Occupy Forum presents . . . “Strengthening Our Understanding of One Another to Persevere” on Monday, March 30

“Strengthening Our Understanding of One Another to Persevere”

Monday, March 30th 2015 OccupyForum from 6 – 9 at Global Exchange

After consideration of the wishes of members of the trans community, Deep Green Resistance will not be presenting at OccupyForum on Monday March 30th. I apologize to the trans community for insensitivity and ignorance about these issues. We offer the trans community the opportunity to schedule an OccupyForum to explain their position.

On Monday, we will open the Forum to discussion about how we can work together as a movement to strengthen our understanding of each other, and persevere in our work. We also appreciate the unique understanding of the dire straits of our planet and the strategic thinking that DGR has revealed to us. 

–Ruthie

“Berkeley Declares War on the Homeless — Part II” by JP Massar (dailykos.com)

There are those who call Berkeley’s streets home. And then there is the Berkeley Downtown Association. Those on Berkeley’s streets probably don’t think much at all about the BDA per se  – they just want a safe place to keep their stuff and to sleep. The BDA, on the other hand, thinks about the homeless all the time. The BDA wants development. It does not want the homeless in downtown Berkeley, and while it will go to great lengths to sound compassionate and reasonable about their plight, it has gone to even greater lengths to eject the homeless from Berkeley’s downtown.

 photo berkeley-homeless-sleep-not-crime_zpsbxjxme2o.jpg

Two years ago the BDA sponsored and financed a sit-and-lie ballot initiative to criminalize homelessness. It narrowly failed.

Around that time the BDA also created its own army of “hospitality ambassadors” who patrol downtown Berkeley cleaning up trash (good), assisting tourists (good) and harassing the homeless (bad). They had been restrained in how much harassment they could get away with without raising the hackles of Berkeley’s civil libertarians until… the number of homeless began to increase. And increase some more. And “Something had to be done.” Then…

Just weeks ago the BDA exerted its political muscle and convinced six of the nine members of Berkeley’s City Council (they didn’t need much convincing) to put into motion the process for passage of criminalizing ordinances that would push the homeless away and effectively into Alameda County’s jails – to Declare War on the Homeless (Part I).

Although nothing has yet been enacted, in beginning the process the BDA and the City Council sent a loud and clear message to the Berkeley police, BDA’s ambassadors, and the online trolls who have no other purpose in life but to write nasty and subtly threatening comments about the homeless: it was open season on people in the streets.

And so this came to pass:


Berkeley ‘Hospitality Ambassador’ Punches Homeless Man in Face, Continues the Beating. Homeless Man Arrested.

We watch as one of BDA’s ambassadors and a man face off, just inches apart and screaming at each other (obvious no-nos to begin with on the part of the so-called ambassador). Then the BDA employee delivers a hard right to the man’s jaw, and commences pummelling him. Mayhem ensues.

All this would have been bad enough, if not for what happened afterwards. The ambassadors reported the incident to their supervisors but blatently lied about what happened.

“((The)) report did not represent the extent and severity of the altercation, describing the event as an act of self-defense by the ambassador”

Why not lie, after all, for who would believe homeless people over them? (Not unlike a number of instances of police reports describing beatings for which video was later revealed)

Hours after the confrontation, on Friday evening, March 20th, the police came and arrested the homeless duo, taking them off to jail for the weekend. On Monday, they were arraigned and for whatever reasons copped to various misdemeanors in a plea deal.

… both already had entered no contest pleas Monday for misdemeanor battery, and were sentenced to two years of probation. According to the district attorney’s office, they received credit for time served, will have to pay into a restitution fund, and will be subject to law enforcement searches and prohibited from possessing weapons. They also were ordered to stay away from the downtown Berkeley CVS.

Unbeknownst to almost everyone the above video had been recorded, and it was posted sometime on Sunday. Not ’til Thursday, however, did it get any attention when a local newspaper, Berkelyside, wrote up the story and embedded the video on their website.

 photo berkeley-homeless-flyer-dba_zps08sjwnrq.jpg

As you might imagine, then the shit hit the fan. The BDA ambassador who threw the first punch was fired and the other one suspended. The story got picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and The UK’s Guardian in Friday’s editions. The youtube video has been viewed almost 35,000 times (as this is being published). BDA officials profusely apologized (mostly for being caught on video, we assume). Of course it was too late – the two victims were now injected (or re-injected) into the criminal injustice system.

