Occupy Riverside continues in its vigorous defense of the territory liberated since October 15. Attendance at the daily general assemblies has averaged about 50 to 60, while the number of campers has remained steadily at about 30.
Daily marches have been pretty spontaneous, but the ten p.m. bar march has been particularly popular. Slogans to encourage inebriated bar patrons to simply stay at the occupation rather than risk driving home have included, "Don't drink and drive, occupy!"
Other actions have included a standing protest outside of the local Wal-Mart, targetting the criminal enterprise's CEO and the members of the oligarchic Walton family. We were very clear that we opposed the exploitation of the Wal-1% of their workers and consumers, and that we were not protesting these members of the 99%.
One speaker intoned, "Wal-Mart says they like to 'roll back' prices. But we know that what they're really rolling back is workers' rights, they roll back health care, they roll back product safety, they roll back local small business. So when they say 'roll back,' what do we say?" To which the crowd responded, "Fight back!"
The next day about 50 of us marched on the Bank of America, which had been mysteriously chalked with slogans of resistance during the night. The crowd again engaged in chants, testimonies of banking injustice, and one singer sang his interpretation of Les Rice's "Banks of Marble."
On the way back to our liberated space, we stopped by the courthouse where weekly, homes are auctioned off to scavenger capitalists, and denounced the injustice of the judicial system there.
City Hall drew further wrath, but we also paused to read quotes from Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Upcoming actions include targetting the corrupt and immigrant-bashing congressional representative Ken Calvert, and Occupy Riverside also intends to participate in the November 5 national day of divestment from the banks. Also planned is a large-scale "tent-in" in order to secure the right of the occupiers to shelter.
Education activities have included two facilitation workshops, a discussion group on solidarity and privilege, another lead by the Womin of Color for Decolonization, a Thoreau reading group, and another yoga workshop.
Arts activities have included sign-painting, including large signs depicting tents, and stencilled shirt-making.
Minor setbacks have also occurred, including getting our power shut off. It now only works at night, which has caused us to be unable to offer computers for public internet access, as well as a constant livestream.
Saturday night reminded us of the cruel reality of life in Riverside. As revellers began emptying out of the bars, one of them, who had struck a woman for denying him a cigarette, was chased down and subjected to the rough justice of angry bargoers across the street from our encampment. Some of our peacekeepers intervened to prevent the situation from escalating. That fight spawned something of a chain reaction, resulting in a fight between two drunk women on our grounds. It took about twenty people to separate the combatants, and police also arrived. In the worst incident of the evening, rumored to have been a stabbing, someone was cut on the back of the neck. None of the violence originated with any of the occupants, and indeed, our teams were instrumental in keeping peace and putting out fires.
The worst incident of police brutality occurred Monday morning. A member of the education committee lay dormant on the ground when an agent of state repression approached and kicked him. The occupier was awoken and disturbed, and explained that his occupation of the space was an act of political protest and that he was willing to be cited or even arrested, and that if he were to be arrested, he would comply with all orders. He emphatically rejected, however, the police violence being imposed upon him. He reports that the police officer replied, "We will continue about our business as normal," implying that they would exercise brutality when and where they chose to.
Rains came this morning but occupiers are undeterred. Our resolve is too strong and the need for victory far too important to be discouraged by the weather. Our hearts are enraged with a passion for justice that can no longer be quieted.
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