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daredtowork

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Member since: Tue Aug 19, 2014, 11:02 PM
Number of posts: 3,732

Journal Archives

Berkeley "I Can't Breathe" Noose Hung by Artist Collective

As it turns out, the students who guessed that this was an "artistic gesture" in the tradition of Banksy and Basquiat were right:



Berkleyside, who has been closely following this issue, just posted an "artist's statement":

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/12/13/effigy-hung-from-sather-gate-before-berkeley-protest-march/



This post is an update for the original post here:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025955939

I have mixed feelings about this.
If black people made the statement, then it's a comment on their own history, not racism.
They made the comment in THE iconic "place of free speech".

The potential for inciting violence/rioting/looting in this context, right before the Oakland Black Lives Matter Million March was pretty high, though. Was that message/intent deliberate?

Effigy in Noose Hung from Berkeley's Sather Gate before Protest March

I posted this in GD yesterday but had to post-and-run because I was on my way to the big Black Lives Matter Million March in Oakland.

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/12/13/effigy-hung-from-sather-gate-before-berkeley-protest-march/

This is a serious symbolic act, whether it was done by a prankster, a protest provocateur, or a member of the KKK. Sather Gate marks the entrance to the UC Berkeley plaza where the Free Speech Movement started: that gate/plaza is the symbol of student activism and protest in Berkeley. It's also associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

Here's the link the GD post, but I don't think it really matters since no one apparently noticed it:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025955939

"Protester" Hung by Noose at Berkeley Before #BlackLivesMatter Oakland Million March

This mystery is now solved. Update post here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025961302




Well this won't incite anything...

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/12/13/effigy-hung-from-sather-gate-before-berkeley-protest-march/

I am adding a link to the student newspaper Daily Cal article because I think it is useful to see the student/community comments: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/12/13/effigy-apparent-lynching-hung-sather-gate-saturday-morning/


[Thanks marym625 for explaining how easy it is to post a picture!]


UPDATE:
While Oakland's Black Lives Matter Million March was awesome and peaceful (probably because police kept their distance and thus didn't provide authority symbols for mutual provocation), there were mass arrests later that night. It's unclear from the Twitter stream why that happened. But I would venture to guess it's because the police made their presence more known to keep a sense of law and order going on at night. Their presence encouraged the anarchists to come out and rebel against them. (Edit: it looks like the target of vandalism was a Whole Foods grocery, many blocks away from the main protest site downtown. Btw, Whole Foods has often been involved in labor/unionizing disputes.)

Then the police started a pattern I just don't understand. Instead of simply arresting the vandals and looters, the police go after protesters everywhere. They become terrorists against people just trying to protest (including witness like reporters, livestreamers, and lawyer/observers). The police herd protesters indiscriminately into "kettles" where they await arrest. One person on Twitter described the experience of being arrested this way:

Getting arrested is an incredible dehumanizing and emotionally violent action. It's more than getting "detained"
(sorry, I lost the attribution)


Perhaps this is a good "teach in" for the entire racial profiling issue, though. If one race is being subjected to arrest in greater proportions to another, then they are being subjected to the above experience in greater proportions.

Anyway, the police even ambushed and started arresting people who were dancing at the main protest site in the center of downtown.

Huh?

Okay, Oakland PD. What about "you are under scrutiny" do you not get here? Why are you not *just arresting the vandals and the looters"???!!! This pattern has been going on all week, and all this lunacy does is just escalate the tensions. There seems to be almost a determined effort to NOT understand what this protest is all about when the police just sneak out in jackboot mode in the night and return to behaving as usual.



This video shows the level of police force (watch it to the end) being used to herd random protesters after the "march for media consumption" was over.

The Vanishing Male Worker (Does This Just Apply to Men?!)

I thought this was a good article about why the economy based on mcjobs and gig jobs and holiday temp jobs isn't actually a recovering economy: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/12/upshot/unemployment-the-vanishing-male-worker-how-america-fell-behind.html

But in a way it's a sexist article. Over the last few decades, as more and more women have entered the work place and assumed careers, work has become an important part of their identity, too. Today a lot of women remain unmarried, get divorced, or choose non-heterosexual partnerships. These women lost their jobs in the economic meltdown, too. These women may also feel like society doesn't need them any more, and they have no worth or dignity, if they end up on SSI or dependent on their partner.

This is a really great article. I just think it needs to be updated for the modern era to show that the current economy is an attack on individual autonomy, and that includes the independent, autonomous woman, too.

Signed,

An independent woman of dignity and worth,
who is trying to get back into the mainstream workforce after a long period of disability.

