Hyde Street Post Office (from Mike Zint)

First they came for the homeless's photo.

Once upon a time, we occupied the Hyde St. Post Office in San Francisco. This is the main general delivery post office and it is used by the homeless. Our occupation saved this location, the Bayview location, and two more in sf. Well, they are again going after Hyde St.

Removing services from poor communities is the goal. Public if you’re rich enough.

–Mike Zint

DEBTOCRACY (full documentary — English subtitles) via Angelina Llongueras

For the first time in Greece a documentary produced by the audience. “Debtocracy” seeks the causes of the debt crisis and proposes solutions, hidden by the government and the dominant media.

Editor/Script Katerina Kitidi
Aris Chatzistefanou
Scientific Research Leonidas Vatikiotis
Animation Magda Plevraki
Sokratis Galiatsakos

Giannis Agelakas
Ermis Georgiadis
Aris RSN

Edit Aris Triantafillou
Camera Aris Papastefanou
ulia Reinecke
Coloring Thanos Tsantas
PR Michalis Alimanis
Contributors Aggeliki Gaidatzi
Fani Gaidatzi
Ioulia Kileri
Margarita Tsomou
Production Costas Efimeros
2011 – BitsnBytes.gr


“Oakland letting activists tend land they seized — for now” by Rachel Swan (sfchronicle.com)

Jaime Omar Yassin checks out the books at the “people’s library” and community garden next to the abandoned Miller Avenue Library, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle 

The corn grows thick and tall outside Miller Library, a vacant city-owned Spanish Colonial building in Oakland’s Fruitvale district. Seized by activists in 2012, it’s now flanked by a community garden on one side and piles of debris on the other. City officials have all but given up trying to take it back.

“They pretend we don’t exist,” said Jaime Omar Yassin, 46, an outspoken member of Occupy Oakland who helped commandeer the property three years ago, in what was supposed to be a four-hour Occupy demonstration. Instead, it has become a permanent settlement.

Yassin and a small crew of neighborhood folks help tend the garden, christened the Biblioteca Popular Victor Martinez in honor of a local writer who died of cancer in 2011. Initially, police tried to kick them off the property, Yassin said, and city officials sealed the building’s entrances.

“It was very tense,” Yassin said. “The police were here 24/7. There was always a car running.”

Undeterred, demonstrators returned and set up milk crates of books around the sidewalk. Then someone cut the fence to the property and installed planter boxes to

“They kicked us out, and we just came back,” Yassin said. “They got sick of kicking us out. And now they just pretend we’re not here.”

A community fixture

The garden is a community fixture. It has official Facebook and Twitter pages, and its volunteers offer free ESL classes every Monday. The plants are coarse but tidy, arranged in large planter boxes and surrounded by fruit trees. A book stand in one corner bears travel guides, Spanish literature and a Tom Wolfe novel, all up for grabs. Yassin said the group, now loosely known as the Miller Building Community Reclamation Project, never enters or uses the building.

The city no longer seems interested in forcing the occupiers off the property.

“As long as its maintained, we have other things to do,” said Fruitvale district Councilman Noel Gallo, who has grudgingly accepted the Occupy group. The Miller building needs about $10 million in upgrades, he said, and so far, the city hasn’t found a developer willing to take it on.

Mayor Libby Schaaf couldn’t be reached for comment. Oakland’s Director of Economic and Workforce Development Mark Sawicki said that while the city doesn’t condone the Biblioteca Popular or other appropriated gardens, “It is difficult to prevent or stop them from returning.”

From left: Jovanny Rios, age 12, and Isaac Sanchez, age 13, check out the garden, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Both help maintain it. Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle
Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle

“It puts the city in a difficult spot,” Sawicki said. “There are safety issues, and people shouldn’t be growing vegetables on soil when we don’t know whether it’s contaminated.”

Biblioteca Popular is one of several city-owned plots in Fruitvale that have been appropriated by protest groups or residents, some of whom have cut locks or burrowed through fences to put the land to use. The Miller building, which for decades served as a public library on Miller Avenue, sits just blocks away from the Fruitvale Community Garden, on Foothill Boulevard. That land, owned by the city and leased to the East Bay Wilds Native Plant Nursery, was choked with weeds before a loose band of community organizers took it over in 2012. It’s now festooned in rose bushes and tomatoes.

