Berkeley Post Office occupation update

February 10, 2016

The postal police came by again and said the 15 month occupation of the Berkeley Post Office must leave. After 15 months? Why now?

I tried to inform the police we are not violating any laws or postal policy. They refused to listen. I said no we are not moving.

This is we the people protesting. We do not follow unconstitutional police orders.

–Mike Zint

“An Intentional Homeless Community” by David Bacon (

The Liberty City encampment in downtown Berkeley last year revealed that tent cities might provide a viable form of temporary housing for homeless people. But would Berkeley ever approve such a plan?

February 10, 2016

Michael Lee started living on the streets of San Francisco last May. He had traveled to the city from Las Vegas to seek medical treatment. When he arrived, he searched for cheap, temporary housing in some of San Francisco’s most affordable neighborhoods, but he had seriously underestimated the cost of living in the nation’s most expensive city.

“I was under the impression the rent was $300 a month, and I brought the resources for sixty days,” he said in an interview. “I was going to go back to Las Vegas afterwards … . But the first place I walked into, they told me it was $300 a week. The next was $400 a week, and then $500. People were laughing at me — $300 a week is actually cheap on Skid Row. So I wound up living on the streets.”

Lee soon heard of a large encampment in Berkeley that activists had set up to protest the US Postal Service’s controversial plan to sell Berkeley’s historic downtown post office building. The plan sparked fierce opposition in Berkeley, not only from homeless people, but also from progressive activists and the city’s elected leadership. Lee decided to move across the bay and join the protest and quickly became a leader of the Berkeley encampment. He advocated for a plan to transform the old post office building into a community resource: “A homeless contact center run by homeless people,” he said.

“Why [were] homeless people the main defenders?” Lee asked rhetorically, referring to the post office. “Without community resources we can’t get a hand up. There’s just no place to go. This is where we live, unfortunately — on the sidewalks. We don’t want to live in a community where private developers, the One Percenters, have everything.

“We’re not going to be homeless forever,” Lee continued. “Eventually, we will recover from homelessness because we’re pretty determined individuals. That’s something that people with houses truly need to understand. We are going to be rejoining the community.”

After a federal judge granted the City of Berkeley’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the US Postal Service’s planned sale of the downtown post office, the USPS announced that it was shelving its plans to sell the building. Several months later, some of the people in the post office camp set up a larger homeless encampment, which became known as “Liberty City” or “Liberty Village.” They established this camp on the lawn in front of old City Hall, a block away, to protest a new city council plan to enact stricter rules targeting homeless people. During the holidays, the City of Berkeley cleared out Liberty City, and the homeless people who had been part of it scattered to other spots in the city and to locations throughout the Bay Area. But the post office camp, now more than four hundred days old, still remains.

Over the years, Berkeley, like most liberal communities, has been comfortable with the idea of the homeless being victims. But many Berkeley residents and business owners grow uneasy when homeless people organize and use the creative tactics of the labor and civil rights movements.

Last year, Berkeley’s homeless people did just that. They created what they called, “intentional communities” or “occupations,” like Liberty City and the post office camp, not just as a protest tactic, but also as places where they could gain more control over their lives and implement their own ideas for dealing with homelessness.

Many drew on previous experience in other movements. “A lot of us are older activists,” Lee explained. “Our ideas come out of the 1960s, and even before, from the 1930s. Homeless people have always formed communities, whether we were considered hoboes or homeless people or just bums. Hobo jungles were intentional communities, too, based on an unconscious understanding of the need for mutual aid and voluntary cooperation.”

During an interview while Liberty City was still operating, Lee said, “People police themselves. I see people out there in the middle of the night with flashlights picking up trash. I see them chase off anti-social elements. If you want to talk about the solution to homelessness, all you have to do is walk down to Berkeley City Hall and the post office. Is it a perfect solution? No. Housing is the permanent solution to homelessness. But this is a helluva good start.”

City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, who is running for mayor this year, said he thinks the residents of Liberty City did a good job of keeping it safe and well-run. “Liberty City shows that homeless people can create a community,” he said. But he cautioned that such communities can’t “be completely removed from the city. There should be an ongoing city presence, that might include homeless outreach staff, mental health workers, or others.”

Nearly everyone agrees that the answer to homelessness is permanent housing. But the state and federal governments do not provide the funding needed to build permanent housing for homeless people. In fact, over the decades, national policies have eliminated housing for poor people and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Local governments provide homeless shelters and services, but they are unable to meet the needs of the huge number of people living on the streets. Berkeley alone has 1,200 homeless residents, according to city officials. Further, many homeless people don’t like shelters, because they can’t bring their pets, or because most shelters require you to be inside by a certain hour in the evening and to leave during the day.

