“Homeless protesters create ‘Liberty City’” by Mike Zint, December 2015 (peoplestribune.org)

Anna Davis, Henry Yoder, and Mike Zint at the Berkeley City Hall “Liberty City” occupation. PHOTO/SARAH MENEFEE

BERKELEY, CA — For two weeks a group of homeless have occupied City Hall in protest of the new anti-homeless laws. We protest for equal rights, equal protection, and demand we be allowed to care for ourselves in the commons.  The city wants to shuffle, harass, and torture us, drive us out of town. This is the tactic most cities use, instead of dealing with the problem. The homeless community is the same as the housed, but without hard walls. We want the same things as the housed. .

Since ‘Liberty City’ has been occupying, we have accomplished the following:  We have provided shelter and storage for over 60 people; one hot meal per day at the cost of $1 in food stamps;  vaccinated and registered the protesters dogs and cats; handed out  over 100 blankets and over 50 jackets for the cold weather; provided safety, security, privacy and stability for the protesters.

This was all accomplished by us, with community support. We have demonstrated success at almost no cost to the city. We have handled 7% of Berkeley’s homeless in two weeks.

Our protest is threatened with 647e, ‘illegal lodging.’ The law clearly states ‘without the permission of the owner’. We own the commons, and have given ourselves permission to be there. The Berkley Police Department insists on referring to the occupation as an encampment. This is a blatant attempt to create an excuse to violate our rights.

‘Liberty City’ is the solution, not the problem. Criminalizing the homeless is the problem. In two weeks we have proven success, Allow us to relocate ‘Liberty City’ to a mutually agreed upon location. Help us centralize services. Observe the lessons running a recycling business teaches. See community evolve a government of consensus-based self rule. Watch as the ‘Liberty City’ community helps deal with the homeless crisis. Solutions come from community. We have these solutions.

Update:  On December 4,Berkeley police raided ‘Liberty City,’ confiscating tents and possessions, arresting Mike Zint, Anna Davis, and Casey Hosier. The day after being released, Mike made this statement: “Banners are going up and signs are being made. Tonight, these homeless are without the shelter thanks to the city’s unconstitutional action of removing our occupation.” Since then a symbolic tent has been erected and more signs painted, protesters sitting on chairs in front of City Hall and under a tarp to shelter from the rains. Davis and Hosier were again arrested for ‘lodging’ under this tarp.

‘Liberty City’ remains as a shining example of how people can take care of themselves and each other. Imagine if the whole economic and political system was in our hands and run that way, freely sharing the abundance we ourselves create? Only the profits-only laws of capitalism and their fascist enforcement prevent this. Stop the criminalization! Housing for everyone! [Sarah Menefee, ‘First they came for the homeless’, the People’s Tribune]

We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source.
Copyright © 2015 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Note from Mike Zint:

Today, all around the country, homeless suffer needlessly. Money has become all powerful. Money controls the politicians. So, is it any wonder why the homeless have no rights?

“UC Berkeley Researchers: Oakland’s Homeless Camp Policies Are Contradictory, Harmful” by Darwin BondGraham (eastbayexpress.com)

A homeless camp under the 880 Freeway in downtown Oakland. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAMDarwin BondGraham:  A homeless camp under the 880 Freeway in downtown Oakland.

A report by UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy researchers prepared for the City of Oakland last May found that Oakland’s method for dealing with homeless encampments does more harm than good, and that the city’s various departments don’t have a coherent strategy to help the homeless. The result is that the city’s homeless population continues to struggle to find safe spaces to exist.

According to the report, each city department approaches the problem of homeless encampments with its own goals.

“These often contradictory approaches became problematic when one department’s definition of a successful outcome directly undermined another’s,” the Berkeley researchers wrote.

The police department told the research team that they are “reluctant to issue citations against homeless individuals due to both the inefficiency of criminalizing homelessness, as well as the potential political ramifications.”

However, city councilmembers and the City Administrator’s office are under intense pressure from homeowners, especially in West Oakland and North Oakland, to remove homeless camps. The result is that the Department of Public Works is increasingly directed to clean up and close homeless camps, and the police have been increasingly called to crack down on the homeless for crimes such as loitering and trespassing.

