Occupy 18th and Linden
[Last night at the Occupy Oakland GA,] “some young cats made an announcement; There was an open lot on the corner of 18th and Linden st in West Oakland. They had been in contact with the owner, and the land is $5000 behind on it’s taxes and scheduled for foreclosure…
The moment we hit the site, I and others started tweeting: “18th & LINDEN IS HELLA OCCUPIED! They need tents, tarps, porta potties, suppplies!” …The plan (I think) is for them to make it the first 30 days, then they become common-law tenants under California law. If the bank wants to evict them, the bank has to demonstrate that it actually owns the mortgage on the land. And with the debacle that is the “Mortgage Backed Securities”, banks have a hard time demonstrating in court that they actually own title to the land. Quite often the mortgage has been sliced up and the slices have been sold and resold. And IN ORDER TO GET AN EVICTION NOTICE THE BANK HAS TO PRODUCE A PIECE OF PAPER DEMONSTRATING THAT THEY HOLD TITLE TO THE LAND IN THE FIRST PLACE!
The occupiers have voted to be a no-alcohol camp. They saw what it did to the energy of the last camp at OPG. Reefer? This is Oakland. The herb is not to source of problems in these parts. As I tweeted, “18th & Linden is #OccupyOakland, not #OccupyAggro” They really seem to have a strategy, and FUCK I WANNA SUPPORT THAT! Camping is the tactic, FUCK THE BANKS WHERE THEY FUCKING LIVE AND BREATH is what I see as a big part of the streategy. BUT FUCK, WE FINALLY HAVE A COHERENT STRATEGY TO ATTACH THE TACTICS TO! Fight foreclosures and suddenly millions of Americans are reassessing their opinion of Oakland. And this model (or the one that evolves out of this experience) is replicable ALL OVER THE FUCKING PLACE.
Snow Park occupiers barely had enough time to nurse a hangover of cynicism and depression before Chris M., a young occupier, and a few others, presented the new plot at 18th and Linden.
Chris, who lives in West Oakland, had already put in the research. He’d seen an empty lot in the area, and, inspired by the anti-foreclosure occupations he’d heard about in Georgia, started digging around trying to find information about the owner. Discovering that it was in foreclosure proceedings, he went to the assessor’s office, found the information of the owner and discussed the idea of occupation with her.
Though she’s not a great supporter of the Occupy movement, or the idea of occupation, she invited Chris and others to come and do what they could to prevent the foreclosure out of simple desperation.
While there is a committee that formed at OO to do just this kind of foreclosure defense, 19th and Linden happened outside of it and organically, a product of Chris’ footwork and populated by newly evicted Snow park occupiers, like Ryan. Ryan, who’d been occupying Snow since its inception, was sitting on the lawn this morning when Chris and others arrived and told him and others about the new occupation on a foreclosed property. Later, Chris and other new occupiers presented the occupation at the GA, followed by a mild rebuke to the sitting members of the assembly to “get off their ass” and start doing likewise. By 10 pm, there were thirty bodies ready to hold down the lot.
While the occupation is apparently legal, Ryan worried about the police and city using similar tactics as they had in Ogawa, making lists of infractions to create an argument for their eviction.
But many things will be different here. The new camp already sports a central entry point—a hole in a chain link fence—which allows a certain level of control over who enters the space [not necessarily good, in my opinion, but more manageable]. The camp has been deemed drug and alcohol free. Outreach to neighbors has already begun, with much positive feedback, especially because the purpose of the occupation is such an obvious crowd pleaser in a part of town that has been experiencing a long and withering assault on African American property ownership for years. And many of the issues that plagued the camp—such as the ban on open flame cooking—are perfectly okay in a backyard [and yes, there’s no good reason for that].