J.C. Orton, the new director of the Street Spirit vendor program, received this letter from a female vendor on Father’s Day. It is a testimony to the caring spirit behind Orton’s work with the vendors, and the way he has revitalized the program to better serve the homeless community.
Growing up I didn’t have the privilege of going to a dentist. My parents couldn’t afford it and my parent’s employers would never offer us dental coverage, nor would I ever qualify for help under a public program. Now, my oral hygiene is in poor health because I couldn’t afford dental care.
In voting to place this discriminatory sitting ban on the November ballot, the Berkeley City Council has betrayed the very concept of equal rights for all. Laws that banish certain groups of people from public spaces — whether based on appearance, economic class, or race — are modern-day segregation decrees, plain and simple.
Violent action will not panic the power-holders, but it will push away the general populace. Power-holders, in fact, love it, because it gives them an excuse to destroy movements. Social change depends not on creating chaos and social disorder, but on mobilizing the power of the people for change.
Both Sweden and Norway suffered horrendous poverty when the 1 percent was in charge. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a right, and created a system of full employment.
The federal government is about to remove the cap that limits the amount of rent that can be charged to the poorest of the poor. Yet, there are no caps on how much money the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry can grab for their often excessively high salaries and wage compensation.
After all of these years of police repression in People’s Park, is it not glaringly apparent that the City of Berkeley treats People’s Park like a pariah, and University of California officials would just as soon get out the tear gas and the truncheons?
University of Calfornia officials are trying to erase history. The incursion is a test to see if the People will hold this place as the sacred ground we liberated from the folly of UC officials in 1969 and have held all these years. Bulldozing is not user development.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee admits that “economic disparity and joblessness” are major problems, so why does he condone the police raids on OccupySF? Squelching legitimate protest is not going to make these problems go away. Only the creation of jobs and better housing will begin to end these ills.
Nonviolent direct action clearly dramatizes the difference between the corrupt values of the system and the values we stand for. Their institutions silence dissent while we value every voice. They employ violence to maintain their system while we counter it with the sheer courage of our presence.
We have another kind of power, though the term nonviolence only defines what it is not. Some call it people power. It works. It’s powerful. It’s changed and it’s changing the world. We’re unconventionally dangerous, because we’re not threatening physical violence but the transformation of the system (and its violence).
From the Great Depression to the present day, many artists have expressed solidarity with the 99% against the monopolized wealth of the ruling elites. Art has been a powerful catalyst for building solidarity with workers and poor people because the artists saw themselves as workers and poor people.