The City Councilor who sponsored the new legislation stated during the debate on it (to guffaws) that she did not wish to criminalize the homeless. And yet even before the proposals are implemented we have prima facie evidence that, unlike Dorothy, her wishes are not coming true (or maybe they are).

 photo berkeley-homeless-keys-not-handcuffs_zpscddp7ov2.jpg

Let’s be clear: by the very act of proposing such legislation, let alone enacting it, something similar to what happened here was bound to happen, if not sooner, then later.  And it may in fact have already happened more than once – just not caught on video.

We’ve soon enough seen the result of effective carte blanche given to the DBA and the Berkeley Police to “deal” with the homeless and “enforce our laws.” Do we need to wait until someone is much more seriously injured, or even killed, before realizing and effecting what study after study has shown – criminalizing the homeless is not the answer.

—–

Credits:

These pictures were first published on the First They Came for the HomelessFacebook, credited to ‘Menefee.’

FTCftH also posted the following statement:

The war on the poor is happening now in Berkeley. The Downtown Business Association represents the money. The people who don’t have any don’t count. Get the homeless away from the businesses. Make it so they can’t be on the sidewalk. This is the plan. Unfortunately for them, we know it’s our sidewalk too. And we aren’t giving up our rights because of a few greedy people.

Statement from an East Bay Community Law Center legal activist:

Osha Neumann, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, said, “Multiple times in the past couple months, private citizens have recorded Berkeley Police arresting homeless people with disabilities in ways that resulted in injuries. This incident differs only in that the shirt is yellow rather than blue.Just last week, the DBA brought to Berkeley’s City Council a slate of six new anti-homeless laws that criminalize everyday activities. This isn’t a coincidence. When the DBA pushes for criminalization, police and ambassadors feel pressured to use force to push homeless citizens out of public spaces. We don’t want to see just the one guy who got caught fired: We want the DBA to end its campaign of criminalization and brutality against homeless people. If they want to address homelessness, then they need to be good faith members of the community, and participate in public processes like the Homeless Taskforce.”

“Noam Chomsky: the Left’s Debbie Downer?” by Steven Strauss (socialism.com)

Steven Strauss

Like so many people appalled by the cruelty of capitalism, I have sought some measure of explanation from the voluminous writings of Noam Chomsky. But despite a gripping anti-authoritarian message, and mountains of facts, Chomsky’s fundamental vision is gloomy, pessimistic — and dangerous. A recent essay reveals this in no uncertain terms.

In “Owl of Minerva’s View: ISIS and Our Times” attruth-out.org, Chomsky writes: “It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.”

For Chomsky, the apocalyptic end is situated right where civilization began, in the Fertile Crescent. “What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend.” He chronicles this descent: Clinton’s sanctions against Iraq. George W.’s war and its stirring up of sectarian divisions. Then ISIS, sectarianism gone berserk, mainly as a result of U.S. actions.

Having created a monster, the U.S. now has a “justifiable concern” about ISIS, according to Chomsky. One can only imagine what fresh horrors Washington might consider justifiable in response to this concern.

Turning next to the crisis of climate change, Chomsky brings together the decline of both the social and the physical world. Sadly, he closes not with a call to rise up and replace imperialist power with the power of the oppressed, but with the politically irresponsible and depressing cadence of a funeral dirge: “Sad species. Poor Owl.”

Such pessimism can only derive from misguided analysis, because history demonstrates that people fight for freedom no matter how long it takes, and against all odds.

Chomsky’s body of ideas combines defeatism, an anti-leadership “libertarian socialism,” and an almost blanket rejection of the usefulness of social theory. He doesn’t believe there are historical laws regarding social forces that move humanity backward or forward. But these laws do exist, and understanding them is necessary in order for people to change their conditions.

And, abhorring the abuse of power that characterizes capitalism and Stalinism, Chomsky opposes leadership and power generally, even in the movements of the oppressed. Instead, movements are supposed to fight without leaders — with their hands tied behind their backs, in other words.

By excluding both social theory and leadership, Chomsky’s vision amounts to mere wishful thinking, with the baseless dream that leaderless do-gooders can change the world. But wishful thinking can only be sustained with more wishful thinking. This is exhausting, and it seems in Chomsky’s case to have led ultimately to resignation, even nihilism, broadcast in a message of defeat.

In discussing the supposed descent of the human species, Chomsky is actually revealing the descent of his flawed anarchist analysis of social change.

As opposed to Chomsky’s doomsday message, Marxism explains how humanity can ascend to end oppression. A science of social forces and how society ascends, Marxism is simultaneously realistic and optimistic about humanity’s future.

