Tag Archives: Occupy Oakland

Rediscovering downtown Oakland… again

29 Nov

Nearly three years ago, after dozens of downtown establishments were vandalized after Oscar Grant protests, I started a series called “Rediscovering Downtown Oakland,” in which I highlighted Oakland businesses that I loved in hopes that others would support them. Since I ended that series, so much has changed downtown. Many of the businesses have closed or moved, and so many more have popped up in their places. Looking at my post on where to grab drinks after work made me realize just how much downtown has changed, since I rarely go to any of those places anymore, and I have a full new rotation of bars I frequent.

I’ve been meaning to rewrite the series for at least several months, but I never got around to it. For the past few weeks in particular, I’ve been realizing I really needed to restart this series.

But something happened last night that pushed me over the edge. A group of people brought a resolution to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly calling for the active support of local businesses. Continue reading

Celebrate Plaid Friday – support local, independent Oakland businesses

24 Nov

Things have been pretty heated in Oakland for the last month. Many Oaklanders who have worked together in the past (some for many years) are now debating each other about Occupy Oakland. Some Oaklanders love it, others hate it, and others love the idea but have been turned off by recent actions. I’ve seen and been part of many heated debates online and in person about the effects of Occupy Oakland on our city.

Last week, I got into a particularly heated debate with a close friend of mine on Twitter that quickly devolved since there’s very little room for nuance or explanation in 140 characters. I left the conversation feeling very angry (and I’m sure he did too). Later that day I picked up the phone and called him, and I’m so glad I did. It turned out that though we had been talking past each other on Twitter, we actually agreed on quite a bit and respected each other’s perspectives.

I hope others are doing the same – having real conversations with each other about Occupy Oakland and what it means. We need to remember that after this phase of Occupy Oakland is finished, just like after elections when we might disagree, we all have to work together again. The problems in our city are not going away, and we can address them so much more effectively if we work together.

So on this Thanksgiving, I hope Oaklanders will come together and support each other. One easy way to do that is to shop locally on this Plaid Friday and this weekend. Continue reading

Seeing past the facade of equality: My experience at Friday’s Occupy Oakland General Assembly

21 Nov

Over the past few days, I’ve been attempting to process what happened on Friday at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly. In my head I wrote and re-wrote parts of this blog post throughout the weekend. But before I began typing on yesterday’s cold, rainy afternoon, I decided to reread the blog post I wrote just two and a half weeks ago (it’s baffling to me that so little time has elapsed yet so much has happened) about my transformation from an Occupy Oakland spectator to a participant. I ended that blog post with the following paragraphs:

At this point I’m satisfied with participating in ways that make sense to me, like helping with media, donating books to the library, and tweeting as much as I can about what’s happening.

Because that’s the beauty of the Occupy movement. Everyone can participate in their own way, and that might not even involve coming to Frank Ogawa Plaza or taking off work for the general strike.

Up until Friday, I was still satisfied with the way I was participating in Occupy Oakland and thought that my participation and the participation of others like me who supported OO but did not camp was thoroughly appreciated by the folks who were camping. I felt that Occupy Oakland was a very open space, and that anybody could participate at any level they wanted to and that was accepted. Whether you had been to ten General Assemblies or one, you had the same vote. Whether you camped with OO every night or only showed up for the GAs, you still were allowed to speak on any proposal (or even submit a proposal).

On Friday I found out that while all of that still technically is true, in practice many people camping at OO did not see me and other supporters as equals. Even worse, a very small group of occupiers had a huge amount of control over the decision-making process and, at least on Friday night, used this power to attempt to manipulate people.  Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Oakland ballot measures go down in flames, sending $800K in election expenses down the drain

16 Nov

In the midst of Occupy Oakland, some Oaklanders might have forgotten about our municipal mail in only election. Whether they forgot or just decided not to vote, a full 75% of eligible voters did not return their ballots so yesterday evening the election was decided by just under 25% of the electorate. And that quarter of Oakland voters rejected all three ballot measures.

Since I opposed two out of the three measures (and in the case of Measure H – which would have changed the city attorney position from being elected to being appointed by the Council – I vehemently opposed it), I’m pretty happy with the outcome. What I’m not happy about is how much money, time and energy was wasted on this useless election.

Mayor Jean Quan of course blamed the failure of Measure I, the parcel tax, on Occupy Oakland: Continue reading

Occupy Oakland: Hours have no reverse motion

9 Nov

Last Thursday morning, the day after the general strike, I was overflowing with emotion. I reflected on the general strike and was so proud to see so many people in our city come together for what turned out to be a mostly festive and empowering day. I was incredibly angry at the small group of people who took advantage of the situation at night and vandalized many small businesses. Even more so, I was sad that these businesses had to deal with the damage, which they so clearly did not deserve. And I was confused because I knew a couple of the people who had been arrested, and I was certain that they had not vandalized any businesses nor attacked police officers.

Often at times like this, I look backward and wonder what could have happened differently. Could the vandalism have been prevented if police showed up earlier, when the Traveler’s Aid Society was first taken over? Would the confrontation have been less violent if more peaceful people like me had stuck around until late in the night? Would any of this ever had happened if we had a different mayor or if Jean Quan had made different decisions a few weeks ago? Continue reading

From spectator to participant: How the last week changed my relationship with Occupy Oakland

1 Nov

When Occupy Oakland first started, I was skeptical and frankly unimpressed. I stopped by the rally on that first Monday at 4pm and was underwhelmed by the turnout. At most, a couple hundred people were there. The rally took place on the corner of 14th and Broadway and the sound system (or maybe just a bullhorn) wasn’t loud enough and it was difficult to hear. I chatted with some friends I ran into and went back to work.

Day by day tents went up in Frank Ogawa Plaza and I became much less underwhelmed, especially once infrastructure was developed. The occupiers organized a communal kitchen, library, schedule of events, and of course port-o-potties. I work in Frank Ogawa Plaza so passed the encampment every day, often multiple times per day. I appreciated that it was mostly quiet during the day and amplified sound never started until 4 or 5pm. At night I felt safer walking around in the area, as there were tons of people around. I developed an admiration for the occupation and defended the occupiers to friends who were frightened and annoyed by the encampment.

Yet I was still skeptical. I expressed to many that while I thought the Occupy movement was doing a great job changing the dialogue in our country, it wasn’t a movement I could participate in because I didn’t understand the end game. I’ve taken part in much advocacy and several movements, and I’ve always had a clear goal in mind (even if it was a goal I knew wouldn’t be attained for many years, like stopping the federal attacks on medical marijuana – a goal I chipped away at for nearly a decade and which still hasn’t been met). Continue reading

Occupy Oakland raided & dismantled by police this morning

25 Oct

I know, I know – I promised yesterday that today I’d publish my endorsements for the November Oakland ballot measures. But when I turned on my computer this morning I was met with several press releases about the Occupy Oakland early morning raid and hundreds of #OccupyOakland tweets. I got a bit wrapped up in what’s happening so my endorsements will have to wait until tomorrow, though you can join in the discussion in the election open thread.

I wasn’t there this morning, so I don’t have much to say about what happened at this point, but plenty has been written about the raid and I’ve gathered some of that coverage below. I’ll add links throughout the day week so if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below. And if you took any photos that you’d like to share, please email them to me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com and I’ll post them here. Continue reading