Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011-11-19 "Occupy Oakland plans new camp" by Justin Berton from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Members of Occupy Oakland promised to open a new encampment today on a vacant lot in the city's Uptown neighborhood, drawing a mixed reaction of concern and praise from residents and parents at a nearby school.
Occupy Oakland campers, who were evicted from Frank Ogawa Plaza on Monday during a predawn police raid, voted Wednesday to resettle five blocks north at Telegraph Avenue and 19th Street, in a lot next to the refurbished Fox Theatre.
Mayor Jean Quan's office released a statement Thursday saying police are aware of the group's plan and have "a strategy in place to prevent the establishment of any new encampments."
The group plans to move in at the end of a march through downtown that begins at 2 p.m. today at Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall.
Tim Simons, 28, an organizer with the group, said Friday that Occupy activists had picked the site because groups representing businesses in the area - including the Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Merritt-Uptown District Association - are "our enemies."
Simons said the chamber's motives are influenced by banks and large corporations, noting that board members are employed by Visa, Wells Fargo and AT&T.
The business groups pushed for Occupy to be evicted from its first camp at 14th Street and Broadway, Simons said. "They're out here trying to make a buck in this neighborhood through gentrification," he said. "They need to know we're here, too."
The Uptown district has undergone a renovation in recent years with the opening of urban lofts, bars and restaurants along with the Fox Theatre.
Joseph Haraburda, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said although several board members work for large companies, others are self-employed and a majority of the group's members are businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
"To target larger companies as 'the enemy' is misguided," he said.
Haraburda said larger companies have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofits that help food banks, after-school programs, and arts and cultural groups.

Mixed reaction -
Several residents and parents from the 650-student Oakland School for the Arts, which borders the vacant lot's 19th Street side, attended Occupy Oakland's morning news conference in a park next to the lot. Some welcomed the activists, while others confronted them.
Zappa Montag, 42, whose daughter attends the school, said he agrees with the ideals of the movement - he's frustrated with economic inequality - yet fears that an encampment would attract both criminals and a heavy police presence.
Montag said he participated in Occupy Oakland general assemblies and had visited the former encampment regularly, where he was unsettled by what he described as a volatile atmosphere.
Hard to support
"I feel like I'm stuck in the middle," Montag said. "A lot of us support the movement, but it's hard to support the reality of what the encampments become."
Simons said Occupy Oakland would address those fears and asked the residents to participate in the camp's settling.
"This camp will have its own unique character," Simons said. "If people's concerns are about safety and students, then those concerns are our priority."
Johannes Wallmann, 37, who has lived in a loft that overlooks the proposed camp site for three years, said he could not justify supporting the movement without supporting a tented community.
"We can't buy into this Nimby concept," Wallmann said. "Obviously, it would be great if this happened somewhere else; it would always be better somewhere else. But this is a movement that's happening in our community. And we support people who are being proactive in the community."

The other Occupy -
Occupy Oakland has maintained another outpost at Snow Park near Lake Merritt. Since Monday's eviction at Frank Ogawa Plaza, the number of tents there has grown to 60 from 40, even as police handed out eviction notices.
Marjorie Rice, 50, said police had told her to move into a shelter before Monday. She expects a sweep to come by then.
"Maybe I'll go tonight, get out of the rain," Rice said, adding that she enjoys seeing more people at Snow. "More folks to talk to, more stories to hear."

In San Francisco, a public works employee sprays disinfectant around the perimeter of the Occupy camp, which remains in Justin Herman Plaza along the Embarcadero. The city has spent more than $625,000 on the encampment in the past two months.
Credit: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

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