According to the researchers:

“The tension between Oakland’s housed and unhoused residents is exemplified in Councilmember Lynette McElhaney’s [West Oakland and downtown] district, which has a disproportionate concentration of homeless encampments. The office receives numerous complaints from housed residents concerned about crime and other encampment-specific problems. While the Councilmember’s office agreed that the primary problem is a shortage of housing, the short-term concern of the office is addressing the immediate concerns of their constituents, which often requires directing Public Works to remove the encampments.”

The researchers found that between 2005 and March of 2015 there were 1,270 OPD records of enforcement actions against “homeless” and “transient” camps, with a noticeable peak between 2013 and 2014.

Oakland police records show a recent spike in calls regarding homeless camps. - UC BERKELEY

  • UC Berkeley
  • Oakland police records show a recent spike in calls regarding homeless camps.

Continue reading

Action Council Events — December 31 to January 7

OccupySF

~ Action Council ~  

Next Meeting

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2:00pm – 4:00pm

The Action Council’s general meeting is on the first Sunday of each month

UNITE / HERE – Local 2

215 Golden Gate Ave.

(nr. Civic Center BART)

San Francisco

Occupy San Francisco Bulletin Board:

 http://www.occupysf.net

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

ANNOUNCEMENTS

December 31 – January 7

Thursday, December 31

D 31, Thursday, 8:00pm, ANNUAL – NEW YEAR’S EVE demonstration against PRISONS and POLICING(march)

14th & Broadway
Oakland

Every New Year’s Eve through out the United States and the World people take to the streets or gather in front of prisons and jails to extend a noisy gesture of solidarity with those incarcerated.

Tradition is an important moment for simultaneously rejecting a society built upon policing and incarceration as well as letting those inside prison walls know that they are not forgotten.

March will be to the North County Jail.

Host: Bay Waters

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/985206561550953/

D 31, Thursday, 9:30pm, New Years Revolution

UN Plaza @ Hyde St. (meet by the horse statue)
SF

Ring in the new year with us in reenvisioning a world without police violence against Black lives!

#JusticeforMarioWoods

From the local to the national, Black organizers have made great strides in the fight for justice in 2015. Please join us in supporting this momentum by coming together to acknowledge the actions that have been taken by Black leaders and to ask community members to support this growing movement through talking with friends, neighbors, and family about why the racial justice movement is essential for our collective healing. Donating money and time to Black-led organizations is key to keeping the ball rolling.

Dress warm – bring snacks / beverages

Hosted by Queers Come Out for Black Lives Matter

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/671476736326478/

Friday, January 1, 2016

J 1, Friday, 12 Noon – 5:00pm, 7th Year Vigil for Oscar Grant III

Grant Station (Fruitvale BART)
Oakland

7th year vigil commemorating Oscar Grant’s life. We ask you to join us in celebrating his life and what has changed since the loss of his life.

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/11/27/18780414.php

Saturday, January 2

J 2, Saturday, 12 Noon, BLM Bay Area  Rise Up 4 Tamir

Oscar Grant Plaza
14th & Broadway (nr 12 Street BART)
Oakland

Bay Area rises up in solidarity with Tamir Rice’s family one year after Cleveland police officers killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Please join Black Lives Matter Bay Area, Black Lives Matter and the Last 3 Percent Coalition as we gather in solidarity with the family of Tamir Rice and Black Lives Matter Cleveland, and to uplift all of the families of those we have lost to police violence.

This is a black led ceremony that is centered in Black love, Black healing and Black rage. We invite allies to join us under the direction of our elder.

Sponsor: Black Lives Matter – Bay Area

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/570651916424739/

J 2, Saturday, 2:00pm – 4:30pm, ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY!

Starry Plough Pub
3101 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley

Ongoing Socialist Forum on the first Saturday of each month

Free Event – Buy food and beverage at pub.