I Was Going to Dispute the "White, Liberal Berkeley" Meme, But, Hmmm...

One of the interesting things that keeps coming up about the Berkeley Protests is that it's a bunch of "White liberals"...so #BlackLivesMatter/Police Brutality protests there are not as authentic as protests in neighboring Oakland, which traditionally has a larger Black community (though I've heard it's been shifting toward Hispanic/Latino in recent years because of gentrification) and a fraught history of crime and notable police brutality. I read somewhere that on the first day a journalist at a White House press conference asked a baffled Press Secretary why "White liberal" Berkeley was causing such a fuss.

The thing that's been bothering me about this is when I moved to Berkeley many years ago, it wasn't that Berkeley was "White" so much is it was de facto financially segregated. The Black part of Berkeley was West Berkeley, the poorer part of town. I have been under the impression that Berkeley had a thriving Black community because I live at the edge of West Berkeley. The Black community is my neighborhood. I see them in them in the local coffee houses, corner stores, and weekend flea markets. I see Black students walking to and from the school across the street. Before Berkeley began "cleaning up the area" around a decade ago, the poverty in this area was a lot more visible: there were liquor stores and crack dens. Peoples homes (including my own) were burglarized on a regular basis. This area of Berkeley looked like the stereotype of Oakland.

I assumed that as the liquor stores disappeared, and drug addicts stopped roaming the streets, that meant the area was being lifted out of poverty in some way. I should have known better because one of my main political causes, which I've been bringing regularly to DU, is how the reality of poverty is being covered up by thin layers of political propaganda and feelgood middle-class-targeted mainstream media stories about "job growth" and "economic improvement". Those left trapped underneath trapped underneath this shiny veneer are just left to die without a source of oxygen: no one sees them and no one cares.

I thought the media was depicting Berkeley as a "White liberal" place because of the University, which more or less dominates the city: when I was a student the University had great difficulty attracting Black students, and the percentage was miniscule. I'm sure they've improved, but probably not by much. I was sure if I brought up the demographics of the actual city, that would bring about a correction to the stereotype.

Well, it seems I was wrong. According to the 2010 Census, Berkeley is overwhelmingly White:
White 66,996 (out of a total population of 112,580)
African American 11,241
Asian 21,690

So while Berkeley's primarily White residents have recently become more and more vociferous about gentrification and displacement, Black residents have silently been moving out for a while. My perception of the area getting "safer" and "poverty decreasing" may have just been the fact that Berkeley's policies - such as reducing the availability of low income housing, have been successful in quietly encouraging Black people to move elsewhere.

I also have a pamphlet called the 2014-15 East Bay Economic Outlook. Under the topic of Demographics/Population Composition (Age and Race) it discusses the general 1.8% decrease in the Black/African American population (including Oakland). The article attributes the problem to rising rents caused by gentrification. But it can also secretly be attributed to the fact that there is no adequate welfare system ($336/month loan for 3 months out of the year with many "errors" and unbelievable paperwork hassle, plus welfare fraud investigators all over you?) to cover the gaps between irregular work during times of low employment. That is the backdoor way of encouraging the Black population to move elsewhere. Those on fixed incomes are also encourage to move elsewhere. A population under siege that is just trying to defend themselves and survive gets painted as criminal and hunted by the police. Slowly Oakland's Black population is thinned, and nice White and Asian people start to move into the rehabilitated "cleaned up" downtown. (Now hung with flower baskets).

It seems to me the Political Powers That Be have been playing a game of "how long can we get away with this?" - i.e., could they quietly get the Black people out while it looked like they were doing other things (like hanging flower baskets) before people actually noticed that's what they were doing?

Because this is the sort of problem that arises from poverty, and that is a problem imposed from so many directions that it's hard to point a finger without being called "conspiratorial", the victims of this travesty have largely been powerlessness. That powerlessness has built up into unreleased stress and free-floating anger over time.

Perhaps the broiling over in "White liberal" Berkeley isn't as authentic as Oakland, but it is coming from some of the same pressures: the stresses that have apparently SECRETLY and QUIETLY been driving Blacks out of West Berkeley for a decade now have crept up on other races, including Whites, and they are expressing that knowledge by showing their belated support now. It sucks that the support is belated. There needs to be more fairness built into the system up front.

I think Berkeley itself should have a minute of confession or conversation or teach-in about what happened to West Berkeley, and why making it "safer" involved Berkeley becoming Whiter. And why our moment of Protest only becomes when the poor White people suddenly feel the pressures of displacement, while the Black people quietly "moved on". I don't think Berkeley should cease its role in the protests - but there should be some recognition that our problems are a bit catty-cornered to #BlackLivesMatter and perhaps we brought those problems on ourselves because Black Lives Didn't Matter Sooner.