Nearby on International Boulevard lies another vacant lot, where other activists have cut holes in the fence and draped banners along the periphery, proclaiming the property an “Indigenous Land.”

That “Indigenous Land” is in negotiations to become a Nike store, Councilman Gallo said.

Locals built the community garden next to the abandoned Miller Avenue Library, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Cuellar helps Yassin maintain the garden. Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle 

With Oakland in the midst of a revival, it’s unclear how much longer the gardens will survive.

Nike isn’t the only sign of change in this traditionally working-class neighborhood. A one-block strip near Interstate 880 now houses a brewery, 25 artist studios and a high-end architecture design firm. A trendy home-and-garden store offers classes in beekeeping and preserving. Grocers have converted liquor stores into full-service markets, while artists have painted flashy murals on the sides of buildings. According to Gallo, Google has eyed properties near the Fruitvale BART Station with the intent of creating new job training centers. Google declined to comment, but a source within the company said it’s “exploring Oakland and other cities” as part of an effort to diversify its workforce.

But as Fruitvale is transformed by investment and creativity, many of its longtime residents worry the new development will push them out. The gardens, in one sense, have allowed residents to lay claim on an area they’ve long called home — and places that the city seemed to have forgotten about.

Turning a blind eye

For years, city officials, it seemed, turned a blind eye to the vacant lots and buildings in Fruitvale. Larry Gallegos, the city staffer who oversees real estate projects in East Oakland, said he was aware of the occupied parcels but wouldn’t comment further.

Gallo, who has long crusaded against blight in his district, said the Miller Library was a dump site for old mattresses and dead dogs when activists took it over. The lot that now houses the Fruitvale Community Garden was similarly dilapidated.

“That lot is a space we created for our community,” said Michael Muscadine, 29, a former gang injunction defendant and fifth-generation Oaklander who helped start the Fruitvale Community Garden.

Muscadine is apprehensive about changes he’s seen in the neighborhood.

“I see a lot of families moving out because they can’t afford housing,” he said. “And more folks are buying homes and moving in.”

Community members painted the walls with messages at the community garden and “people’s library” next to the abandoned Miller Avenue Library, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle

The Fruitvale Community Garden might stay put, so long as the land it’s occupying is leased from the city by Pete Veilleux, owner of the East Bay Wilds nursery. Veilleux said he didn’t know the garden was part of his plot until about a year ago, when the city asked him to evict the group that ran it.

He refused.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Veilleux said. “We need more gardens and community green space.”

Uncertain fate

The fate of Biblioteca Popular Victor Martinez seems shakier.

“We don’t have a lease. We don’t have a legal right to be there,” Yassin said, adding that he’s aware the city could come in at any time and raze all the vegetable beds.

Yet Gallo said that he and other officials have thrown up their hands. He said a few charter schools and churches have expressed interest in the Miller building, but none of them can cover the cost of seismic improvements and restoration of the historic facade.

For now, the Miller Library will remain empty, even as the neighborhood evolves. The activists have become the property’s de facto groundskeepers.

“They’re at least taking out the trash,” Gallo said.

Rachel Swan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: rswan@sfchronicle.com

Twitter: @rachelswan

OccupyForum presents . . . “On Company Business” – a documentary about the CIA (on Monday, August 17)

This is a 3 hour documentary! Please arrive on time! We will begin at 6 promptly!

Monday, August 17th from 6 – 9 pm at Global Exchange

2017 Mission Street near the 16th Street BART station

Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!

Occupy Forum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue

on all sides of these critically important issues!

OccupyForum presents…

“On Company Business” – a Documentary

An award-winning documentary directed by the late Allan Francovich, On Company Business takes a long, penetrating look at one of the world’s most powerful secret organizations — the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Decades before WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, On Company Businessprovided a peek behind the curtain of covert operations by featuring exclusive interviews with CIA employees. The film stirred such controversy that it was removed by PBS after a single showing in response to protests by sponsors. On Company Business won the International Critics Award for Best Documentary at the 1980 Berlin International Film Festival.

Alan Francovich is the producer and director of On Company Business on the CIA — the acclaimed three-hour documentary (Inside the CIA: On Company Business, 1980) –which took five years to make and required massive, world-wide research. The movie has won prizes at international film festivals and has been shown in over 30 countries. Francovich reports that the US government and the CIA have harassed him and have applied pressure to restrict the movie’s distribution.

