Monday, February 6, 2012

2012-02-06 "Occupy Oakland is target of protest" by Justin Berton, Demian Bulwa, Kevin Fagan from "San Francisco Chronicle"
A face-off between Occupy Oakland activists and members of a new group that formed to protest their tactics erupted Monday in front of Oakland City Hall, with both sides accusing each other of missing the point of the Occupy movement.
About 40 people identifying themselves as members of Stand for Oakland gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza at noon to denounce what they said was violence and vandalism by Occupy Oakland protesters in recent weeks.
"I'm fed up with this movement," said Duad Abdullah, 51, an Oakland resident who said he has volunteered in city programs for more than 20 years. "It's fallen off to the negative side and hasn't brought about any change."
Abdullah and others said they sympathized with Occupy Oakland's focus on economic disparity, but said clashes with police had drained the city's scant resources. They cited in particular activists' trashing of parts of City Hall after a failed attempt Jan. 28 to take over the long-empty Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.
The Stand for Oakland group was outnumbered by more than 150 Occupy Oakland protesters. Several Occupy activists confronted the new group, saying any violence and property damage during their actions was in reaction to heavy-handedness by Oakland police.
They said police should save the city money by leaving them alone.
The Stand for Oakland rally participants made a point of getting a permit for their rally, drawing a contrast with Occupy Oakland. They included City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who had briefly joined Occupy's encampment in its early days outside City Hall.
"They still haven't put forth an agenda that's beyond themselves," said Brooks, who differentiated between the larger movement and a handful of people she said had tarnished it. "What is it they're asking us to support? They're asking us to tolerate breaking into vacant buildings? For anyone else, that's straight-up criminal behavior."
Members of the Occupy group skirmished with police when officers ordered them to turn off a loudspeaker system, saying they had no permit and had sparked complaints.
Activists ignored the first warning, then protested that they were complying when officers in riot helmets moved in and snatched some of the equipment in a tug-of-war. While officers carried away an amplifier and speakers, a knot of activists managed to wrestle away a generator.
"It's another attempt to squash this movement," said Brian Glasscock, 20, who said he owned the confiscated gear. "It's like they don't even want us to talk about Occupy anymore."
Afterward, the Occupy and Stand for Oakland groups had different takes on what had happened - illustrating the varying views of how police have dealt with Occupy Oakland since its protests began nearly five months ago.
"I thought the police did what they had to do," said Marilyn Singleton, a 64-year-old doctor from Oakland who was with the Stand for Oakland group. "They can't let them run amok."
Valerie Carey, a 36-year-old Occupy Oakland activist who said she is looking for a job in community development, said the clash was an example of police repression.
"They came in with too much force," she said. "We have a right to assemble."
After an hour the Stand for Oakland activists left. The Occupy Oakland gathering marched to a nearby courthouse to denounce the prosecution of members of the group, including 11 protesters who were arraigned Monday on charges related to a demonstration in early January.

Ken Woolfe (left) becomes exasperated talking with Occupy members in front of City Hall. A rally by a group of people angered by the Occupy Oakland movement was joined by Occupy Oakland members and became confrontational.
Photo: Brant Ward / The Chronicle

Occupy Oakland protesters try to block the police from removing audio equipment used by the movement in front of Oakland City Hall. A rally by a group of people angered by the Occupy Oakland movement was joined by Occupy Oakland members and became confrontational.
Photo: Brant Ward / The Chronicle

2012-02-06 "UN says Sacramento Violating Human Rights of Homeless; Law Center's Advocacy Creates International Pressure"

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty [] [202-638-2535]
 In an unprecedented letter to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the United Nations has delivered a clear message: by not providing sanitation and safe drinking water, the city is violating the human rights of homeless persons.
The letter, sent by UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque, cites targeted closings of public restrooms, decommissioning of water fountains, and a lack of other clean water sources as blatant violations.
Albuquerque visited Sacramento in February 2011, as part of a fact-finding mission organized by the Law Center and Sacramento-based Safe Ground and Legal Services of Northern California.  She heard direct testimony from homeless campers, who are forced to rely on makeshift privy systems to deal with privacy and human waste issues.
 "The UN has delivered a powerful message: the U.S. doesn't get a free pass on its human rights violations.  Sacramento must take immediate steps to address the needs of its homeless population, " said Eric Tars, human rights program director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center).  "Access to water and sanitary facilities is one of the most fundamental of human rights -- essential to everyone's health, dignity, and continued life. "

To read the full press release, click here [].
To read the full letter to Mayor Johnson, click here [].
To read the UN's report, click here [].

