Occupy Oakland plans to occupy lot and park at 19th & Telegraph… unless the vote is rescinded

18 Nov

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

Key Concerns:
– 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:

19 Responses to “Occupy Oakland plans to occupy lot and park at 19th & Telegraph… unless the vote is rescinded”

  1. MarleenLee November 18, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Your proposal assumes (a) that this “general assembly” has any sort of legitimacy and (b) that there is some appropriate location to “occupy.” The general assembly does not have legitimacy. A group of people who happen to show up on any given night, many, if not most of whom do not even live in Oakland, cannot “vote” to violate existing law. Well, I suppose they can, but such a vote is neither legally nor morally valid. But opposing the proposed location for the new encampment on the grounds you assert is just “NIMBYism,” is it not? Not that I think NIMBYism is bad, per se. On the contrary, neighbors have every right to object to things that will contribute to the deterioration of their neighborhood and environment. But you’re implying that it is okay to send the campers elsewhere to wreck somebody else’s environment, and it is most certainly not. If the campers are able to legally rent space somewhere, and comply with the terms of the lease, well, I have no problem with that. But they’re not interested in that. They’re interested in being a thorn in the City’s side or their neighbor’s side or whatever. Their actual goal is to be a pain in the ass and get noticed, and to do it all illegally. To imply that this is okay somewhere else, but just not somewhere you don’t want it, shows a lack of respect for the rights of other people who will necessarily be negatively impacted. It is time for the Occupiers to transition their cause away from camping and being a pain in the ass and a drain on our resources into legal and responsible action to achieve their goals. If they’re not interested in that, it is clear that they are more about immature teenage rebellion than real reform.

  2. GiveMeThatJuice November 18, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I think it is a bad idea to move the Occupation to anywhere BUT OGP. I think there are legitimate concerns with community relations, impact on the school, impact on the locals, and the future of the 19th and Telegraph site. I think an end around on OPD and Jean Quan could be nice though, make the move like we are, as the police respond to 19th and telegraph, retake OGP. let the LULZ commence.

  3. Uptown Resident November 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    OMG…please stop calling The uptown and the surrounding neighborhood a low-income community…How clueless are you?! Go to acorn or castlemont, or better yet, back to Berkeley where you came from…

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      I never called that entire area low income. But there is a large affordable housing complex right next to this space. I don’t believe that was considered on Wednesday night.

      • Uptown Resident November 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

        Definitely not, but the section 8 population here is low, and no offense, but the people I saw on TV representing the uptown this morning didn’t seem to be in this ilk…and seriously SORRY for getting unnecessarily hostile, but it just seems like folks are coming from the wood-work to object this thing, and for reasons I still don’t necessarily agree with. I wish you and others had been here Wed as well, like I was, y’all could’ve helped squash the original proposal… Please modify your arguments though, I feel this will only fan the flames. I hate seeing how divided we’re becoming, we need to bond together and find a long-term solution for our encampment, I think you and I both agree this isn’t it..still enjoy your blog…

        • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

          Trust me, many of us wish we had been there on Wednesday, but it’s not possible to go back in time. All we can do now is move forward. Our proposal is not meant to divide the community. Hopefully it will pass and will bring people together.

        • Jaime Omar Yassin November 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

          Yes, I agree. The “I wasn’t at the vote” meme is pretty weak. We all know that the GA happens four days a week, and we all know that when we’re not there, we don’t get to vote on things. Its not some sinister conspiracy.

          • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

            I don’t think anyone said there was a sinister conspiracy. But some of us can’t make it out every single night (I had intended to go and would have been there if I hadn’t been sick). Unfortunately this very important vote happened when few people were there. That’s not a conspiracy, but it’s still unfortunate.

          • Jaime Omar Yassin November 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

            Having a lot of people at a GA for a vote isn’t the measure of the vote’s legitimacy. On first Friday we had hundreds of additional drunken tourists who voted in GA for entertainment. There’s a quorum. When the quorum is reached, the vote is valid. If you think the quorum should be higher, you can propose that too.

          • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

            Again, I didn’t say that anything happened that wasn’t valid. I just think the vote happened to come on a night when not many people were there, including lots of people who usually go. I’m not challenging the quorum or the process. I’m challenging the decision, since I think it was a poor one based on a lack of information and some misinformation about the site.

          • Jaime Omar Yassin November 19, 2011 at 9:30 am #

            And yesterday, about a hundred people who’d never been at a GA before, never will again, and left right after the proposal that they’d brought to the assembly failed, swelled our voting ranks for a brief period. It didn’t change the legitimacy of the quorum, but it did bring up issues of responsibility and maturity on their part. Hopefully, we’ll be able to show them in the coming days what a democratic process is about, and how important it is overall, not just to make people do things you want them to do as the issue comes up.