As a result, some cities, including Portland and Seattle, have approved the creation of tent cities as an alternative form of temporary housing for homeless people. And Berkeley’s experience with Liberty City revealed that a tent city has the potential to work in the East Bay as well.

But while Berkeley views itself as a progressive community, it remains to be seen whether the city would ever approve a tent city plan. After all, the council voted on December 1 to green-light the city’s crackdown on the homeless.

Mike Zint has been homeless since 2000. For many years, he lived out of his car, moving from town to town. He said he began organizing during the Occupy movement several years ago in San Francisco.

Zint said that after San Francisco police “crushed” the Occupy encampment, he and other homeless activists staged a series of protests, including one during the America’s Cup yacht race. Then they set up an “Occupy Staples” protest in San Francisco to demonstrate against Staples’ decision to open postal kiosks, which activists viewed as a further “privatization of the post office,” he said.

Zint said that, over the years, San Francisco has hardened its stance against marginalized people, like the homeless. Politicians “pass laws to get the homeless out of sight of the businesses, so shoppers don’t see them,” he said. “San Francisco has an image as a world class city, but there are no bathrooms. There are no shower facilities. They say there are only a few thousand homeless when there are twice as many. With the shuffle going on, they just move them. One day this street looks good because they’ve cleared people out, and then they get rid of them somewhere else.”

Eventually, Zint and other demonstrators moved the San Francisco protest in front of Staples to the Staples store in Berkeley. Then, “last year, we learned the post office was going to sell the main building downtown. So we removed everything from Staples, and took the corner of the post office instead,” he said. “We put the occupation right there.

“Over the last year, we’ve been organizing the homeless into an actual movement,” he continued. “Our intention has always been to occupy a much larger piece of property, and get one of the Bay Area cities to allow homeless people to take care of themselves. Berkeley, because of its reputation, is a good place to do this. People here are genuine and care. The university and high school students are incredible. The teachers are very good. It’s night and day compared to San Francisco.”

At first, fighting the Postal Service in Berkeley brought homeless people together with city authorities in a loose-knit coalition that included Mayor Tom Bates, Councilmember Linda Maio, and local legal and political activists. While rallies and court actions sought to halt the sale of the post office building, the encampment on the post office steps became a constant presence and visible evidence of resistance.

Within the encampment, homeless people developed their own community. They organized themselves and worked together. They made decisions collectively. And they developed their own ideas about what causes homelessness and devised short-term and long-term solutions to it.

Last fall, while Liberty City was still operating, Michael Lee said, “People in the community came out and looked at us, and maybe at first they thought, ‘Look at the poor homeless people.’ But now we’re creating the new world in the shell of the old. What we’re doing in terms of mutual aid and cooperation can be applied anywhere. They’re going to have to finally see that organizing is the solution to homelessness.”

Paul Kealoha Blake, who is director of the East Bay Media Center on Addison Street and a business owner sympathetic to the homeless, said residents of Liberty City maintained order in their camp. “I think that Liberty Village and its organizers did an excellent job of setting standards of no drugs and alcohol,” he said.

But the coalition of homeless activists and city politicians didn’t last beyond the post office battle. Several months after the Postal Service announced that it no longer planned to sell the building, Bates and Maio brought the homeless-crackdown ordinance, sought by the Downtown Business Association, before the council. The new ordinance prohibits people from lying in planter beds, tying possessions to poles or trees or keeping them within two feet of a tree well or planter, taking up more than two square feet of space with belongings, and keeping a shopping cart in one place for more than an hour during the day. It also further penalizes urinating and defecating in public, which are already against the law.

Both Blake and Arreguin, who voted against the new ordinance, believe that homelessness has become an overly polarized issue in Berkeley, rather than one in which different parts of the community find common ground. “The business community would like to see people not camping out in doorways,” Arreguin noted. “Business people want a long-term solution. Homeless people did a good job on changing perceptions of homelessness at Liberty City. They set ground rules and enforced them. They had a process for that, where everybody participated in the meetings.”

Before Berkeley cleared out Liberty City, Zint told me that he and other homeless activists were attempting to develop “an actual city through a bunch of homeless people coming together. We have a community here. And if we can pull it off properly here, we can use this as a model to be done all over. They’ll begin listening to our message, and that is ‘that we should be able to take care of ourselves.'”

Berkeley is not the only community where homeless people have proposed running their own encampments. A homeless protest and occupation in Portland last year evolved into Dignity Village, which now exists with the city’s approval. Portland, in fact, is debating the creation of new, similar encampments.