Sponsor: Peace and Freedom Party

Info: cuyleruyle@mac.com  /  510-332-3865  /  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/12/24/18781220.php

Continue reading

OccupyForum Off-Site Meeting on Monday, January 4

O C C U P Y F O R U M   O F F – S I T E  M E E T I N G

Monday, January 4th at 6:00 pm

SEIU Local 1021 350 Rhode Island, Suite 100 San Francisco, CA 94103 near 16th Street

Enter on Rhode Island, turn to left up the stairs, conference room is to the right.
Office: (415) 848-3611  Toll-free: (877) 415-1021

  Justice 4 Mario Woods

Coalition Meeting:

National Emergency

Everywhere across this nation, people gather in shock, despair, rage as another black person is murdered by police without accountability. This is a national emergency.

For the third Monday, OccupyForum will be taking place at the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition Meeting. Because so many of us showed up (17 out of 70 members so far) for the Bayview and for Mario, and against police executions of blacks in the streets of our country, we are becoming significantly involved. We have been at many actions, including the Town Hall Meeting with Police Chief Suhr, the Police Commission Protest at City Hall, the Rally at 850 Bryant and march to the District Attorney’s office, the Press Conference at City Hall, the Kwanzaa Protest, the Tamir Rice protest in downtown SF, and the Rally at the African American Community Police Board Meeting (which was cancelled and barricaded because they heard we were coming and they were afraid to face our questions about why cops executed Mario Woods, and their accountability). We join in the outrage, and in the planning process of how we will address this national emergency.

The Coalition’s demands are:

  • Fire Chief Suhr
  • Indict, Convict and Jail the cops who murdered Mario Woods
  • An independent investigation into the murder.

Please join us and become part of the Coalition. We need all hands on deck. Please bring friends, groups, family.

BACKGROUND:

On Wednesday, December 2nd, Mario Woods was gunned down by a firing squad of San Francisco Police officers in the Bayview, allegedly for brandishing a kitchen knife and “threatening” police at the scene. Videos showed Woods confusedly stumbling around after police shot bean bags filled with lead pellets and pepper spray at him; then being assassinated by police as he attempted to limp away. Citizens of the Bayview and throughout the city held a vigil that night, followed by testimony at a Town Hall Meeting called by Police Chief Suhr. A meeting at the San Francisco Police Commission characterized by the rage of the community was held December 9th with at least 200 protesters packing into City Hall filing public comment, including Archbishop Franzo King who said, “If the chief continues to defend the right to kill and slaughter people on the street under his command, then he becomes a co-conspirator to murder.” On December 18th, hundreds of youth, families, community and religious leaders throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area held a massive rally on the steps of 850 Bryant Street. Following the rally, the group marched to the offices of District Attorney George Gascón.

In a Times.com article, John Burris, attorney for the Woods family states, “our view is that this was a person who was shot multiple times at a time when he did not put officers’ lives in imminent danger.” Attorney Burris goes on to mention that the San Francisco Police Department broadly exhibits a “continuing pattern and practice of misconduct.” Other witnesses claim police shot Mario Woods (+20) times. The national trend of police abuse is all the more troubling in the City of San Francisco as the African American makes up 3% of the population, but continues to be disproportionately impacted by police murders and abuse.

The Justice for Mario Woods Coalition formed to unify citizens who are outraged and sickened by the shooting which is one in a long series of racist police brutality and violence against members of the black community. The Justice for Mario Woods Coalition is made up of concerned residents of San Francisco, advocates, leaders and community organizers who want to stop the trend of violence experienced by the black community in San Francisco at the hands of the police. The coalition demands are:

  • The immediate removal of Police Chief Gregory Suhr
    • Officers be charged with the murder of Mario Woods

An independent investigation of the execution

Video of the shooting of Mario Woods (GRAPHIC CONTENT) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grcd1JlbXN8

http://time.com/4151979/mario-woods-shooting-san-francisco/

http://abc7news.com/news/protesters-sound-off-at-police-commission-meeting-over-sfpd-shooting/1116833/

http://abc7news.com/news/funeral-held-for-man-killed-by-san-francisco-police-/1127341/

http://abc7news.com/news/protest-held-against-sf-police-shooting-of-mario-woods/1128529/

http://sfist.com/2015/12/10/police_commission_meeting_about_mar.php

“Berkeley homeless man finds a purpose in activism” by Tom Lochner (contracostatimes.com)

