RIVERSIDE (California) - After an event-filled launch of the occupation of Riverside timed to coincide with Saturday's international day of action, just under 100 people of conscience successfully held the pedestrian walkway of the downtown mall, despite police threats of arrest for those determined to sleep in the public thoroughfare.
Preparatory committees began arriving and setting up infrastructure at about 11 Saturday, and crowds began arriving at noon. By 12:PM, approximately 400 occupiers had gathered and began announcing the occupation to passersby with signs and chants. Soon, the inevitable spontaneous marches began, but they had returned in time for a 1:PM orientation. Homeland Security sent two trucks labeled "Federal Preventive Services," whose heavily-equipped members photographed and otherwise attempted to intimidate the nonviolent crowd.
At two, Hannah led a politically-conscious yoga workshop that drew about 15 participants, followed by the legal team's know your rights workshop with Q&A at 2:30. Spontaneous marches continued, and the final teach-in centered around "Economics & Power." Facilitator Kevin emphasized the fundamental economic problem of the appropriation of the surplus value of toilers by their exploiters in the 1%.
At 6:PM the facilitation committee met to finalize the agenda for the general assembly and choose roles for the evening, and at 7, all present convened to make collective decisions as a body. There were between 400-500 present!
During the GA, Food Not Bombs served salad, pasta, rice, yams, beans, potato salad, and other side dishes to grateful participants.
Shortly after the GA, local band Inner Prisms entertained and many political discussions took place.
The tensest moment of the night came at about 11:30, when police came in to "negotiate" with occupiers. They had demanded that nobody set up tents, use sleeping bags, or sleep in the plaza. Nonetheless, defiant revolters had done precisely that, prompting the police incursion. Cops soon realized that creating problem would not behoove them, and retreated for the night.
Sunshine roused us at about 8, and volunteers dropped off coffee and donuts. A schedule for Sunday was posted, listing workshops, committee meetings, outreach opportunities, actions and the general assembly.
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