Posts Tagged ‘Oakland’

Occupy May Day 2012

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Facing Change photographers document May Day Occupy rallies and marches in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Oakland as tens of thousands of people took to the streets amidst heavy police presence:

Occupy Wall Street activists staged a May Day Rally calling for a general strike in memory of the history of May 1st as a day dedicated to workers’ rights. Photograph by Andrew Lichtenstein /

Oakland, California

There were many different agendas coalescing together for the May Day protests in Oakland: Immigrants’ rights activists, labor marking the historic holiday, and the Occupy movement seeking to rejuvenate itself.

A large peaceful crowd marched through most of Oakland, but small groups of anarchists engaged in petty vandalism, spraying paint on bank windows and confronting the police, who responded with tear gas. Media attention focused on these incidents, detracting from the real issues.

The longshoremen shut down the port for a day. The nurses are on strike. Those facts were overshadowed by tear gas and street theater.

–Andrew Lichtenstein

About 75 Occupy Chicago protesters held sit-ins outside at two Bank of America branches. Photographs by Carlos Javier Ortiz /

Chicago, Illinois

On a rainy, sweater-wearing day, about a thousand people gathered in Union Park and the two miles to downtown. It was a holiday atmosphere, culminating in a sit-in of activists at Bank Of America branches.

Immigrant rights advocates chanted in Spanish: “Hey Obama! Escucha estamos en la lucha!” (Hey Obama! Listen, we’re in the fight! – “we” meaning the Latino immigrant community and its significant votes.)

Chicago is hosting a NATO summit later this month, and more protests are expected with President Obama and world leaders present.

–Carlos Javier Ortiz

Occupy DC protesters at Malcolm X Park (Officially known as Meridian Hill Park) for a day of music, games, and speeches. Photograph by Lucian Perkins /

Washington D.C.

A small group of several hundred demonstrators met at Malcolm X Park, two and a half miles from the White House, and festively walked through neighborhoods. In the park, there were guitars and games, including “Corporate Pin-the-Donkey” in which a blindfolded protester pins a board with stickers of companies.

It was a low-key day, and the protest reached the White House at 6:30 in the evening. Along the way, curious bystanders took photographs and some shouted their support.

–Lucian Perkins

Between Broome and Spring Streets, Lower Manhattan. Photograph by Alan Chin /

New York, New York

Drizzling rain in the morning threatened to dampen the turnout in New York City, but the sun came out by the early afternoon and 20,000 people marched from Union Square to Wall Street in one of the larger protests nationwide.

Demonstrators gathered at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, and staged protests at the Bank of America, Time Warner, Fox, and hedge fund companies. Another group crossed the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn, and were joined by a hundred Black Bloc anarchists. They carried a large “Fuck the Police” banner, and clashed with the NYPD on Houston Street, several were arrested. The police covered one bloodied protester’s head and face with a sweatshirt in an apparent attempt to prevent him being photographed in this condition. Some photographers were harassed by protesters as well as the police, as tensions rose on all sides.

Nonetheless, the predominant feeling, as elsewhere, was celebratory rather than confrontational. The crowd danced in Union Square as musicians performed onstage. Protesters wore costumes and colorful banners. The parade down Broadway was orderly, high-spirited, and stretched for a mile.

The Occupy movement may struggle to define itself in an enduring way after unexpected early success and police repression, but it quietly proved on May Day that peaceful protest can be determined and widespread in the face of violent incidents and short attention-spans.

–Alan Chin and Anthony Suau


There have been at least 7,106 documented arrests in 114 U.S. cities as of May 1, 2012 since Sept 17 2011. On May 1st :

Occupy City

No. of Arrests


5/1/2012 Seattle 8 Violence, arrests at Seattle May Day protests Link
Portland 12 Arrests in early Portland May Day protest Link
Oakland 25 25 arrests in Oakland May Day protests Link
Miami 3 Occupy Miami protesters march; three arrested Link
New York 30 In New York, a final May Day march ends at Wall Street Link
Philadelphia 2 2 Arrested in Occupy Protests Link
Los Angeles 13 At least 13 arrested in L.A. May Day protests Link
Albany 23 Arrests mark Occupy’s return Link

Flat Liners: Life on Oakland Streets 2012

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

For about two weeks, I walked the streets of Oakland, California, and photographed the realities of those streets and the drama on them, finding desolation and the sense of separateness. There is street corner justice and pride in this mostly African American community. There is also the sub-culture of the Princes, Kings and Queens of the city, and unfortunately, in some places it has the look of a modern day ghost town where the atmosphere is that of a great American tragedy played out in bits and parts.

“Corner boys and girls’ all in the game as “The Mayor” oversees a street corner transaction in the Flatlands.

Places of commerce, on International Boulevard for example, seem more geared for street hustlers and women of the night than stores where local residents can shop. There are people like Jackie Castain trying to clean up the streets: She has been a community activist for over thirty years, working for better housing, striving to tear down slums and eyesores that dot the landscape of East Oakland where she lives with her son, a hair stylist. She is also fighting against toxic waste dumping in the Elmhurst district, and her latest mission is to close all the drug houses and abandoned homes being used by the homeless, prostitutes, and junkies. Most of these homes were foreclosed by the banks.

And the overall feeling is, as a former gang member told me, “…growing up in East Oakland, the ‘hood’ to some, places like Brookfield you just do not travel unless you are packing steel so the gang bangers stick to their own hoods, and when you go to someone else’s hood, you do not disrespect them, ‘cause if you a’int from there, then there is a good chance you will not make it out alive.

You really have to be careful at night, because you will see a lot of homeless junkies living rough, and beggars. There are young people looking just for trouble. In East Oakland’s ‘The Flatlands,’ the area within Park Blvd., Bancroft Ave., and E. 98th Ave, this part of town is infested with crime and chaos: gang fights, shootings, sideshows and many homicides.

A Vietnam veteran, convicted drug dealer and now filmmaker TCinque Sampson spent 22 years behind bars and states “I was a drug dealer. I was a predator. I was a product of an environment from which I sprung. Prison has made me a better person to struggle on, and help those in struggle like myself.”

There’s always crime on International Blvd. Do not wander around past 11 pm unless you want to put yourself in harm’s way. There’s too many bad places to name so here’s the most notorious: from E. 20th to E. 27th they call it Murder Dubz, from High Street to Seminary Ave., and from E. 73rd Ave. to E. 98th, especially from E. 90th to E. 98th Ave., you see many gangs and witness plenty of violence. It’s not a place for tourists; the smart thing will be to stay away. West Oakland, stay away from the run-down neighborhoods. Crime in West Oakland is very high and it happens during the daytime as well as night.

Don’t walk in dark places at night, especially going out to liquor stores! Some Oakland neighborhoods turn into killing zones, where East and West Oakland gangs fight to hold on to their turf. Nobody gets out of the Killing Zone alive, anyway. When I stopped being a criminal, it was because I was sick of the games being played on the streets. When you quit, you walk away from all of it, because the game is unforgiving.”

I emerged with an eerie, haunting image of Oakland, flat-liners looking for a way back to life. There is a thin line between heaven and the street.



With support from Leica Camera