Smashed Up

Young service workers on the sanctity of small business.

It was the first Friday of December, which in Oakland usually means hoards of people descending onto Telegraph Avenue for the monthly Art Murmur festival. But on this night, a much different crowd filled the streets. After successfully shutting down the 880 freeway and West Oakland BART station, hundreds of people outraged at the recent police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner marched towards 14th and Broadway downtown. Suddenly, the sound of shattering glass echoed everywhere; someone had smashed out the windows of a new wine bar. Cheers of joy went up from most of the crowd, but a few rushed to protect the vandalized shop: “Stop! This is a local business!”

Although corporate chains bore the brunt of the vandalism and looting in the most recent wave of actions against police murders, protesters also tagged and smashed windows at smaller businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods like Temescal and Downtown Berkeley. In the wake of these actions, some movement sympathizers have been quick to criticize the vandalism of local businesses, implying that locally owned businesses are not a legitimate target of popular anger. Even some who sympathize with property destruction of corporate targets like Chase Bank argue against targeting small businesses.

Based on our experience working for small businesses and as white workers who are actively in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, we want to suggest that not only is it appropriate to organize against and express anger at such places, but given the corresponding rise of upscale establishments, mass displacement, and police violence in the Bay Area, it may also be a strategic direction for our movements.

  Continue reading

Advertisements

SF Pedicabbers Stand in Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter Movement

BlackLivesMatter

Artwork created by Shirin Barghi at @shebe86. 

On New Years Eve, some Pedicab Operators in San Francisco will be donating an hours worth of fares to the Anti-Repression Crew Bail Fund to support protesters arrested in these last few weeks of demonstrations against police brutality. We are following the example of workers at Arbor Cafe, who last weekend donated their tips and raised hundreds of dollars towards supporting arrested protesters.

*If you are a Pedicabber but aren’t riding on New Year’s, please consider donating the equivalent of an hours worth of rides (this could be anywhere from $20 to $50, or whatever feels do-able for you).

*If you are a service worker who makes tips, please consider talking to your co-workers about doing something similar if you can.

*If you aren’t a service worker or Pedicabber, and if you’d like to donate individually, the link to donate is at https://rally.org/arcbailfund

and for more info about Bay Area Anti Repression and what they do, check out http://oaklandantirepression.wordpress.com/

Solidarity from our workplaces to the streets. ♥

Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/614828645310451/

DEFENDING WORKERS’ RIGHTS THROUGH DIRECT ACTION AND THE LAW

DEFENDING WORKERS' RIGHTS THROUGH DIRECT ACTION AND THE LAW

JUNE 18—-7PM—–ONE FAM

Join us this Wednesday at 7PM for a conversation with Attorney Michael Flynn of the NLG and the East Bay Solidarity Network.
We will cover basic workers’ rights, how to file complaints against employers and how to develop direct action campaigns against scummy bosses.
Come to address concrete problems in your own workplace or just to learn how to support other folks fighting back against their bosses.
One Fam is on the corner of 7th Street and Peralta in West Oakland and snacks will be provided. Please get in touch if childcare is needed.

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

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

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

        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.

Image
          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.”

Image

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

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)

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 4.15.15 PM