"Agent Provocateurs" CONFIRMED: Undercover CHP Among Masked "Anarchists" (Berkeley Protests)

Remember those "theories" that some of the masked "anarchists" engaging in looting/rioting during the Berkeley were police?

Here is a claim that the protesters caught police among the masked anarchists - including a claim they were instigating looting. And they pulled out a gun and started making arrests when caught!

https://storify.com/CourtneyPFB/undercover-cops-outed-and-pull-gun-on-crowd

While I can't vouch for anything in this story, I can vouch that while trying to catch up with the protests tonight, I did pass a guy in plain clothes who seemed to be reporting to someone on his phone which direction the protesters were moving in. I also heard protesters discussing concerns about being infiltrated by plain clothes policemen.

But, wow, if they actually caught them! I wonder if they can prove that these guys were actually prompting people to loot...

UPDATE: I edited this story to take out the description of the undercover agents as being from the Oakland PD - now I don't think that's clear from the tweets. However, the Oakland PD did swarm in the minute they were outed, so I think it's likely they knew the agents were there. Very interested to find out just who these guys are!!!

Notes in the source also say the cops picked out the only black person in a group of protesters to arrest, but it could be he is the one that threw the punch.

SECOND UPDATE: Changed my headline to confirmed because reported by these news sources so far:

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/undercover-cop-draws-gun-protesters-oakland-n266176

http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_27120645/oakland-protests-plainclothes-chp-officers-gun-use-draws

http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2014/12/11/chp-defends-undercover-officer-who-pulled-gun-on-protesters-in-oakland/

http://www.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2014/12/11/undercover-chp-officer-points-gun-at-oakland-protesters

http://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiakoerner/chp-plainclothes-officers-were-attacked-before-pointing-guns

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/12/11/an-undercover-cop-pulled-a-gun-on-protesters-in-oakland-during-demonstration-over-police-killings/

http://www.ktvu.com/story/27606016/undercover-cop-pulls-gun-on-demonstrators

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/undercover-cops-clash-oakland-calif-protesters-article-1.2041892

KTVU says the undercover guys *that were caught* were California Highway Patrol.

Just because I took "instigated looting" out the headline doesn't mean they didn't do it. There are eyewitness reports that they did and supposedly video. But I haven't seen it, so I took it out of the headline because I took the word "claim" out of the headline.

Also, apparently one of the PR people for the CHP has gone batsh*t and is begging the media to represent the protests as "criminal activities" even though his officer is the one pointing the gun at the Reuters photographer. Looking for the direct quote on that now.

Where is the major lamestream media where "agent provocateurs" turns out to be true?

And they are swinging guns at student protesters without guns?

And they zero in on the black protester for their only arrest?

ANOTHER UPDATE: CHP Chief Avery Browne seems to have no qualms about lying to the media, which makes me more inclined to believe random witnesses at the protest in matters of dispute.

First, Chief Browne lied to the LA Times about the Gun Cop flashing his badge and making things nice and official before waving his gun: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-chp-officer-gun-demonstrators-20141211-htmlstory.html#panel=comments

Then the Huffington Post seems to have caught CHP Chief Browne in another inconsistency about whether the other officer started the ruckus by pushing one of the protesters (the guy that was trying to unmask him?) rather than merely being "assaulted":
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/11/oakland-police-points-gun-protesters_n_6312200.html?utm_hp_ref=crime

I've seen on twitter that the guy that was arrested has a concussion.

The CHP also made the fictitious claim to CNN that protesters threw 3 "explosives" at them on Sunday. They seem to be trying hard to manipulate the media into depicting the protests as criminal activity.

CHP Chief Browne also mentions a man who was "beaten" because he was mistaken for an undercover officer (could someone please get me a link on this?). If this is the case, it suggests to me that it's a bad idea to plant undercover officers in a crowd of people protesting abuse of police power. And it's especially a bad idea to disguise them as one of the "masked anarchists" who peaceful protesters have been wary of, since they have a tendency to commit vandalism-looting and undermine their message.

Here's an idea - have regular cops who actually believe in the ideas of the protest, join the protest in uniform and just keep an eye on things that way. If some place is getting vandalized or looters, cops can go there and make an arrest just like they would any other day.

UPDATE TO PWN PREVIOUS UPDATES:
The "unruly mob" turned out to be made up not only of and Reuters, SF GATE, and other phototgraphers and reporters - there was even a journalist for Mother Jones in the crowd! This gives a whole new meaning to the pen being a sword (in the eyes of the CHP, at least)! I can't stop laughing.

