Another view of Occupy

In the most recent issue of California Northern: A New Regionalism, D. Scot Miller sums up his experience of Occupy Oakland in his essay “The Hungry Got Food, the Homeless Got Shelter: The First Days of Occupy Oakland.” It’s worth tracking down a copy of this magazine just to read Miller’s essay. He gives one of the best summaries yet of what Occupy Oakland was trying to do, written by someone who was there from the beginning:

The hungry got food, and the homeless got shelter. The street kids who smoked and drank at the plaza before Occupy arrived continued to smoke and drink — and now they passed around books from the free library. People were helping each other, looking out for one another, and turning their backs on the stresses of foreclosed homes and benefit cuts. I saw people being radicalized by conversation and generosity….

If that’s what Occupy Oakland stood for, Miller also provides one of the best summaries I’ve yet heard of what Occupy Oakland stood in opposition to: Continue reading “Another view of Occupy”

Clergy action at Occupy Oakland

Tomorrow, clergy can participate in the “General Strike and Day of Action in Support of Occupy Oakland” which is planned for tomorrow. Below is the relevant information, which I’m passing along from Rev. Jeremy Nickels, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Fremont, California. Here’s Jeremy’s note, slightly edited:

1. There will be a tent called the “Sacred Space Tent” that will be the clearinghouse and meeting place for clergy-related information and events. The tent will be interfaith, and non-faith welcoming. It will have a very high flag or other identifying markings. It will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. by a clergyperson of some faith tradition. If you are interested in helping staff this group, show up early to sign up for a time slot.

2. All clergy should gather at the “Sacred Space Tent” a half hour before the three march times (9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 PM) so that we can all march together and multiply the effect of our presence. Those meet-up times at the tent are: 8:30 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.; 4:30 p.m. These are very important meet-up times and should be spread as widely as possible through all of your networks.

3. There will be trainings going on all day Tuesday, November 1, for anyone (clergyperson, layperson, etc.) who wishes to learn more about non-violence and how to embody the principles of Gandhi and King in the actions that we will be participating in on Wednesday.

4. Finally, we ask that you not only come on Wednesday, November 2, but that you bring as many people with you as you can, spread this information through all your networks and contacts!

Tense standoff at Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland was broken up early this morning. Citing allegations of drunkenness, sexual assault, and health violations, the city sent in the police at 4:30 a.m. to take down the camp. Given the timing of the police action, it’s hard to believe that drunkenness and health violations constituted a real part of the reason for eviction, and one sexual assault had been reported several days before. Nevertheless, the police broke up the encampment, and city workers removed all tents and equipment, presumably destroying the garden that Everett and I saw yesterday.

The Oakland Tribune has been liveblogging the events today, and as of 6:30 p.m. (20 minutes ago), about a thousand protesters are in front of city hall at the site of the encampment. Police have demanded the protesters disperse, but the protesters aren’t going:

The protesters, possibly as many as 1,000 people, are all gathered at 14th street and Broadway. Over the last 30 minutes, police have launched wooden dowls and some concussion gernades into the crowds. It was not immediately known how many protesters, if any, were hit. An Oakland Tribune news photographer was hit with something launched by police. At least two people have been arrested since the rally and march kicked off at 4 p.m. Many in the crowd are wearing bandanas, possibly to protect themselve if the police use tear gas. Sirens are sounding, motorcycle police from many agencies are in downtown and there is general chaos as police try and clear out the massive amount of people.

I talked with Everett a couple of hours ago, and we agreed that we were glad we had seen the encampment — more of a village, really — before the city destroyed it; and from what had had seen of the occupiers, we also agreed that we would not be surprised if they returned. But what will happen tonight is anyone’s guess.

Occupy SF, Occupy Oakland

Everett Hoagland and I went down to the Interfaith Clergy Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street San Francisco today. We walked to various banks where two dancers, labeled “Equality” and “Justice,” set up a golden calf, representing the idolatry of money, and ritually covered the idol with a cloth:

A poem started bubbling up for Everett, so he dropped out of the march to do some writing. I kept walking. There were something on the order of 150 to 200 clergy and other faith leaders marching; I counted ten Unitarian Universalist ministers, and half a dozen of our seminarians. TV news coverage of today’s event: Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae of the Unitarian Unviersalist church in San Francisco is quoted in the text portion of Channel 5’s (CBS) coverage. Link to ABC’s live coverage. Radio coverage on KQED (story begins 0:37).

In the afternoon, Everett and I went over to Occupy Oakland, and spent an hour or two there, talking to some people, and just trying to lend our support. I was impressed that the occupiers have a children’s program during the day, a library, classes and committee meetings, and they have started a garden:

The city of Oakland keeps threatening to arrest all the occupiers — nevertheless, with accommodations for children, and a garden, they are planning for the long term. More on the Oakland occupation: From KALW today, “A Day in the Life of Occupy Oakland” (audio with transcript).