Joe Partansky, Advocate for Open Gov. and Persons with Disabilities [925- 524-0272] []

Tea Party, Police, Corporatists rally against Occupy Oakland

2012-02-07 "Who is 'Stand For Oakland'?"
an info brief for Occupy Oakland by Matthew Jackson []:
Download the pdf [] for images. Whether one agrees or not with these characterizations of Occupy Oakland and its internal dynamics, what is apparent is that the pro-police, conservative, and business lobbyists at the forefront of Monday's "Stand For Oakland" rally do not speak for, nor do they even understand the alienation and miscommunication that is affecting Occupy Oakland's relationship to many Oaklanders today. They are attempting to capitalize upon it, however. Occupy's organizers, especially those who were central to planning the January 28 actions that were subject to intense police violence and media disinformation, should attempt to better understand this popular dissatisfaction lest more reactionary, anti-democratic voices take the lead as they did on Monday.
On Monday, February 6 a small group of protesters calling themselves "Stand For Oakland" gathered at 11:45 in front of City Hall. A single publicity notice for the protest was widely circulated on local blogs and neighborhood email lists at least several days prior. Verbatim, it reads;
"Come take a "Stand for Oakland" with Residents, Merchants and Downtown Businesses who have been the silent majority. "On Monday, residents of Oakland will make a peaceful, visual statement opposing the vandalizing and terrorizing of our city - costing millions of dollars in security and lost revenue and causing a forced re-prioritization of citizen calls, on an already strapped police force, due to downtown chaos and violence. "Oakland is worth Standing up for. Look for the arm bands, and come get one: stand in solidarity with Oakland." []
This call, obviously, but not by name, targeting Occupy Oakland as a source of "terror" and "violence," invokes multiple other tropes that have been used by business lobbyists and political authorities in attempts to undermine support for the local Occupy movement. It calls on "residents" to oppose "vandalism" and "terrorism," implying subtly that these acts are committed by non-resident outsiders. The call also invokes the loss of security to "citizens" because of "downtown chaos and violence," which in turn invokes various racial images in a city like Oakland where many residents are in fact non-citizen immigrants. Downtown Oakland has for decades been a synonym for black and immigrant poverty in the eyes of residents of the Oakland hills and surrounding, more affluent and whiter cities and suburbs.
No contact information, sponsorships, authorship, or any other identifier appeared on the "Stand For Oakland" invitation. It is difficult to tell who is actually behind the event. Further confusion is sown due to the fact that the anti-recall effort supporting Jean Quan is called "Stand With Oakland."
Based on background research into some of the persons who appeared at the "Stand For Oakland" protest, and who spoke to the press on the group's behalf, and upon emails sent through neighborhood lists, it is our tentative conclusion that "Stand For Oakland" is likely the production of a handful of relative conservative Oakland political activists, and several members of the Oakland business lobby. They have, however, tapped a genuine frustration among many centrist liberals who for a variety of reasons feel alienated from Occupy Oakland, and who have been swayed by the now predominant framing —spread now incessantly by most major newspapers and TV stations— of the movement as causing "violence."

The conservatives -
Two prominent voices at the "Stand For Oakland" rally quoted by news media were Marilyn Singleton and Nancy Sidebotham []. According to the the San Jose Mercury News, Singleton and Sidebotham "support the original message of Occupy Oakland but are now concerned that the movement has been taken over by a fringe group that advocates violence."
Marilyn Singleton is as a 64 year-old Oakland resident, but no other information is given by the news media about whether she actually has supported the "original message" of Occupy Oakland. A web search for information on Singleton cast serious doubt on this claim.
Singleton is a candidate for Congress running against Barbara Lee. She is a conservative black Republican. A Youtube video posted by the Solano Tea Party Patriots features Singleton as their "special guest speaker" at a BBQ last September. A caption in the video identifies her as a "Tea Party Candidate." [