Anyway, here, finally, is an eye witness account of what happened:
http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/12/undercover-officer-gun-berkeley-oakland-protest

That's just what I figured happened.

Left Behind by the Revolution (in Berkeley), Part II

I tried and failed to join the Revolution again tonight, lol. (First fail here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025926747)

This post is not a criticism of the protests in Berkeley: it is just some musing on how I may be too old to relate to them, with a little bit of laughing at myself. I do support the protests and the mojo I believe they bring back to Berkeley as a special place.

Tonight I was avidly following the protest Twitter feed when I saw that the Occupy wing (less destructive) was sweeping my way. It was also being noted as small (around 100 protesters), and they were calling for more to join. I thought about the vectors in my head, and I thought if I just cut across some streets going South-East, I could meet up with them. The helicopters seemed to be directly overhead - the theory seemed good. But the practice failed. I got up to Shattuck, and the helicopters were ahead of me. I couldn't catch up.

After chasing the helicopters for a few blocks, I got on the #18 bus, and I attempted to catch up that way. After a few blocks, the bus driver declared she "saw protesters" and dumped us all out in a strange part of Oakland. There were a few student-looking people heading South, and I could see where traffic was held up several blocks ahead. Again, the helicopters were my guiding stars - I kept following them, and occasional news trucks, and once in a while I came across a student carrying a sign. I knew I was going in the right direction, but again I just couldn't catch up.

I made it to the MacArthur Bart and was devastated that the protesters had not stopped there. Why hadn't they decided to take over the Bart station or something to wait for me?! There I got on the #1 bus: and again I was dumped around 30th street on account of protesters directly ahead. I walked as fast as I could. Again I could see students and skateboarders streaming around, again I could see delinquent news trucks. Again I couldn't catch up.

Finally I made it to Frank Ogawa Plaza. It was around 11:30 at night. No protesters there either. The helicopters which I had continued to follow the whole time (I don't have a cellphone, so I couldn't track the protest movements that way to try to cut ahead of it again) had moved off to some unknown part of Oakland. It was time to give up.

Of course BART was closed on account of the "civil unrest" which was nowhere to be seen. I waited awhile for the bus. Some students eventually drifted by and mentioned they didn't think the bus would stop there. We hiked up to the 19th street BART. I made it back home around midnight. Whew.

First, I would like to observe that the Berkeley-Oakland Protests move very, very fast. This is probably a feature, not a bug. I'm not sure whether it's to evade the police or to exhibit the exuberance of youth, but they practically run place to place, and leave very long streaming trails of slower protesters in their wake.

This may also have something to do with using social media and relying on its agility to organize the protest. This is part of what excluded me since I don't have a cellphone, but all along my route, I saw people constantly checking their cellphones for information.

There was an up side to being an extremely slow, mobility impaired walker. I listened to and observed a lot a long the way. I listened to young protesters quote Rosa Parks and discuss their suspicions of plain clothes policemen planted amongst the protesters. Around 20 minutes later, I passed a man in plain clothes who was reporting on his phone that "they all seem to be going in the same direction" - he kind of sounded like a police informer! I listened to some guys outside the bar establish they were getting their news from social media rather than the main stream media as they discussed various theories of the "violent fringe" of the protests. (Yes, everyone was discussing the protests along the way!). I listened to black people discuss how they felt about white students protesting - from ones wishing they could join in to a guy screaming "FUCK THE PROTESTERS!" because the BART station was closed. I felt like I was listening to memories in the making. Possibly myths in the making.

While I was walking, I had plenty of time to think about another way the revolution leaves me behind. When I debate the protests with older friends, they usually check KQED, NPR, the NYT - the traditional "credible sources" - and then poll people in the same age group for "public opinion". Then they come back worrying about Berkeley's reputation. My response to that is they should be more worried about the power of propaganda. The mainstream media tells the stories that we want to hear or that powerful interests want to tell. Sometimes it even responds to the the dictates of political power, or at least the manipulations of savvy PR people. In any case, young people don't trust the mainstream media, and they have good reason not to. They know it's an instrument serving classes that are not their own. So if the mainstream media passes some negative judgment on what they are doing with their protest, do these revolutionary youth give a flying frak? Why should they? It's meaningless to them.

The culture war they seem to be fighting takes place almost exclusively on social media - and that's why it was such a big faux pas when the president of Smith invoked "All Lives Matter": that's a hashtag, and the president of Smith unknowingly took a side in the Twitter wars. The side that opposed "Black Lives Matter".

