OccupyForum presents . . . Waging Non-Violent Revolution through Constitutional Amendment with David Cobb (on Monday, May 2)

OccupyForum presents…

Monday, May 2nd from 6 – 9 pm at Local 2

(please note location!)

215 Golden Gate near Leavenworth, Civic Center BART station

Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!

Occupy Forum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue

on all sides of these critically important issues!

Move To Amend:

Waging Non-Violent Revolution through Constitutional Amendment

With David Cobb

Corporations do not merely exercise power, they rule over us. The wealthy elite has stolen our sacred right to self-government, and the illegitimate, court-created legal doctrines of “corporate constitutional rights” and “money is political speech” legalize the theft.

All across the country ordinary folks are crying ENOUGH!!!! Come hear how you can get involved in a concrete campaign to abolish these doctrines via a constitutional amendment. Move To Amend’sstrategy incorporates art and culture, grassroots organizing and educating, resolutions and initiatives, and we are beginning to explore direct action strategies.

Come help us!

The session will be facilitated by David Cobb, a people’s lawyer and an engaged citizen. Cobb has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for office himself, and been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He ran for Attorney General of Texas pledging to use the office to revoke the charters of corporations that violate health, safety and environmental protection laws. In 2004 he was the Green Party nominee for President of the US, and filed for the Ohio Recount that helped to launch a movement for election integrity and against the use of electronic voting machines.

Time will be allotted for Q&A, discussion and announcements.

Donations to Occupy Forum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away!

Wheelchair accessible.


“San Francisco Hunger Strikers Enter Ninth Day to Protest Police Brutality Against Black and Brown Youths” by Steven Rosenfeld (alternet.org)

Photo Credit: Steven Rosenfeld

April 28, 2016

Protesting police killings, gentrification and lack of opportunity.

A hunger strike protesting police violence and racial injustices against black and brown people has entered its ninth day in San Francisco.

Eight men and women—including a Board of Supervisor candidate, two pre-school teachers, local rappers and family members—are camped out on a sidewalk outside the police station in the city’s gentrifying Mission district, which has experienced an exodus of Latino residents and artists in recent years.

The hunger strikers, who are seated in chairs and not eating solid food, are surrounded by posters calling for the resignation of the police chief and filled with faces of young men who were killed by police in recent years.

“We have been here for eight days,” said supervisor candidate Edwin Lindo yesterday, as he played chess and sipped juice. “They need to pay attention to everything. We have issues of the over-criminalization of the black and brown communities. We have issues of the under-education of students of color and the reality that if you grow up here, your chances are slim to none that you can get a job to stay here. The city has been turned sideways, and we are doing our part to take the city back and give it to the people.”

Lindo said the police keep asking the strikers if they need medical help, and said that the mayor’s office and police chief are meeting daily to discuss the strikers. However, he said that the thing he was not hearing was a determination by police to address the culture inside their department that preys on his community.

If anything, he said San Francisco’s police force, which has shot and killed several  men of color in recent years, has a worse reputation than many departments across America.

“They’re worse,” Lindo said. “Have you read the text messages? The texts that the monkey deserved to die, referring to an African-American person who was killed? That they wish they could burn crosses on people’s lawns like the KKK?”

The hunger strikers say their top demand is the resignation of the police chief, Gregory P. Suhr. They allege Suhr has perpetuated a police culture that has allowed the killings of youths to continue, as well as other instances of racial profiling, such as arresting young black women at much higher rates than whites.

“It starts with getting rid of the leader of that culture, who has allowed it all to take place without accountability,” Lindo said. “We won’t allow it to take place anymore.”

Eva Kane, who lives nearby, said she has been checking on the hunger strikers daily and supporting them by bringing fresh juice to drink. Kane said she has lived in the city for 16 years and is dismayed by the gentrification and crackdown on minority youths under Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Suhr.

“I have seen such a drastic difference in the last two, two and a half years, with our new mayor,” she said. “It’s disheartening. It is not often you see a politician running for office out here with the activists. That’s something I respect.”

The hunger strike is led by Lindo, the rapper Equipto and his mother Maria Cristina Gutierrez. Other media outlets have reported that as their health becomes an issue, the police and the mayor may arrest them and seek court orders to force-feed them. When asked, the strikers said they had not heard that rumor but vowed to resist.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

Liberty City update

The photos below are right after court. Shenanigans anyone?

First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.

First they came for the homeless 

April 29, 2016

Court is over. We won. Or, I should say, we did not lose. The charges will be held for 6 months. We have a stay away order that states no illegal activity at city hall. I specifically made sure protesting is allowed, and they said it was okay. So, I propose a victory occupation of old city hall. Not long term, but a maximum of 72 hours. We can use this opportunity to further the tiny homes movement in Berkeley.