Marxism explains why the working class is the only social force that can end capitalist rule. But to be this positive force it must be organized, and to be organized it must have leadership. Marxism, as an evolving philosophy carried on by socialist thinkers and doers like V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, explains how a revolutionary, working-class political party expresses the leadership of that class, and the role of workers’ democracy as a safeguard against authoritarianism.

The Freedom Socialist Party also carries on this living tradition. Founder Clara Fraser launched the first socialist feminist party, with an analysis of and emphasis on the special leadership role of the world’s most oppressed.

Chomsky is blinded by the evils he correctly sees in the power held by oppressive rulers. He mistakenly insists that it is power itself which is evil, rather than the class society which enables a minority to oppress the majority.

Working-class power is a fundamentally different animal. It is the power of the 99 percent. The historic mission of the working class is to fight for the entire species, to prevent capitalists from dragging us all down. To win, we need organization and leadership. We need the revolutionary party.

Dr. Strauss is a neurologist and author. Send feedback to fspbaltimore@hotmail.com.

“Homelessness advocates rally after video of Berkeley assault surfaces” by G. Haley Massara (dailycal.org)

Berkeley homeless

March 27, 2015

Homeless rights advocates gathered Friday to protest the treatment of Berkeley’s homeless population after the release of a video clip that appears to show a Berkeley ambassador assaulting a homeless man.

In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday, an ambassador — one of several workers employed by the Downtown Berkeley Association, or DBA, to clean up and patrol the Downtown area — appears to strike a homeless man and shove another after a verbal dispute. The ambassador has since been fired, and the second ambassador involved in the incident has been suspended pending an investigation.

In protest of this incident, the demonstration occurred along Shattuck Avenue on Friday afternoon, and participants wrote slogans in chalk on sidewalks. A group of as many as 15 chanting protesters then marched to Berkeley’s Public Safety Building.

The event’s spokesperson, David Teague — often referred to as Ninja Kitty — said that while the two homeless men in the video clip were being verbally aggressive, they acted within their legal rights. He said the Downtown homeless population has had similar confrontations with ambassadors before, albeit not ones caught on film.

“It doesn’t stem (from) this individual ambassador,” he said at the demonstration. “When it comes to an ambassador’s word against (a) homeless (person’s), the ambassador’s word is gold.”

But John Caner, CEO of the DBA, said the assault — which he called “shocking” — was the product of a single problematic individual. He said the DBA will also be expanding the training program for its ambassadors in response to the incident.

“We understand the community is upset, and they should be,” Caner said. “We’re taking steps to do whatever we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Sarah Menefee — founding member of First They Came for the Homeless, a Berkeley homeless advocacy group — agreed with Teague, calling the filmed incident a “last straw.” She added that homeless people are being targeted in both “the streets and the legislature,” in reference to a plan by City Council to regulate streetside behavior.

George Lippman, vice chair of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, said the ambassador program needs greater accountability. He said that in the video, the ambassadors were “clearly trying to enforce something,” but that what — and on what authority — is less certain. He added that the commission will likely discuss the incident at its next meeting.

“Before business as usual is allowed to continue, we need clarity about (the ambassadors’) role beyond cleaning streets and giving directions,” he said.

The two homeless men involved in the altercation with the ambassadors were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, threats, brandishing and probation violation, according to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Jennifer Coats. According to a press release by the demonstration’s organizers, the men were released Monday on a plea bargain.

The DBA and Block by Block, the contractor through which the ambassadors are employed, have both apologized for the incident.

G. Haley Massara is a news editor. Contact them at gmassara@dailycal.org and follow them on Twitter @BylineGraph.

First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.

A couple of days ago, a community ambassador beat up a homeless man. Today we respond. A small group of activists and homeless talked to reporters and chalked some messages in front of the ambassadors office.

The war on the poor is happening now in Berkeley. The Downtown Business Association represents the money. The people who don’t have any don’t count. Get the homeless away from the businesses. Make it so they can’t be on the sidewalk. This is the plan. Unfortunately for them, we know it’s our sidewalk too. And we aren’t giving up our rights because of a few greedy people.

Today’s action brought out a LOT of reporters. Our group is occupying the post office and we don’t get the news unless it printed. If you find links to what happened today, please post in the comment section. Thank you.