It kind of gets my goat that the elders of Berkeley - some of whom did "Berkeley in the 60s" and then sold out and got a job - are being such curmudgeons about the Oakland-Berkeley protests. In a world where everything is done "for the children" and we're always sacrificing for "future generations", doesn't it behoove us to at least consider the younger generation might be building something for themselves, and it doesn't matter if they have the permission and approval of their elders? The "future generation" is their generation!

This whole thing kind of reminds me of that annoying meeting I had with a guidance counselor in high school. I had missed getting an A on a make-up exam because there had been no clock in the room and the teacher forgot to give me warning times. When I complained the guidance counselor said I would be more effective if I talked using "I" statements, instead of "you" statements. The teacher came in the room, and I carefully phrased my request using only "I" statements. Both the guidance counselor and the teacher smiled because I behaved as they wished. However, my orderly behavior did not result in getting a reconsideration of my test score!!!

Right now the elders are saying "protesters should do this", "it's not effective to do that", "this is counter-productive", "the protesters aren't making any sense", etc. Well, it seems when the protesters were playing by the ostensible rules, nothing was getting done. That means the rules are not all that effective either - those rules just represent the behavior the elders would prefer. I think, at it's heart, this Oakland-Berkeley protest is about refusing the rules, and calling attention to how they aren't working for certain segments of society. And you can't make that point by nicely following the rules.

So tonight I was left behind by Berkeley's revolution once again. But I hope I still learned something (even though I may be a little too old for it).

Oakland Social Services "Kettling" the Poor

This is XPosted from GD.

***********

While participating in the Berkeley/Oakland protests, I learned the term "kettling" - this is when the police herd a mass of protesters into a hidden area and sit on them for some period of hours to keep them from making any trouble. The protesters may be handcuffed with ziplocks and denied water. Press and cameras are kept out of the area so the kettled protesters are effectively subtracted from the visual record of the movement.

Yesterday I went to Social Services to submit a huge McJesus package of paperwork for "general assistance" and food stamps qualification. General Assistance is that piddling $336/month *loan* you can get for three months out of the year if you're able to work (whether you have a job or not) in an area where gentrification has pushed rent for a studio up into the $1500 ballpark--if you can find one. If you have never been embroiled in this system (one way is to become disabled but be caught in the eternal backlog of applying for SSI), this is the equivalent of signing on to eternal paperwork absurdist hell, where you get spammed with letters that mean nothing but you are unnable to reach a person to clarify that, where you have 3 day deadlines but the State takes forever to fix things if they screw up, where half your time is spent appealing because of the State's own errors - because their default is to shut everything off in case of a problem.

So...just the fact you're going to Social Services means you've been caught in the trap: you're in the part of society that's fed busywork, and kept on a hamster wheel of appointments, and monitored for compliance, and sent to "behaviorial" sessions instead of a psychological therapy, and surveilled by fraud investigators in case you try to pad that $336/month with money for basic necessities like toilet paper. Your pinned into poverty like an insect in order to keep all those other State employees pushing paper, earning a salary, and safely holding on to their pension plans.

My experience on Tuesday was so typical, I thought I should write about it here and hope that the message sinks in somehow.

First, there is a huge line around the room to take a number to wait to get called to a window. Normally I'd have to wait in that line. That's an ADA violation in itself, since I'm mobility impaired. Social Services is stubbornly defying the ADA on that point by insisting I need to bring a friend or relative with me as an escort to get any accommodation for disability. Ironically, when I'm in that line, I'm usually holding some paperwork where I've checked a box and otherwise indicated that I need accommodation for disability. I've just never gotten it.

This time I was in a special situation where I supposedly had an appointment for an "interview". I needed this interview because I wanted my caseworker (a new one - the third one I've had) to go over it and make sure I filled out everything right. The last thing either you or your caseworker need is for some mistake to gum up their procedures! Since I had the interview appointment, I was able to sit down in a chair and wait for the P.A. system to summon me. Or so I thought.

Finally the P.A. system summoned everyone waiting for G.A. Qualification to Room 131. I moved with the herd to room 131. When the caseworker in charge there took attendance, she couldn't find my name on the list. Luckily I thought to bring my interview letter with me as well as all my paperwork and documentation. The caseworker glanced at it and told me to go back out to the main lobby to "Window 8".

At "Window 8" there were 2 other people in line in front of me. I had to wait for them to get through their issues. When I was finally able to speak to the person at Window 8, she told me she had nothing to do with anything - try Window 12. There was no one at Window 12 (perhaps because so much time had passed at that point). I went back to Window 8. Luckily, someone at Window 7 heard the confusion and said I should be in room 130, not room 131. So I went to room 130. There I was scolded for being late and almost turned away. But I explained I had been in room 131, and I wasn't exhibiting the poor behavior of being late for a Social Services appointment. So they handed me a xerox of my Rights and Responsibilities and let me take my seat.