–Mike Zint


This is the second story in a series, “From the Ground Up,” chronicling community-level efforts to overcome economic insecurity and establish sustainable and just communities. A joint project of Occupy.com and Commonomics USA, the series features individuals and groups around the U.S. who are taking power into their own hands, in the service of others.

April 28, 2016

In any given week you’ll find Chong Kee Tan attending meetings in San Francisco with his team of alternative currency advocates, skyping in a call to an ecovillage in Missouri, answering questions about local economic practices in Europe, and talking to people about various bartering systems. Chong Kee has money on his mind, but it’s a different kind of money than we’re used to talking about.

What is Money?

In Paul DiFillipo’s science fiction novella “Spondulix,” a group of slackers takes over a regional economy by using sandwich shop coupons as alternative currency. Because the relationships of the people exchanging the coupons are more real than their relationship to actual paper currency, and because they have things each other wants, the coupons become inscribed with the mutual trust of the community members.

Writing for Roar magazine back in 2014, Jerome Roos pointed out that money is a social relation, not a real thing. “Money” is bound up with trust. Furthermore, since banks create the money they lend, money is inscribed by authority. Currency is simply a symbolic certification of money – a piece of paper, a blip on a computer screen, representing a network of authority and trust.

That inscription is done by authorities who are often very far away, literally and figuratively, from the communities that rely on local economic activity to keep them healthy and autonomous. Corporate capitalism, meanwhile, is parasitic. Shareholders and chain stores remove from local communities the money people spend on goods and services. Outside investors sometimes see financial opportunities in communities, rapidly invest in them, overheating the local economy then pulling out a short time later, leaving those areas in ruins.

Lenders, investors, financiers and capitalists do all this with issued money that represents social relations, trust and authority. Community members, although legally limited from producing sovereign currency, can do the same thing: inscribe their own authority, trust and relationships onto systems of local currency in order to achieve social goals that are different, closer to home, and more sustainable than the goals associated with big money.

Building Sustainable Community Wealth

Enter Bay Bucks, a community currency devoted to helping “local business thrive while promoting collaboration and building community wealth.” The currency’s founders, in the San Francisco Bay Area, set out to “incentivize collaborative and sustainable rather than selfish and destructive behaviors.” According to its website, Bay Bucks only accepts locally owned businesses as members. Even in the best-case scenario for local economies, if dollars are spent on small businesses, about 30% escapes the local economy and makes outside shareholders wealthy at the expense of locals. But with a complimentary alternative currency, spendable only within the community, 100% of that value stays there.

The question now is how to both scale and contain that internal economic activity – a challenge I recently discussed with Chong Kee, who holds a PhD in Chinese Literature from Stanford. Chong Kee doesn’t quite fit the profile of an economist, but after the 2008 economic crash, he began studying financial and monetary systems, which confirmed his intuition that the crises of our times were endemic to capitalism’s drive to extract, exploit and expand. Eventually, he started Bay Bucks, a project of Transition SF, to increase the resiliency of the Bay Area economy.

Chong Kee serves many organizations in different ways. In addition to being on the Board of the International Reciprocal Trade Association, of which Bay Bucks is a member, he’s also on the Board of the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, and Commonomics USA, the organization which I serve as policy director. Chong Kee is concerned about democratizing wealth, protecting the commons, and creating humane and need-based economic relationships rather than feeding corporate profits. His observations about capitalism, the challenges of local currencies, and the path towards a long-term economic shift are an enlightening merger of theory and practice.

Continue reading

“5 YEARS ON: WHY THE OCCUPATIONS OF 2011 CHANGED THE WORLD” by Paolo Gerbaudo (Occupy.com)


April 29, 2016

What has become of the great promise of social change raised by the “movements of the squares” of 2011? What did those spectacular occupations of public squares, from Tahrir in Cairo to Puerta del Sol in Madrid and Syntagma in Athens leave behind? To what extent did they contribute to advancing the cause of the “99%” or of the “common and ordinary people” they purported to fight for?

With protest movements, as with any other social and political phenomenon, there comes a time to take stock of what has happened — a time that is as important for evaluating the past as it is for planning future action. The latter appears to be particularly relevant in light of the rise of new movements, such as Nuit Debout in France, that can be seen as the continuation of the 2011 cycle.

Five years since 2011, famously celebrated as the year of the protester in TIME Magazine, we are perhaps sufficiently distant from the heat of those events to draw up something akin to a balance sheet of the achievements and letdowns of that momentous wave of protest.

