Berkeley Post Office Demonstration still here!

December 22, 2015

With all the things going on recently, I have neglected something. The Berkeley Post Office has been occupied for 418 days. It still belongs to the people. A lot happens here. We feed, help clothe, distribute literature, and we have a community garden. They arrested away Liberty City, but BPOD is still here!

–Mike Zint

“These 15 Cities Are Destroying Homeless Camps Just Days Before Christmas” by Tom Cahill (

Without stability, homelessness is near impossible to cope with. Your own personal tent is a luxury. But you need permission. If it is left alone, you will develop a sense of security, have privacy, store your gear so you can function, be sheltered from the elements, start to heal your mind, and be comfortable.

Or, you get chased by cops, get kicked awake by cops, have your gear stolen by cops, get ticketed by cops, get arrested by cops, get beaten by cops, get killed by cops.

Why am I asking permission? The solution is obvious. Let me take care of myself!

–Mike Zint

Link to article:  15 Cities Destroying Homeless Camps Just Days Before Christmas

Note from Mike Zint

Mike Zint

December 21, 2015

Homeless attitude time.

We have been getting soaked for three days now. A housed person just came up to yell about a mess here. I explained we are not responsible for the mess other people leave. She said stop feeding the homeless. Stop them from coming to the Post Office to seek shelter. Really? My response was no, I will not stop feeding the hungry, providing dry blankets when available, or tell them to leave. This person is a disgrace for suggesting this. Merry Christmas, right?

Staying dry is impossible in this weather. Unless you are housed. So please have a heart and think. Or come here and see the misery. But don’t ever come here and tell me to stop caring for those in need. POS!

–Mike Zint

“Tent City, America” by Chris Herring (

Tent cities are now so common that advocates are campaigning to make them semi-permanent settlements of micro-housing. But is this a genuine solution or merely a quick fix?

In December 2014, the city of San Jose shut down what was then America’s largest homeless camp — a shantytown that stretched for sixty-eight acres along Coyote Creek where a few hundred men and women were living in tents, shacks, treehouses, and adobe dugouts. Happening during the midst of the holiday season, the event captured widespread media attention. News stories like “In Wealthy Silicon Valley, 300 Evicted from Homeless Camp” and “Hanging out with the Tech Have-nots” portrayed the camp, also know as “the Jungle,” in terms of the polarized urbanization that characterizes contemporary Silicon Valley, where the headquarters of some of the richest corporations in the nation co-exist with rapidly growing homeless populations. As KQED News, a local NPR station, wrote in its coverage of the eviction:

Nearby companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, eBay and Facebook have amassed incredible wealth as the tech sector roars back to life following the recession. The growth has driven up home prices in the Bay Area, and many available units are unaffordable for low and middle-class residents. “To not be able to house our people in the richest place in the world at the richest time in its history shows us that something’s completely broken about our city,” [housing advocate Sandy] Perry said.

This is, of course, the “tale of two cities” narrative that has become depressingly familiar in what many are calling a new gilded age. But to view the camps simply in this light is to overlook the deeper and more durable history of encampments for the homeless in the United States, and of the campaigns both to dismantle and defend them. Like many informal settlements across the country, the Jungle had existed for more than a decade; it was a product of neither the Great Recession nor the uneven recovery.

Homeless camps can be found in cities rich and poor, big and small, liberal and conservative.

Indeed, mass encampments, with fifty or more residents, have become increasingly common across America. Since the turn of the millennium, more than three dozen cities have accommodated camps of this scale for a year or more. 1 Homeless camps can be found in cities rich and poor, big and small, liberal and conservative; they range from the tech corridors of San Jose and Seattle, to the post-industrial outskirts of Detroit and Providence, to the college towns of Ann Arbor and Eugene. The settlements are diverse both socially and formally, including self-described eco-villages, political occupations in city hall plazas, and makeshift campsites in church parking lots. And if many cities have sought to remove the informal settlements, often forcefully, others have responded with toleration, sometimes legalizing the camps through zoning ordinances. 2

Bonus Army, Washington, D.C., 1932. [Library of Congress]

“Weed-thatched enclosures, paper houses, a great junk pile”