Singleton is a member of "Republicans for Black Empowerment," a social networking site established to connect conservative black political activists. According to the group's web site, Republicans for Black Empowerment "believe misinformation rather than adequate 'return on investment' cements black allegiance to the Democratic Party." []
Singleton appears to agree with this tenet. On another member's wall she wrote last year: "I am in Oakland, another place where black folks are in serious need of education about how the Democratic Party has merely used them for votes, but given nothing in return." []
On her Facebook page Singleton describes herself as a "nonpartisan" "conservative." Along with her background in medicine —she has been an anesthesiologist since 1973— Singleton describes herself as "a concerned citizen who wants to put Washington on a diet." She says that if elected to Congress, she would "promote policies that renew our spirit of personal responsibility, create a business-friendly environment, encourage community and market-based solutions to social problems, and foster a free society guided by a moral compass." Her platform is, in to sum it up, one of austerity and punishment similar to that of the national Republican Party.
Her Facebook wall is filled with links to various ultra-conservative web sites. For example, on January 6 of this year she linked an article detailing claims by a Heritage Foundation fellow that "voter fraud is all too common in America today," and that "voter ID prevents election fraud." Singleton takes various anti-immigrant positions on her campaign web site. For example, among the five major issues she presents is "illegal immigration."
Following the link provided Singleton explains, "illegal immigration is not about ethnicity; it is about our safety and security. We cannot have drug dealers, human traffickers, terrorists, and weapons freely crossing our borders – North and South [].
Marilyn Singleton addressing a Tea Party rally, Sept. 2011

These references to "terrorists" and "security" somewhat echo the "Stand For Oakland" rally's invitation in referencing "citizen" and "violence" and "chaos." Singleton expresses dissatisfaction with current policies allowing ICE access to local jails and police departments where the agency can identify and deport undocumented persons. According to Singleton, "more needs to be done." Singleton expresses dissatisfaction at "illegal workers" who "use our medical, social, and educational services without contributing." She expresses support for the anti-immigrant policies of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation [].
On education issues she says she would, "introduce legislation to eliminate the Department of Education," as would former GOP presidential primary candidate Rick Perry ("Oops!"). She promotes charter schools as the solution to educational inequality; "we must remove restrictive barriers to opening new charter schools, private schools, and home schooling co-ops, especially in the minority and economically depressed communities" [].
On taxes and the economy Singleton expresses a pro-corporate and pro-wealth attitude, saying, "excessive corporate taxation destroys jobs, entrepreneurship, and innovation," and calls for budget cutting measures at the federal level. "The ultimate cure is to stop the out-of-control spending and stop the waste and duplication of agencies and services" [] .
As part of her campaign against Rep. Barbara Lee, Singleton attempted to link Rep. Lee with Occupy Oakland in a letter to the Oakland Tribute on January 31;
"One group of protesters invaded the YMCA. Some threw rocks and bottles and tore down fencing outside the Kaiser Convention Center. Many broke into City Hall (which was closed for the weekend), where they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures, including a children's recycled art exhibit. Yet our congressional representative, Barbara Lee, has supported the protesters, believing they should be allowed to "occupy whatever spaces they are occupying," including overnight stays in public areas. Despite the protesters' purposefully provoking the police, she has asserted that the police "overreacted" to this "nonviolent movement." Despite her support for the Occupy Oakland demonstrations, Lee has said that she had not gone, nor planned to go, to the site of the Oakland protests. Our police now are being monitored by federal overseers, but who is providing guidance and encouragement for peaceful protests? It certainly is not our federal representative" [].
Singleton appears to be a resident of the Oakland hills due to the fact that her son attended the more exclusive Skyline High School [].
As for her political philosophy (perhaps it would be more accurate to say consciousness?), among other things she explains that: "...the existence of bigotry should never be used to skirt the rule of law, excuse bad behavior, or to fuel class and race warfare," and that she sees: "no value in bashing 'the rich'. Politicians would like you to equate 'the rich' with private jets and those who 'shop till you drop.' The 'rich' are mostly people of modest means who have moved up the ladder of success." 
Nancy Sidebotham is a pro-Oakland Police Department activists who has run for city council on several occasions. Her pro-police advocacy has been so intense, she explains on a past campaign web site, "that I have been the target of a drive-by shooting because I stood on the side of the police" [].