The appraisal of the mobilizations of 2011 is, as it often happens with great historical events, a highly contentious topic. The movements of the squares have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed; they have both under-delivered and over-delivered.

For some people these protests seemed to have achieved nothing at all; for others, like the Greek activist Giorgios Giovannopoulos, they “completely changed the political landscape.” Some, including many nostalgic leftists, see them as just a distraction from serious politics,or a childish display of naivety; for others, the mobilizations have been a decisive turning point in contemporary politics.

This great diversity in assessment stems from the different ways in which people have looked at these movements and their outcomes; different ideological positions led to different assessments. But they also derive from different understandings of what the outcomes of protest movements are supposed to be, the yardstick against which we can “measure” their results.

As I will argue, the movements of the squares have not fulfilled their hyperbolic revolutionary promise of doing away with representative democracy and substituting it with autonomous institutions of grassroots self-management modeled after the protest camps. But they have been formidable public rituals that by reclaiming public space and involving the citizenry in public discussions about economic and political inequality have facilitated a profound cultural change in society towards more progressive ends. They have informed the creation of new campaigns, initiatives and organizations that are now starting to pose a serious challenge to neoliberal order.

A Flash in the Pan?

The main reason for the widespread skepticism about the results of the 2011 protest wave derives from the rapid decline experienced by these movements after the climax of the occupations. The end of the square occupations — either due to police evictions or internal exhaustion — often left a sense of failure and hollowness behind, along with the remorse of having missed a huge opportunity to bring about social change.

The fizzling out of the movements resulted in a collective “trauma” that took many several months to get over. Many of the 130 protesters I interviewed for my book The Mask and the Flag related their disbelief at seeing how a movement that had risen so rapidly to such great heights could collapse so rapidly. At the height of the protest camps, activists had been at the forefront of a massive popular movement that was promising to radically change society; but soon after the camps were evicted or abandoned they often felt they were all by themselves again — the crowd that had gathered around them suddenly having evaporated.

Stopping our assessment at this initial disappointment would be wrong, however. Great historical upheavals are known to produce disillusionment in their immediate aftermath. So great are the hopes they inspire that they cannot possibly fulfill them entirely. The French Revolution led to the Reign of Terror and the dictatorship of Napoleon. The enthusiasm conjured up by the May 1968 protests evaporated after the victory of the Gaullist party in the June parliamentary elections. Yet nobody could deny that these and similar events profoundly changed the course of history. The same applies to 2011.

Continue reading

After 36-Day Student Occupation, University of California at Davis Chancellor Is Put on Leave (democracynow.org)

This week, University of California President Janet Napolitano placed the chancellor of University of California, Davis, Linda Katehi, on investigatory administrative leave, pending an investigation into a number of infractions, including her decision to spend at least $175,000 to try to scrub the internet of criticism following the 2011 pepper-spraying of student protesters by campus police. The school made national headlines after the video showing police spraying seated students directly in the face at close range went viral. Earlier this spring, students at the University of California, Davis, occupied the office of Chancellor Katehi and staged a 36-day sit-in calling for her resignation, to protest her handling of student protests and allegations of conflicts of interest. Democracy Now! recently spoke with Parisa Esfahani and Kyla Burke, two of the students who took part in the sit-in.

“We Are Witnessing the Death of San Francisco’s Revolutionary Spirit” by Emma Bushnell (The Establishment and alternet.org)

The tech boom is not-so-slowly colonizing the entire city.

April 27, 2016

Once on a flight home to San Francisco for a visit from college in Boston, I sat next to an anarchist couple in their 60s. They were dressed all in black with matching fedoras over long, gray hair, and came armed with giant sketchpads. They were warm, happy people, who spent the trip sketching and encouraging each other. When not drawing, they turned their attention to me, and we chatted, pleasantly exchanging conflicting political and artistic ideals. They told me they admired my studies; I said I admired their sketches. I don’t believe any of us were lying.

Ten years later, in the English class I now teach at Brooklyn College, we were discussing Colson Whitehead’s “City Limits.” The conversation was animated—New York natives and transplants alike connected to Whitehead’s meditation on the changeable nature of the five boroughs. As we considered the many ways in which the city was re-inventing itself now, one student, a native of Bed-Stuy, said her parents were selling their house. She added, with a bemused shrug, that “I guess now people want brownstones in Bed-Stuy.”

I remember having this reaction on the phone with a friend a few years after my interaction with my anarchist seatmates. Then, she had told me they were building condos in a squalid area of downtown that had been re-branded as “SOMA.”