The Seattle City Council has already approved three new tent cities, each housing one hundred residents, although they will be run by service providers, rather than the homeless themselves. They’re estimated to cost $200,000 per year in trash collection and portable toilets, but that cost is less than a traditional shelter. In Honolulu, which has also passed multiple ordinances cracking down on sitting and sleeping in public, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has set up a new homeless camp that is made up of shipping containers.

Berkeley also had an earlier experience with a homeless camp, called Rainbow Village, in what is now Cesar Chavez Park at the marina. Mostly, it consisted of an area where people could park and live in their cars. After an incident in which someone was killed, however, the city closed it down.

“But I do not believe that the Rainbow Village should be evaluated solely on that tragedy,” Blake cautioned. “A close and collaborative relationship between homeless leadership and the City of Berkeley can work and was in fact working at Liberty City.”

One big question is where such a camp could be located in Berkeley. Rainbow Village was far from transit and services needed by homeless people. Arreguin said, however, that when Liberty City was operating in downtown, his office got complaints from neighbors living near the old City Hall. “The camp had a spillover of people who were attracted to it and who engaged in inappropriate behavior,” he said. “Not everyone respects our laws, and the perception of homeless people is often based on those examples. But we need to be sensitive to the concerns of neighbors.”

For their part, however, most homeless people in Berkeley complain that they are demonized, and they established Liberty City partly in response. Many homeless people are also veterans, and have to reconcile the irony of having fought in the military, only to later find themselves social outcasts in the country that they had defended.

“I spent ten years in the Navy upholding the Constitution, from 1979 to 1989,” said James Kelly, a former resident of Liberty City. “I believe a person should not have to worry day-to-day where they’re going to lay their head or get their next meal. That should just be a given.”

Andre Cameron, another Liberty City resident, said his experience in Berkeley at the encampment was dramatically different from the time he spent in Los Angeles, the last city he lived in. “In LA, they don’t have anything like this. They have Skid Row,” he said. “A huge amount of people live on the street in downtown LA. There’s no help for them. Here, there’s a community. I feel the love here. I feel that, here in Berkeley, there’s at least some hope. There are people here that care. If I had to choose to be homeless anyplace in the world, it would be here in Berkeley.

“It’s embarrassing, if you’ve never been homeless,” he continued. “People in LA look at homeless people like a plague. Here, there’s more of an acceptance of this subculture of homeless people. I think it’s a tribute in some small cultural way to the community as a whole. I’ve never gotten that sense anywhere else.”

Ultimately, Arreguin said, the city needs to hear from the homeless themselves and treat them as normal members of the body politic. “When the city passed a law last year that criminalizes homelessness, there was no conversation about what the homeless need, and the city didn’t have any input from them. But it can be done,” he said. “We do have a crisis, and all options should be on the table. Berkeley should consider a temporary encampment until we have more permanent housing. People need a place to go.”

Cameron added, “They should have a place, a park, some sort of a space where people can set up tents, and live peacefully, with porta potties and showers and trash pickup, and that’s organized. We need a place for people to be human — eat, sleep, utilize restrooms. That need doesn’t stop because of a law.”

And, warned Lee, “Homeless people can vote.”

Note from Mike Zint:

Allowing the homeless to help themselves costs taxpayers nothing. Forcing them to be cared for does.

Action Council Events — February 11 to February 18


~ Action Council ~

Occupy San Francisco Bulletin Board:


(Feb. 11 – Feb 18)

Thursday, February 11

F 11, Thursday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm, Stop The Restarting Of Japanese NUKE Plants – Rally Speak-Out @ Japanese Consulate

Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St.

Stop The Restarting Of Japanese NUKE Plants, Stop Radioactive Water Leaks At Fukushima, Protect The Children and Families of Fukushima !

The Abe Japanese government continues to reopen nuclear plants in Japan despite the great dangers of another Fukushima. At the same time anti-nuclear activists are under attack by the government using the new secrecy law and propaganda to remilitarize Japan. The government continues to tell the people of Japan and the world that the Fukushima disaster has been overcome. This lie was presented by the government to garner the Olympics in Japan. The US government also continues to support the restarting of the plants and for the full militarization of Japan.

Info:   /

F 11, Thursday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, The Square: film showing and discussion, On the Anniversary of the Uprising in Egypt

Revolution Books
2444 Durant Ave.

On the Anniversary of the Uprising in Egypt, Let’s Dig Into the Critical Need for a Core of Communist Leadership.

In the winter of 2011, five years ago, the people of Egypt rose up in rebellion against decades of brutally oppressive rule by the Mubarak regime-a regime backed by and playing a key role in preserving the interests of the U.S. Empire.


