Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Oakland- Weeks 2 & 3

Well, the last two weeks have been crazy. Last week I was participating in a speed screenwriting competition and had one week to write an 11 page screenplay.   The competition ended on Monday, October 24th at 5pm. I had a pounding headache, but a completed story.  With that under my belt I left off some steam at a local ale house with a friend of mine that night and went to bed around 10:30pm.

The next morning, on October 25th, around 5am, Occupy Oakland's base camp got raided by the police.  I woke up to texts from friends and my mom telling me to turn on the news.

Prior to all the craziness that went down this past week, during "Week 2" of Occupy Oakland (October 17-22)  I was chilling and  writing my screenplay.  For the most part, things down at the Occupy Oakland camp seemed pretty normal by Bay Area standards:

The entrance announcing Nov 5th is Bank Transfer Day

They got the spirit

(for those of you who don't live in the Bay Area, Oscar Grant was an Oakland man who was murdered by a police officer last year)

Still good weather for camping

Art everywhere

Not sure what that means

Donation Station

Sectioned off parts of the camp

A Garden

Recycling Center

A Poop Chute

First Aid Station
(it was here that I saw a man in a wheelchair getting care on his leg)

I guess they would consider this an off-shoot of the First Aid Station

A word of prophecy..


A reporter talking about a piddly 3.9 earthquake we had last week, while a homeless man collapses in the background, attracting a crowd. Her camera faced away from the camp and towards City Hall instead. Little would she know that just a few days later she would be sent back to this location to report in a thick cloud of tear gas.

At this point, Occupy Oakland wasn't getting alot of press and this perplexed me.  But that is probably because it was right outside my front door at work everyday for the past couple of weeks.

But it was also right outside my front door at home as well.

On Saturday, October 22nd, I was sitting on my bed, with the laptop plugged in, having a serious case of writer's block as I tried to work on my screenplay. I checked the Twitter Feed and read a tweet that announced that the Occupy Parade was marching towards my neighborhood. I quickly got up, brushed my teeth, put my hair in a pony tail, grabbed my camera phone and was out the door.

 I started marching ahead of them so I could get some good shots.

As the protesters marched to the end of Lake Park Avenue, cops told the crowd to go "right" and some started veering to the right to head towards Lake Merritt, but a protester with a megaphone yelled, "left!"

So they turned left down Lakeshore Blvd and a voice yelled, "It's a CHASE!"

The group rushed inside a CHASE BANK (which appeared to be unplanned) and filled up the inside yelling and chanting, "Get out the way CHASE!" and "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!"

They threw a bunch of deposit slips in the air and someone smashed an ATM:

Does this really accomplish your goal?

The protesters left and the bank closed for the day to clean up.

Knowing that a Wells Fargo was just down the street, I ran ahead of the crowd and waited for them. Wells Fargo was prepared and locked their doors.

You would think by seeing the wood on the window, that they boarded it up just in case of vandalism, but they just happened to be getting ready to put new ATM's in.

Then they arrived

He's not happy

At this point, I overhead a young woman say about the bankers, "They are shaking in their boots!"

But it didn't look that way:

Banker taking pictures of the protesters

Then the crowd left and headed back towards their base camp. As I watched them march away I got some frozen yogurt. It was a hot day for October!

See you guys next week....

Or so I thought.

That following Monday, I took the day off of work to finish my screenplay, but I had read stories via Twitter that the police have taken the camp's propane tanks away. Something huge was coming. However, that Monday night, I heard the Occupiers had a two week anniversary party. It would be their last party for a few days.

On Tuesday morning, after hearing about the raids, on my way to work I saw that the intersections to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where they had been camping out, had been barricaded off. Only the clean up crew was allowed in there and the place looked more like this:

And the protesters looked like this:

And Walgreens at that very intersection looked like this:

And the utopia the campers had been building, now looked like this:

Needless to say, the protesters were pissed. 

I have a strict policy to only take pictures in the day time, so I did not take any photos of what was about to transpire.

The protesters gathered at the library down the street and marched back to this area to "retake the plaza". After it got dark, apparently things got a little crazy and Jon Stewart can fill you in on the rest:

By Thursday, the Oakland police were now letting people back into the plaza and the Occupiers wasted no time rushing the fence and taking it down. But remember, alot of these protesters are artists, so they couldn't just stack the fence pieces in any old fashion:

Art in the Park

By today, Friday, October 28th, after City Hall had loosened their collars and said the protesters could go back to the lawn (but don't camp, but if you do, we won't evict you just yet, flip flops the Mayor), the protesters were in full swing, having general assemblies and shoot, even Michael Moore and MC Hammer came by.

Okay, I don't have pictures of either one of them.  But I read about it on the Twitter.

Next week, stay tuned for pictures of the next big movement to come out of Oakland:

And please remember to pray for Veteran Scott Olsen. According to the latest Twitter updates, he was wounded in the "riot" on Tuesday night and is still in the hospital and not able to speak:

Get Well Scott

For an even more complete collection of pictures, please visit my picture pages on Facebook:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Oakland: A Picture Blog

Occupiers took over Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland last Monday, October 10th at 4pm.  The plaza is right in front of City Hall, and right behind City Hall is the State Building- where I work.

Every day last week, starting on Tuesday, I came over to the plaza at lunchtime to watch the movement grow.

Tuesday - 10/11 - I saw about 30 tents set up and the beginnings of organization:

Look, they renamed the Plaza:

Information Station Day One

Restroom facilities Day One
(The sign to the right of the tent says: Bathroom)

"The Rules" On Day One

The musicians tent on Day One

Media Tent

Most pimp'n crib on Day One

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Wednesday, 10/12/11, as I walked through the grass and passed people's tents, I heard the beginnings of squabbling. It's hard to co-habitate with others in such close quarters.  Especially if you are pee-ing in a tent.  But people were making the best of it:

And then they no longer had to pee in a tent:

And then there were more signs:

And then the cops came out of a meeting at City Hall and decided to check things out.

Oh yeah, according to his superior, this cop works out. Just trying mess with him.

And some people did:

 I asked one of the cops if they were going to do anything about the camping in the park and he said, "Nah, this is Oakland. It's pretty progressive. As long as people keep the peace, we won't do anything. Shoot, I got family members that would probably be into this."

On Thursday, 10/13/11, I strolled the grounds once again and saw the latest changes to the camp:

Information Station Up and Running

The Rules

The Reads


Get your exercise!

What are you eating?

And More Signs
And the first official march announced:

"...join us as we pass out propaganda and march on banks and government buildings.."

Hey, I work in a government building, so that made me a little nervous, but when Friday, 10/14/11, actually came and it was time for the rally, it was pretty peaceful and chaos did not erupt like during the Oscar Grant protests.

View from our evil government building

Friday, October 14, 2011, was also the day that while I was taking pictures with my Droid X camera, complete with pink cover, that a girl came up to me giving the peace sign and said, "no press".

I had to laugh.  Uh, really, you think I'm the press? I assured her I was not taking pictures of children, (that seemed to be her main concern) and that I was mostly taking pictures of signs.

But also, they are on public property and I do believe I can snap away.

Friday came and went without a hitch. It was pretty uneventful and I left my office after 6pm and drove past the plaza.  There wasn't alot going on.  Stay tuned for Week 2 Blog...