Struggling to Win: Anarchists Building Popular Power in Chile at Bay Area Public School

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Struggling to Win: Anarchists Building Popular Power in Chile at Bay Area Public School

This weekend, join three veterans of Chilean social struggles to talk about the lessons learned and to create solidarity across hemispheres. From January to the end of February, these speakers are traveling throughout the country and we hope that you can catch them this weekend during their Bay Area stop. They will be speaking on Saturday night at 8PM and the Bay Area Public School (2141 Broadway Avenue in Oakland).

More info at https://www.facebook.com/events/744587932219189/?source=1

We hope to see you there!

West Oakland Neighbors Collaborate in Spontaneous Action to Resist Eviction

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Defence 006Roosevelt and Lumumba hadn’t been able to contact their landlord for three years when he showed up on the front porch one day, angrily demanding rent and even going so far as to lay hands on one of the tenants. Given the conditions of the apartment and the lack of proof that the man was indeed the absentee landlord, the residents of the four unit West Oakland building refused. Since a local developer bought the building in October of 2013, the company has directed employees and contractors to physically cut the power line running to the house, take the front door of the four unit building off its hinges (and then put it back on without a deadbolt), board up the windows and sabotage the mailboxes. A work crew had been hired to remove fixtures and appliances from the upstairs units, filling the backyard with trash before the tenants had even been legally evicted. One tenant was served with an eviction notice and has already lost in court. Roosevelt, a worker at SMAAC Youth Center, a drop in program for for GLBT kids and young adults in Oakland, has yet to even be served an eviction notice with his name on it.
On February 9th, the next door neighbors sent a callout to squatters and activists: our neighbors, the last Black tenants on the block, are being illegally evicted. The next morning, sheriffs circled the block but did not confront the tenants or their crowd of supporters in order execute the eviction.
Roosevelt and Lumumba want to stay and pay rent to their new landlord, but only if the following demands are satisfied:
1) Provide a front door that locks properly
2) Reconnect the electricity
3) Unblock the side yard so the tenants can resume off-street parking
4) Restore the mailboxes so that mail can be received
5) Bring the units up to code to provide a reasonable standard of living
6) Stop intimidation and illegal eviction tactics

This eviction defense is ongoing, and this post will be updated with ways to support in the coming days.

**Note: An earlier version of this post stated that the building had been acquired by REO. It was actually acquired by smaller local developer with an apparently similar agenda.

 

Google Bus Actions Work to Address Gentrification More Broadly

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        There are times when a medium-sized protest is just a bunch of people marching around. There are other times when every small action is amplified by its connection to a broad Zeitgeist, if not necessary a large movement.Because gentrification is so virulent in the Bay Area, and because of the diligent and often thankless work of many grassroots activists for lots of years, protests targeting gentrification have finally entered into the second category. The latest salvo in this battle for the hearts and minds of San Francisco took place on Tuesday, January 21, the day the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority was to begin discussing a $1 per stop fee for tech companies using private buses to ferry workers from San Francisco to technology office parks in the South Bay.

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          When I got to the meetup point for the day’s action, it didn’t look very promising. I saw about 20 people hanging out in UN Plaza with one sign. The Brass Liberation Orchestra, in their trademark pink and black, were the only bright spot. After half an hour or so, our numbers swelled – if you can call it that – to about 50, though almost half the people seemed to be grassroots media with giant cameras and boom mics. The action would be nothing if not well documented.
We set off on a small march behind the band, kind of like a workday second line. When we got to Eighth and Market, we saw that a larger group was already blocking a Google bus, with the big and now iconic bright yellow diamond signs, on long poles, reading “Stop Displacement Now” and “Public $$$$$$ Private Gain.” Groups in front and in back of the bus held up huge orange and white barriers saying “Warning: Two Tier System” and “WARNING: Rents and Evictions ↑ Near Private Shuttle Stops.” There were also a lot of yellow signs stenciled with silhouettes and “Tenants Here Forced Out.” No one can claim these actions don’t have a clear
message.
        Some people had made a hopeful “Get off the bus – join us” banner directed toward the tech workers. Sadly, I didn’t see anyone take the invitation. Someone did, however, leak Google’s memo outlining talking points for its workers to use at the hearing on the bus fee that afternoon.
        Pretty soon, another tech bus – this one headed for Facebook – rounded the corner, taking up half the street as it did. A small breakoff group jumped in front of it, using a lavender on purple “Fuck Off Google” banner (I guess people don’t worry about black & white photos any more) for a barrier. Other than the bannerholders, there were only a few people with bikes blocking it, so I went to join them. The bus driver didn’t make any effort to get around the blockade or yell at us to move. I saw a worker up on the top level watching with his temple in his hands. If he was so grieved about being late, I wondered why he didn’t fire up his laptop and get to work on that famous wifi, or just post on Facebook about the annoying people blocking his bus to work.
       The police arrived and seemed to feel our group was the weak link. They told us we had to move or be arrested. When we didn’t move right away, they grabbed a guy with a bike, started to cuff his hands behind his back, and a few seconds later, let him go. Pretty soon, the auxiliary blockade broke up and we rejoined the group around the Google bus. A community member from Our Mission No Evictions spoke, and then we marched off down Market Street, a couple hundred of us blocking half the lanes of traffic. A lot of the crowd took off before we made it to the San Francisco Realtors’ Association, where we had a short, small rally and then headed to City Hall, where Tommi Avicolli Mecca of Housing Rights Committee laid out our position — $1 per stop per day (something like $292 per month) is a pathetic response to the evisceration of our communities by unrestrained corporate greed. Author Rebecca Solnit provided a little bit of star power, speaking about the importance of people’s movements, and then we broke up, promising to return for the MTA meeting at 1:00 p.m. At that meeting, they agreed on the $1 per stop charge, with Supervisor David Campos mentioning that it wasn’t enough, and Google workers protesting that the buses are “not a luxury, it’s just a thing on wheels that gets us to work.”