To understand the resurgence of mass encampments, it is useful to recall that homeless camps have been more or less permanent fixtures within U.S. cities since the rise of modern industrialism in the latter half of the 19th century. Before then vagrants might be sent to the almshouse or penitentiary, or to police stations, which in the 1840s began to provide overnight lodging for the destitute. Only after the Civil War, with the expansion of the national rail system and the new markets it opened up, did cities witness the emergence of large squatter camps on their outskirts — so-called tramp colonies or jungles. 3 Often located near train stations or along roads, many jungles became deeply rooted, serving as way stations for a new proletariat of migratory and seasonal workers. Though camps usually had a handful of longtime residents, or “jungle buzzards,” who took on the task of running things, most of the hobos — including veterans of the Union and Confederate armies — were passing through. Nels Anderson, who was not only a protégé of sociologist Robert Park at the University of Chicago but also, in the years before World War I, a hobo himself, described the transience of these encampments:

Jungle populations are ever changing. Every hour new faces appear to take the place of those that have passed on. They come and go without ceremony, with scarcely a greeting or “fare-you-well.” Every new member is of interest for the news he brings or the rumors that he spreads. Each is interested in the other so far as he has something to tell about the road over which he has come, the work conditions, the behavior of the police, or other significant details. But … there is seldom any effort to discuss personal relations and connections. Here is one place where every man’s past is his own secret. 4

Starting around the turn of the 20th century, during the Progressive era, migrant camps became places of political action. 5 Some were hotbeds of radical and socialist organizing, where representatives of the newly formed union, the Industrial Workers of the World, or “Wobblies,” sought to recruit members. Other camps were incubators of protest. In the midst of the depression that followed the Panic of 1893, Coxey’s Army — several thousand laid-off rail workers from the Midwest led by an Ohio businessman named Jacob Coxey — marched to Washington to petition Congress to create public works projects to put the unemployed to work, camping along the way. In 1932, tens of thousands of jobless World War I veterans formed the “Bonus Army” and marched to Washington to demand advances on promised bonuses for their military service. Many camped in a self-governed tent city on the banks of the Anacostia River, with makeshift streets and sanitation facilities, that lasted for several months until they were forcibly removed by troops commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. And as the Great Depression deepened, throughout the ’30s, the seasonal jungles of transient workers became entrenched shantytowns of the chronically unemployed, widely known as Hoovervilles, after President Herbert Hoover, whom many blamed for the financial crash.

Migrant farmer’s family, Nipomo, California, March 1936. Photograph by Dorothea Lange. [Library of Congress]
Huts for the unemployed, West Houston and Mercer Street, New York, 1935. Photograph by Berenice Abbott. [New York Public Library]

Continue reading

OccupyForum presents . . . “Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition Meeting: Next Steps” (on Monday, December 21)

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, December 21st at 6:00 pm

​SEIU Local 1021 at ​

350 Rhode Island, Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94103

​ near 16th Street​

Office: (415) 848-3611 • Toll-free: (877) 415-1021

  Justice 4 Mario Woods

Coalition Meeting: Next Steps

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 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 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

​Background: Important Links:​

Newly released video of shooting of Mario Woods (GRAPHIC CONTENT)

Berkeleyside (from Mike Zint)

Mike Zint

I just received this email. This is Berkeleyside for you. How can I allow an interview with a reporter who doesn’t fact check the basics. I kicked you off? I don’t have that ability or knowledge. Normally I don’t cuss, but this guy is one of the biggest dumbasses ever:

“Mike Lee you said a lot of interesting stuff in your recent email about finding an alternative candidate to run for mayor.

“But since all of Berkeleyside got kicked off the Safe email list this morning, – I think Mike Zint this was your decision – I guess we will never learn about this again.

“I wonder why you didn’t even have the courtesy to reach out if you objected to reporters on the list.

“It’s not as if we were running to write about your musings. We are capable of understanding the difference between thoughts and actions.

“But you have just eliminated the most direct source between homeless concerns and the general public: a news source.

“Good luck in getting the word out.”

–Frances Dinkelspiel

My response:

“Way to fact check. This is why I refuse interviews with you. Now, a false accusation. You sank your own ship. Never will I cooperate with you. Yeah, you make news, make it up!”

–Mike Zint

The Empire Files: ‘This Ship is Sinking’ Says Former Bush Official (

Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

Hear a rare insider’s view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

“Spain to the Polls: Moving Away from Its Radical Platform, Podemos Has Lost Support” by Steve Rushton (


This is the second article in a two-part series looking at the changed political landscape in Spain ahead of Dec. 20 national elections. Read the first article here.

“If I was in the Spanish state I’d probably vote for Podemos,” explains Barcelona resident Isabel Galera, simply because “the other parties are neo-fascists.”

With Spain’s 2015 national elections looming this Sunday, Dec. 20, descriptions of Podemos as the “best of a bad bunch” have become more common – resonating especially loudly with the country’s vibrant citizen movements.