Mike Zint poses for a photograph outside the United States Post Office in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Zint has been camping out in front of

Mike Zint poses for a photograph outside the United States Post Office in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Zint has been camping out in front of the historic building to try to prevent its sale and now is trying to revitalize the Occupy movement. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group) ( D. ROSS CAMERON )

December 29, 2015

BERKELEY — Homeless since 2011, frail, underweight and suffering from respiratory issues, Mike Zint has found a place and purpose leading a protest movement that has raised the visibility of the city’s disenfranchised.

The headquarters of the movement is a tarp-covered shack on the steps of the downtown Berkeley post office, where Zint, 49, and a rotating roster of associates have conducted an occupation since November 2014 that stalled the sale of the landmark building to private developers.

That protest has now taken on another cause. Zint wants to “jump-start the Occupy movement,” and one way to do it, he said, is to occupy city halls in cities with “unjust laws.” That includes Berkeley.

Protesters have erected a tent outside the United States Post Office in Berkeley, Calif., seen Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. They have been camping out in

Protesters have erected a tent outside the United States Post Office in Berkeley, Calif., seen Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. They have been camping out in front of the historic building to try to prevent its sale and now are trying to revitalize the Occupy movement. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group) ( D. ROSS CAMERON ) 

“If all these groups take over city halls all over the state, someone has to listen,” he said. “We need to get the city people to understand that they’re torturing the people out there — with apathy.”

Earlier this month, Berkeley police arrested Zint for “disorderly conduct — lodging without consent” at “Liberty City,” a cluster of about two dozen tents pitched in front of Berkeley’s Old City Hall to protest new city regulations on sidewalk behavior that Zint and other advocates consider an attack on homeless people. He was released the next day.

Squatting barefoot in his tent inside the shack, a wool cap over his shoulder-length hair, Zint was pondering his next moves the other day as people dropped by, bringing food and clothes, or just to chat.

The shack is “the perfect metaphor” for what Zint is doing, said Dan McMullan, a formerly homeless activist who writes for the Street Spirit newspaper.

“It has become a focus for people to get food and clothing and get some kind of help,” McMullan said. “People like me, who work with people that are homeless but we now live indoors, we can go to Mike and work with him, and he can get people to show up at a meeting.

“He’s a bridge between the people that are indoors and the people that are outdoors.”

When it comes to getting fliers distributed in the community, McMullan said, “My first stop is right there.”

Zint has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the result, he said, of exposure to toxic substances at a manufacturing job in Detroit in the 1990s.

In 2005, Zint applied for Social Security disability benefits, and after a protracted process that lasted four years, was denied because of “poly-substance abuse.”

“I was taking medical marijuana to keep up my weight,” he said.

He is 6 feet 2 and weighs a little over 100 pounds, he said. “I’m skinny — police profile me as a drug addict,” he quipped.

By 2011, Zint was homeless in San Francisco.

Continue reading

Interviews with My Lai Veterans (1970)

Interviews with My Lai Veterans (1970)

Interviews with My Lai Veterans is a 1970 American short documentary film directed by Joseph Strick featuring first hand accounts of the My Lai Massacre. It won an Academy Award at the 43rd Academy Awards in 1971 for Documentary Short Subject. (Wikipedia)

Initial release: 1970
Director: Joseph Strick
Produced by: Joseph Strick
Cinematography: Haskell Wexler
Written by: Joseph Strick
Awards: Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject

Berkeley Post Office occupation update — December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015

Note from Mike Zint:

Property owners dictate policy through the D. B. A. They even have “private security” disguised as street janitors. Here in Berkeley, ambassadors have attacked homeless. They beat them, lied about them, got them locked up, and I just found out that one of these ambassadors now has a job with the city. How did she get a city job after being caught on video participating in a beating and cover up?

The video shows what happened. The homeless people got arrested, and plead guilty.

Then this video is released. All charges dropped. So, how did Carmen get a job with the city? It’s simple, you get a promotion for beating the homeless. What other message is there?


