Day 4:As Berkeley Anti-Wall Street Protest Aligns With National Occupation Movement, Some Locals Feeling Squeezed
It looks official; the Berkeley branch of the anti-Wall Street movement has branded itself "Occupy Berkeley"--a marketing concept to make it convenient to find your local Bank of America. Now you can pick the occupation movement nearest you.
And some, but not all veterans of Berkeley's often fractious activist community are feeling squeezed out.
Aware of this, one of the founders of Occupy Berkeley, who continues to oppose the idea that he is a leader, vows to give the locals a voice. But to influence "Occupy," you must know and play by the (franchise) rules, the non-leader says.
"Occupy" has a rhythm and flow of its own--new to Berkeley radicals, some of whom, like Larry Vigilari, a People's Park activist, and Russell Bates (of Occupy's health and safety committee) welcome it for its efficiency.
Bates may be the only protester occupying Bank of America Plaza around the clock. He reported that ten occupied BA plaza overnight from Monday to Tuesday. Every “general assembly” (daily meeting) includes an appeal for supplies and participants who will sleep-in.
In a significant development, Lupe Fiasco, a star hip-hop artist, who appeared at the Occupy Oakland protest and at the Fox Theater has offered to fund Occupy Oakland.
He called one of the Occupy Berkeley protesters during the general assembly, saying, "get any supplies you need, and I'll pick up the bill."
Both Michael M. and Mike Delacour (Delacour kick-started the BA action last week from the People's Park stage), while supporting the national opposition to Wall Street, worry about the lack of local influence. Delacour, who returned from Sacramento to attend last night's 6 p.m. general assembly, favors what he calls a "self-deterministic" dialectic over the "consensus" approach of Occupy Berkeley.
Another Michael M. (not Delacour) is suspicious of the motives and wisdom of Adbuster Magazine's Micah M. White, founder of the national anti-Wall Street movement, whom Michael M. thinks is naive about the culture of Berkeley. Michael M. is particularly critical of White's appearance at what was to have been a Delacour-led planning meeting Saturday at BA, in which White ignited the protest ahead of Delacour's schedule.
According to Michael M. "Doesn't White know that occupying the Oxford Street campus area would have brought down the university police? And White's idea to occupy the Northside median on Shattuck to protest Chez Panisse was insane. The whole thing was a charade."
White's "charade" ideas never got off the ground, though, perhaps because they lacked the consensus of White's own consensus politics.
The official call to align with the national Occupy movement and not to align with unions, the Communist Party, the Black Panthers, etc. was read by Liz Faustate, a Cal student, who emphasized that Occupy welcomes the support of such groups but "they must come to us and join our protest; we will not go to them."
But does this mean Occupy Berkeley will not align with Berkeley causes? Time will tell.
Any Berkeley activists who want to recommend their causes to Occupy Berkeley will need to attend the 6 p.m. general assembly meetings, and make a proposal briefly, after being recognized by the "facilitator." There is a different facilitator each day.
Facilitators (there are five or six at present) form a facilitator's committee, open to all protesters.
Let's call this new generation of movement leaders facilitators. Now will someone please tell me what is the difference between a leader and a facilitator?
The Planet will be doing weekly wrap-up pieces over the weekends. In the meantime, follow our daily updates.
Ted Friedman will be covering Occupy Berkeley until "Hell freezes over."