On January 9, Qilombo members were locked out of the community social center they’ve maintained for over four years. The space—which members have patronized without a lease since 2016— offered neighborhood residents a reading library, educational programs, computer access, meals, a garden next door, and more. It hosted music and arts gatherings as well as countless politically radical events on behalf of those effected by police violence, prisoners, and other marginalized peoples from across the country and around the world.
At 4 a.m. on December 28, the University of California cut down 40 trees in People’s Park, arguing that they endangered public safety, or at least blocked the light. The “long-deferred maintenance”, as a UC Berkeley statement describes it, was initiated without any warning to neighbors, park supporters, and community members. In the weeks since, the University’s demolition of the trees has continued—as of the end of January, they have cut down at least 42 trees.
On January 15, UC Berkeley police and officers from other campuses swooped down on People’s Park early in the morning to oust a small encampment that had been set up to stop the cutting of trees at the park. Six people were arrested.
Tim Nishibori disappears into the depths of his cramped but cavernous shack, which sits near the end of a strip of trailers and tents in West Oakland. His gray pit bull, Lady, plays hostess, entertaining me with enthusiastic kisses by the makeshift gate as Nishibori rummages around. Eventually, he emerges with two chairs, and invites me into his home. “Sorry about the mess,” he says