Occupy Berkeley's Growing Tent City Occupied Saturday at Civic Center by Peaceful Bay Area Teachers; But How Long Will Peaceful Vibes Last?
A dozen bay area teachers, joining Occupy Berkeley, engaged in a peaceful "grade-in" Saturday at Berkeley's Martin Luther King Civic Center, but a growing tent city in the park could clash with the city if grounds maintenance problems are not solved.
Occupy's tent city (now 18 tents) is presently blocking the city's lawn watering in the park, according to Russell Bates, a member of the protest's health and safety committee, who conducted a camp meeting prior to the grade-in.
A defiant Bates refused to move the tent encampment (temporarily, and return) to give the city a chance to water. Saying that the artificial grass could not be protected anyway, Bates proclaimed "we won't move."
The teacher grade-in was announced as a lawn watering party, as well, but Bates' pleas at general assemblies last week, to "bring your watering cans," was not heeded.
The question of camping permits was met with a slogan heard often at planning meetings—"we don't need permission to occupy."
An overnight camper was credited with driving off a marauder, who threatened to destroy the encampment the preceding night. The camp's savior is being hailed as a hero.
At nearby Occupy Oakland, a camper who reportedly threatened others last week was himself beaten, and driven from the encampment at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, where a clash with police over a city-issued eviction notice looms.
As of now, the Berkeley chapter of the international anti-Wall-Street protest is one of the Bay Area's most peaceful. To keep it that way, a member of the general assembly, which met for the first time at the park Sunday (6 p.m. nightly), proposed "that a zero tolerance for physical, psychological, or emotional violence be adopted by this assembly for all participants."
Past general assemblies have endorsed a non-violent philosophy for the Berkeley branch of Occupy, USA.
Saturday's grade-in was so peaceful, it was difficult to stifle a yawn. Most of the twenty teachers who showed up to grade papers were too busy sharing the suffering of paper grading to address the rape of the economy by Wall-Street. There were no speeches.
Sponsored by the Oakland Education Association, and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, the grade-in was an opportunity for the public to relive its school days and hang out with some cool teachers.
Blair Mosner, from Berkeley High School, who organized the event, while expressing her dissatisfaction with corporate greed in the face of public deprivation, complained about education cuts, which threaten our schools.
But most teachers told me they feel lucky to have the teaching jobs they do. Monica Lee, who has been trying to get a teaching job for four years, told of her frustrations over not getting a job.
A partial list of teacher-participants follows: Blair Mosner, Berkeley High School; John Tobias, BHS, World History; John Fox, Foothill College, Sociology; Kamau Birago, De Anza College, sociology; Miles Murray—a facilitator at Occupy Berkeley—Castlemont High School, English, and Laura Calligan, Head-Royce Academy, Oakland, Spanish.
A contingent from the Graduate Theological Union showed up with its own tent.
Every teacher told stories that revealed a deep devotion to teaching.
Ted Friedman has been lured downtown (away from People's Park and the Med) by an international protest movement.