Berkeley’s homeless residents staged a protest march on Wednesday, October 23rd, starting at the Seabreeze encampment on University Ave and West Frontage road and ending at Berkeley City Hall. The purpose of the march was to bring attention to the cruelty of what I will call the “homeless shuffle,” the process by which agencies such as CalTrans, the Berkeley Police Department, and Amtrak take turns forcing people to move from corner to corner, and disposing of all their personal property in the process.
Food Not Bombs has been serving meals at People’s Park five days a week since 1991. And as the Park commemorates its 50th anniversary, Food Not Bombs is celebrating 39 years serving meals to the hungry. In honor of this shared anniversary, Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry shares his project’s origin story.
I have seen something quite remarkable start to develop over the last few months. In the face of increased pressure on working people to find decent housing, some of the most hard-pressed people in the Bay Area have not only been standing their ground against threats of eviction—they are also traveling across neighborhoods to support comrades in other struggles doing the same.
More than 5,000 protesters marched in Oakland on May Day to call for economic justice, full human rights for immigrants and poor people, and to demand an end to corporate greed and bank bail-outs. Demonstrators represented Occupy Oakland, immigrant rights organizations, anti-war activists, faith groups and labor unions.
Thousands of marchers protested the unjust gap between rich and poor by nonviolently disrupting Wells Fargo’s shareholders meeting in San Francisco. They confronted bank executives about Wells Fargo’s role in the country’s financial crisis, the high number of foreclosures that reduce families to homelessness, and the bank’s investment in private prisons.
A powerful spirit was in the air at the Oakland rally, for we came together to speak out for the voiceless, for the children too young to attend, for the seniors who are housebound, for those incapacitated by illness who cannot leave their beds, for disabled people who need in-home attendants
Firings because of immigration status do irreparable harm to workers and to their communities. Immigrant workers didn’t cause the unemployment that plagues millions. They didn’t close a single plant. Big corporations did. They didn’t cause the economic recession or foreclose on anyone’s home. Big banks did.
West Coast social justice groups protested Big Finance’s theft of billions of tax dollars, home foreclosures, attacks on unions, and record rates of criminalization of poor and homeless people. After marching on the union-busting Hyatt Hotel and corporate financier Charles Schwab, masses of protesters successfully shut down Wells Fargo bank.
Homeless youth led a colorful protest at Berkeley City Hall, displaying scores of prayer flags in an appeal for compassion for homeless people targeted by a sitting-ban proposal. The Stand Up For The Right To Sit Down coalition scored at least a temporary victory by sending this proposal “to limbo.”