Friday, February 12

F 12, Friday, 7:00pm-9:00pm, & F 13, Saturday, 6:00pm-8:00pm How the Other Half Banks – A Discussion about the Unbanked and Postal Banking

Friday, F 12

Green Arcade Bookstore
1680 Market St.

Saturday, F 13

Laurel Books
1423 Broadway, (in Oscar Grant Plz.)

Mehrsa Baradaran, is Associate Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law

She’ll talk about her new book How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy 

Host: Green Arcade Bookstore & Strike Debt Bay Area


Saturday, February 13

F 13, Saturday, 10:00am – 12 Noon, Rising in the Face of a Senior Housing Crisis Future 100% Housing @ 1296 Shotwell 

St. Anthony’s Church
3215 Cesar Chavez

Community Planning & Information Meeting. Learn about the development team selected by the city. Bring your thoughts.

Spanish and English translation. Light refreshments

Sponsor: Plaza 16 Coalition

F 13, Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, San Quentin Prison Art Show & Redstone Labor Temple Rummage Sale

Redstone Building
2490 16th St.

Proceeds benefit the San Quentin Artists and the Redstone Labor Temple Association. Selections from print class at San Quentin, including Ronnie Goodman,teacher Katya McCulloch and guest, Art Hazelwood. Free entry.

Lots of interesting objects/furniture in the rummage sale

Host: Save the North Mission


F 13, Saturday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Abolitionist Politics in the Fight to End Slavery

Berkeley Korean United Methodist Church
303 Hudson St. (lower level)

Don Cane, Spartacist League Central Committee, will speak on Black History and the Class Struggle.


F 13, Saturday, 4:00pm – 11:00pm, Benefit For Omni Commons

Omni Commons
4799 Shattuck Ave.

$15.00 Suggested donation

Featuring: Black Dog, V.E.X. Las Sucias, Bigicletas por la Pax, The Bogues, The Beet System, Ayr.
Comedy by George Chen.

Open Mic 4-5pm


F 13, Saturday, 5:00pm, Black History Month Forum: The Mario Woods Case & the Struggle Against Police Terror

2969 Mission St.

On Dec. 2, 2015, the life of 26-year-old Bayview resident Mario Woods tragically ended by police firing squad.

Featured Speakers:
Phelicia Jones, union organizer & coordinator of J4MWC
Eugene Puryear, Stop Police Terror Project—DC and Justice First
Frank Lara, ANSWER Coalition

$5-10 donation (no one turned away for lack of funds)
info: 415-821-6545  /   /

F 13, Saturday, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, The Long Tough Struggle For Latino Farmworker’s Rights

The Green Arcade
1680 Market St.

Lori Flores, author of “Grounds for Dreaming” will be in conversation with David Bacon, author of “The Right to Stay Home”


Sunday, February 14

F 14, Sunday, 9:00am, UU Breakfast Forum:   Speaker Ranger Mecler of the Port Chicago Naval  Magazine Memorial

UU Church
1187 Franklin St.

9:00:    Coffee/socializing.  Breakfast is available for nominal fee.
9:30:    Program (see below)
10:30:    Questions, Comments, Discussion
10:45:    Adjourn

“Remembering the Port Chicago Disaster” with Stephanie Meckler, Park Ranger, National Park Service, U.S. Dept of the Interior

Ranger Meckler of the Port Chicago Naval Magazine Memorial will describe the disaster of July 17, 1944 which claimed the lives of mainly African American sailors, and exposed the ugly truth about racism in the U.S. military during World War I

F 14, Sunday, 12Noon, One Billion Rising: Dance Across the Golden Gate Bridge


Southeast end of eastern walkway (SF side)

calling on women and men everywhere to LISTEN! ACT! RISE!! Join us for an afternoon dance across the Golden Gate Bridge  Dance to the center of the bridge and return.



F 14, Sunday, 1:00pm-4:00pm, Stop The Eviction! Valentines Day Exhibition!

53 Waller St.

Artist David Brenkus is being evicted from his home and gallery by the DeYoung museum’s assistant curator of American Art, Emma Acker. Come see his beautiful experimental photography and meet neighbors and friends.


F 14, Sunday, 4:30pm (PST) Webinar: Take Action vs. TPP During the Congressional Recess!

Your phone and computer – register at

Created: Global TPP Team


Monday, February 15

F 15, Monday, 6:00pm, Drug War, Forced Migration, & Refugee Raids

Redstone Bldg
2940 – 16th St., Room 301

Join Nansi Cisneros of Voces Contra el Olvido (an organization of family members of those disappeared in Mexico), and others to discuss the 2016 Border Vigil in Nogales, AZ, upcoming legislative campaigns (including California specific campaigns), and other ways to plug into the work of SOA Watch and the greater solidarity movement.

