Re-Occupy!

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Occupy Portland's attempt to reoccupy another public space on Saturday December 3rd, 2011[1] got off to a rocky start. Indeed, Portland Police clad in paramilitary style riot gear began chasing protesters from Shemanski Fountain, OP's fledgling reoccupation site, at about 9:00 p.m., merely four hours after protesters ended their march through downtown Portland and assembled there. The remaining mass of protesters took to the streets and marched to City Hall, where one brave protester climbed onto the City Hall roof, erected a tent there, and waiting several hours while the police and fire department fumblingly attempted to remove him/her. After a confrontation with police, protesters marched to Right 2 Dream Too's encampment on NW 4th Avenue and West Burnside Street, then circled around back to Shemanski Park, where they re-re-occupied the park en masse. Police were then ordered to leave the Shemanski Park occupiers alone, as they had realized that keeping traffic open for marchers was more of a hassle than ignoring them in a disused park typically only frequented at night by drug dealers and homeless people.

With temperatures plummeting to near-freezing and no tents to break the chill breeze, or indication that a full reoccupation would resume (all 20 tents having been removed and/or destroyed during the violent police eviction), the numbers of occupiers dwindled to about 20 by Sunday morning.

Sunday evening saw another setback, when local drug dealers began fighting with occupiers for encroaching on what had been for many years their turf. Occupiers were not interested in fighting drug dealers and departed for a time.

Monday morning saw two more individuals detained who were at Shemanski Park[1], though it is unclear from the Oregonian article if they were protesters or not.

Monday evening, a large group of protesters were at Shemanski Park. Police had promised to enforce park curfew ordinances at 9pm.

These numerous setback did not dampened enthusiasm throughout the Occupy Movement for reclaiming public space. The remainder of this article hopes to evolve into a planning document for doing just that. While that's taking shape, it's also worthwhile to consider proposals, ideas and plans already circulating within and outside the movement.

Events

The Occupy Wall Street movement has extended its focus to include spaces that the banks are trying to empty. Go here for some remarkable victories that have already happened. This Tuesday, December 6th is an escalation of that new focus with a national day of action against foreclosures with events happening all over the country, including Portland.
The drive to stop foreclosures and squat bank property marks a radical shift from the occupation of public space to the public repossession of private property.

Spatial Deconcentration

The story of a covert US Government housing policy - conceived in the aftermath of the 1960s ghetto riots - to remove concentrations of potentially rebellious Blacks and other poor people from the inner city and disperse them in small groups to the suburbs.
“Spatial deconcentration theory has since been a subject of hot debate among some urban scholars, anarchists, and activists. It is a set of housing, economic development, and land-use policies designed to disperse low-income populations. Deconcentration of the poor is achieved through slum clearance, aggressive tax collection, and code enforcement resulting in foreclosure or condemnation of slum buildings. Section 8 Certificate and Voucher programs, which encourage relocation by providing the poor with portable housing allowances, is a more recent spatial deconcentration tactic. Since the targets of such policies are often poor minorities, theorists speculate that the policies' goal is to re-establish white, middle-class dominance in the inner-cities. Although spatial deconcentration theory did not surface until 1980, it has implications that relate to the inner city abandonment that escalated after the Kerner Commission released its 1968 report. The theory also provides an explanation for the slum clearance and urban renewal policies of earlier decades.”
This article is based on material that is publicly available, especially the "Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civic Disturbances," known as the Kerner Commission Report. However, it is also based on materials not publicly available, specifically a number of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) files which Ms. Ward and her collaborators apparently stole from the HUD office in Washington, D.C. Spatial Deconcentration was first published as part of a collection of notes for a national housing activists' conference held in Washington, D.C. No more than 500 copies were made at that time. Shortly after this first publication, Ms. Ward and two associates were accosted on a Washington street one night by two well-dressed white men, who singled out Ms. Ward from her two friends, ordered her at gunpoint to lie face down in the street, and then shot her in the back of the head. The documents she and her friends allegedly stole from HUD have never been published, nor are they included here.
(Medley of article snippets related to spatial deconcentration.)

External Links

About: The recent “housing crisis” is neither new as a social phenomenon nor is it an isolated instance of poor decision making or “risky investment strategy” on the part of captains of the financial and housing industries. Rather, these incidents -- the creation and “collapse” of the housing “bubble,” the implosion of lending and mortgage companies, and the mass home foreclosures and disenfranchisement of the poor -- are merely the most recent chapters in a long history of systematic oppression of the majority population by an elite ruling class. This site was created to facilitate autonomous reclamation of vacant land, providing access to safe shelter for all members of the community, with the belief that the solution to housing problems is community control of the land/community determination of housing.
They have evicted us from our homes, from our apartments, from the streets where our homeless try to find rest. And this week, they even tried to evict us from the public spaces where we have a right to assemble and speak our voices freely. But you just can’t evict an idea–yes, one whose time has definitely come. It’s time to Liberate ourselves from the occupation of our communities by banks and a government that only serves the 1%. And it is time to organize for our occupation everywhere. In those vacant spaces throughout the city, in our foreclosed homes. To actualize the human right to a home through our collective direct action. To rebuild our communities with love and solidarity. To rebuild our democracy with passion and collective strength.
PTH's Homeless Organizing Academy is a weekly series of FREE trainings, open to all homeless and formerly-homeless people, designed for them to get the skills and experience they'll need to fight for justice—and pursue employment as community organizers!
Occupy must stay occupied in public spaces. Lets face this issue head on. Americans do not trust or respect the government anymore. And for good reason. The marriage of corporations and government agencies has removed the citizens ability to control either the politicians they elect or the legislation that those politicians pass. This means that to create any real change many Americans have decided to simply take the streets. Since Occupy Wall St. began on Sept 17th we’ve seen real political issues finally come to the forefront of national attention. Issues such as corporate personhood, wealth inequality, the wars, the war on drugs, immigrant rights, universal education, universal healthcare, and class warfare. That being said we have many detractors both inside and outside the movement that would love for Occupy to become a “legit” organization. These detractors will often say that camping solves nothing and that in order to further the agenda we must incorporate and begin courting politicians. They couldn't be farther from the truth.

See Also

References