Sidebotham's political activism spans other issues, from fighting to obtain streetlights in dark sections of her neighborhood, to forming merchants groups, opposing the construction of big box stores in East Oakland, and fighting PG&E utility surtaxes. She has put most energy into pro-police activities, however. Sidebotham chairs a Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council, neighborhood groups that cooperate and which are funded by the police, and which use police officer staff resources [].
Sidebotham's last web postings for her campaign for City Council in 2010 was headlined "OAKLAND IS OUR CITY!" It explains her opposition to any budget cuts affecting the police department, and opposition to policies such as Quan's 100 block plan that would have focused police resources in areas experiencing the highest levels of violent crime:
"I am a very strong advocate of hiring qualified individuals to become Oakland Police Officers and fully staffing the Department to the level that represents the population of this wonderful city. Micro-management of OPD by politics and the politicians has got to stop. The laws are very clear; OPD's function is to uphold them and to serve and protect the citizen's of Oakland. The crime in Oakland is citywide not just in one or two neighborhoods. Once OPD is allowed to function as a full department vs. one of maintenance, we will start to see positive change, which in turn will bring down crime. Through the great programs of Neighborhood Watch (NW), Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council's (NCPC) and the philosophy of Community Policing, until recently,these have been a driving force that has brought partnering to a new level between the community and OPD" [].
Sidebotham's political philosophy seems to be a mixed kind of anti-corporate populism with strong support for the police state. She does not seem to understand that broad swaths of Oakland's communities do not identify with or trust the police due to past and current patterns and practices of racial profiling, brutality, and other abuses.
Sidebotham, like others who attended the "Stand For Oakland" rally, is a supporter of the recall effort targeting Mayor Jean Quan [].
Joining Sidebotham at the "Stand For Oakland" rally was Angela Haller, another East Oakland foothills resident who is the Crime & Safety Team Chair for Beat 22X Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council. Haller has also advocated for increasing the police department's budget and is a long-time pro-police activist[].

The Business Lobby -
The Public Policy Director of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce Paul Junge participated in and helped publicize the "Stand For Oakland" rally. Prior to joining the Chamber, Junge's LinkedIn account [] shows that he was an "options trader" at the Cutler Group, LP, a financial corporation headquartered on Montgomery Street in San Francisco that trades in equity derivatives [].
Prior to this Junge was a television news anchor.
Junge has never pretended to identify with the goals of Occupy. His Facebook page in fact reveals that he voted "no" in response to a poll asking "do you support the Occupy Wall Street Movement?" Junge and the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce appear to be behind the Facebook group "Jobs Not Tents," which in spite of its meager following of just 54 Facebook users, has attempted to publicize various anti-Occupy Oakland articles and press releases, mostly other Chamber propaganda.

Joining Junge at the "Stand For Oakland" protest was local real estate developer Phil Tagami []. Tagami achieved notoriety during earlier protests when he patrolled the Rotunda Building, which he owns, with a shotgun, threatening to murder protesters. Tagami appears in CBS video footage of the "Stand For Oakland" protest as another anti-Occupy activists ties an armband on him [].

Another "Stand For Oakland" participant, Daud Abdullah, said of Phil Tagami when he was appointed to the State Lottery Panel in January of this year by current Governor, and former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown (a friend of Tagami's); "Truly a really good person has been put in this position" [].
Tagami is a key player in the downtown Oakland business lobby. In the early 2000s he occupied a seat on the Port of Oakland's board. He has exerted intense pressure on city politicians to eradicate Occupy Oakland, which like Junge he has never pretended to support.

