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.

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