Given the stepped up U.S.-led militarization of not only U.S. borders but also of Mesoamerican borders, most notably Plan Frontera Sur in Mexico, and the recent raids on refugee families inside the U.S., it is an important time to plan what our collective response to these injustices will be.

Sponsor: SOA Watch

Info – email:

Tuesday, February 16

F 16, Tuesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Liberated Lens film night: Black Power Mixtape

Oakland Omni Commons
4799 Shattuck Ave.

$5.00 donation – no one turned away

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a 2011 documentary film, directed by Göran Olsson, that examines the evolution of the Black Power Movement in American society from 1967 to 1975. It features the found footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists (discovered some 30 years later in the cellar of Swedish Television) overlaid with commentaries and interviews from leading contemporary African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars.


Wednesday, February 17

F 17, Wednesday,  5:30pm – 6:30pm, Weekly PEACE VIGIL

Montgomery and Market Sts.
(on the steps facing Market St., below Feinstein’s office)
Directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni Station

Join Codepink, World Can’t Wait, OccupySF Action Council and Others at the huge PEACE banner

Themes vary weekly

Feel free to bring your own signage, photos, fliers. Additional signs and flyers provided.

Stand (or sit) with us.

F 17, Wednesday, 6:45pm, Talk by Gavin Purchase, California Director, Clean Energy

Environmental Defense Fund Office
123 Mission St., 28th Fl.

Discussion on new decisions on net metering and time of use rates and how they impact the domestic solar market in California. Learn the latest about what’s happening in this area, and join us for a lively discussion over wine and cheese afterwards.

Reserve your space / limited. Click on blue:  reserve your seat by sending your RSVP to Alysa Perez today.

Sponsor: EDF

F 17, Wednesday, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, We Need to Talk about Sandy Hook (Part 1 – film)

Humanist Hall
390 27th Street
uptown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway

$5.00 donation

7:00pm Potluck / snacks optional

By: Independent Media Solidarity


Thursday, February 18

F 18, Thursday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Jeff Halper, Ph.D., Author, speaking on Israel/Palestine

Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
55 Eckley Lane
Walnut Creek,

6:00pm Potluck (optional)
7:00pm Presentation

Jeff Halper, a world-renowned American born political activist, Professor of Anthropology and co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Halper lives in Israel, having moved from the U.S. in 1973. He participated in the first attempt of the Free Gaza Movement

Halper will discuss his recently published book, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification. Long-awaited, it is a powerful indictment of the Israeli state’s “securocratic” war in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Halper shows, the integration of militarized systems-including databases tracking civilian activity, automated targeting systems, unmanned drones, and more-

He will also talk about how this method of war is rapidly globalizing, as the major capitalist powers and corporations transform militaries, security agencies, and police forces into an effective instrument of global pacification.


F 18, Thursday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Mario Woods Coalition – Weekly Meeting

350 Rhode Island (nr. 16th Street)

Weekly meeting.

FB Page:

Note Other FB site for Mario Woods: LOVE & JUSTICE 4 MARIO WOODS, 26, killed  by SF Bayview Police, 12-2-15

F 18, Thursday, 7:30pm – 10:00pm, Angela Davis + Johanna Fernandez: Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Prison Essays

First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street

Writing on the Wall presents a selection of more than 100 previously unpublished essays spanning the entire period of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s incarceration that crystallize his essential perspectives on community, politics, protest, history, social change and movement organizing in the U.S. and internationally. From discussions of Rosa Parks and Trayvon Martin, to Martin Luther King and Edward Snowden, Abu-Jamal articulates lucid, humorous, and often prescient insight into the past, present and future of American politics and society.

Advance tickets: $12: 800-838-3006 or Marcus Books, Pegasus (3 shops), Books Inc/Berkeley, Moe’s, Walden Pond Bookstore, Diesel a Bookstore, Mrs. Dalloway’s, SF: City Lights Bookstore, Modern Times. $15 door, KPFA benefit, information:

KPFA event


Egypt’s opposition forcibly muted five years since revolution (

Five years after the revolution that toppled the government, Egypt has yet to achieve the movement’s democratic ideals. But there are no more protests because protests are illegal. Freedom of speech curtailed, McCarthy-esque fear pervades under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, with opposition parties persecuted and former revolutionaries jailed. Special correspondent Nick Schifrin reports.

Action Council events — February 11


~ Action Council ~

Occupy San Francisco Bulletin Board:


(Wednesday & Thursday)

Thursday, February 11 

F 11, Thursday, 11:30am – 1:30pm,  March on City Hall for Malonga & #EquitableDevelopment!

Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts
1428 Alice St.

11:30am Rally (in parking lot)
12Noon March (o Oakland City Hall)

In solidarity with artists from the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Community Rejuvenation Project, the Chinatown Coalition, local residents and businesses — have launched a petition to Maria Poncel of Bay Development to demand mitigation and community givebacks from the development of the parking lot at 250 14th Street.

At City Hall an  appeal will be filed, and to demand that Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Council overturn the decision until the community’s demands are met:


F 11, Thursday, 6:00pm-8:30pm, Marc Ellis-Liberal Christian Repentence,Christian Zionism and the Destruction of Palestine

St. Thomas More Catholic Church
100 St. Thomas More Way  or 1300 Junipero Serra

Dr. Marc Ellis, author, theologian, and activist for justice in Palestine, will speak on “Liberal Christian Repentance, Christian Zionism and the Destruction of Palestine: Lenten Reflections from a Jewish Theology of Liberation” followed by discussion and sharing

Light supper will be provided.
Sliding scale donation $5-15, no one turned away.
Parking available

Sponsored by Ecumenical Peace Partners of San Francisco
Co-sponsored by NorCal Friends of Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area, Keep Hope Alive (Presbyterian), Peace Not Walls (ELCA – Lutheran) and Cal-Nevada Taskforce for Israel/Palestine (United Methodist)


F 11, Thursday 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Justice For Mario Woods – Coalition Meeting

350 Rhode Island (nr. 16th Street)

Weekly meeting.

FB Page:

F 11, Thursday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Community Forum for Testimony on Oakland Police — Federal Monitor Wants Your Feedback

First AME Church
530 37th Street (on Telegraph)

Asked by the Federal Monitor team to convene a community event in which folks who had had encounters with OPD in the last two or three years would give testimony about their experiences. The Monitor are interested in hearing directly from those who had negative experiences. They want to know what happened — when, where – and whether or not a complaint was filed, and, if so, what was the outcome, so they can do follow up.

This is an opportunity we should not miss to counter the Schaaf cheerleading about how much progress OPD has made, despite the fact that there were 7 killings of African-American males in the last year!


~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Photos & Mic Check From People’s Actions Around Super Bowl 50

Tents being held up by people on the march at Super Bowl on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016

(Police threatened people with arrest for “camping” if the tents were on the ground)

Photo: Josh Wolf 

Photo of APTP & Last 3% Action at SFO International Airport

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016


Welcome to the Bay Area Mic Check

By Al O.

Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition Inside Super Bowl City

after march! January 30, 2016

Photo From Moving Block Party – February 6, 2016

Michael Moore’s latest movie: “Where to Invade Next”

Filmmaker Michael Moore visits various countries to examine how Europeans view work, education, health care, sex, equality, and other issues. From cafeteria food to sex ed, Moore looks at the benefits of schooling in France, Finland and Slovenia. In Italy, he marvels at how workers enjoy reasonable hours and generous vacation time. In Portugal, Moore notes the effects of the decriminalization of drugs. Through his travels, we discover just how different America is from the rest of the world.

Noam Chomsky – ‘Requiem For The American Dream’ Trailer

Noam Chomsky is one of America’s most important thinkers, critical minds, and voices of dissent, and thus it’s hardly a surprise that his gripping ideas have been the subject of more than one documentary. 1992’s “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media” might be the most well known, and Michel Gondry’s “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” the quirkiest, but the upcoming “Requiem For The American Dream” — slated to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival — might be the most relevant given social and economic landscape of the moment.

Directed by Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott, the film is constructed from four years worth of interviews with Chomsky, and explores the growing inequality in the country and what that means for stability, democracy, and more. Here’s the official synopsis:

In his final long-form documentary interview – filmed over four years – Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality. Tracing a half-century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority, Chomsky lays bare the costly debris left in its wake: the evisceration of the American worker, disappearance of the living wage, collapse of the dream of home ownership, skyrocketing higher education costs placing betterment beyond reach or shackling students to suffocating debt, and a loss of solidarity that has left us divided against ourselves.

Profoundly personal and thought provoking, REQUIEM is a potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed – and is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future.

“Requiem For The American Dream” has its first screening at Tribeca on Saturday, April 18th.

“How homelessness becomes a crime in Sacramento” by Dave Kempa (

What do protesters and advocates really mean when they talk about ‘criminalization of homelessness’?

Laurence Talbot watched as his partner packed up a tent. It was a dreary Friday morning on Ahern and North C streets. Four police vehicles bookended the block. Along the sidewalk, homeless campers picked up and left for Loaves & Fishes.