Inside the CIA: On Company Business is a long and penetrating look inside one of the world’s most powerful secret organizations. This long suppressed, award-winning documentary consists almost entirely of insider eyewitness accounts of CIA Covert Operations and their role in the political intrigues of the late 20th Century. What part did the CIA play in the Cold War? How instrumental were they in Cuba’s 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion? Did they cause the overthrow of President Allende in Chile?

Part I: History On Company Business begins at the end of World War II when ‘The Company’ was formed out of the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and takes us through the various political incidents that the CIA has played a major role in for forty years from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Part II: Assassination as a tool of US foreign policy has always been kept under wraps – until key ex-agents tell their shocking stories to our cameras. Now you can learn of plots by the CIA to murder the leaders of various governments around the world including, of course, Fidel Castro.

Part III: Subversion. The CIA has two goals: gathering information and influencing the balance of world power. When a world leader’s policies do not match those of the CIA, ‘The Company’ used subversion to topple or destabilize the government. This could mean restoring the Shah of Iran to power, overthrowing Chile’s Marxist government, and continuingly destabilizing Latin American politics.

Video about making this doc:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRKgTmxcMaw

Philip Agee on the CIA: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/CIA/CIA_Diary_Agee.html

Remastered film “On Company Business”


Time will be allotted for announcements.

Donations to Occupy Forum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away!

LIBRARYGATE update! (from Mike Zint)

First they came for the homeless's photo.

August 14, 2015

We are at the back of the Berkeley Public Library waiting for the truck. Our goal is to stop the books from being destroyed.

I will be leaving the post office occupation at 5 am to head to the library. We don’t have enough people to blockade the truck. Arrests are a real possibility. The truck is expected around six, but this is an estimate. If you are up early enough to help, we really need it. Spread the word and try to get people on Bancroft Way, just west of Shattuck Ave.

At stake are thousands of books, set to be destroyed under questionable circumstances.

–Mike Zint

August 13, 2015

The blockade of the Berkeley Public Library loading dock begins tonight. Michelle is the contact person.

Our goal is to prevent the library from destroying thousands of books. Other local libraries need them. Other choices can be made. Destroying knowledge is never right.

Details. LIBRARYGATE: Community coalition exposes Fraud, Waste, and Abuse by Berkeley Library Director

Explosive new documents reveal an illegal and unethical cover up of the destruction of tens of thousands of books/items from the Berkeley Public Library (BPL) in 2015. This unedited list of 13,850 deleted last copies validates librarians and former librarians concerns about the inaccuracy of the library director’s claim that only 2,200 books have been discarded this year. Additional computer printouts are also available revealing that over 39,000 books/items were deleted in 2015.

Retired Librarians, Authors, and booklovers will unite in reading from a newly released list of 13,850 titles of last copies deleted from the BPL. The complete list of last copies and the computer printout will be released at the event, and will be available by email.

Wednesday August 12 12 noon to 1pm

In front of the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Street, Berkeley

ILLEGAL: The Library Director violated state law by failing to respond in a timely way and by failing to provide most of the documents requested in two California Public Records Act (PRA) requests. After the Library Director refused to release details in response to numerous emails, a Bay Area News Group correspondent and a Berkeley High School student both wrote PRA’s.

WASTE: Books that could have been donated to community groups or the public have not been made available to Berkeley or Bay Area groups. Prominent community groups such as the Maya Angelou Library and Literacy Center are urgently seeking books but are not allowed to save these books from disposal. Even the Friends of the Library did not get to review many books available for donation.

FRAUD: Numerous emails from the Library Director have falsely informed residents leading them to believe that only a small percentage of books/items have been deleted. However, as a result of the recently exposed documents, it is evident that the vast discrepancy between the alleged 2,200 and the actual 39,140 books/items deleted is drastic.

ABUSE: Concerned volunteers who asked questions have been called disparaging names and librarians have been threatened that if they continue to speak out they “will be held accountable.” Knowledgeable librarians whom are skilled in the procedure of weeding books, have been unceremoniously yanked out of the decision making process. Many books are being disposed of so rapidly that subject experts do not even get to review the merits of that list.

–Mike Zint