pandoradeloeste (pandoradeloeste) wrote,

Memories of Occupy SF/Oakland/Cal

- trying to sleep outside in front of 101 Market with Jim next to me and a husky on my feet
- working in the food tent at Occupy SF (multiple occasions, notably that time before meeting with people for fondue)
- being kettled in JHP on December 7, calling family from inside, seeing everyone run to my right while talking to Papi and watching the police get 500% more tense when they did (dude with a sign got beaten up); people lobbing granola bars and water bottles into the kettle; people surrounding the cops; the SFFD ambulance that finally arrived after a half-hour and put the beaten-up guy on a stretcher; beaten-up guy yelling his name at the top of his lungs as he was carried off; the mini-GA we had in the kettle to discuss the deal we were offered; mic-checking what was essentially "the cops can take their deal and shove it" to the larger crowd
- pedaling the bikes hooked up to deep-cycle batteries to recharge them
- cutting vegetables and making salad in one of those big tubs that laundry detergent comes in, while dusk fell on November 2 at Occupy Oakland
- watching Livestreams of Occupy Boston at midnight, displacing Laila to better watch the cops move in
- the impromptu guitar/drum/flute jam with Portuguese occupiers in a makeshift tent after an Occupy SF march; trying to dance and not displace people while it poured outside
- November 7 at Occupy Cal; I bought a small bottle of milk in case of pepper spray (I was still doing that back then, now I don't bother); the drum jam where I hung out because I figured cops wouldn't mess with musicians; sleeping in front of the symbolic tent; getting let into a building to use the bathroom; getting woken up because a cop was walking past with a camcorder; watching sleepy people get interviewed by Channel 7 and Univisión in the morning, and the anchors praising them once the cameras were off; getting driven home by a cabbie who wouldn't stop talking about how much he supported Occupy and I think "forgot" to turn on his meter until we were halfway home
- first FTP march, sitting on the steps watching people dressed in black gather in front of the BART station, the drum jam using the bike lockers, Momo stage-diving, knitting, me and my bubbles trying desperately to look nonviolent while people burned flags and flipped off the riot cops on the other side of 14th Street
- a wall of riot cops running at me at 8th and Clay
- dance party in front of the OPD headquarters during the March 18 solidarity march (after OWS got the shit kicked out of it); finally hearing the "Shake Them Dreads" song; seeing the two Captain America cosplayers dancing with each other
- carrying a banner that said "not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck the police", chanting "we are all Kali", "we are all Oscar Grant", "we are all Truth"
- learning to say "hella" non-ironically
- Occupy Patriarchy and the Glitter Bloc
- Vicky and Fei and [someone else] at the Holdout, bravely holding space for all of us to lose our shit
- seeing Omar for the first time and realizing who he is, and getting a little starstruck; later realizing that he's an asshole (but still not a terrorist or a cop)
- sitting with Sean, Enrique, Naomi, Alyssa, and Marcia during the vigil, talking crazy shit, night getting colder and colder, sun coming up and sky going dark blue, then gray, then blue again when the sun came up all the way and burned off the fog; Sean sitting on my knitting because I had a lot of blanket done by that point and it made a good cushion
- sitting in Wiley Manuel Courthouse waiting for Rasta's case to be called, next to someone (Susie Cagle?) drawing the judge dying by an axe or anvil to the head
- knitting gloves for Ali. All. Fucking. Winter.
- seeing Ali and Laleh wearing some of the gloves I made :-)
- the whole GA swarming over to where Jesus was being harassed by cops to surround him and chant "cops go home"; after they left, chanting "na na na na, hey hey, good-bye"
- After first FTP march, Keef and [wife with gray/purple hair and an American flag] escorting me and two other drunk guys to 7-11, all of us strung out on various combinations of adrenaline, pot, and alcohol; giving my water to a sweetheart of a dog one of the drunk guys had; drunk guys and Keef niffling along behind us, [wife] and me muttering about herding cats; Keef refusing to let me out of his sight until my cab got there; bought him a malt beverage of some kind as thank-you