At that point I found out that my new caseworker wasn't going to interview me: in fact she didn't even know about the people who had come to submit their paperwork that day. But the caseworker in the room would take my McJesus packet ONLY if it was COMPLETELY and CORRECTLY filled out. So I could turn the packet in but I couldn't go over it with anyone. I vaguely remembered something like that happening last year.

Then the caseworker tried to issue a few warnings and answer a few general questions. She warned people to return paperwork by deadline or they wouldn't receive their check. Someone noted that the deadline is usually 2-3 days (and the paperwork usually demands documentation like copies of checks, etc.). Someone complained about delays in the mail and other problems. The caseworker then invoked the Supremacy of the Needs of the Bureaucracy: caseworkers had over 900 cases each - there was nothing they could do about the 2-3 day deadlines, the best thing people could do for themselves is comply and follow up and try to make up themselves for errors in the system if the caseworker didn't get their documents.

The caseworker then warned everyone that the State was currently investigating EVERYONE for possible welfare fraud. This surveillance involved interviewing friends and neighbors. And the best way to protect ourselves is to self-report any changes. (See my sig about what can happen if you self-report changes and your casework fraks up.)

It occurred to me at that moment that those investigators probably make a pretty decent salary. Say, 50k/yr for a start? And their job is to keep people being doled out $366/month pinned down into helplessness. And possibly to drive them into paranoia, lol.

Anyway, at the end of the session I remembered I had intended to ask my caseworker for a particular form I couldn't get online. I was told to get the form from the lobby.

The form was not available in the spinning kiosk of forms in the library. I then tried to sidle up to a free window to see if someone there would just slip me the form. No dice - she told me to stand in the line that winds around the room! (This is the line to take a number to go to a window - 2 to 3 hour process!!!). Being disabled and knowing already that Social Services in Oakland thumbs its nose at the ADA, I was now pissed.

First I attempted to go to the room with the Client Advocate. The Client Advocate's door was closed. There was no sign on the door: no way to tell if she was gone for a few minutes or gone for the day. There was no sign-up list. There was no chair right beside her door where you could wait and simultaneously hold your place in line to see her. I stood there for a while, not knowing if the Client Advocate would come or not (she is often just not there that day). After a while I gave up.

Then I went to the in-house phone banks. Social Services also tries to avoid making these a tool of empowerment. There are no numbers posted for general services - only specific names of caseworkers. Also there are no chairs to sit in, and you aren't even allowed to lean on the phones: so, again, mobility-impaired people are expected to suffer to make their call and keep their phone call short.

Except if you call the Operator the phone call won't be short. I discovered that the Social Services Call Center is apparently handled by one guy. He repeatedly had to put me on hold and answer all the other calls as we spoke. Every time we got disconnected, and I called again, I got this poor sap. He wanted to connect me to the Civil Rights Officer because by that time I had multiple ADA complaints: but he couldn't connect me to an inside line. However, I didn't have a cellphone so I would have to go out somewhere to call the Civil Rights Officer: that would defeat the purpose of getting my form and me being on site to point out the half a dozen ADA violations I had experienced right there. I needed something like the capacity to "call a manager". But Social Services Oakland deliberately does not offer that. What they do offer is a lot of security guards roaming around, snickering at various freak outs.

What kind of freak outs?

- The ONE copy machine didn't work. People needed copies to submit their documentation.
- A homeless woman was given an outside line number to call to find the name of her caseworker, which didn't work on the internal phones. When she went back to get help, she was given the same number again. I was the one who had to help her.
- "Customer Service Survey" kiosk which claimed it wanted client input had no forms/cards.
- missing/disorganized forms in the large form kiosk
- people being trained/disciplined to use some bar code machine system to turn in their forms - WTH!

I never did get to issue my ADA complaints to anyone there. The poor besieged phone guy agreed to just mail me the forms, and I agreed to call the Civil Rights Officer from home, though that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as pointing out the ADA issues in situ.

Since I had to stand at the phones, I was now in a lot of pain. It was only then I realized that not seeing the caseworker meant that I didn't get to ask for bus tickets to cover the expense of getting to and from Social Services.

I repeat - this is not an abnormal situation. This is NORMAL. Social Services is a Rube Goldberg machine that is used to kettle the poor in Oakland. After everyone is done reading the Torture Report as performed by the CIA, they should check out some of the torture that goes on right here on American soil.

