Month: November 2011

Unoccupy The Plaza (Part II)

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 Well I have gotten a good nights sleep, giving me time to think more about the events of yesterday and how I want to continue with my writing on this topic.

 Were I left off was me in the library and the protesters getting ready to head off to the plaza.

 The last time that the protest was at the library, after a bit they closed the library and I went out and watched the events that were going on. The police presence was a good size, but in a way really weren’t needed except to handle traffic. When the protesters started marching off then, I had thought about following them, but someone in my head said to head on home. I am glad that I did, as by the time that I got home, things between the protesters and police had started to heat up…

 Yesterday was different, as I came out of the library as they started marching off to the plaza, and I thought about going on home but something said to follow them. I knew that something was going to happen the last time, but this time I knew that things would be AOK if I followed the group and watched what went on. So I followed them. Now I didn’t walk with them, but stayed about a block back. I figured that it anything happened up there, I would be able to turn around and head into another direction.

 When I got about a block away, I noticed the number of press trucks and it was amazing the number of media trucks were from the same stations. I stood close to one of them, pulled out my camera as the reporter went on air, and had to laugh as I took the picture as another truck from her station drove by.

 The more that I stood there, the more that I got the feeling that the press were really hoping that something would happen. It was like if they could of somehow gotten away with it, they would of had a riot going on in the streets. It was like they were out for blood. After standing there for a little bit, I decided to go across to the plaza where the crowd had gathered.

 Even though there were a good number of Oakland Police around, I figured that people would of started to put tents back up and bring the encampment back, then then I noticed something. The odds that anyone putting up tents and/or sleeping on the grassy area was not going to happen. The city had flooded the area with water and the ground was soaking wet. There was no way that anybody was going to be sleeping there that night.

 I continued to walk until I got to the area behind where people were speaking and found a clear place to stand. It was a nice spot with a really nice view.  I don’t know what it is about me at times, but for some reason it seems as though people will gravitate around me, then before I knew it a crowd had gathered around the area that I was in, with some people bumping me aside. As I stood there I also realized that the people around me were not paying any attention to the people who were at the mic. It was like they really didn’t care about what was being said, but they wanted to have the ability to say that they were there.

 I finally got tired of all of the people around me, and moved to the steps of City Hall which were behind me. There were just a few people on them, and I found a place that were nobody was and stood there. As more people came onto the steps, I would move over, then suddenly I found myself being shoved over by members of one of the local news crews who wanted to film there. I mean not even a request that I step tot he side, nor even an apology for what they did. Then I watched as other news crews would do the same elsewhere around to other people. How sad the press is.

 They were on air, but the reporter started talking to a woman who was standing close by that he knew I think from other protest. The conversation was interesting, as they both brought up good points, but something happened that I found funny. The conversation had somehow moved to Blacks in Mississippi and whether they were better off now than before the Civil Rights era, and if Blacks are better off in this country today. I was amazed that I was the only Black standing close to them, but neither one bothered to ask me. Something happened which then really made me wonder about the Occupy Movement and what I had written in a previous blog, that being people being used for other causes that they have no relationship with.

 Someone with a “Flip Cam” came over and started filming. He just came up and stepped in front of me and just held up his camera and filmed. What was interesting was the guy films the reporter as he did his report, then filmed a little more. Now there was a Oakland Cop who had been standing about 10 feet from me ever since I first came up. He was really cool and was having conversations with protesters who came up to him, where I noticed that with some of the other cops they really wouldn’t take the time when people came up to them.

  I watched the cop as he talked with some people who came up to him and it appeared to be a great conversation going on. It appeared to be a group of about 5 people, one of whom was filming as they would ask him questions, then I noticed that the number of people grew. They asked him questions, which he answered, and their was even laughter. Suddenly the guy that had stepped in front of me during the thing with the reporter, shoved his way with his camera through some people and started filming. The thing that blew my mind was that this guy just put his hand and camera in front of the other one. Someone said something to him, and the guy didn’t move his hand. The cop just looked at him, and the guy moved his hand down, at which point the guy moved his hand down which brought cheers from the others. With the stuff that I see being reported, something like this is not reported in that some of the police and protesters actually have enjoyable conversations.

 I stood around on the steps for a little while, then looked up to see that all of the helicopters had left, and people were filtering out and I figured that it was time to move on.

 As I walked, I noticed that a number of people wearing things across there face and I realized that they were ones who were hoping that a confrontation would occur, but I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to happen. I walked up on what used to be a grassy area before the encampment took it over, and just shock my head. “Oh how much is this going to cost the city?” I began to wonder.

 I heard a report that this has cost the city several million dollars. Now things are bad enough for the city as it is already, but now it is going to get worse. The city is going to have to find the money some somewhere, and sadly it will be the youth who will get hurt over it.

 With less and less youth programs being offered by the city, I began to think that it would be really smart and nice for libraries to be open until later so that they have a place to go. I think that all local branches should be open until at least 8pm during the week, so those youth whose parents don’t get ho9m until after 7 could have a safe place to be, and who knows, they may actually read and learn stuff that will help them in school. But with the money that the city has had to spend, I am sure that it will prevent that from happening. More programs at recreation centers will be cut, and so much more.

 I think that it is time for the occupiers to realize that we all get the point and in many ways agree, but not only is it time for the 1% they are protesting against to do something, but it is time for ALL of us to do something. We have to get away from thinking that the government and others to do something, but in order for things to get better it will take all of us to do something. It’s time for the Occupy encampments to close and for all of us to get to work.