–Mike Zint

Action Council – 5 New Announcements

Occupy SF

~ ACTION COUNCIL ~

Websites:

OccupySF Action Council: http://occupyactionsf.org

OccupySF: http://occupysf.org

5 – ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Friday, March 27

M 27, Friday, 4:00pm, Chalking on Shattuck –  Response to Battery of Homeless Person in Berkeley by an Ambassador 

Meet at Shattuck & Allston Way
Berkeley

Chalking on Shattuck Ave.  in direct response to the battery of a homeless man by a community ambassador. The ambassador program is a step by business districts towards privatization of the police.

Video: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/03/26/video-downtown-berkeley-worker-assaults-homeless-man/

What happened here is not okay. We must make a stand and say no, this is not acceptable behavior.

The ambassador office is located under the Shattuck Theatre, by Starbucks.   around the corner from the post office.

Sponsor “First They Came For The Homeless…”

Info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-they-came-for-the-homeless/253882908111999?fref=nf

Saturday, March 28

M 28, Saturday, 1:00pm,Solving the Affordable Housing Crisis: A Town Hall Meeting (Location change) 

New Location:

Brava Theater
2781 – 24th St (@ York St.)
SF

Rents in San Francisco and in the neighborhood are going through the roof. Speculators are evicting long-time residents so they can raise rents, flip homes and sell off apartments for a quick buck. Increasingly, working families can’t afford to live here, and developers are building only for the 1 percent.

The housing market isn’t working! Join us as we discuss how we can fight to save our homes and make sure housing is for human need, not corporate greed.

info, contact hostSF ACCE at 415-335-7033 or email sfacce@calorganize.org

Endorsers include Calle 24 and Senior & Disability Action (list in formation)

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/837193156327586/

Sunday, March 29

M 29, Sunday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Justice 4 Jabari, Anniyah, & Mary

East Side Arts Alliance
2277 International Blvd
Oakland

According to the East Bay Express and eyewitness testimony, U.S. Marshals were surveilling a home in East Oakland when community organizer Jabari Shaw exited the building with his four-year-old daughter. Shaw and his daughter entered the car, driven by close friend Mary Vaillancourt. Federal officers, dressed in plainclothes, approached the car with weapons drawn but failed to identify themselves clearly as law enforcement. Unsure of their identity and fearing for her life, Vaillancourt accelerated away from the scene, prompting several unmarked cars to pursue them. When officers identified themselves as law enforcement by flashing their lights, Vaillancourt attempted to stop at a red light, but the car was rammed from behind by pursuing officers, propelling the vehicle through the intersection and into the back of a Paratransit van.

On Sunday, March 29th from 1-4 pm a fundraiser is being held to help with costs associated with incident.

Host: Tur-Ha Ak and Cat Brooks

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/753057438143445/

Monday, March 30

M 30, Monday, 3pm-5pm & M 31, Tuesday , 6am-8am– OCCUPY BEALE AFB- Monthly NO DRONES Vigil & Peace Encampment

Mar. 30, Monday, 3pm-5pm,  Vigil, Main Gate, end of N. Beale Rd.

Mon. Night Potluck & Encampment, Main Gate, N. Beale Rd

Mar. 31Tuesday, 6-8am, Vigil, Wheatland Gate, S. Beale Rd. and Ostrom Rd.

Important:  After Wheatland Gate vigil we will carpool to Main Gate for Press Conf:

PRESS CONFERENCE, 8:30 am, Main Gate

Kick-Off for Anti-Drone TV Ad to be aired next week in Marysville/Beale AFB Region. This ad was aired on prime time TV in Las Vegas area:

Watch powerful AD here:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRuXKpxZWys&feature=youtu.be 

Info: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyBealeAirForceBase?fref=ts

Tuesday, March 31

M 31, Tuesday, 3:00pm – 6:00pm, March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve

San Antonio Park
Oakland, CA

Join Oakland teachers, students and families to March for the Schools Oakland Students Deserve.

3:00 Family-friendly activities at San Antonio Park (face painting, music, sign making)
4:00 Rally
4:30 March to OUSD headquarters (1000 Broadway)

We march for:
— A better contract for students and teachers – Class size matters! Invest in teachers to stay in Oakland!
— Keep Public Schools Public – No school closures and charter conversions!
— Smaller Caseloads for Special Education – Special Education students deserve high quality education & individualized attention!
— Money for school sites not upper admin! Send funding to school sites–more teachers, aides, counselors, staff, and supplies.
— Counselors not Cops!!! – With just the money OUSD is spending on school police, the district could place a full-time restorative justice counselor in every school

Host: Schools Oakland Students Deserve

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/859143810811886/