Oakland Social Services "Kettling" the Poor

While participating in the Berkeley/Oakland protests, I learned the term "kettling" - this is when the police herd a mass of protesters into a hidden area and sit on them for some period of hours to keep them from making any trouble. The protesters may be handcuffed with ziplocks and denied water. Press and cameras are kept out of the area so the kettled protesters are effectively subtracted from the visual record of the movement.

Yesterday I went to Social Services to submit a huge McJesus package of paperwork for "general assistance" and food stamps qualification. General Assistance is that piddling $336/month *loan* you can get for three months out of the year if you're able to work (whether you have a job or not) in an area where gentrification has pushed rent for a studio up into the $1500 ballpark--if you can find one. If you have never been embroiled in this system (one way is to become disabled but be caught in the eternal backlog of applying for SSI), this is the equivalent of signing on to eternal paperwork absurdist hell, where you get spammed with letters that mean nothing but you are unnable to reach a person to clarify that, where you have 3 day deadlines but the State takes forever to fix things if they screw up, where half your time is spent appealing because of the State's own errors - because their default is to shut everything off in case of a problem.

So...just the fact you're going to Social Services means you've been caught in the trap: you're in the part of society that's fed busywork, and kept on a hamster wheel of appointments, and monitored for compliance, and sent to "behaviorial" sessions instead of a psychological therapy, and surveilled by fraud investigators in case you try to pad that $336/month with money for basic necessities like toilet paper. Your pinned into poverty like an insect in order to keep all those other State employees pushing paper, earning a salary, and safely holding on to their pension plans.

My experience on Tuesday was so typical, I thought I should write about it here and hope that the message sinks in somehow.

First, there is a huge line around the room to take a number to wait to get called to a window. Normally I'd have to wait in that line. That's an ADA violation in itself, since I'm mobility impaired. Social Services is stubbornly defying the ADA on that point by insisting I need to bring a friend or relative with me as an escort to get any accommodation for disability. Ironically, when I'm in that line, I'm usually holding some paperwork where I've checked a box and otherwise indicated that I need accommodation for disability. I've just never gotten it.

This time I was in a special situation where I supposedly had an appointment for an "interview". I needed this interview because I wanted my caseworker (a new one - the third one I've had) to go over it and make sure I filled out everything right. The last thing either you or your caseworker need is for some mistake to gum up their procedures! Since I had the interview appointment, I was able to sit down in a chair and wait for the P.A. system to summon me. Or so I thought.

Finally the P.A. system summoned everyone waiting for G.A. Qualification to Room 131. I moved with the herd to room 131. When the caseworker in charge there took attendance, she couldn't find my name on the list. Luckily I thought to bring my interview letter with me as well as all my paperwork and documentation. The caseworker glanced at it and told me to go back out to the main lobby to "Window 8".

At "Window 8" there were 2 other people in line in front of me. I had to wait for them to get through their issues. When I was finally able to speak to the person at Window 8, she told me she had nothing to do with anything - try Window 12. There was no one at Window 12 (perhaps because so much time had passed at that point). I went back to Window 8. Luckily, someone at Window 7 heard the confusion and said I should be in room 130, not room 131. So I went to room 130. There I was scolded for being late and almost turned away. But I explained I had been in room 131, and I wasn't exhibiting the poor behavior of being late for a Social Services appointment. So they handed me a xerox of my Rights and Responsibilities and let me take my seat.

At that point I found out that my new caseworker wasn't going to interview me: in fact she didn't even know about the people who had come to submit their paperwork that day. But the caseworker in the room would take my McJesus packet ONLY if it was COMPLETELY and CORRECTLY filled out. So I could turn the packet in but I couldn't go over it with anyone. I vaguely remembered something like that happening last year.

Then the caseworker tried to issue a few warnings and answer a few general questions. She warned people to return paperwork by deadline or they wouldn't receive their check. Someone noted that the deadline is usually 2-3 days (and the paperwork usually demands documentation like copies of checks, etc.). Someone complained about delays in the mail and other problems. The caseworker then invoked the Supremacy of the Needs of the Bureaucracy: caseworkers had over 900 cases each - there was nothing they could do about the 2-3 day deadlines, the best thing people could do for themselves is comply and follow up and try to make up themselves for errors in the system if the caseworker didn't get their documents.

The caseworker then warned everyone that the State was currently investigating EVERYONE for possible welfare fraud. This surveillance involved interviewing friends and neighbors. And the best way to protect ourselves is to self-report any changes. (See my sig about what can happen if you self-report changes and your casework fraks up.)

It occurred to me at that moment that those investigators probably make a pretty decent salary. Say, 50k/yr for a start? And their job is to keep people being doled out $366/month pinned down into helplessness. And possibly to drive them into paranoia, lol.