- Staying overnight at 19th and Telegraph on 11/19; serving soup and bread with the French lady who lives in Jack London Square; Rasta coming back with Marcia with a knee the size of a softball because a cop had rammed his car into them; Rasta getting close to fighting with [Kali?] and French lady and I going "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE FOOD TABLE YOU DUMBASSES"; Elle ordering Rasta to stay still and elevate his knee; rambling on about cops beating protesters in effigy by beating their tents while a journalism student recorded me (oh dear god that shit is on tape somewhere now); community member dude coming up and asking to speak to someone in charge, then going off on the dude who elected himself a representative; Rasta freaking out because Marcia had gone somewhere on his bike and hadn't checked in
- Getting doughnuts and coffee with Enrique from a donor at death o'clock; finding out that Marcia was pregnant, arguing about the wisdom of having a relationship/getting pregnant in the middle of Occupy (Enrique thought she had been unwise because ppl need to maintain focus; I said ppl's needs don't stop being needs just because there's a revolution going on)
- one of the musicians at Occupy Cal playing "Santería" on his guitar and everyone singing along, all off-key and punchy because it was 4:00 AM.
- Chris approaching me because of my Wicked Grounds shirt, explaining Can I Hit Dat Dough guy
- Sean and his staff Erin (the staff is gone now)
- Naomi's boundless quiet strength and energy, even after a month of roughing it in the plaza
- buying cigarettes and Sharpies and peanut butter for the vigil, being a n00b about buying tobacco products, asking for the loose tobacco and papers because it was more cost-effective
- waiting for the bus on 10/25, woozy because the Sudafed had worn off and I needed to go home and have a cold in peace, finding out that tear gas was being used because of a bystander running up to his friends out of breath and telling them about it
- Zack Running Wolf and his obsessive need to smudge everything and everyone in sight
- cops driving by the vigil really slowly to intimidate us several times during the night, Chris and Melvin screaming at them and reaching absurd levels of street theatre towards the end of the night
- Jasmine the puppeh tethered to the banister of the steps of OGP, teething and gnawing on everything she could reach, and the older golden retriever playing with her and tolerating Jasmine beating her up occasionally; Pirate taking care of her
- Jim looking like an entirely different person from when I saw hir at Folsom Street Fair; stubbled, dressed in camo, thinner (!), getting names of people at sit-ins, generally being HBIC-y
- Jim cuffing hirself to the door of B of A on 1/20
- Jim with a pirate flag on 1/14 at Wells Fargo; blocking the fire engine into the parking lot with hir; finding out later that Wicked Grounds had opened back up (OMG!!!) and being sad that I couldn't text hir to tell hir about it.
- Elle and her boyfriend being way too adorable for words on Twitter; Elle being cuted by the fact that her boyfriend said he loved her for her mind, and bought her a black helmet with a red cross to protect it.
- the ASL interpreter on 12/12 who gamely tried to interpret a rap song about Oscar Grant (mad props to her)
- Going to Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe for dinner between GA and the solidarity march, looking up from my book and tuna melt and seeing that the booths along the wall had all been Occupied; being too shy to get my stuff and go sit with them, but loving it because it felt like the last shot of a "Sopranos" season finale minus the cigars and organized crime

News reports and history books are going to condense the events of the past six months (and probably the next six too) down to discrete actions and tactics. October 25. The wave of camp shutdowns across the country. January 28. Black Bloc vs. nonviolence. Port shutdowns. General strikes. If a politician name-checks Occupy during a big speech. These images are things that no report or book is going to bother with because nobody important was there, because it doesn't fit the narrative they're interested in telling, because they don't have time or space for it, or because it didn't serve any larger purpose. And to some extent, maybe they shouldn't. As much as we support each other, and as much as the processes and tactics we engage in are deeply personal, Occupy isn't about individuals. It's about collective power and sleeping giants and big amorphous masses of people that a news helicopter can't completely fit into one shot. These individuals I've named and the weirdly intimate snapshots that I remember are mostly irrelevant to any narrative at all except my personal one, but if I don't record them, they're going to get swallowed up in the official narratives and I won't remember them later. I need to remember this stuff. This is what makes Occupy come alive for me, not marches or actions or accounts of which camp was raided when. This is why I do what I do.
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