The "Citizens" and "Residents" -
The above mentioned Daud Abdullah who has expressed admiration for Tagami appears to be a centrist, Democratic-Party leaning Oakland resident and civic activist. Abdullah was quoted in multiple news articles about the "Stand For Oakland" rally. He has been rewarded by conservative members of the City Council for unknown "services." Libby Schaaf —currently co-sponsoring legislation targeting Occupy that calls for the city to "use whatever lawful tools we have [...] to prevent future shutdowns or disruptions of any port operations"— gifted Abdullah two Oakland A's tickets last summer for "service to the City of Oakland" [].
Another Oakland "resident," Ken Woolfe, is pictured in a San Francisco Chronicle article that describes him as "exasperated" after talking to Occupy Oakland activists at the "Stand For Oakland" event []. Woolfe, according to public records, appears to be a home owner in the Dimond neighborhood. He is a semi-retired employee of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He made small campaign contributions to Barack Obama in 2008.
Email messages sent via the Dimond Neighborhood listserv and other email lists connecting homeowners, mostly in the middle class foothill areas of the city, but also in some pockets of the flatlands, show mixed levels of support for the "Stand For Oakland" rally. Dialog over the web indicates that the rally was more than just the product of pro-police and conservative activists and Chamber of Commerce representatives. One "neighbor" posting on an Oakland list is representative of the mood;
"[the press] took picture of my sign "Occupy Wall St. not Oakland". Some who stood by us were from OO and were dismayed about the violence but felt ineffective in stopping it. If we did any good - it may have been to have OO notice the violence is destructive to the movement and how they are losing support of the community. I think that concerns them - we were invited to come to their meeting. Maybe we should - but people are feeling that they would be shouted down - maybe we should anyway. BTW everyone mentioned that they still support the original concept of OO."
Another "neighbor" from East Oakland communicates a more complex position than the leaders and spokespersons of the "Stand For Oakland" rally over a neighborhood list;
"Stand for Oakland is a reaction to the mayhem. It's not about the corruption of government, the abuse of power, the grand theft of our resources and the destruction of the middle class. I understand how it happened and why it's there. But it's a reaction to a reaction to a reaction... I am far more interested in your second point; which is our citizens figuring out ways to take back our Occupy and behave appropriately. Making it inhospitable for those who cannot abide by non-violent civil disobedience is exactly what has to happen and any of us being an armchair quarterback or joining some other group isn't going to help."
Whether one agrees or not with these characterizations of Occupy Oakland and its internal dynamics, what is apparent is that the pro-police, conservative, and business lobbyists at the forefront of Monday's "Stand For Oakland" rally do not speak for, nor do they even understand the alienation and miscommunication that is affecting Occupy Oakland's relationship to many Oaklanders today. They are attempting to capitalize upon it, however.
Occupy's organizers, especially those who were central to planning the January 28 actions that were subject to intense police violence and media disinformation, should attempt to better understand this popular dissatisfaction lest more reactionary, anti-democratic voices take the lead as they did on Monday.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012-02-05 "Police hold smaller Occupy Oakland protest in check" by Kevin Fagan, Vivian Ho, Will Kane, Michael Cabanatuan from "San Francisco Chronicle"
A week after a violent protest by Occupy demonstrators resulted in more than 400 arrests, calm reigned Saturday night as a small crowd of about 100 marchers was turned away from the Oakland Police Department, then paraded around downtown and North Oakland.
No violence was reported by late Saturday, and at 10:35 p.m., ebullient protesters called that a victory as they streamed back into Frank Ogawa Plaza, the Occupy protest's epicenter in Oakland.
 "It was an amazing action," said Sarah Carlson, 29, of San Francisco. "Even people who have different ideas tactically about how to approach these things were disciplined."
 The march left the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall just before 9 p.m. and headed down Broadway toward the Police Department headquarters on Seventh Street. Near the rear of the march, Zachary Running Wolf, a well-known East Bay protester, burned an American flag and left it in the middle of Broadway.
Gary Easley, 33, of Oakland, picked up the charred flag, and put it around his neck.
 "I felt bad," he said.
As the marchers neared Eighth Street - chanting "Whose streets? Our streets!" - they encountered a line of about 50 Oakland police officers in riot gear, and headed east on Eighth Street into Chinatown.
"They're too small," Jacques Rivera, who works at Revolution Books, said of the crowd of protesters. "They're being cautious and strategic. They're not going to take a small march and get everyone arrested."
 The police - some on foot, some in vans and black sport-utility vehicles - followed the marchers as they weaved through downtown Oakland, then headed north on West Street. Their ultimate destination was unclear.
 As they marched, the protesters chanted: "We are nonviolent," "All cops are bastards," "We are peaceful, the pigs are not." Two helicopters followed the crowd as it worked its way through usually quiet North Oakland residential neighborhoods.
 The passing parade of protesters followed by police drew curious residents out of their houses and onto the sidewalks.
 "I heard the chanting outside the house and came outside to see what was going on," said Steve, 27, who would not give his last name. "I'm a strong supporter and a righteous believer (in Occupy). But it's kind of like, 'What are they accomplishing with this now?' "
Police and Oakland officials had worried that the march would turn into a repeat of last Saturday when a peaceful afternoon protest swirled into chaos and violence later in the day. More than 400 were arrested as they tried to seize the long-vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, entered the Oakland YMCA and broke into Oakland City Hall, where they vandalized the ground floor.
The nasty conflict prompted a week of sometimes angry debate over the tactics of Occupy protesters and police alike. Despite calls for a commitment to nonviolence from city officials and some inside the Occupy movement - and the issuance of stay-away orders against 11 protesters - Occupy leaders called another in their series of what they termed "F- the Police" protests.
 Statements posted on the Occupy Oakland website before Saturday's march urged those opposed to violence or vandalism to either steer clear or avoid interfering with those willing to engage in mayhem.
 "If you identify as peaceful and are likely to interfere with the actions of your fellow protesters in any way (including telling them to stop performing a particular action, grappling, assaulting or holding them for arrest), you may not want to attend this march," one statement read. "It is a militant action. It attracts anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and other comrades of a revolutionary bent. It is not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics."
In Frank Ogawa Plaza before the march, many in the crowd said the "diversity of tactics" included nonviolent civil disobedience. A man over the loudspeaker told the gathering crowd: "This is a nonviolent thing. It's going to be nonviolent like every other night."
After the march, Melvin Kelley, 19, of Oakland, said the online messages about violence and vandalism had been misconstrued.
"We're not going to tell them to do it," he said. "We're not going to tell them not to do it. We don't want them to set fires or anything, but we don't want to be starting confrontation within our group."

