East Bay Occupy News: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
From Occupy Berkeley‘s Facebook page:
Occupy Berkeley received notice that we are going to be evicted tonight. We are asking for all willing bodies to come out and support us in our time of need. We will be updating this page regularly and be posting updates during the eviction. BPD said they would began to enforce the no camping policy of Pro Bono/MLK Park. Share the message.
I don’t have any details just yet beyond that FB post. The situation has obviously escalated in the week since Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguin handed out a letter to Occupy Berkeley last Wednesday that included a Zero Tolerance Policy and increased enforcement of every law except actual removal of the encampment, which would only be considered as a last resort:
Some people have asked why, if there has have been so many problems, doesn’t the City just remove the encampment?
Immediate physical removal of the encampment is not a viable option at this time. Given that Berkeley’s Occupy encampment is one of the last major encampments in the Bay Area, all eyes are now on Berkeley to see what we will do. We have seen how other cities have responded to encampments. Oakland, for example, has had a series of police actions to remove encampments after the initial eviction that involved excessive use of force. Oakland and San Francisco’s removal of their encampments only emboldened the occupiers to set up more camps and to occupy space even longer, complicating any resolution and increasing costs.
Ultimately, the City Manager’s office and City staff should consider a reasonable date in which the encampment should transition to a daily demonstration or other forms of political assembly, consistent with city law limiting the use of city parks until 10 p.m.
In keeping with Berkeley’s values as a compassionate and thoughtful city, we respect people’s right to political assembly; however, preserving public safety and public health is paramount. Any efforts to end the encampment should be a last resort after all reasonable efforts are exhausted and done in consultation and coordination to the extent possible with individuals camping in Civic Center Park. Any removal should not involve a large amount of police, unless critical to the preservation of public safety, and should not involve use of force or destruction of property.
The MSM has been quick to note that the Berkeley encampment has deteriorated since it has seen an influx of evicted occupiers from Oakland and other dismantled camps. And, as usual, societal ills that have long existed in front of City Hall, in the parks and under the bridges of Berkeley and Oakland are being blamed on Occupy; the MSM has little or no interest in putting them into any sort of context.
At last night’s Oakland City Council meeting, Councilmembers de la Fuente and Schaaf were thwarted in their attempt to pass a proposal to use “whatever lawful tools we have” to prevent any further shutdowns at the Port of Oakland. (I think OPD should be referred to as “unlawful tools,” but that’s just me.) The proposal was the last item on a very long council agenda and was not considered until around 11 PM. The council chambers had been occupied by my comrades for nearly six hours before they got a chance to speak out against yet another draconian move by the City to stifle free speech and assembly. There were 59 people slated to speak, the vast majority of them occupiers and union members – who said that such a proposal, while presumably aimed at OO, would also have a chilling effect on the unions’ ability to strike and honor picket lines.
Although OO has not announced plans for further port shutdowns in the near future, the proposal was added to the council agenda at the last minute as an emergency measure. Four of the eight councilmembers refused to allow it to be heard on an emergency basis, effectively killing the proposal for the moment. It’s not clear if those same four would vote against the proposal if it were to be brought back again as a regular agenda item. If it were a 4-4 split, I believe Mayor Quan would cast the tie vote and I suspect she would vote in favor, even though this is an end-around by de la Fuente to force the police to do the bidding of the council and not just Quan.
Many occupiers spoke passionately to the council about their right to free speech and assembly and about the various reasons OO chose to shut down the port. One reminded Mayor Quan that the action was not just an attempt to interrupt the flow of capital to the one percent; it was also a coordinated effort by Occupy movements nationwide in response to the coordinated effort by US mayors and the federal government to shut down Occupy encampments. And she promised we would do it again if those coordinated efforts to shut us down continue. And because I can, one more video from D12 that shows that we are serious about that: