Weaponized Tuff Sheds

A statement from The Village & Feed the People

You are being played, Oakland.

As the City continues to push forward with a third Tuff Shed lot in the Kaiser Auditorium parking lot, we are compelled to tell you the truth of how these sites are being used politically and what they are like on the inside.

When the people of Oakland moved the City Council to unanimously pass a Shelter Crisis Declaration Oct 3, 2017 that would immediately allow emergency temporary housing and services to be created as a pathway to permanent housing in the midst of this homeless state of emergency, using sanctioned sites as a pretext for area evictions and doubling people up in uninsulated tool sheds with no running water or electricity was not what we were talking about.

CITY SANCTIONED SITES = EVICTIONS

Each time the city has sanctioned a site for outdoor emergency use, an explicit part of their plans is to evict all other camps in the area. The “Compassionate Communities” at Peralta/35th, the tentative village site at 23rd&12th Ave, the first Tuff Shed yard at 5th and Brush, the second Tuff Shed at Northgate – all included explicit directives to OPD and DPW to evict all other camps in the area no matter how many people it would displace and put into motion. Despite the City’s numbers, the first Tuff Shed yard put over 100 people into motion while only providing slots for 40. The second Tuff Shed site left more than 60 people with nowhere to go. And this third Tuff Shed lot at the Kaiser parking lot is estimated to displace more than 100 people again. In each case only 40 spaces were available for temporary shelter.

In this way, these are programs more for camp suppression and eviction than providing entry to housing, herding our unhoused neighbors more out of sight away from services or driving them into a few now unsafe, filthy ‘mega-camps’ that these evictions are creating.

This third “ONC” (“Outdoor Navigation Center”) or Tuff Shed yard is to be no different. The city has planned that all residents around the Lake Merritt area are to be evicted, easily four times the number of people that could possibly be admitted to the 40 person Tuff Shed yard. The city claims that shelters will take in the overflow. This is nonsense. If this were in any way a realistic option, those camping on the street nextdoor would already be utilizing shelter beds. The City further assumes that their approach of staggering the evictions around Lake Merritt will allow for people to smoothly exit out of the Tuff Sheds to make room for the next wave of Lake Merritt evictions to move-in voluntarily.

However, if you ask unsheltered residents at Lake Merritt, a vast majority have no intention of moving into the Tuff Shed sites. In fact none of the Lake Merritt unsheltered residents were part of the planning process for this site. This is the same problematic procedure the other Tuff Shed sites implemented: no buy in or leadership from the people most impacted.

The city is still servicing appearances, creating photo ops for themselves and political cover for evictions more than facing the realities of our city and the homelessness crisis gripping it. And doing all this on the heels of last week’s 9th Circuit Court decision in Miller vs. Boise declared it is unconstitutional for a city to criminalize, move, evict, harass or take the property of any unsheltered residents when adequate housing is unavailable.


LIFE ON THE INSIDE OF A TUFF SHED CAMP

Increased policing, poor conditions, group punishments

A testimony from a recently evicted resident of the Tuff Shed site on 5th Street (see video https://www.facebook.com/731643677003021/videos/967948560039197/) exposes inhumane and substandard living conditions that the city has applauded and promised to replicate. The Tuff Sheds themselves, with a total lack of insulation and hardly any ventilation, are not satisfactory for human beings to live in to begin with. A tiny window is the only form of lighting, leaving disabled residents struggling to get around or see what they are doing. Based on testimonies from former and current residents, both West Oakland Tuff Shed sites are run through coercion, bullying and neglecting the residents, and especially the disabled and mentally ill. Residents report that the staff has used their power to force cooperation by withholding food, donated provisions, water and electricity as forms of collective punishment – and even by resorting to violence.

Residents report that the food has made them sick, they are not allowed visitors, they have a strict curfew, have to file grievances to the very people they have issues with – making the environment feel like a prison.

SO WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The city needs to invest and support community driven interim solutions such as The Village and stop wasting the public’s precious resources on failed debacles such as the Tuff Shed encampments.

The city needs to declare a full moratorium on camp evictions.

The city needs to place its resources towards PERMANENT HOUSING for no income, low income and working class households. Stop selling public lands for “affordable”, market rate and above market rate development. Stop using millions of public funds and donated resources towards temporary housing and build permanent housing now! That is the only solution to homelessness! Over the next 5 years there are more than 20,000 market rate and above market rate units slated to be built; there are just above 1,000 “affordable” units slated; there are zero working class, low income or no income units slated to be built.

If the City does not change its current course towards prioritizing money driven development, while ignoring Oakland’s vibrant families and criminalizing homelessness the crisis will not be solved – rather it will get horrifically worse.

What The Town Needs In A Mayor & Other Public Officials

A statement from The Village & #WeStillHere:

Oakland is our hometown. It is a city with an extraordinary past, a legacy of radical activism, and a rich, diverse culture all its own. It’s the land of the Ohlone people, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and Funk, the city where Bruce Lee once lived and where Cesar Chavez first started organizing. It was Tupac’s spiritual home and the home of Soulbeat, Festival at the Lake, the East Bay Dragons, Everett and Jones, Flints, Ricky Henderson, Marshawn Lynch, Gary Payton, Dru Down, Too $hort, and 3XKraxy. Oakland is a community where Black, White, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and LatinX people have lived together for generations.

Over the past several years Oakland has experienced a wave of gentrification and displacement characterized by skyrocketing housing prices and a rising cost of living. Many locals have been pushed out of the area, creating a huge demographic shift. The African-American population declined drastically from 48% in 1980 to 28% by 2010. Black people, Black culture, and Black communities are the underpinning of Oakland’s history, culture, and identity. We must tell the truth about what is actually happening in this moment.

The consequences of gentrification have been devastating for those of us raised here. We have watched as our friends and family members have moved away. Some of our neighborhoods have become unrecognizable. We have witnessed a rise in homelessness like we have never seen. And we are experiencing the criminalization of Black and Brown people, increasingly made to feel unwelcome in our own city.

On January 20, 2017, one hundred residents – some of us housed and some of us homeless – were sick and tired of the housing crisis. City officials had disregarded 17 years of demands to address the needs of Oakland’s low-income communities of color. We started a movement called The Village, and we declared ourselves ungovernable by a government that has proven to be ineffective and illegitimate – from Oakland City Hall to The White House. We began to build emergency shelters on underused, neglected lands for those who no longer had a roof in the city they called home.

We are now in urgent need of a new land site for the ‘villlage’ which will be displaced for construction. The City has promised to but after many months has not identified a site. There are no designated sites for the other several thousand people living on the streets either. Forcing people and camps to frequently move is a misuse of resources that causes stress and trauma. We must have more effective and respectful solutions, both for practical reasons and as a matter of racial justice. The majority of people who are homeless in Oakland are Black, which we see as the intentional result of decades of discriminatory housing policies and widespread structural racism. We insist that Black and Brown Oakland residents have a right to stay here, and to take up public space and thrive.

The right to exist in public space has increasingly been threatened, such as in April when a white woman called the police on a Black family for using a charcoal grill at Lake Merritt. Her racist actions sparked national outrage. The Oakland community and Oakland youth leaders responded with two major events, “510 Day” and “BBQ’N While Black” which drew numbers into the thousands and sent a strong message of resistance.

These movements to reclaim public space are important. But we also need to change the policies and practices that govern our community to realize our vision for an inclusive and equitable Oakland. We must fight for what will make it possible for Black people and other people of color to remain in Oakland. The identity and heart and soul of our city are on the line.

As politicians and candidates prepare for the November elections, we stand firm that we are ungovernable to those who seek to build careers, make profit or consolidate power for their personal gain. We do not endorse candidates, and have little faith in a system created off the rape, murder, theft, slavery, terror and genocide of Native Americans and stolen Africans. But we offer this guidance in the hope that whoever holds public office will work for the good of the public:

Politicians are public servants but too often they behave as public siphons, misappropriating public resources for private agendas instead of the public good. Unaccountable and non-transparent privatization of public resources is not what The Town needs.

The continued and blatant disregard of our communities’ needs results in widespread human rights and civil rights abuses and is unacceptable.

Oakland leaders must use the #WeStillHere Platform to guide decison-making. This will ensure that Black, Brown, immigrant, indigenous, working class, low-income, no-income, curbside and marginalized communities – the very communities that are the backbone of the innovative, soulful and resilient culture Oakland is famous for – are front and center in the policies and practices elected and appointed officials enact.

The Village stands behind the #WeStillHere Platform. We want and will fight for:

  • Quality low-income and no-income housing & shelter for all.
  • The use of public land and public resources to improve the quality of life for Oaklanders being displaced.
  • Equitably-resourced public schools that are relevant to students of color, which include programs that advance Black and Brown students in math and sciences, and that have supports such as restorative justice and peer counseling programs.
  • An end to the criminalization & mass incarceration of communities of color, and the right to have fun without being criminalized.
  • An investment in community-based alternatives to policing and incarceration.
  • Quality jobs & economic opportunity for Oakland locals.
  • Communities of belonging for immigrants, just immigration policies, and non-cooperation with ICE.
  • Access to health care, healthy living, and healthy food options for all.
  • The preservation and innovation of Oakland’s authentic culture.

We stand for an equitable Oakland where the lives of families of color, immigrants and low-income residents are valued and protected. Gentrification threatens to erase the history, culture, and identity of Oakland in just a matter of years. Oakland is far too special of a place for this to happen. We envision an Oakland that continues to be racially diverse and rich with the tradition of activism. We want an inclusive Oakland, one which embraces the future and stays true to our past. We urge political candidates to be committed and fight for this vision.

Statement From The Village & Allies On The Constant Attempts To Undermine The Community’s Efforts To Ensure The Human Right Of Housing For All

#DropTheVillageTwoCharges #HomesNotHandcuffs #HousingIsAHumanRight

(March 7, 2018 – Oakland, CA)

The Village is a people’s movement to ensure the human right of adequate, dignified, temporary emergency housing as a pathway to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. There have been continuous undermining attempts to compromise The Village’s progress by City of Oakland elected and appointed officials as well as law enforcement officers. The latest violation of our most vulnerable citizens by authorities occurred when two homeless leaders of The Village were forced to defend themselves and the encampment from an attack by a known predator.

Jodie Everett is part of The Village leadership and resident who intervened when his fellow Village leader and resident Mouangjoi Tracy Saelee Edmond when she attempted to defend herself from being assaulted with a nail-riddled two by four.

However, we know the person they were defending themselves and the encampment from is also a victim of the system. He is in desperate need of mental health services and housing. There is a compassionate way to deal with our unsheltered residents, but prosecuting them in our criminal justice system is not it. We need to show empathy and make sure they all get homes, medical services, mental health services, safety and protection. We do not need to pit them against each other. The issue we need to address is institutional. It is not about the two leaders who defended themselves and the encampment. It is not about the person who attacked Tracy. This should have never happened in the first place. They are all victims of an avaricious system.

The long line of attacks on the homeless residents of Oakland and The Village began in February 2017 when Oakland City Administration spent $75,000 to bulldoze a safe, sober and organized encampment of tiny homes on neglected city land. It has continued with the City’s consistent avoidance of dealing with the humanitarian crisis of homelessness in a constructive and humane manner. It escalated when Assistant to the City Administrator Joe DeVries instructed police and Public Works to herd six encampments across East Oakland and dump them onto the land the city granted the Village. This herding of unsheltered folks happened without consulting The Village. The City designated East 12 Street and 23rd Avenue as a safe haven for homeless residents that The Village autonomously manages. Yet the City Administration proceeded to create dangerous, toxic, and unstable conditions.

By refusing to provide the same city services and treatment available to all of Oaklands housed residents, including protection and other basic services, the so-called safe haven has become a nest of violence and criminal activity that has traumatized and harmed the residents of The Village and the surrounding community. The Mayor, Administration, and Oakland Police Department have been informed repeatedly about the conditions, the ongoing violence, the danger they created. They are doing nothing to address the issues they’ve created.

And now, scheduled for November 2018, the City plans to take away the land it granted The Village five months ago. The 80 people the City herded will now be forcibly displaced to rebuild the overpass that spans across the parcel.

It has been a long drawn out act of sabotage to the wellbeing of the residents who were corralled here. The City has undermined the efforts of the residents at The Village to maintain basic survival and improve their own livelihoods. Attempting to criminalize two of The Village leaders for having to deal with dangerous and inhumane conditions created by the Administration is the latest of the unjust and deplorable attacks.

What Mayor Libby Schaaf, Assistants to the City Administrator Christine Daniel and Joe DeVries are responsible for undermining the livelihood of residents at The Village; what the police did and what the criminal system is doing is a waste of resources. These two leaders are not people who should be charged. These two leaders had to defend themselves in that moment. Consistent ineffective and inhumane homeless policies and police misconduct mean that charges should be dropped, and services provided. Monies spent on criminal injustices rather than services to our city’s most vulnerable is unconscionable. Monies spent on a corrupt police department to terrorize and harass our vulnerable curbside communities rather than permanent homes for the homeless is the sign of illegitimate leadership.

We demand these charges be dropped.
We demand the Mayor and her Administration be accountable for trying to deliberately obstruct and destroy The Village.
We demand all encampments be immediately sanctioned and provided with sanitation services, support services, security, and a pathway to permanent homes immediately.
We demand that the city give The Village four more parcels of land to accommodate and house the 80 people that have been herded onto the land we were granted during the Shelter Crisis Declaration that we will have to move from November 2018.

Signed:

– The Village

– The Law Offices Of Walter Riley

– The East Oakland Collective

– The Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute

– Land Action

– Design Reflux Collective

– Feed The People

– SURJ Bay Area

– Healthy Hoodz

– Young Oakland

– Coffee Not Cops

– Communities United For Restorative Youth Justice – CURY-J

– Spectrum Queer Media

– Sidewalk Rangers Defense Union

– Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque

-Design Action Collective

– Peacock Rebellion

– Movement Generation

– Agape Fellowship

– Ships In The Night

– Homeless Advocacy Working Group

– Do No Harm Coalition

– Catalyst Project

– Oakland SOL

– Cycles Of Change

– OneLife Institute

– Sudo Room

– Art Bison Design Coop

– Kazoo studios

Bahaniyan


tagalog to english direct translation: unity

tagalog to english literal translation: that spirit of unity that moves you to work together so that the community will reap and share as a unit. working together to achieve a common noble purpose. when your fellow villager or townsfolk are working, you jump in with no intent of pay or compensation but only the intent of working together. when your fellow villager or townsfolk needs a home you come together and build it. and if your fellow villager or townsfolk needs to move, you come together and strap that house on your shoulders and move it.
this is the Spirit in which The Village moves.

Letter to Joe DeVries:

TO Joe Devries:

We are The Village, and we are searching for The Promised Land. We are not going to stop looking for it and building it – even though you have gone against the wishes of the people of oakland by destroying what we built. We are not going to stop despite the fact you are hostile and violent to our vision of humanity.

We were told that this meeting was to be between The Village of the Promise Land and city of oakland officials.

However, we were never invited. The residents of The Promise Land were not invited. The volunteers of The Promise Land were not invited. The homeless community members who used The Promise Land services were not invited. Therefore, we declare this meeting illegitimate.

In addition, we have lost absolute faith in you Joe DeVries. You have proven yourself untrustworthy and incapable of the type of leadership needed to address the housing and homeless state of emergency.

Joe deVries – your job responsibilities make you directly responsible for the destruction of homeless encampments, the displacement and shuffling around of homeless folks and the criminalization of people without shelter. We think you should be fired and your job responsibilities deleted.

Furthermore, in the past two weeks in your engagement with The Promise Land, you have repeatedly lied. On monday January 23rd you came to The Promise Land and told volunteers you admired what we were doing. But a few days later you returned to The Promise Land to supervise the postings of eviction notices. And two days later you supervised the violent and, inhumane demolition of our homes and free much needed services we offered the community.

You have continually lied. Last thursday you lied to reporters and concerned community members and publicly stated the 16 displaced residents of The Promise Land were offered alternative housing. We were not. You lied to the public and said the city had a contingency plan for taking care for the residents of The Promise Land. We were taken care of. You had the audactiy to lie and say we the residents of The Promise Land were not homeless, but were a group of troublemakers who are antagonistic to the city. We the residents of The Promise Land were homeless before The Promise Land and you made us homeless once again when you bulldozed The Promise Land. We had homes that we built with housed residents of Oakland. And now we are scattered in the storm because of you, the city administartor and the mayor

We do not trust you Joe DeVries. You told people last thursday you sent intel to the Promise Land to spy on us. You told people last Thursday that you “were told to expect violence when you came to raid” the promise land. you said someone from seigel and yee said that.

You said the neighbors of marcus garvey park complained. Well dozens of neighbors of marcus garvey park volunteered at the promise land and donated material to the promise land. Dozens of neighbors called your direct phone number to let you know they support and believed in the promise land and told you to support our efforts not destroy them. Hundreds of oaklanders signed a petition in support of what we were doing and when our lawyers brought you those petitions who tossed them aside and said “you can get anyone to sign a petition. This petition means nothing.”

Yes, the people of oakland has lost absolute faith in you and the rest of city hall. You completely proved our point. We have made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that we the people have to take the housing and homeless crisis into our own hands.

The people of oakland housed and homeless – came together and pooled our resources and labor to practice self governance in the midst of an ineffective and illegitimate city hall that has repeatedly chosen to do nothing about the housing crisis and displacement. We came up with a an effective, immediate solution. And you destroyed it

Shame on you, the city administrator and the mayor for going against the wishes of the people. Shame on ya’ll for disrespecting the role as a civic and public servant. Shame on you for bulldozing homes in the height of a housing and homeless crisis. Shame on you for lying. Shame on you for spying on us. Shame on you for criminalizing the work we did.

The $20 million dollars the city has promised for building homes for the homeless and the discussion about the housing crisis the city will have in march doesnt cut it. We need homes today. We dont need anymore talking. And we cannot wait for you to build homes in three to five years from now.

While ya’ll talk and wait to build and finally start to build. The homeless population will go from 4,000 to 8,000. And while you talk and wait, we will continue to take care of ourselves and live. We will continue to protect ourselves from the elements and create safety and dignity for ourselves despite your hostility and violence and violation of our rights. We will continue to provide food, shelter and clothing for ourselves and each other with dignity and respect.

We also understand that you have expressed to people who met with you last thursday that you wanted to set up this meeting to tell us how to work for you.

We are here to remind you that you are here to work with us. Even tho you gloat about not being an elected official who is not accountable to the city council or the people – we are here to remind you that you infact are a civil and public servant. Your salary is still paid for by the people of oakland. You are here to work for us. We do not and will not work for you.

Once you have publicly appologize to The Village, once you have placed all 16 permanent residents of The Promised Land in permanent lock and care program homes, once you are ready to work for us, once you are ready to listen and serve us, once you are ready to stop destroying encampments and traumatizing homeless people, once you are ready to stop lying, once you are ready to stop bringing the politics of donald trump to The Town, we will come to the table and talk with you.

But til then, we have work to do. We are in a crisis. and people are in deep need of housing.

The crisis is our permit. Our code is humanity. And the regulations we follow allow for immediate, healthy and proven solutions that will meet the need of those impacted by this state of emergency today.