Occupy Oakland held a rally and march from Frank Ogawa Plaza to OPD Headquarters in downtown Oakland, CA to protest alleged police brutality against Occupiers. Saturday Feb. 4th, 2012.
Photo: Michael Short / Special to the Chronicle

The Move-In Assembly was created on December 24, following a proposal passed at Occupy Oakland's General Assembly. It has been holding open assemblies of approximately 80 people twice a week since December 28.

2012-02-05 "A statement from Occupy Oakland's Move-In Assembly To the Occupy Oakland family and all supporters of Occupy Oakland"
We are writing in regards to any misconceptions you may have regarding last Saturday's (1/28) Move-In Day to reclaim the unused Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. We have had to brave a heavy campaign launched by the city and the mainstream media to discredit us, and unfortunately some within our ranks have taken such misrepresentations at face value. We hope that this statement can help clear things up.
We remember how beautiful we all were on our march, a diverse crowd of thousands coming together to turn an unused building into a social center and a new home for Occupy Oakland. We had a children's brigade at the back and a line of shields in the front, and a celebratory crew of comrades in between. We should be emboldened that there are so many of us out there who are willing to take such action together and like the General Strike and the Port Shutdown, see it as sign of what we can do when united in purpose and solidarity.
Yes, we were met with the heavy hand of the police state when OPD chose to turn our peaceful march into a war zone. But one fact that should not go unnoticed is the courage and resiliency we demonstrated on the streets that day. Whether it was advancing behind our shields towards a militarized police force, tearing down fences to escape a police kettle while being tear gassed, escaping through the YMCA to avoid arrest (thank you to whoever it was who let us in!), using a fire extinguisher as a smoke screen to assist the escape of those who were in City Hall, or attempting to free our comrades being transferred to the Glen Dyer Detention Facility, the people of Oakland showed what we are capable of and what we can become. Above all, we demonstrated to the city and its rogue police force that we will not be intimidated or scared by their tactics, when we know that we have each other’s backs.
Let it be clear: we are not victims of police brutality but survivors of it. There is no question that we demonstrated militant resistance to the police last Saturday. It is only natural to do so when our best intentions of creating a new world our met with such hostility. This time, the chant "When Oakland is under attack, what do you do? Stand up! Fight back!" was not an empty one. At the same time, it should also be clear that there is nothing preventing those who want to from organizing non-violent direct actions autonomously with clear guidelines as such. This is what we mean by diversity of tactics.
We recognize that there are communities who were affected in the neighborhoods where the conflicts with the police took place. We did outreach all over Oakland before the action and will continue to offer support and solidarity to those who might have been negatively effected or traumatized by the OPD's inexcusable actions. What we saw in the streets of Oakland on the 28th was overwhelming support, whether it was bystanders bringing us water to wash off tear gas, waving and cheering us on, honking from their cars, or coming down from their apartments to join us. We experienced solidarity first hand rather than percentage points in a poll.
The OPD and the city claim that we are outsiders and that we are not from Oakland (even as 93% of OPD officers live outside Oakland). These lies are transparent to anyone who comes to our marches and assemblies and sees their friends and neighbors next to them. And those who came in solidarity last Saturday, from across all over the bay, from Dallas to Los Angeles, they are us and we are them. They are our comrades and no city press release can come between us. Our heart goes out to them and all the Occupies (over 26 at last count) who organized solidarity protests within 24 hours of the mass arrests on the 28th. We love you in the deepest meaning of the word. From its inception, Occupy Oakland has been about taking direct action and defending ourselves and what we reclaim to the best of our abilities. It has always been about people providing for each other and working to build radical alternatives to the patriarchal capitalist system, and it is in this spirit that we move forward together. No one comes from some ‘outside’ in order to mess with our Oakland, other than the suburbanite riot police. We come from here and everywhere, and in our movement those who join us are all insiders, agitating together towards a better Oakland, a better world. 