 So what is it that you will do to improve things for the future?

Unoccupy The Plaza (Part I)

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 The last 72 hours have been interesting for me, as I have gotten to stop by the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

 This morning around 5am, law enforcement went in and removed the camp. Even thought I do like many of the things that the protesters are standing for, but I am wondering how many of the people are basically a term that I heard this morning on the news, that being “Professional Protesters”?  Let me go back over the last few days with what I have seen here in Oakland.

 This past Saturday I went to a meeting at a congregation in another city, but still apart of the diocese. It was a wonderful meeting, and I was dropped off at a BART station afterward and rode it back to Oakland. Now, I had started to get off at another station, but for some reason I decided that I was going to stop and take a walk around the encampment.

 I came up out of the Bart Station, and began to walk around. I then became discussed with the way that the place looked and the trash that I saw all over the place. The place smelled, and I began to realize that this encampment was no longer really serving a real purpose other than for a bunch of people to sit around to talk politics and to try and convince people that they had all of the answers to all of the problems in this world.

 As I walked around, I stopped and looked at the memorial that was there for the young man who was murdered there the other day, and said a pray for him and his family, along with a prayer for the person who shot and killed him in hopes that he thinks and realizes what he had done and how it has effected lives.

 I stopped by the spot where people had left note of well wishes for the young man who apparently hit by something a police officer had shot. He made it through several military deployments without a scratch, then this happens to him. I quietly said a pray for him in that he will fully recover, and one for the cop who did it in hopes that the cop takes a quick second to consider what he is about to do, but is still have to go home to family at the end of the shift.

 I then walked over by City Hall where I saw a bunch of people standing and sitting. Some person was talking over a bull horn about something as the people listened. I couldn’t quite understand what she was saying, but I guess that she was interesting to the crowd. As I walked away, I look and see about 6 Oakland cops standing around, and one had what appeared to be a cell phone pointed at me. The a flash went off and I realized that he had just taken my picture. I thought about going over to him to tell him that I wasn’t apart of the things going on, but then I realized that he was just doing his job, and I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong.

 As I continued to walk, I then realized that there were a number of cops around. When I had been down there before, I never really did see a police presence, but this time it was different. Something was going on. Would the police be planning on coming in and breaking down the encampment again? Were they looking for someone special that they figured would be there then? I just didn’t know.

 After jumping online to check my email, I then walked through the encampment. Now I have a bad sense of smell, and it is at a point where I really can’t smell flowers even if they are right under my nose, but I could smell the stink of the encampment. I needed to get out of there in hopes that none of it went into the clothes that I was wearing. I then went home.

 I went back to the plaza after church on Sunday. On most Sundays lately I have been there because a group of us hold an Open Cathedral service there. The services where planned for there long before the Occupy Movement set up camp, and even though we don’t do the service in the spot where we wanted to, they have been done. Some of the campers join us, but most of them don’t.

 I had gotten there early, and again I noticed the presence of the police. As they walked around, I noticed that some of them were taking pictures, and interacting with the people. Ok, I was sure that something was going to happen. The police were there to do surveillance and gather information for whatever plan that they were going to do.

 As we started setting up the table and getting ready for the service, I noticed two cops were standing not to far from us watching. They were trying to act like they weren’t paying attention to us, but I could tell that they were. Not to long before the service began, I saw them get into their car and just sit there watching us. Other cops from time to time would come over to the car and talk with them, but they were surely keeping and eye on us.

 We did the service, then began to pass out lunches that were brought. I grabbed one of the boxes that had lunches and walked over to them and offered them a lunch. They said no, and I wished them well as I walked away. Oh something was going to happen, but I couldn’t figure out when. I walked around some and passed out the lunches that I had, then went back to were we had gathered. The group spent some time talking, then we all headed home. I walked around the camp some more realizing that it would most likely be the last time that I would see it how it was then.

 I awoke this morning and turned on the TV. It had happened a few hours before I awoke, but law enforcement had come in and closed the camp down. 34 people had been arrested (only 9 of the people live in Oakland,) and were off to jail. As I sat and watched, I was so glad that I wasn’t there when it happened. I had figured that they would do it early in the morning, as there are fewer people there, which would make it easier on them.

 This afternoon I went to the main library here in Oakland. I had heard reports that the protest was going to gather outside there, and even thought I was taking a chance, I was wondering how things would be. I arrived at the library about 90 minutes before the event was suppose to happen, as I needed to return some stuff that was due today, and I wanted to do some research.

 I posted on Facebook that being at the library and knowing about the protest that was suppose to happen. Some people messaged me saying that I should go, but I knew that I would be safe inside of it. I had realized that the library would be safe because it contained something that the protesters felt was important, that being “Knowledge”.  If they were to destroy the library, it means the inability for people to gain access to knowledge, which in a way would defeat the ability for people to read the books that the protesters want people to read and hopefully start to think like them.

 I heard the protesters outside after a bit, then I took the items that I wanted to bring up and checked them out. I sat back down and surfed on the Internet for a while.  After a bit, I figured that since it seemed as though the library was going to let us stay in and not close, I went up into one of the Men’s Bathrooms and pulled out my camera, as that bathroom has windows that face out towards where all of the people were. I took a few shots, then took some shots from a few other areas inside.  I hear someone tell the crowd that they were going to march to the plaza. I thought for a moment, then I decided that I was going to follow the march, but from a safe distance behind them.

 I knew in my heart that something would be interesting to watch, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. I’ll write about it in Part II.