  4. MarleenLee November 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Why does the new proposal urge consideration only of impact on low-income communities? Why not consider the rest of the 99%?

    • Uptown Resident November 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

      Marleen, no proposal is perfect, and at least Rebecca is working here to move the occupation in a more productive direction, she deserves credit for doing so. While perhaps it would make sense to include the entire 99% in the wording, surely we all agree that marginalized and oppressed communities, long ignored by elites and middle-class alike, deserve our recognition before the rest of the 99%, right?

      • MarleenLee November 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

        Well, I certainly don’t agree with that. I think disrespecting the rights of any community, by illegally camping, creating disruption, noise, etc. is inappropriate, regardless of their economic status. The laws are supposed to protect everybody. There are so many ways for you to advance your cause(s) that don’t disrespect the rights of other people and you should focus on those.

        • Uptown Resident November 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

          I never said recognition of oppressed and marginalized communities should come at the expense of disrespecting the rights of others. But as a teacher in East Oakland, perhaps I have more urgency to help those oppressed groups than a struggling middle-class. Sorry, but middle-class problems, including my own student-loan debt, pale in comparison to the problems of my students. They should be the focus of this movement, even if that means isolating some of the more well-to-do 99% like yourself…

  5. idiotmagoo November 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    While we’re talking about the history of the space, you might want to inform your readers about the history of that neighborhood and talk about the reason there’s a gaping hole of land there. Pro-development politicians of the city (in a deal with developers) used eminent domain laws to kick many small businesses in that area in order to build a large condo development which ended up being a major flop.

    There is a long history of politicking and back room deals that have gone on in the Uptown district extending back to the point when Jerry Brown moved into the neighborhood 8 (?) years ago. None of which have done much to improve the lives of those already living there. Instead, they have catered to new upper middle class who have recently moved into the area.

    Symbolically, it is a very good site for an encampment. Realistically though, I’m not so sure. It brings focus and defiance against many within city council who have been pro-development (and now are currently anti-occupy) and cater to the elite within this city (like the downtown BID, COC, etc). However, it’s location is off the beaten path and not many know the reasons why this site was chosen because they moved in the area relatively recently.

    It’s great that it has become a sculpture garden or arts space. But if you want to talk history, you really need to dig further and actually address the reasons people chose that as a space to build a new occupation.

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      You might want to learn your history before giving history lessons. That space used to be a GIANT parking lot and a Sear’s auto body shop. Am I really supposed to feel bad that those are gone?

      • idiotmagoo November 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

        While part of it was a parking lot, we are also talking about a 4 block area that had many small businesses in the area and the city did use eminent domain laws to kick some of them out. And my comment still stands, that condo development was a failed development project and I think just as much of an eyesore as a parking lot.

  6. Susan Livingston November 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I’ve become increasingly distressed at the all-or-nothing attitude in all of the proposals I’ve seen, and I also don’t think your process is as inclusive as you’d like to believe.

    I agree with the person who called for a more in-depth study of potential locations that takes the host community into account. I was among a small group who was looking for “exit strategies” the night before the most recent eviction, and I assure you that there are, in fact, places/people where hospitality can be found for Occupy Oakland – some public, some private. So how about stepping out of submit-rebel and make decisions in the best interest of the community instead of in reaction to pressure? Why is this a time-sensitive decision? because the media will call you a failure if you don’t move tomorrow? Let’s talk about seeding the City of Oakland with community-based “pods” that could bring the Occupy spotlight to violence in our communities, which the fatal shooting of Alex at OGP has already begun to do. (If you don’t shift your focus, the bored media will put the spotlight on internal strife within the movement, which it has already begun to do.) I have a bigger vision: Occupy East Bay! I would love to see a pod in People’s Park, speaking of locations with a long and meaningful history in the free speech movement! AND I don’t see why such a seeding would mean abandoning OGP! You won’t find a better place for the GA, for coordinating intake, for “on-site” trainings and workshops, etc., regardless of where people are actually eating and sleeping, and there is no other place that has nearly as much cultural significance to Occupy Oakland as its birthplace.

    To segue to my process concern, Occupy Somewhere(s) created a two- or three-day gap between the presentation of a proposal and voting on it so that even people who are not willing/able to attend GA have a chance to influence the vote. This tweak was accomplished by arranging space and time on the activity board for small-group discussions hosted by a facilitator and attended by whoever is interested and available at that time where voices are not only heard, but the position the person is expressing is considered and taken into account with respect for the FACT that we share a common set of values. I won’t bore you with the reasons I don’t attend GA, but I know I’m not the only person who nevertheless works very hard for this movement and cares very much about the outcome. Even aside from the process question, and in spite of the GA being “open” to all, I maintain that I do not have a voice in decisions that affect me, and I ask that you look carefully at the extent to which you actively seek to really hear a diversity of PEOPLE rather than campaigning for a pro/con POSITION on a proposal.

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