To be sure, many of us are frustrated about the tactical mistakes made throughout the day, and we have to learn from these as we advance. There are many questions and criticisms coming from our broader community, and we welcome your help in transforming these into better strategies for future actions. We have to learn how to takeover buildings in an effective and intelligent manner. We have to learn how to move cohesively through the streets, to take offensive and defensive initiatives, to improve communication in highly charged situations. Critiques are important but we want everyone to understand the difficulty in undertaking such an initiative in the face of such forceful police response. The state fears that one successful building takeover will lead to another. It has nightmares of whole blocks of vacant buildings put to use as social centers and nodes of resistance, inspiring those in other cities to do the same. Despite the knee-deep shit that the OPD is in right now, when it comes to challenging property relations all bets are off and the leashes are cut.
We are dumbfounded by those who accuse us of working solely to create a spectacle, a confrontation with the police, or not being genuine in our stated goals. We are the same people who through the course of a month planned a two day festival to launch our new home, collected and wheeled the many supplies to make it a comfortable and safe space, crafted well thought-out guidelines of behavior and exclusion for inside the building to address the gendered violence we saw at the camp, and drew up defense strategies against police raids. Was it a gamble? Of course it was, just like setting up of our camp at OGP on October 10, or calling for a general strike with a week's notice, or shutting down the ports. Most every action we plan is filled with risks and unknown factors. Accuse us of naiveté if you must (and then join us in forging better actions), but do not accuse us of malice or hidden motivations.
As we continue to reflect on the actions of last Saturday, we need also to remember that many in our community are in pain and trauma and we need each other’s support and care. More than 400 of us were imprisoned last weekend. Some of us have yet to be released, are facing trumped-up felony charges, or have been given unconstitutional stay-away orders. The abuse we faced behind bars needs to be told and retold, as it not only shows yet another side of the repression of dissent but the everyday brutality of the prison industrial complex on all prisoners. What has not been sufficiently recounted is the solidarity we experienced with each other within the walls and cells designed to separate and isolate us. When we came out of Santa Rita, we did not want to go home but joined the dozens of comrades outside waiting for the rest of us, cheering each releasee, feeding them and nourishing them with food and comfort.
But much more importantly, the time we spent on the inside was a stark reminder of what and why we are fighting. Across the world millions of prisoners languish in prison; in California alone there are nearly 200,000 prisoners, overwhelmingly people of color, as a result of the institutionalized racism of the justice system. In Santa Rita we met some of these inmates who gave us words of support and encouragement. When we converge outside of San Quentin on February 20th for our Occupy the Prisons action, we will have those prisoners in our hearts.
The broader Occupy Oakland community needs to know that we are not finished, and that we continue to plan for future building reclamations and other actions. We realize that we have a ways to go, and need to continue outreach, build (and repair) bridges, and expand our movement, which after all is always a beautiful work in progress. We welcome your feedback and constructive criticisms as we learn from our missteps and move forward together. Please come and join us!

