in 1999. Graffiti artists and sculpture makers also use the space, creating many works of art along the paths and waterfronts of the Bulb. In the last several months, residents and supporters of the Bulb have launched a variety of solidarity actions including street marches, over night camp-outs on the land, mass meetings, home demonstrations of those calling for the eviction, and a concert featuring live music on the Bulb. On Monday however, the mood at the Bulb changed, as many fearing a imminent raid by police created two barricades of rocks and started an encampment on the land. A core group of people are camping on the Bulb to defend the barricades which have been put in place to stop police vehicles from coming into the area but need supplies and supporters.

In the last month, police have increased their presence on the Bulb, issuing citations and in one instance, shot someone's dog and falsified a claim that it attacked them. Those that wish to help the encampment are encouraged to bring supplies of water, food, and toiletries out to the Albany Bulb, located at 1 Buchanan Street in Albany, off of highway 80 by Golden Gate Fields. Consider coming by and donating time, exploring the space, and see what ways you can help. In the coming days, people will be making outreach materials to give out to the public and will need assistance talking with people and distributing them. In the event of a police raid or arrests, people will also be asked to come out to the space and help defend it.

The attacks on the poor and houseless in the face of development and police violence and eviction are nothing new to the bay area. The current struggle at the Albany Bulb shows how united our struggles are against displacement and repression. As the group Phat Beets wrote in a recent statement of solidarity with Bulb residents:

East Bay Regional Park District — doesn't serve the needs of Bulb residents, but rather those invested in developments that will profit from proximity to a nearby green space. Development of areas where houseless people call home is a classic selective-investment strategy and displacement technique all-too-familiar in the Bay Area and world-wide. Similar to the process of gentrification sweeping through Oakland, such strategies see that groups and regions are catered to, accommodated and invested in depending on income-level and perceived political power. Investing in people and affordable housing, rather than waterfront parks, is a clear first step toward a solution with Bulb residents. But instead, in this case, greenwashing is used as a subtle, seemingly innocent guise for the project of development and displacement.

We see this process consistent with the criminalization of poor people who are told that their survival is illegal, made more evident by police evictions and the no-camping ordinance imposed on residents of the Bulb. These methods of displacement are supported by local “environmental” groups such as Citizens for East Shore Park, who have been pushing for state park incorporation for years.

Support the encampment at the Albany Bulb, keep it wild and free!