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The action got huge press. Fortunately I had taken a legitimate vacation day, because my boss saw me on the CBS Morning News the next day. Time Magazine called it “the biggest protest yet,” in an article called “A Big, Good, Bad Day for Google Buses in San Francisco”.

It even made The Daily Show  at nine in a half minutes into the show (though Jon was pretty snarky and you have to suffer through a ton of ads to get to that clip).

Here in the East Bay, a smaller action the same day targeted GoogleX developer and gentrifier, Anthony Levandowski, at his home in Berkeley.
More, and even more creative, actions are in the works. Stay tuned, or better yet, join the fun. Follow Eviction Free San Francisco on Facebook and check out EvictionFreeSummer (Video).

At Long Last, EVICT THIS pamphlet is available

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Hey,

After months of research, writing and composition, our tenant’s rights and resistance pamphlet is finally complete. Pleae check it out, distribute it, and offer feedback. We intend this to be a work-in-progress, so please let us know if other information or analyses would be useful if included. Also, if you have other ideas for future writing projects, send them our way! Enjoy.

Evict This

Evict This (Zine)

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Share The Bulb! Rally, March, Campout and Art Festival for West Coast Days of Action!

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Please join Share The Bulb for a weekend of actions against the pending eviction of more than 50 people from the Albany Bulb!

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January 17th
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Residents and allies of the Albany Bulb will rally at Albany City Hall at 4PM, before marching up Solano Avenue. We will stage an overnight campout on Solano Avenue, illustrating the plight of the more than 50 residents of the Albany Bulb, who, if evicted, would be forced onto Albany’s streets.

January 18th
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Artists will flock to the Bulb for a day of participatory art, live demonstrations, workshops, and art tours. Join us for an Art Festival at the Bulb from 12-5PM!

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The campout is part a West Coast Day of Action to fight the criminalization of homelessness, sponsored by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). Cities in the Bay Area and around the country have passed laws making it impossible for homeless people to live within the law. It has become a crime to sit or lie down, to sleep in public, panhandle or otherwise conduct their lives in public view.

The eviction would force Bulb residents back into the same social narrative of police harassment and criminalization of homelessness which originally drove many of them to the Bulb.

We have successfully prevented the eviction from going forward since October, and we’re ready to take the fight into the new year! Come join us, and find out how you can help preserve this unique Bay Area treasure.

Click here to RSVP on Facebook

Independent Truckers Organize for Livable Working Conditions

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Independent Truckers Organize for Livable Working Conditions

On Monday, October 21st, truckers at the Port of Oakland declared a work stoppage and rallied to shut down parts of the port in the morning and afternoon. This is the second work stoppage this year by port truckers, who are legally prevented from joining a union (as they operate as “independent contractors”). Roughly a quarter of the truckers are organized under the “Port of Oakland Truckers Association” and have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. East Bay Solidarity Network members and organizers were there in support, along with dozens of community activists, union members and other workers.

The morning picket began at 5am and was small but spirited. Several of the terminals were blocked by picketers for a couple hours, until a veritable army of Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriffs showed up and physically pushed the picketers onto the sidewalk. As a result of the protest and the aggressive police response, the ILWU called off work for the morning shift. This effectively shut down two large ports for the entire morning shift. A substantial victory for a small, but committed, group of truck drivers and their supporters.