Launched last year, the Podemos party, led by Pablo Iglesias, gained 8% in European Parliamentary elections and drew global attention with its radical political promises. But now, the ideology professed by leaders of Podemos is looking to more Spaniards like hype rather than substance.

Galera, who supports independence for her native Catalonia, says she lost trust with Podemos due to the party constantly changing its position on whether her region should be independent. Podemos first supported a referendum for Catalonia. Then it announced it was against the idea. Later it said the whole of Spain should get to vote on Catalan independence. Finally it returned to supporting the region’s own call for a referendum.

But wider opinion polls also show Podemos is fading for other reasons. Six months ago, the party regularly took a top position, with 30% approval and higher. Today, its popularity is half that, representing disappointment for many who hoped the party would seriously contend with the conservative Popular Party and the more left-leaning Socialist party (PSOE). Instead, another new party, the populist Ciudadanos, has grown in strength this year, challenging Podemos for the third slot.

Podemos has suggested that its direct democracy model could solve today’s economic and political crises. Its leader, Iglesias, writes: “The principal social expression of this regime crisis was the 15-M movement, the vast indignado mobilization which, starting on 15 May 2011, occupied city squares across Spain for weeks on end. Its principal political expression has been Podemos.”

It’s still early to say. But to many, that promise hasn’t yet lived up in practice. And nearly five years after the popular 15M rebellion helped shift Spain’s social and political landscape, the question of “when” is on many people’s minds.

Retracing the 15M Phenomenon

In May of 2011, millions took over Spanish squares with slogans like, “We are not merchandise at the hands of politicians and bankers.” The protest for Democracia Real Ya, or Real Democracy Now, began with an occupation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid on May 15, and heavy police repression catalyzed the movement nationwide.

The numbers involved in protests and occupations over the next two months were massive. An estimated 1.5 million Spaniards were very active, 8.5 million participated, and over 30 million, or 78% of the population, supported the 15M movement’s aims.

The origins of 15M run broad and deep. The Spanish government’s response to the 2004 Madrid train bombing – to blame the Basque separatist movement ETA, though everyone knew the attack was carried out by Jihadists – was one factor. The movement sometimes known as the Indignados (Indignants) was also fueled by outrage at the way Spanish society – and its youth especially – was asked to bear the burden of the banking crisis and EU-enforced austerity. 15M highlighted economic and political corruption by “la casta,” the elite families that still govern the country, and gained traction after the pro-democracy Arab Spring.

Once it left the squares, the 15M movement’s energy, ideals and model for direct democracy inspired many citizen initiatives, such as the debt audit platforms and the anti-eviction movement that led to activist Ada Colau’s being elected as the mayor of Barcelona in June.

The various movements embodied the 15M message in many ways. They used an inclusive political approach, challenged sexism and favored a consensus decision-making model. They open-sourced information and used creative new forms of networking to build support and participation. At their core, the movements were about people reclaiming power – from mobilizing to stop evictions, to developing tools that audited local governments.

Continue reading

Conclusions of the Paris COP (via Ruthie Sakheim)

​7 Articles from Mark Hertsgaard Covering the Conclusion of the Paris COP​
I had the privilege last week of covering the conclusion of the climate summit in Paris forThe Nation and The Daily Beast.  I filed seven dispatches, appended below in reverse chronological order—the post-summit analyses at the top—and appeared on many radio shows and other outlets.  
Bottom line?  The Paris Agreement is a landmark, though flawed, triumph.  It could herald the end of the fossil fuel era, but only if civil society pushes even harder now to make governments and corporations take very rapid, ambitious action.  But climate deniers on Capitol Hill kept the final accord from being stronger, and millions of people in the world’s poor and vulnerable countries will suffer grievously as a result.  As my final Nation piece said in closing,

​”The challenges ahead are staggering, and too many innocents will suffer before it’s over. But Paris, and all that made its imperfect but exhilarating result possible, tells us that this struggle is not in vain. Victory is possible. Victory is necessary. And the path to victory is its own reward.”
The Nation, Dec 14:  “The Fate of the World Change In Paris, But By How Much?”

Daily Beast, Dec 14:  “The Paris Climate Summit:  Follow the Money,”

The Nation, Dec 11:  “Scientists Warn:  Paris Agreement Needs Massive Improvement,”
The Nation, Dec 7:  “With 1.5 C Target, Climate Justice Movement Poised for Surprise Win,”
The Nation, Nov 19: “A Lesson For Paris: Follow the Activists,”