Anyway, at the end of the session I remembered I had intended to ask my caseworker for a particular form I couldn't get online. I was told to get the form from the lobby.

The form was not available in the spinning kiosk of forms in the library. I then tried to sidle up to a free window to see if someone there would just slip me the form. No dice - she told me to stand in the line that winds around the room! (This is the line to take a number to go to a window - 2 to 3 hour process!!!). Being disabled and knowing already that Social Services in Oakland thumbs its nose at the ADA, I was now pissed.

First I attempted to go to the room with the Client Advocate. The Client Advocate's door was closed. There was no sign on the door: no way to tell if she was gone for a few minutes or gone for the day. There was no sign-up list. There was no chair right beside her door where you could wait and simultaneously hold your place in line to see her. I stood there for a while, not knowing if the Client Advocate would come or not (she is often just not there that day). After a while I gave up.

Then I went to the in-house phone banks. Social Services also tries to avoid making these a tool of empowerment. There are no numbers posted for general services - only specific names of caseworkers. Also there are no chairs to sit in, and you aren't even allowed to lean on the phones: so, again, mobility-impaired people are expected to suffer to make their call and keep their phone call short.

Except if you call the Operator the phone call won't be short. I discovered that the Social Services Call Center is apparently handled by one guy. He repeatedly had to put me on hold and answer all the other calls as we spoke. Every time we got disconnected, and I called again, I got this poor sap. He wanted to connect me to the Civil Rights Officer because by that time I had multiple ADA complaints: but he couldn't connect me to an inside line. However, I didn't have a cellphone so I would have to go out somewhere to call the Civil Rights Officer: that would defeat the purpose of getting my form and me being on site to point out the half a dozen ADA violations I had experienced right there. I needed something like the capacity to "call a manager". But Social Services Oakland deliberately does not offer that. What they do offer is a lot of security guards roaming around, snickering at various freak outs.

What kind of freak outs?

- The ONE copy machine didn't work. People needed copies to submit their documentation.
- A homeless woman was given an outside line number to call to find the name of her caseworker, which didn't work on the internal phones. When she went back to get help, she was given the same number again. I was the one who had to help her.
- "Customer Service Survey" kiosk which claimed it wanted client input had no forms/cards.
- missing/disorganized forms in the large form kiosk
- people being trained/disciplined to use some bar code machine system to turn in their forms - WTH!

I never did get to issue my ADA complaints to anyone there. The poor besieged phone guy agreed to just mail me the forms, and I agreed to call the Civil Rights Officer from home, though that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as pointing out the ADA issues in situ.

Since I had to stand at the phones, I was now in a lot of pain. It was only then I realized that not seeing the caseworker meant that I didn't get to ask for bus tickets to cover the expense of getting to and from Social Services.

I repeat - this is not an abnormal situation. This is NORMAL. Social Services is a Rube Goldberg machine that is used to kettle the poor in Oakland. After everyone is done reading the Torture Report as performed by the CIA, they should check out some of the torture that goes on right here on American soil.

*****

Ps. While I don't support the vandalism/looting component of the current Berkeley/Looting riots, I hope this post adds some additional perspective/weight to this article: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/in-defense-of-looting/

Berkeley: I Don't Like The Police Tactic of Clearing of Observers

It's after midnight, so of course the anarchists, looters, vandals, random opportunists, possible agent provocateurs, etc. have come out of the woodwork to blaze various trails of anti-capitalist destruction between Oakland and Berkeley. And the police are closing in with the riot gear, tear gas, etc.

Here's what bugs me: the police seem overly focused on getting rid of observers. Instead of concentrating on the guys breaking windows and stealing stuff, the police are beating up the guy in the van with the camera. Before kettling groups of rowdy protesters, the police sweep around to make sure no one is documenting the incident.

From a tweet:
The targeting of photojournalist @timhussin and Stephen Lam + livestreamer @TruthCastersTV by police is a dangerous trend


I believe Stephen Lam was hit with a baton? It seems the Truth Casters guy was actually violently thrown from his van, and his phone wrenched away from him. He claims to have been beaten.

This is not cool.

Attention Police Dudes: when you act to get rid of observers, it just makes it look like you're trying to cover something up.

After being so careful to be "hands off" of the protest all night, do you really want your rep messed up by people *imagining* what you might be doing? Think CIA Torture Report!

Just leave the live-streamers alone and behave yourselves as you make orderly, lawful arrests of malefactors.

Please remember that perception of an expanding police state just invites escalation to the protests. All these confrontations are ABOUT documenting misbehavior by the police. The only way to respond to that is to be the best police officers you can be and earn the trust of your community.
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