“SOMA?!” we had both laughed in disbelief. Calling that stretch of empty warehouses, urban crime, and homelessness near the train depot by a trendy acronym seemed like nothing more than a crude marketing ploy. And yet, only a few short years later, those condos, like the Bed-Stuy brownstones, were selling for millions of dollars; the tech takeover of San Francisco had begun in earnest.

Unlike New York, San Francisco has a somewhat parochial history. Each new group entering the city can be singled out, and conclusions can be drawn about that population’s contribution to the texture of the city as a whole. To name but a few, there were ’49ers in the gold rush, the beats, the hippies, the gays, and now the techies. And then, of course, there have been influxes of various ethnic and immigrant groups that have played a significant role in shaping the city.

Something many of these movements had in common was a flocking to a city where thought could be freer, conventions more challenged. One need only skim through the great chroniclers of San Francisco—John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, William Vollmann, Gary Kamiya, Armistead Maupin, Amy Tan, Rebecca Solnit—to glean that the allure of San Francisco is not any one promise or movement in particular, but a revolutionary spirit that the city has always abided, one ideal after another.

It would take a much longer essay than this to really delve into the various transplant movements in San Francisco and how each was received and embedded in the city’s existing culture. But if we consider only a few of the most instantly recognizable ones, it’s easy to see how each vociferous counter-culture was able to change the city’s dialogue and image while remaining somewhat insular. Where were the hippies? The Haight. The gays? The Castro. The beats? North Beach.

I present this cordoning off as a mere fact—not to say that those challenging the status quo should keep themselves to themselves, but that one of the ways San Francisco has been repeatedly successful in accommodating strong-convicted and sometimes conflicting viewpoints is that each has been able to stake out its own little space without being forced to conform or compete with its neighbors.

In many ways, it makes a lot of sense that the tech movement has its roots in the Bay Area. Where else but San Francisco would a corporation take pride in thinking “different,” or bright young dropouts be accepted as pioneering geniuses instead of family screw-ups? On its face, startup culture seems a natural fit for the city’s other transplant movements—it claims to buck convention, be curious, and create a community of like-minded people.

But, as we know, the tech community has not “merely” gentrified “SOMA” and contributed its new voice to the larger conversation in San Francisco. With its attendant wealth and heady feelings of power, the tech boom is not-so-slowly colonizing the entire city, driving out whole communities and stamping out the possibility of pushback to its ideals from other populations. The harm of the tech takeover is not that this movement has turned out to be more square, nerdy, or moneyed than the city’s other revolutionary movements, but that under the guise of “improving” the city, it is literally bulldozing physical space for living, debate, and the exchange of ideas, thus ridding the city of its generations-long ability to support its local residents and receive non-conformers. The Tenderloin, a hub for cutting-edge social programming since single room occupancy hotels were established for family-less prostitutes after the 1906 earthquake, is now the subject of myopic open letters accusing it of being a blight on the sort of San Francisco the tech industry desires.

The tech takeover is also fundamentally changing a city that, not so long ago, was considered an “island of diversity.” Startlingly, it’s projected that by 2040, San Francisco County will have a non-Hispanic white majority—jumping from 42 percent in 2013 to 52 percent in 25 years. The percentage of Asians is expected to fall from 34 percent to 28 percent, and the Latino population from 15 percent to 12 percent. The city’s already-declining African-American population, currently at just 6 percent, is expected to remain about the same. How will these shifting demographics further erode what once made the city great?

On a plane a few weeks ago from New York to San Francisco, I chatted with my seatmate, a nice woman from Long Island on her way to visit her son, who works in tech. By the time we had reached cruising altitude I knew about his education, his career goals, and the current housing hunt he and his fiancée were on for a place to accommodate their planned family of four.

This was a genuinely kind woman who spoke well of her son. A man who is, by her account, successful and in a happy relationship, and she is rightly proud of him. But our conversation introduced no viewpoint I had never encountered before, and was merely a way to idly pass time talking about nothing but the particulars of one’s own success. It brought in stark relief my experience 10 years ago, when the topics of conversation had been public funding for the arts, the difference between a democracy and a republic, and anecdotes about Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The contrast makes me wonder how often in the future I will encounter fellow travelers like that couple, and be confronted with people who think differently than I do and talk about subjects I do not normally consider. Or if whether, someday soon, they’ll disappear from planes to San Francisco altogether, when there is no longer a single neighborhood at the flight’s destination willing to keep them around.

Emma Bushnell is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Bodega Magazine, Bustle, Full Stop, and elsewhere. She is completing her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College and is at work on a novel.