Published on Mar 22, 2015 — Berkeley Ambassadors harassing, roughing up, and punching homeless men in an alleyway

DBA is mostly funded by a special tax called a
“property-based business improvement district”
(aka “PBID”). Only property owners downtown pay
this tax.

For those not familiar with it, a PBID is formed
vote of property owners in the area.

The vote is not one-owner, one-vote. Instead,
the vote is 1$ of property value = 1 vote. Thus,
if there are a few commercial property owners who
own most of the assessed value of downtown property,
those owners can decide to impose the PBID on everyone
downtown.

A PBID *also* requires the approval of City Council which,
of course, this council is happy to provide.

Next year the PBID is predicted to collect about $1.27 million.
If they have any money left over from earlier years, they
can spend that as well.

The City of Berkeley itself owns property downtown. Therefore,
tax payers from all over the city have to indirectly pay the
PBID tax on that public property.

The city says: “In FY 2016, the total assessment from the City
is expected to be approximately $109,875 and will be paid for
from General Fund”.

The DBA gets to decide how to spend all that money, within some
broad parameters. The board of directors of DBA is elected
by DBA members.

It would seem that DBA board candidates picked by the large
property owners have an advantage in that election. For
example, the owners of businesses downtown are presumably
not enthusiastic about putting forward any candidate who
the landlords would not like.

Open Letter to Berkeley City Council from Liberty City

First they came for the homeless's photo.

First they came for the homeless

December 27, 2015

This email spells it out. Liberty City worked. Unfortunately, the city didn’t care.

An open letter to the city council:

The Christmas vacation is here, and you are on recess for the holidays. Yet you have committed crimes that make your recess impermissible. Let me explain.

When a person is homeless, what enables that person to survive are the banal possessions used to protect from the elements – clothing, sleepings bag, poncho, pieces of cardboard, and maybe a tent.

When the police broke up the self-governing intentional community called Liberty City that had established residence on the lawn in front of City Hall two weeks ago, they seized and confiscated and trashed a lot of these people’s property.

Without that property, these people are without protection, and thus threatened with sickness or death from exposure to the elements.

To pose or create a threat to a person’s life is a felony. This is the crime that the police of Berkeley committed when they broke up that self-governing intentional community dedicated to the mutual survival of its members. And the police committed that crime at the behest of city council.

To threaten a person’s life is a crime. To do it to a mass of people all at once is, in the terms of the Nuremberg Decision and international law, a crime against humanity.

To retrieve its honor, the city council must abandon its recess and instruct the police to return that confiscated property to their owners. It should also instruct the police to assist all homeless people to find or obtain the services or shelter that they need to survive. This needs to be done now, as the weather drops toward freezing.

Otherwise we have a Christmas without justice.

–Mike Zint

“What Really Caused the Implosion of the Occupy Movement—An Insider’s View” by Yotam Marom (AlterNet.org)

Taking a hard look at some of the self-sabotaging behaviors of the left.

YotamMarom
Yotam Moram

December 23, 2015

I’m in a warmly lit apartment on the Lower East Side. It’s a cool night in early October of 2011, the height of Occupy Wall Street.

What a fucking whirlwind it’s been. Two months ago I had just moved into my parents’ basement, feeling deflated after the end of Bloombergville (a two-week street occupation outside city hall to try to stop the massive budget cuts of that same year), convinced this country wasn’t ready for movement. Now I’m in this living room with some of the most impressive people I’ve ever met, at the shaky helm of a movement that has become part of the mainstream’s daily consciousness. It’s my first time feeling like the Left is more than a scrawny sideshow, and it’s surreal. Truth is, I wasn’t much of a believer until I was caught up in the mass arrests on September 24th, until Troy Davis was murdered by the State of Georgia and I felt the connection in my body, until more people came down and gave it legs. But now it’s real. The rush of rapidly growing numbers, recognition from other political actors, and increasing popular support and media acclaim is electric and overwhelming. It feels a bit like walking a tightrope.