A cop standing in front of a patrol wagon explained that officers were there to clear the sidewalk for public safety. They weren’t actually blocking anyone, except maybe other homeless people. But they were in the way.

Since the homeless occupation of City Hall began in early December 2015, Sacramentans have heard much about the “criminalization of homelessness.” But what does that mean? What does it look like? Is it simply, as city council members say, divisive political rhetoric? Or have our homeless finally brought our attention to a civil rights crisis hidden in plain view?

According to Shahera Hyatt of the California Homeless Youth Project, people without housing feel targeted by police for doing everyday things like sitting or lying on public property, sleeping in vehicles, accepting food offered to them or even relieving themselves in the absence of accessible restrooms.

“I talk about it in terms of sitting, eating, standing, sleeping,” explained Hyatt. “Taking it out of the jargon helps to show what is actually happening.”

Here in Sacramento, Sarah Sieck of the Tommy Clinkenbeard Legal Clinic at Loaves & Fishes has seen similar cases come through her doors. These “common offenses of the homeless” include evasion of fares on the light rail, open alcohol containers in public, panhandling and illegal camping.

The Clinkenbeard clinic helps homeless residents navigate the legal system after they’ve gotten citations. It began in 2000 after Sacramento public defender Tommy Clinkenbeard noticed the city’s homeless were unable to receive services they needed due to outstanding warrants incurred for offenses they’d committed in relation to their homeless status.

Today the clinic serves as a first step for homeless residents looking to have their citations resolved. Each month they’ll meet with public defenders, attend a makeshift court at Loaves & Fishes and pay off tickets they’d otherwise be unable to afford with community service hours.

Officials like mayoral candidate and Councilwoman Angelique Ashby have pointed to the Loaves & Fishes court as a success. But is this the answer?

Sieck affirms that those served by the clinic are better off than in any alternative scenario. But the cycle of homeless people passing through for offenses they can’t help but commit remains.

“I’ve been doing this for two years now and I feel like I’m on the same ride,” she said. “It’s not solving the problem.”

By far, the most common cases coming through the clinic are those for illegal camping. That’s no surprise.

Both Hyatt and the protesters outside City Hall argue that such camping citations are unjust in a region without enough shelter beds to house the thousands of homeless residents in the region on a given night.

The U.S. Department of Justice may agree. In an August 2015 Statement of Interest, the DOJ looked at cases involving anti-camping ordinances across the country, concluding that law enforcement cannot enforce camping violations against homeless residents when there are no available shelter beds, since it may qualify as a violation of their Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

But the Sacramento City Council and parks officials stand firm on the law and on enforcement.

In response to rising protests, mayoral candidate Ashby recently referred to the “criminalization of homelessness” as a political term coined in Sacramento. Council members say that lifting the anti-camping ordinance won’t solve homelessness in the region and that protesters and homeless residents alike refuse services and shelter beds nightly.

Homeless protesters like David Andre tell a different story. Andre recalls an instance two weeks ago in which a homeless man seeking shelter with the protesters at City Hall took the police up on their offer of a shelter bed. He was back 45 minutes later. “They gave him a ride in the police car and that was it,” said Andre.

Hyatt says officials need look no further than City Hall’s front lawn to understand they must think more deeply on the issue.

“They’ve got to look inside themselves to see why they’re out of line with the community that they’re ostensibly supposed to serve.”

Note from Mike Zint:

The only difference between homeless and housed is walls. Yet those without walls are not allowed to do what’s needed to be alive. That is how absurd the truth is.

Homeless advocates face off with cops at Super Bowl City By Kevin Fagan and Steve Rubenstein (

Hundreds of homeless advocates seeking to set up a protest tent city alongside Super Bowl City on Wednesday afternoon in downtown San Francisco quickly found themselves surrounded by several hundred police officers in riot gear.

It could have passed for a prevent defense, except the football game wasn’t for another four days.

The advocates, vowing to call attention to the plight of the neediest during an event often catering to the wealthiest, brought with them five nylon camping tents. But the green and gray plastic domes never made it onto solid ground.

Instead, the hundreds of cops and protesters faced each other in a tense standoff beneath the giant “50” atop the Ferry Building.

There were no arrests but there was also no camping. Protesters were told their tents would be confiscated if they put them on the ground and tried to crawl inside. So they held the tents aloft, like giant protest signs.

“Eliminate Poverty, Not the Poor,” read a sign on one of the non-camping tents.

“I’m surprised, shocked, dismayed and depressed,” said “Tiny,” the editor of a magazine for the homeless and the poor. “They told us that if we put our tents down, they will arrest us.”

A few feet away, a protester pointed a bullhorn into the faces of police officers arrayed before him, saying, “I am angry! This is what fascism looks like!”