 With love, vigilance, and solidarity,
The Occupy Oakland Move-in Assembly
February 5, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Local Fascists: Seeno Family

2012-02-04 "Powerful developer with land in Benicia accused of death threats in Nevada" by Matthias Gafni and Lisa Vorderbrueggen from "MediaNews Group"
A lawsuit accuses the leaders of a powerful Contra Costa County family of threatening to kill a prominent Nevada lobbyist and friend of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after a business deal went bad.
After the multimillion dollar Nevada real estate venture fell apart last year, Harvey Whittemore claims Albert Seeno Jr. and his son Albert III began threatening him and his family, even sending thugs to their homes to force open a safe and breaking into a house to steal computer equipment while Albert III waited in a getaway car.
The political power broker and his wife are seeking $1.8 billion in damages, claiming the Seeno father and son were involved in racketeering, extortion, grand larceny and threats. No criminal charges have been filed, and a Seeno attorney on Friday dismissed the allegations.
The federal court civil suit filed Wednesday alleged fraud among other things. It also names Thomas Seeno, Albert Jr.'s brother.
Whittemore, the Las Vegas gaming, alcohol and tobacco lobbyist, alleges that Seeno Jr. threatened to "take down" the state's "political machine" by telling the FBI about alleged financial misappropriations.
The lawsuit also includes tales of rifts and family secrets among the tight-lipped Seenos, including one brother who allegedly threatened to "murder" another.
The Seeno family has sued and been sued numerous times. A year ago, the FBI raided the company's Concord headquarters, and the company and its leaders have been fined for environmental and gaming violations over the years.
For years, the Seenos' Discovery Builders tried to develop a business park on 527 undeveloped acres in northeast Benicia. But the developer dropped the project in July 2010 after putting it on hold, citing the slumping economy.
At the time, Seeno Jr. said the "climate" for processing anything at Benicia City Hall was "intolerable." He also accused Mayor Elizabeth Patterson of making "slanderous comments about me and my family on the public record." Patterson, however, accused the developer of trying to discredit her for pointing out his past federal Endangered Species Act violations.
This lawsuit comes a week after the Seenos sued Whittemore in Las Vegas, claiming he embezzled and misappropriated tens of millions of dollars from their joint company to finance a lavish lifestyle and curry political favor.
Seeno attorney Kent Robison of Reno said Whittemore's suit was retaliation.
"It is beyond fiction the accusations he's making, and essentially they are garbage. The act of a desperate man doing desperate things," Robison said.
The allegations of physical violence are "brand new nonsense," Robison said. "He never expressed a word of fear before."
As the housing market exploded in Nevada in 2004, Thomas Seeno, of Alamo, bought half interest in Wingfield Nevada Group, a conglomeration of business enterprises developed by Whittemore valued then at more than $500 million, according to the suit.
Thomas Seeno asked Whittemore whether his brother, Albert Seeno Jr., a Clayton resident, could buy an interest, the suit alleges, saying Albert Jr. would bring tremendous resources to the deal. "Albert and Tom had been 'fighting' for years, and they saw the WNG investment as a way to bring the brothers back together," according to the suit.
Albert Jr. bought a one-third interest in February 2007, leaving all three men with equal ownership. By then, the company was worth $500 million to $1 billion.
As part of the agreement, the Whittemores over the years borrowed about $20 million from Tom Seeno, the suit alleges.
The Seenos would come after that money.
As the housing market dried up, the relationship between Whittemore and the Seeno brothers soured.
In February 2009, Whittemore claims Albert Jr. and Tom asked for his help because the family owed the IRS more than $500 million.
Whittemore, an attorney, claims he used a tax strategy allowing the Seenos to defer their taxes, negotiate new credit lines and increase their cash flow.
In August 2010, with the development market crumbling, Albert Jr. became disgruntled and accused Whittemore of embezzlement, fraud and other criminal activity. They met at the family's Peppermill Hotel and Casino.
"At the conclusion of these threats, (Seeno Jr.) reminded Mr. Whittemore of the threats he had made about murdering his own brother, Thomas Seeno, with his own bare hands and then threatened Mr. Whittemore's life and the lives of his entire family if he did not do as he was expressly instructed by Albert Seeno Jr.," according to the suit.
The Seenos' attorney says Whittemore told the Seenos he could not make his payments toward the company's growing debt. The Seenos audited the books and found that Whittemore had embezzled funds, according to the attorney.
Corporations are supposed to enrich the people. Taxes on capital-gains or any other profit made from financial speculation would enable more people to live in freedom and not in tyranny.
However, the class war waged by the investment class of USA Citizens is destroying all the programs and the taxes that fund them which help the majority of USA Citizens. 
We are under a economic regime which enforces the perpetuation of poverty...

2012-02-04 "Feds cut Vallejo Housing & Redevelopment funds" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Vallejo's Housing and Redevelopment Commission has voted to scrutinize how the city distributes its low- to moderate-income funds in the face of drastic federal cutbacks.
Federal funding for social service programs supporting seniors, homeless persons, low-income families and recovering addicts, will be unexpectedly reduced by 14 percent nationally for the coming fiscal year. That's on top of a 16 percent cut made to this year's budget, Vallejo Senior Community Analyst Guy Ricca told the commission on Thursday. The coming year's estimated Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding was set at about $1.1 million, before confirmation of the cutback was announced.
"With CDBG it's a cut, it's a reduction, (but) it's not totally fatal -- about 30 percent over two years," Ricca said.
The problem arises because Vallejo budgets CDBG money for two-year funding cycles, noting in its agreements with various organizations receiving funding that the second year is merely an estimate.
The more dramatic cutback, Ricca said, will be to the city's Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), with an additional 40 percent loss on top of this year's 11 percent drop. Funding for next year was expected to reach nearly $703,000. Ricca said an ad-hoc committee would likely have to sit down with staff to "spend significant time ... reorganizing."
Typically, HOME funds have been used for Habitat for Humanity rehabilitation projects, general community housing support programming, affordable housing and other uses.
All of the subcommittee's recommendations will ultimately require both full Housing and Redevelopment Commission and Vallejo City Council approval.