I’m a leader, and people know it, but no one says it. It’s a strange feeling. I’m not the only leader, of course — there are many. In this room, we’re a wide range of people. Some of the folks go back to the Global Justice Movement, but most of us have met in the middle of the whirlwind, building the kinds of relationships you can only build in crisis or struggle. Some of the room is seasoned and experienced, some very new to this type of thing, but all of us have demonstrated leadership early on (some before the thing even really started) and come in with lots of relationships. Between us we lead a number of working groups, drive some of the major mass actions, play formative roles in much of the media being pumped out, and more.

The meetings are closed, and we all feel kind of bad about it, although this is another thing we don’t talk about often. There isn’t much coherence to how we ended up here in the first place — one person invited a few over and the next invited a couple and so on, until the room was full. It was as arbitrary a time to stop inviting people as any, but this is how things often happen in movement moments. We justify the boundary by reminding ourselves that we are certainly not the only collection of people meeting like this — there are many affinity groups and other kinds of formations — and that we are here to plan and strategize, not to make decisions.

But we also know that there are a lot of movers and shakers in the room, and that this affords us a disproportionate ability to move things through the rest of Occupy. We know the age-old pitfalls of people making plans in closed off rooms, and it’s not lost on us that — while this space is also led by some of the most powerful women and folks of color in the movement — most of us are white, middle class, and male. If someone had asked any one of us directly, we’d likely have agreed that, collectively, we have quite a bit of power and aren’t being held accountable to it.

But for the most part, we keep that nagging feeling under wraps, so we can continue the work. There is a confidence we seem to share that we are filling a void, meeting a real need, putting everything we have on the line to keep momentum going. We seem to agree, even if quietly, that movements don’t exist without leadership, that the general assembly has been more performance art than decision-making forum since the first couple of weeks, that leaderlessness is a myth, that we need a place to have sensitive discussions hopefully out of reach of the surveillance state. And in truth we know our jobs aren’t glamorous by any stretch of the imagination; after all, a good deal of the efforts of the folks in the room are aimed at getting occupiers port-o-potties and stopping the incessant drumming.

We know we’re breaking the rules, but for the most part we conclude that it must be done. And besides, we’ve broken the rules our whole lives — it’s how we ended up here.

Continue reading

Want to help build a community from the ground up? (from Starhawk and Ryan Rising)

Anyone want to build a community from the ground up for one year on a documentary series? (forwarded from Starhawk. Here’s the details. Message me your email address and I’ll put you in touch).

Dear all,

This morning I received a call from a casting director for a documentary series to be produced by BBC worldwide. They are bringing together people who want to live “off grid” to create a new mini-society on some land that will be purchased for this purpose–possibly in the southern hemisphere. They are looking at a year-long experiment starting perhaps in Fall 2016, after which the participants could have the option of continuing on the same land. Compensation to the participants is involved (I don’t know how much). I asked her a number of questions and she made it clear that this is not a “reality TV” show–rather a documentary series. There will be no script, no situations set up, no plan–the cameras will be there simply to document what happens. And unlike in the cancelled show “Utopia,” there will be no “elimination” game going on–people will “win” or succeed not by surviving at others’ expenses but by creating a viable cooperative society together.

I commented–and she agreed–that the most challenging aspect for the participants is likely to be not how to stay warm or feed themselves, but how to get along. This is where experienced communitarians could play a vital role in this project. I told her I had a number of contacts who might be able to spread word of this project–for which they are recruiting actively now, trying to get as many possibilities lined up as possible over the next couple weeks I believe–and she was quite appreciative. She said she’d never heard of the Fellowship for Intentional Community before discovering it online and was quite inspired. I believe there are significant outreach opportunities for the communities movement (as well as eco-living movement) through our help in bringing in candidates for the documentary series. We might even help save their society from crumbling due to poor communication or dysfunctional group process!

If this has reached you, please feel free to post on social media or spread however you see fit. I’m not social-media savvy but I know many of you are. Also feel free to forward to others I’ve left off this list (some probably inadvertently)–any additional recipients are also free to post on social media, etc.

Thanks and happy holidays!

[Email zonta1111@aol.com and I’ll forward to Ryan.]