The cops waited impassively.

City ordinances forbid camping on sidewalks, a rule that is often overlooked in other parts of town. But it was not being overlooked on Wednesday in the heart of the area set aside for hoopla and TV cameras.

Among the crowd was Vicki Gray, a counselor with the San Francisco Night Ministry.

“This Super Bowl City is a moral disaster area,” she said. “Homeless people are human beings who deserve to have adequate social services and health services. We want affordable housing now.”

As the protesters loudly chanted slogans, streams of workers headed home on the Embarcadero sidewalk or by ferry looked on bemusedly.

Gina Lauricella, 30, slowly trudged through the crowd on her way home from work. The mood among all the passersby was calm, and Lauricella even cracked a small smile as she watched the protest and listened to the voices on the loudspeakers.

“I think they have a valid idea — I’m all for it,” she said, of the protest. “It’s no disruption at all.’’

Bonnie Walton shuffled off the ferry from Oakland and was frustrated that she could not park her bike anywhere, because police barricades had blocked her usual spots.

“Yeah, it’s a little irritating, but this is a gaggle and Super Bowl City is a gaggle. It’s all crowded.”

The army of reporters and photographers from across the U.S. covering the standoff at times appeared to rival the size of the protest group.

Among the speakers was former state Assemblyman and city Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who yelled into a microphone, “You’re treating the homeless like lepers!”

Supervisor David Campos joined the lineup of speakers, telling the crowd, “We cannot turn our backs on families struggling to feed their kids. We actually have to have a government that serves people, not the corporations.”

As the protest wore on, the crowd seemed to contain more homeless advocates than actual homeless. Some street people on hand were appreciative; others were too busy finding a place to sleep for the night to stop and participate.

Cynthia Lee, 61, said she was happy to spend time with people yelling on her behalf before she punched in for her bed at one of the city’s shelters.

“I think if San Francisco has money to throw at the Super Bowl — even if it brings in tax money — they should give us places to live,” she said.

A few feet away, Tony Turney, 59, calmly pushed his clothing-laden bicycle by the gaggle, searching for a place along the waterfront to throw down his sleeping bag.

“This is nice, but I do my protest in other ways,” he said. “We really don’t want to bother anybody.”

As the protest began, organizers and police met to set the parameters. The directive to keep the tents off the ground came as a surprise to homeless advocates, but they complied and cool heads prevailed.

“We’re here to help facilitate First Amendment rights,” said San Francisco Police Sgt. Mike Andraychak. He pointed out that police usually do not allow encampments to spring up at the base of Market Street, regardless of the presence of protesters or a Super Bowl. Many years ago, large numbers of tents were often seen near Embarcadero Plaza but none have been seen recently.

Paul Boden, an organizer with Western Regional Advocacy Project, shrugged about the orders from police not to plant their tents. A longtime fiery activist, he has seen it all.

“We are adjustable. but it doesn’t mean we like,” he said.

Shortly before 7 p.m., the protesters began marching north along the Embarcadero, intending to proceed in a circle around Super Bowl City. Inside the compound, the glitzy party blared on with loud rock music filling the air, happy sports fans chowing down gourmet food and a giant TV screen beaming film clips of great Super Bowls of the past. No one, it seemed, was aware a protest was going on outside the fence line.

“This is fun in here, I don’t know anything about a protest,” said Lisa Garcia of Marin County, as she happily perused wines at the Sonoma County exhibit tent. She said she agreed with the idea of the protest — “there shouldn’t be people who have to live in the street,” she said — but she wasn’t about to leave the festivities to join them.

Meanwhile across town, San Francisco authorities were putting the finishing touches on a different encampment of their own making —the huge Pier 80 winter shelter.

City officials on Wednesday led a tour of the nearly finished shelter and said they hope to open it Thursday. It is in the former Oracle warehouse for the America’s Cup race, and it can hold 150 people.

Homeless people will be able to move into the shelter with all their belongings, pets and partners, and can stay around the clock until the end of March. Case managers will be on hand to help them with permanent housing or counseling.

The convergence of the official shelter with the protest tent shelter spotlighted the debate that has built for weeks over how the city’s chronic homeless problem should be handled as Super Bowl 50 and all its high-rolling spectacle comes to the Bay Area.

On one side are homeless advocates who say police and street cleaners are shoving the homeless out of view so the tourists won’t see them. On the other side are city officials who say the only moving they’ve been doing of the homeless is into winter shelters to get out of pounding El Niño rains.

“Our only goal is to help people in out of the rain, and it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl,” said Trent Rhorer, head of the Human Services Agency, which is organizing the shelter.

Kevin Fagan and Steve Rubenstein are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers.,