UPDATE: The facilitation committee has put this proposal on tonight’s GA agenda as the first item. This proposal has been merged with another proposal – see the new proposal below.
On Wednesday, for the first time in weeks, I decided to take a full afternoon and evening off from Occupy Oakland and Twitter. I had left work early – the cold that had been trying to catch up to me for weeks finally caught me – and I thought I could use some rest. When I finally logged into Twitter later that evening, I found out that the Occupy Oakland General Assembly had voted to occupy the lot at 19th and Telegraph and the adjacent park.
At first I was upset because of all the work I and many others have put into that space, to save it from becoming a parking lot. (You can read a quick synopsis of that story here or check out the many blog posts about it linked to at the bottom of this post.) But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the wrong space to occupy for many reasons. And it became clear to me, from the General Assembly minutes and from the proposal text, that the people voting on this proposal might not have understood the full context of the space they voted to occupy.
I tweeted a bunch on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and saw that many people agreed with my perspective. So last night I drafted a proposal to rescind the vote and worked with several other people to refine the proposal. A few of those people signed on and we’ve submitted it to be heard at tonight’s General Assembly.
It’s too early to know if it will be heard tonight. I understand that there are a queue of proposals waiting to be heard, but I’m hopeful that the facilitators will allow this proposal to be heard, since it’s time sensitive (the occupation is planned to begin tomorrow).
If you support our proposal and have supported or been involved with Occupy Oakland, I encourage you to come to the General Assembly tonight at 6pm at Frank Ogawa Plaza to vote for this proposal. I’m aware that this is an uphill battle since it’s never easy to rescind a vote and even more difficult to do with a 90% vote threshold. But I think it’s important to try, and I hope you’ll consider joining us. If you plan to attend, please RSVP on Facebook and/or invite others.
For updates on whether the proposal will be voted on and what happens tonight, follow me on Twitter: @OaklandBecks
Here is the merged proposal that will be voted on tonight:
Proposal Not to Occupy Lot and Park at 19th & Telegraph
Downtown Oakland residents, citizens, parents, teachers, principals, artists, small business owners, and fellow occupiers have spoken and do NOT want to see the Occupy Oakland Encampment moved to 19th and Telegraph. As of 2:30 pm today (Nov. 18) 201 people have signed a petition expressing their concern on the issue. See this link to the petition for an up to date count: http://www.change.org/petitions/occupy-oakland-facilitators-provide-an-opportunity-to-re-vote-on-where-the-next-encampment-will-be
We are not against choosing a different location, or even maintaining the location right here, at Oscar Grant Plaza, but we feel it is important to develop a committee to thoroughly research this decision from all angles.
When the proposal was originally voted upon, it was clear that many of the key individuals impacted by this decision where not in attendance at that night’s General Assembly. We believe the following facts and concerns should have been addressed more thoroughly:
Facts concerning the proposed encampment site @ 19th and Telegraph:
1) The new location is next door to the Oakland School of the Arts. This is a middle/high school serving children between the ages 10 – 18.
2) Families, administrators, and teachers of the adjacent school were not contacted for their feedback on the proposal
3) The new location is adjacent to an affordable housing complex and residents were not contacted for their feedback on the proposal
4) The new location will occupy the proposed and federally funded art and sculpture garden soon to be constructed
- No community outreach that we know of was conducted prior to the proposal being voted upon, yet this is a move directly into a primarily residential area
- 19th and Telegraph does not impact the 1%, but would place hardships on working families and students
- Innocent children will be put in the crossfire between OO and OPD without parents being given a voice or choice in the decision to involve their children
- As experienced by another neighborhood public high school, Envision Academy @ 15th and Webster – we know that police altercations within and around the Occupy Oakland encampment have a negative impact on schools, the school’s attendance and budget suffer, schools must close early or open late, and parents are fearful of their children’s well being
- We also know that police blockades and forced closures of BART make it difficult if not impossible for children to get to school
- 19th and Telegraph falls within a drug free school zone thereby putting the Police into a position of “protectors” of the peace and safety of a community
- The community previously fought for funding to convert this lot into a community park and art space, police response could endanger funding and construction of this project
- Once the decision was released into the community, an outpouring of responses from families and community members started surfacing and it is essential that Occupy Oakland remain responsive to community concerns and interests in order to maintain a strong and mutually beneficial working relationship
In light of these concerns, we ask that you vote to NOT move the encampment to 19th and Telegraph, but instead agree to create a committee to thoroughly research and suggest an appropriate location for the encampment.
Here is our previous proposal:
Proposal to Rescind Vote to Occupy Lot at 19th and Telegraph
On Wednesday, November 16th, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly voted to occupy the park and adjacent lot at 19th and Telegraph.
This site is problematic because:
- The park and the lot are adjacent to an affordable housing complex that houses many low income Oakland families. Many of these families have been subjected to police violence and other mental and physical damage by the 1% and our socioeconomic system. If the police attack the encampment, it would further traumatize people who deserve a safe space.
- The lot is empty now, but in a few months it will be turned into a public arts and community space. Advocates fought two years ago to save this space from becoming a parking lot and to turn it into an arts space. The City recently secured a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and has committed $200,000 in additional City funds for the project. The arts space will be built and opened to the public in the spring of 2012. Occupying this space endangers this project because if any funding for the space must be used to clean the space after the occupation and police response, there may not be enough money left to build the arts space. We should stand in solidarity with the community’s victory, and support their plan to build a community arts space on the site.
- The park is well used by neighborhood residents, as there are no other parks in the area. Residents use the park to relax, eat meals, do yoga and other physical activity, and to enjoy open space. An occupation and the police response to the occupation could prevent access to the park.
- The park and the lot are directly adjacent to the Oakland School for the Arts. Students could be disrupted by the occupation and police responses to the occupation, especially since they use the park frequently for physical activity.
Neighbors who have supported Occupy Oakland have already begun organizing in opposition to the occupation of this location. Rescinding this vote would give Occupy Oakland the opportunity to consider other locations to occupy that would be better suited for occupation and/or other tactics to pursue.
We propose that:
- This General Assembly undo the decision and vote NOT to set up camp in the lot and park at 19th and Telegraph.
- The General Assembly encourage (but not require) that future encampment proposals consider (a) how it may impact low-income communities, and (b) the site’s history and community roots.
Previous posts on the Uptown surface parking lot/sculpture garden saga:
- 7/27/11: Bike Bridge – Gateway to the Uptown sculpture garden
- 3/16/11: Our dream of an Uptown sculpture garden is becoming a reality
- 10/7/10: We did it! The Uptown sculpture garden will soon be a reality
- 5/6/09: A Better Oakland – Becks and dto510, my heroes
- 5/6/09: The power of the blogoaksphere
- 5/5/09: Another chance to stop the Uptown surface parking lot
- 4/29/09: CED Committee approves surface parking lot, but changes overall outlook on parking and transit
- 4/20/09: Take Action: Stop the Council from approving a surface parking lot in Uptown!
- 3/30/09: Imagining an alternative to a surface parking lot in Uptown