Sunday, November 06, 2011

Occupy Oakland: What's Next?

As week 4 of the Occupy Oakland movement got underway, I began to notice some drastic changes made to their base camp during my latest daily lunchtime walk-through.   During the raid last Tuesday the 25th, their previous camp had been destroyed, but then just two days later, they knocked down a fence  that surrounded the premises where they camp once lay, and started to reclaim the plaza.  By Monday, the October 31st on Halloween, things were up and running again.

And they were getting organized.

If you rebuild it, they will come

They got fashion

They got their food kitchen off the lawn, onto the cement and passed health inspections

They re-opened different divisions

There was an increasingly anti-Mayor vibe

And they were getting ready for the General Strike on Wednesday

Occupy Oakland was asking the public to boycott work or school for a day of solidarity with the movement and it had sparked support from all over the world (according to all the Occupy Twitter feeds I was subscribed to).  Even Occupy Egypt was in solidarity with the Strike.

There was a renewed amount of energy in the air- and in a strange way, (something that was also noted by the newspaper, East Bay Express that week), the raid on the 25th had given them the kick in the pants that they needed and they were more determined than ever to Occupy.

The occupiers were also nicer to me when I came by with my pink camera phone to snap photos of the lastest changes to the camp. In fact one guy, saw me and exclaimed, "hey, you're back!" and another man flirted with me and called me "gorgeous", while Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" pumped through some speakers as I walked across the lawn.

A very different vibe from before where I felt like I was being shunned because I didn't have died hair and tattoos.  I wondered what was happening.  I figured it was a result of my prayers that I would find favor with the occupiers.

After the group had prepped for two days, the General Strike on Wednesday, November 2nd, had finally arrived.

I was sitting in my cubicle many floors up in my work building, when around 10:30am I heard chanting getting louder and louder from the street below me.

I grabbed my phone, went down the elevators, and ran outside to take some pics:

Right outside my work building:

By 1:30pm,  I could hear music thumpin from across the street and I found myself dancing in my cubicle to:

De La Soul - Me Myself and I by hushhush112

"I'm leaving at 2!" I reminded my boss as I was using some furlough hours to leave work early that day to check out the action in the plaza.

I finally left work, walked across the street, the sun was shining and the smell of suntan lotion was in the air.

It was like a big block party y'all!

Playin Grandmaster Flash

After taking pictures in the sun for two hours, I was beginning to get heat stroke and decided to call it a day and head for my dance class in Berkeley. As I was walking back to where my car was parked, busses were arriving to take the first set of protesters to the Port of Oakland.  They were gonna go shut it down.

At this time it was about 4pm,  and I tried getting back into my work building but protesters had blocked the entrance.

I checked Facebook for updates and my co-worker had posted just two minutes before that our building was on lock down, and the CHP at the front entrance told me to go around the back to enter instead.

A protester leans against our front doors

I got my car out of the garage and while driving away, I found it amusing that I was fleeing to Berkeley to get away from all the protesting.   When I arrived at Shattuck Avenue in the downtown area, I noticed a considerable drop in the homeless people on the sidewalk. Gee, I wonder where they were at.

After my class, I drove home to Oakland to start uploading all of my pictures I had taken of the Strike, while watching the local news and checking Twitter for all the latest updates.  With the exception of some smashed windows and graffiti at a nearby Wells Fargo (by the time I got over to the bank to take pics of the damage around 3pm it had already been boarded up and washed off) , for the most part, the Strike had been peaceful.  The cops were laying low. The protesters had successfully shut down the port and I thought the mission was accomplished for the day.

But it was just getting started.

As early evening  turned to nighttime, I saw on the news that a couple of protesters had been hit by a man in a Mercedes who had been frustrated with the traffic and he just wanted out.  The cops let the driver go.

At 11:30pm, while I was still uploading photos, the last news broadcast had ended and the sound of helicopters went away.  For the next half hour or so, I kept checking Twitter until I was done with my photos. Around midnight, tweets started to report that the Alameda County cops had arrived and had barricaded the northern part of Frank Ogawa Plaza.

I didn't know what was going on, but someone who I had been following on Twitter named "Oakfosho" was streaming live from his camera phone as it was all happening, and I knew I wouldn't be falling asleep anytime soon.

Oakfosho narrated the events because it was hard to see what was happening through his web stream.  I only remember his commentary as he said things like:

"We just got tear gassed -- there goes a fire!"

"Sh**, my camera is only on 15% battery!"

"I need some Maalox!"

"My camera is at 10% battery and my car is on the other side of that barricade of cops!"

Oakfosho needed to get to his car to switch out his camera's battery and had to run 8 blocks while gasping, "I need to occupy a gym!  Not occupy a couch!"

What his camera didn't capture live, I found the next day on You Tube:

At lunchtime, the day after the Strike, I took pictures of the aftermath.

Note on a smashed window at Tully's Coffee Shop

No apology notes found on this window however

Meditating for peace

Cleaning it up

And then I walked over to 520 16th Street, where I had heard that some of the occupiers had tried to take over the building the night before:

A witness who was tear gassed the night before gets interviewed

Cleaning up the side of the building at 520 16th Street

Also on 16th Street

Well, the vandalism did not look too good for the 99%.  Most occupiers blamed a small group of anarchists called "the black bloc" that caused most of the trouble.  On Thursday night, the Oakland City Council had a meeting and there were over 100 people who wanted to speak about what had happened the night before.

From what I read from the Twitter feeds was that the Oakland Police displayed all of the weapons (bottles, rocks, fire extinguishers filled with paint-the usual fanfare) that were used against them.  The Oakland Chamber of Commerce wanted the Occupy Camp to go away.  More here:

By Friday, the focus at Occupy Oakland was mainly on promoting  "Bank Transfer Day" set for Saturday, November 5th and the credit union in my work building was more than thrilled about it:

It's the most wonderful time of the year...
Just in time for the holidays!

 More rain in the forecast lay ahead...

My question now to Occupy Oakland is....what's next?  They had a mostly successful General Strike, (sans the tear gas and vandalism), and Bank Transfer Day seemed to go off without a hitch.   But with two violent clashes with police now on their record - you might say they've been put on "Double Secret Probation" by City Hall. What will their strategy be now, if they are going to move forward and keep from getting kicked off the lawn at Frank Ogawa Plaza and becoming nothing more than a piece of pop culture history on a Wikipedia page?

Knowing that the Occupiers will face the City Council again at their next meeting scheduled in a little over a week, I wonder what the next move of the Occupiers will be?  Would it perhaps, look something like this:

And if that doesn't keep Occupy Oakland from getting kicked off the lawn in front of City Hall, they could always resort to this:

Well, Occupy Oakland, whatever you decide to do, remember.....

To put it in your own words....

For a way more complete set of pictures go here:


Anonymous said...

Everything I've seen in the news pales in comparison to your first-person observer account. Thank you for taking the time to write this up - it's way more real than what I've seen pop up on my news sites!

theresa said...

Awesome! I am glad to be of service!

Anonymous said...

Theresa is our woman reporter "Lois Lane" of Oakland...:) Love Mom

cynthia brannvall said...

thank you TMoney. you were right, I was being a bizzy body scholar. this was wonderful, your writing and photos are so good. I feel like I was there. I feel included.

theresa said...

Yay! I love telling stories!