An afternoon rally was then called to attempt to shut down the evening shift. This rally was noticeably larger and about half the crowd were truck drivers. The police were much more ready and the picketers were quickly penned onto the sidewalk and prevented from blocking any trucks or longshoremen from crossing into the port. Most disgustingly, the president of ILWU Local 10 paid us a visit and confronted the truckers and picketers, declaring that “they are not part of a union, and so this isn’t a bona fide picket line. it’s just a protest.” Part of the ILWU contract states that longshoremen do not have to cross certain picket lines (part of the strength of that contract, and partially why actions such as the port shutdowns during Occupy Oakland were possible). Thus, the president of the longshore union worked with the police to ensure that his members could cross the truckers’ picket line, preventing the possibility of another port shutdown.

Regardless of the union presidents scabbing, the action was extremely powerful and has already advanced the truckers movement. According to the Port Truckers Solidarity Facebook page the day after the work stoppage:

“The truckers have agreed to meet with the second largest terminal along with others under the promise of certain concessions from the terminals. They have also been asked to meet with the mayor. They have decided to go to these meetings and hold off on further action at the port until they have a chance to all meet together to discuss the results of that meeting. At that time they will decide whether to continue their strike actions next week. Unless things go surprisingly well for them, they have made it clear that they plan to come back stronger.”

Part of the strength of the truckers’ organizing is the fact that it is completely led by the rank-and-file truckers themselves, not paid union staff who have entrenched interests in the status quo, or connections to politicians. This was evident at the truckers action; decisions about tactics and strategy were made entirely by the truckers, sometimes on the spot. And while this sometimes gave the action a sense of disorganization, it also felt empowering to see a group of workers make decisions for themselves instead of relying on “leaders” for direction. This shows that militant, rank-and-file working-class organizing IS possible, and is in fact the most effective way for us to struggle. Furthermore, the treachery of the ILWU leadership again demonstrates the need for us to organize outside of traditional union models, which for so many reasons have become conservative forces in the working-class movement, stifling solidarity and advancing losing strategies for combating our bosses. Solidarity across the working-class, whether organized or unorganized, employed or unemployed, housed or houseless, waged labor or unwaged labor, documented or undocumented, is what is needed if we are to beat back assaults from the rich. It is exciting to see what will come of the truckers’ struggle, and we encourage all the members and supporters of the East Bay Solidarity Network to continue to show up and support this fight in whatever way you can.

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UPDATE: The following day, on Tuesday October 22nd, an even larger contingency of independent truck drivers picketed terminals at the Oakland Port in an attempt to further reiterate their demands for livable working conditions. Their will remains strong and the organizing body grows each week. Make sure to join the organizer truck drivers for a support BBQ on Saturday, November 2 at 2:00PM at Middle Harbor Park. More info on the facebook page below.

 

For more info on the demands and issues behind the port truckers struggle, read this article: “Five Things You Never Knew You Didn’t Know About Oakland’s Port Truckers.” http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/25/18745431.php

For mainstream news coverage of the work stoppage, you can find some here: http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_24353992/some-oakland-port-truckers-stop-working-protest-rising?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com

“Like” the Port Truckers Solidarity Facebook page and stay up to date on future solidarity actions and events.https://www.facebook.com/events/485412844905393/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regularHe

You Got Served

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Nearly two months ago, a tenant from the Booker Emery apartment building in West Oakland contacted us about unsanitary conditions and unresponsive management at his building. He showed us pictures of the hordes of bedbugs that are infesting his room and biting his skin. He even showed us baggies full of the bedbugs he caught in recent weeks. Within our first hours of walking through the building, dozens of other tenants announced concerns and disputes they have with the landlord. Even worse, a handful of tenants had already been threatened with eviction for asking the landlord to address the problems. People were tired of living with black mold, bedbugs, and broken faucets, but many were nervous to raise their voice due to the targeted retaliation of previous weeks.
We began having meetings and BBQ’s to discuss the living conditions and strategize about the campaign. People shared their demands and we were able to craft a demand letter to be delivered to Ramdas Darke, the owner of their building. Before we even entered his office, the landlord began feeling the heat. He was using his ‘security cameras’ to monitor tenant organizing activities and sent building managers to snap pictures of organizers and threaten tenants with eviction. Despite the intimidation, tenants continued to door knock alongside us, nearly half of the residents signed a petition, and over ten residents notified the city of the landlord’s negligence.
Then, on the morning of October 10, a group of twenty tenants, organizers, and supporters marched into Ramdas’ office and delivered a clear demand that he find adequate solutions to the bedbug infestation. Ramdas gave nothing but excuses and justifications when we visited his office. Of course he would like us to think that his intentions are pure, but his thirty years of negligent management and retaliatory evictions prove otherwise. This fight is just beginning and will continue until the retaliation stops and the bedbugs are eradicated.