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#OccupyOakland Rise Up #J28 Festival Weekend
Report from J29 Oakland’s Rise Up Festival with 15 min audio of first hand accounts from Move-In march and speakers David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic including the ideas that the strategy of squashing direct democracy with war mobilization has run its course, the importance of conflict, and expanding on the anarchism inherent in friendship and love.
The afternoon of January 28 Occupy Oakland initiated a Rise Up Move-In festival weekend to reclaim an empty space for a community service and organizing center and celebrate with food, live music and poetry, films, arts and crafts, de-escalation training, trauma and self care, basic pepper spray and CS gas training, anti-bureaucratic critique, what California can learn from Latin America, connecting the struggles from Oakland to Syria, Egypt and Palestine, foreclosure and know your rights workshops, and speaker panels.
I spend the day at a community chorus rehearsal, arriving home to find that clashes with police even before dark have made news headlines internationally, showing flash bang grenade explosions, tear gas, hurling of bottles and even a few chairs. I watch on a live Ustream video feed as the march continues nonetheless, with this tweet coming in at 6:36pm: “March kettled at 23rd and broadway. We need folks here asap.” What does “kettled” mean? It’s a police crowd containment tactic. Another tweet comes in at 7:37: “People have broken into city hall. Standoff with police. Support needed…” Not right.
More headline shots from a live video feed show people corralled by police mid-march alongside the downtown Y. Some escape into the building. Imagine your step machine work out joined by a wash of adrenalized gunpowder-infused runners. At 8:26, even as the upwards of 300-400 marchers are still being processed and loaded into buses, this tweet comes through: “A reminder that the OO Rise-Up Festival is still happening tomorrow at back-up location, Oscar Grant Plaza…see the website for details”.
Focusing on serving need, I wedge bags of apples, bananas, and oranges into my bike basket and ride to the plaza in front of downtown’s City Hall the next day. I pass most of the fruit out to a long line of people waiting for BBQ courtesy of Oakland family-owned loyalists Everett and Jones. The rest I leave nearby. An elderly woman barely peaking above her shopping cart of possessions catches my eye and thanks me.
The amphitheatre in from of City Hall is buzzing with circles of people in the middle of sharing their reactions to last night. Including those around the food area, between three to four hundred people have come to support Occupy Oakland’s festival Like the open forum on January 8 which I wrote about in http://redroom.com/member/jane-p-perry/blog/occupy-oakland-in-2012, people are taking turns voicing what is on their minds, mostly fact-checking from first hand reports. Back together as a whole group, people line up to speak. One woman says that Occupy Oakland can feel proud that people fearlessly remained in the streets to continue the march after the barrage of police attacks. “This was good practice. We are learning.” She says that once again because of police actions, the world knows that Occupy Oakland is going strong. A woman accurately identifying herself as “slight and small” tells us she was confronted by three police and when she said she had the right to voice her opinion, she was thrown down. She had a visible bump on her forehead. A man from OccupyLA says he felt he was being led on the march by the police at the same time as being fired upon. “It was great!” he says enthusiastically. Another woman from Hilo, Hawaii says she was terrified and urges nonviolence.
Speakers Corrina Gould, Michelle, Luta Candelaria and Chris Oakes present on Indigenous and Anti-Colonial Struggles, highlighting our local Ohlone tribe perspective and the importance of de-colonizing our minds. We hear lessons from a local author on the Pullman railroad worker strike of 1894. Due to exorbitant rents in required employee housing owned by Pullman, federal troops ended that strike.
I return after warming up with some tea to find a newly-laid still-being-completed black and white chalked declaration at the entry to City Hall Plaza: “ FREEDOM,” bordered in “Religion,” “Press,” “Peaceful Assembly,” “Protest,” and “Speech.” Walking amongst small groups scattered throughout the plaza I hear:
“They are just going to have another class action lawsuit.”
“I just got out but several of my friends are still in.”
“So, they have to issue a call to disperse, but there has to be exit points.”
“One thing is to have cars there so when people get out they have a ride.”
This last suggestion is heard by a properly dressed middle aged white woman, who nods in assent: “So going to Santa Rita jail would be a help.”
Her companion adds, “I’ve got GPS. We can figure out where to go.” Community compassion at Occupy Oakland.
Soup and cornbread, and later, roasted veggie and greens are served by the same tenderly effusive woman working the BBQ plates this afternoon, making sure everyone gets served as much as they want. A man behind me in line tells someone on his cell that “Santa Rita was hella crazy.” Back at the amphitheatre, the LIBRARY identifies itself with a banner draped on the steps next to the FREE SCHOOL banner, similarly draped. I am greeted by a young man just arriving. We recognize familiar faces at this point. As it gets darker, faces become harder to see. I hear the voice of the man who I talked with in October and who last week disavowed membership in Occupy Oakland during the San Francisco financial district protest. The jester from that January 20th action stands near me.
Over dinner we hear a conversation between anarchist anthropologist and member of Occupy Wall Street, David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic. Andrej Grubacic credits David Graeber with coining the 99% notion. After a historical review of the global revolutionary movement (who knew it’s relatively young emergence in the 1860’s – I thought the timelessness of the power elite was always accompanied by at least an undercurrent of anarchy), I write down these snippets from the conversation:
“The only way to change the world is to take over the State and then invent a new system.”
“The Wobblies in 1917 – farmers from Oklahoma – Native Americans, African Americans, White Americans.”
“Corporate feudalism might be born of the collapse of Capitalism.”
Meanwhile, three Oakland police officers in casual baseball hat attire stand guard beyond this gathering at the door of City Hall. I continue writing:
“The War on Imagination.”
“Our job is to show them exactly what they are afraid of.”
Someone behind me says, “They are fighting over there.” I look up past the speakers, where the three police have formed a loose semicircle. A tall man is bent forward talking to the officers while his head nods in staccato. I am as much impressed with the casual though astute observation of my audience mate as I am with the strident affect of the far off conversant. The speakers remind the audience that while repression from the 1% can impact goods and services, “the stuff we are made of will never go away.”