This Sunday’s New York Times Travel section offers up forty five places to visit in 2012. Along with Tokyo, Glasgow, Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, Moscow, Chilean Patagonia, Tanzania, Helsinki, Myanmar, Florence, and (yes, really) Space, is Oakland, California coming in at number five. Oakland lands the music draw with the Art Deco-renovated Fox Theatre, its burgeoning art and food sophistication (“big name San Francisco chefs” move to Oakland!), upscale cocktail scene “amid the grit,” and, things have died down considerably at recent Occupy Oakland protests, says the Times. The 10 o’clock Sunday news interviews a few tourists after an Anti-Repression/F--- the Police march to push back against what appears to be a city policy of police harassment that resulted in a skirmish and property destruction in downtown Oakland the night before. “We watched from the sidelines,” says one visitor as if coming to Oakland offers tactical maneuver training as well. “Both sides seemed well practiced – they looked like this was familiar territory.”
“Occupy is still going on? I thought it was gone.” I hear this frequently. Go to your local Occupy website. There you will see organizing continues. OccupyOakland.org is a stunning display of productivity. Not only is the website up-to-date (how many are involved in that?), but you will find Committee reports from the Garden Committee looking for soil and compost resources for one community house and two plots, the Kitchen Committee, which has been in a cat-and-mouse game with the city/police over a vigil presence in the plaza and staying resolute that “food is the basic foundation of feeling security and love,” and the Anti-Repression Committee, which, with Occupy Legal coordinates jail and medical support – “getting people out of jail ie. BAIL, packing the courtroom when people are being arraigned” and direct actions.
You will find an agenda for each upcoming general assembly, minutes from previous assemblies, and announcements, which this week include police arrests and incarceration and court appointment details, Safer Spaces offering Trauma support services for members of the community dealing with effects of police violence against the movement, and “Plantae (plant family) lovers meeting to discuss the downtown city oak tree and possible landscape alternatives for the plaza.”
An Open Forum offers discussions and reflections. A twitter feeds brings additional information, like this first hand account post of being arrested in downtown Oakland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcN6iIRlM3U .
You will find planning schedules for lending direct action to those who have asked for Occupy Oakland as a resource, as have the striking licorice workers in Union City and the Castlewood Country Club Workers on strike in Pleasanton, the January 20, 2012 Occupy SF shutdown of the city’s financial district, and February 20th, 2012 “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.” Click the link and read the Occupy Oakland Tribune. Occupy Oakland is cranking. Come to Oakland and experience participant democracy first hand.
Sunday afternoon’s General Assembly is held at 19th and Telegraph, where neighborhood Fox Park offers an urban respite with café tables and bar stools embedded in spongy ground cover, native landscaping, an amphitheatre-esque gathering space, and a towering multi-piece bronze educational sculpture of interlocking figures who have changed our world, all surrounded by low income housing courtesy of our previous Mayor-now-Governor Jerry Brown. The afternoon is unseasonably warm. The ambiance is festive with Occupy Oakland’s feminist/queer block event offering music, art, donated food, info tables, and pop-up trainings in organizing and diversity awareness.
I have come because police arrests in my hometown have escalated in the past few weeks and I am very concerned. After reviewing participant procedures, we are encouraged to break up into groups of five to twenty “people you don’t know” for an open forum talk about whatever comes up, which will then be reported back to the whole assembly. The couple next to me, one with a walker, are from Sacramento, others are from neighboring towns of Albany, Berkeley, Alameda as well as from Oakland. One is from “Tennessee, now Oakland.” Two have Grandmothers against the War signs. We are diverse in ethnicity and gender. We talk about the previous night’s Anti-Repression/F--- the Police march. We hear first hand reports, and then engage in a candid discussion of differences of opinions on tactics. We are respectful, civil, experienced, informed, and highly engaged. Exactly what this park was designed for. The report back to the General Assembly from all groups expands our perspective and retains its candid conviction.
Committees check in. The Raheem Brown Free School is setting up more libraries and needs a drop off location for book donations. They are also organizing teach-ins. The webpage tech’s offer several ways that organizing groups can inadvertently lose touch with getting updates to the website when many people share responsibilities and we are urged to see them off to the side of the assembly. Legal tells the story of “Khali,” who will be in court tomorrow and needs a support presence. “Wear red – it’s his favorite color.”
Behind us and soon blocking the stark rays of the western sun is the mammoth Remember Them monument inset with this plaque by the artist, Mario Chiodo
Remember them when you walk with freedom. Remember them when you think of liberty. Remember them when your children get on the school bus. Remember them while you sleep without fear.
Remember them when you are hungry or lonely. Remember them when you thirst for knowledge. Remember them when you cannot see the light or hear the birds sing. Remember them when you are lost and need hope.
Remember them when others say, “You cannot . . .” Remember them when you know you can. Remember them when it is difficult to see the good.
Remember them when those less fortunate come your way. Remember them when someone is unkind. Remember them – forgive and be compassionate.
Remember them when you see injustices. Remember them and know your voice can be heard. Remember them and stand up for what is right.
Remember them and know that we are all equal. Remember them and know that our children become what they see. Remember them and know that your actions determine history.
Remember them and know the obstacles are really opportunities. Remember them and know the greatest success often comes from failure. Remember them and know you have so much to give.
Remember them and walk the path of peace. Remember them and never give up. Remember them and reach for the stars.
To hear voices from Occupy Oakland’s General Assembly on Sunday afternoon, January 8, 2012, including Castlewood Country Club workers, go to: http://redroom.com/member/jane-p-perry/media/audio/occupy-oakland-in-2012#.