Cops riot, 300 nicked as Occupy Oakland tries to Occupy Social Centre

Yesterday, Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center to provide education, medical, and housing services for the 99%. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and mass arrests. The state has compounded its policy of callous indifference with a ruthless display of violent repression. The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always responded: with an overwhelming show of collective resistance. Today, we take to the streets. Across the country, we will demonstrate our resolve to overcome repression and continue to build a better world grounded in love and solidarity for one another. All eyes on all Occupies.

Re-Open the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center for emergency shelter, social services and educational purposes, and convene a People’s Convention for a grand assembly on next steps for the Occupy Wall Street Movements.


Located across from Laney College near Lake Merritt and the Estuary at 10 10th St Oakland, CA 94607 the Oakland Municipal Auditorium (a.k.a. The Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center) includes the 1,900 seat formal Calvin Simmons Theater, and a multi-purpose arena, which seats up to 4,500 people. The Oakland Municipal Auditorium was opened in 1914 has been used for everything from the provision of emergency medical services in the Flu pandemic of 1918, to Grateful Dead and Oakland Ballet performances to the Black Panther Party Black Community Survival Conference and the Green Party Presidential Campaign of Ralph Nader.
Mayor Jerry Brown closed the auditorium in 2006, allegedly because of a slight operating deficit, but more likely in an attempt to set up the sale of the property in the booming real estate market of the time. The Convention Center was one of the few large venues staffed by Union workers and many labor unions and left political groups used the hall because it paid the workers decent wages. When Brown closed the hall 20 workers lost good paying union jobs and the community lost a locale for everything from high school graduations to AC/DC concerts. The supposed annual budget savings were $300,000 a year. (City staff recently estimated that in the intervening five years $5,000,000 to $9,000,000 worth of decay had occurred in the property. ) Jobs, public service and economic stimulus of a vital downtown jewel were destroyed due to property speculation. (Even the Citty’s 1% were hurt—the Oakland Ballet which used the Calvin Simmons Theater in the Center became homeless and went out of business for over a year.) The property has been left largely vacant, except for some isolated event rentals since then. In 2011, in a paperwork shuffle the City of Oakland sold the property to its the Redevelopment agency (the City Council is the board of the Redevelopment Agency).

All this might seem to be completely unrelated to current events in Oakland, a city in the grip of a foreclosure crisis, double digit unemployment that approaches 50% in some neighborhoods, thousands of homeless people on the street and a political crisis sparked by Mayor Quan’s attempts to evict the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of City Hall.

Connecting the Dots

But there are number of factors that link these circumstances.

- The real estate speculative boom of 2000-2007 was what spurred Jerry Brown to close and attempt to sell the property back in 2006.

- The crash of that boom is what has driven the economy into near collapse.
- The City Council and the Mayor are still trying to sell the property.

- It is the largest vacant publicly owned space in downtown Oakland.

- The Mayor and the City Council want the Occupy Encampment moved away from steps of City Hall.

– The Occupy Oakland GA has endorsed neighborhood reclamation efforts.
- The City has justified the sale of the Convention Center to the Redevelopment Agency under its mandate to buy blighted properties in order to “facilitate[e] the rehabilitation and reuse of a large and prominent vacant, underutilized, and inadequate public improvement”

– The city is currently accepting proposals for a realtor to recommend the best re-use and rehabilitation of the Center.

– This is the only vacant public space sufficiently large and centrally located to maintain Occupy Oakland ability to continuing shelter for the people now camping and others without homes, to promote and sustain the educational and organizing efforts that have been underway, and the space is large enough for assemblies where workers, residents, students and interested parties can meet to discuss and formulate the next steps for the Occupy Wall Street movements.

- The Occupy Oakland Encampment should move indoors for the winter in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium (A.K.A. Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center).

1. How long will we be able to hold the building, won’t the police just come and evict us?
We believe that a successful, long-term occupation is contingent on a high number of occupants and supporters. Therefore, *please prepare to stay overnight,* at least throughout the festival. The first two days, will give us an opportunity to self-organize and determine the future of the building. There has been lots of discussion about how to hold the building (refer below to the question of defense), but obviously we won’t be able to hold it unless we can deter the cops and the city from throwing the full weight of the police state against us. Since this is a mass, public action, we are counting on large numbers to enter the building, and solid numbers to STAY in the building 24/7 until we get guarantees that there will be no raids.

2. What should we bring?
As publicized, we will march to the building and occupy it together. Naturally there is a significant likelihood that the police will try to prevent us from reclaiming unused property and putting it to better use. Therefore, as goes with all Occupy Oakland direct actions, it’s a good idea to come prepared. Please refer to the “Tear Gas and Pepper Spray 101″ pamphlet prepared by Occupy Oakland Medics for ways to prepare yourself for the march and occupation. Bring enough of any prescription medication (3 days worth) in case of arrest.
While the Move-In Assembly is trying to get as many supplies as possible for our new social center such as sleeping bags/pads, food etc. It’s a good idea to think of this as indoor camping. Bring a sleeping bag, snacks, flashlight, water bottle etc. etc.
We also highly encourage you to organize yourself into affinity groups. Affinity groups are a smaller group of close comrades and friends who can act together on the streets with similar comfort levels and take care of each other.

3. How was the building chosen?
The building was chosen to accommodate the proposal that was passed at the Occupy Oakland GA “The building will have sufficient office space for all of the Occupy Oakland committees and an auditorium large enough to hold Occupy Oakland general assemblies and adequate sleeping space. It will be a vacant building owned either by a bank, a large corporation of the 1% or already public.” There are multiple targets identified that fit this description and one (or more!) will be chosen on saturday depending on the situation (our numbers, the numbers of the police etc.)

4. How can we help with the taking and setting up of the building?
It will be obvious when we reach our intended target and we will try to enter the building all together but of course there is no predicting how it is going to look. There will be announcements made about where to be depending on your comfort level. Once we take the building, the working groups of the move-in assembly will be available to join, and help set up our new social center.

5. What are the defense strategies if the police come to evict us after we have moved in?
The defense strategies are being worked out and they will take into consideration a diversity of tactics: in other words, some people are more comfortable with an aggressive stance while others are not. Nobody will be trapped in the building unwillingly during the festival and clear announcements will be made before the building is locked down against the police.
We have created zones that make it clear where passive resistance can take place as well as more confrontational tactics. These zones have been decided as part of the open Move-In Assemblies at OGP. The current plan is as such: 1) Inside the building, barricading the doors and holding them to prevent the police from entering; 2) In front of the doors as the police try to enter, sitting down, locking arms; 3) In the streets around the building,: active resistance against the police. We also understand that it is every individual’s right to defend themselves and if the police are being violent towards us we respect peoples decisions regardless of the zone that they are in. It goes without saying that there will be areas outside of any police operation perimeter where those who don’t feel comfortable with any of the above can be to act as witnesses to whatever situation develops. Please try to move in groups as there is power in numbers and this will make us less vulnerable to the police.

6. Will there be families with children there? What about their safety?
This is a family friendly event. The Occupy Oakland Children’s Village will be on the Move-In March. Before we reach our target they will brake-off and hang out at a nearby location. Once the building has been secured and the festival begins the children, their families and allies will come and join us.

7. How will the building be a safe and welcoming space for the Occupy Oakland Community?
After much discussion, the Move-In Assembly has decided on Guidelines for Exclusion:

Suggested Community Standards:


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