Reportback from Ocupemos el Barrio/Occupy the 'Hood Open Mic December 17


About 25 people gathered at Chican@ Park on December 17 for Ocupemos el Barrio/Occupy the 'Hood's first Open Mic event. Speakers emphasized the need for the Occupy Movement to incorporate issues that affect people of color, analyses that emphasize the impact of racism in current society, and the knowledge and skills of people of the Barrio that have been fighting battles related to the goals of Occupy for a long time.

Ocupemos el Barrio is not viewed as a splinter movement, but rather as an integral part of making the Occupy Movement stronger. It is "a leaderless, horizontal movement created for the people, by the people in solidarity with the Occupy movement as a whole. [Its] mission is to create a truly democratic dialogue that involves the grievances and the opinions of the most marginalized people and communities of lower resources, with the purpose of creating solutions and actions against the problems that these communities face day by day due to a corrupted system."

Words spoken at the Occupy the 'Hood Open Mic December 17 Chican@ Park.
"Racism, discrimination is so ingrained in this capitalist system. Who takes the brunt of this discrimination is Latinos, Black People, the working class, poor people, people from low income communities… The state executed an innocent man, who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, Troy Davis. That is just one example of how racism is so ingrained in our society, where people can't escape it…"

"It is important that we find ways to bring people of color into this Occupy Movement. People of color who have been fighting for so long, who know that the cops are not on our side, have a lot of similarities with where the Occupy Movement stands. People of color know and have an understanding that it's not our individual fault why we're poor, it's not our individual fault why we have to work a crappy job, its not our individual fault why we can't go to school. It's not our individual fault, goddamn it! It's the fucking system, it's the capitalist system. People of color have been fighting against oppression for a long time. The Occupy Movement is fighting against oppression, against exploitation, against corruption. It's about time we bring these two movements together!"
"The basic idea behind Occupy the 'Hood is that we want to bring the issues of Occupy, about economic inequality, and include issues that also affect people of color. They are most affected by the economic crisis, the numbers on black unemployment are ridiculous, the gains blacks have had and Latinos in income over the last couple of years have been wiped away in a year or two. We feel that for Occupy to be a complete movement it needs to include these issues as well, like immigration, foreclosure police harassment and brutality, immigration, fair wages, all the things that keep the class from uniting as one."

"We hope to take the issues that have been worked on for years, people have gone to Congress, they've lobbied city council, they've held marches, some of the biggest marches in us history have been held around immigration, for instance but they haven't resulted in lasting change, or much action."

"The tactics of Occupy, the tactics of resistance, of not leaving a space, of direct confrontation,
of not being beholden to a particular political party have it allowed it to actually change the conversation in the US, and we want to include as part of the conversation inequality based on race, and the issues that affect low income communities - community control of resources I think is a really big issue that people have worked on here for a really long time."

"The day to day lives of a person who lives in Logan Heights or City Heights are these very issues,
you don't have to lecture them about police brutality or wealth inequality or un fair wages or about how the 1% is abusing them. But what we want to do is to bring those issues and that level of knowledge and that experience to Occupy so it is a complete full movement. If we have the numbers like for the big immigrants rights marches participating in an action that is holding a space or that is directly occupying ICE or one of the empty lots that is being privatized to make condos, then we could see some real change. Then the politicians would really have to pay attention, just like the nation and the media have paid more attention to Occupy, even though its numbers are smaller, than they did for the immigrants rights movement."

These kind of tactics actually forced them to, that level of disruption makes it so that action has to happen, there is no 'come see us in nine weeks' or 'vote for my guy.' When you interrupt their profit, their day-to-day, then they start to consider changing their minds…"
"I want to thank the community here, they have been occupying this place since the 70s…
You don't see any California Highway Patrol building here…"
"Racial profiling is not protecting and serving the [residents]. It is harassment of the [residents]. Residents have the right to challenge police officers if those officers are in the wrong without any fear of wrongful arrest or physical assault or flimsily excuses. Checkpoints that result in the impoundment of autos occur more often than not in low income communities and these occur for offenses that are more deserving of mere citations."

"Open police brutality has been seen at San Diego civic center and in the cities of Oakland, Davis, New York, Boston and other places. Let it be known that the communities of Logan, Sherman Heights, City Heights, Chula Vista and San Ysidro have known this kind of terrible behavior on the part of police for decades. All of this must eventually and finally stop…"

"Latino communities cannot continue to undergo harassment by the federal government, especially when elected leaders promise fair, humane immigration reform…."

"Here in the Barrio foreclosures have a harsher effect on an already low income community. The Barrio as a whole cannot just bounce back as the communities of Vista, Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo can. When low income families lose their homes, the Barrio loses out on the stability of those families and the neighborhood connections that make for a living culture. Latinos have lived continuously in Logan, Sherman, National City and Chula Vista for over a century. Traditions that are handed down from generation to generation make for genuine communities of character that spring from the bottom up. And that is something that is destroyed by foreclosures and cannot be fought with gentrification."

"The outsourcing of jobs to other countries so that the 1% can take advantage of exploiting labor abroad is unfortunately not new to the Barrio communities…"

"Due to the need for parents to work long hours and the long term problem of access to fresh, healthy foods, fast food has unfortunately become a major source of nutrition in low income urban neighborhoods across the United States… targeted marketing, infiltration into schools, government subsidies and federal food policy each play a significant role in denying inner city people of color access to heathy food, the overabundance of fast foods and lack of healthy food in turn have increased African Americana and Latino communities' vulnerability to food-related death and diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure. The farmers markets of Sherman Heights and City Heights do however show a promising beginning to communities facing this oppression by improving access to local organic fresh food for low income areas."

"Alongside the need for fresh food is the need to access fresh air and clean water. The industrial sites are concentrated along the Barrio's core areas and also mixed in with residential homes. San Diego bay is one of he most polluted harbors in the United States. A study released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed San DIego bay as the second most toxic of eighteen bays studied, second to Newark bay, New Jersey, as 56% of the bays sediments are acutely toxic to marine organisms, while 74% of the areas exhibited chronic toxicity. The most toxic sites were found along the shipbuilding and naval facilities adjacent to Barrio Logan. We have many Latinos, Filipinos and Vietnamese who are so poor that they need to fish to feed their families. The fish that are caught also have toxic materials inside of them. It is time for the US Navy and the shipyards to pay their fair share of the cleanup of toxics in San Diego bay…"

"There is hope for people to live free from harassment at the hands of the police and la migra. There is hope for people to keep their homes and continue to live in a community they love. There is also hope to reverse the outsourcing of jobs and bring full steady employment back to the Barrio. Finally, there is hope for the Barrio residents to live with the same access to clean air, clean water and healthy food as all the other neighborhoods in San Diego."

"The residents of the Barrio have fought for all of these goals for a long time, and these goals are similar to the goals of the residents of Oakland, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and other cities that have become fed up with Wall Street and the 1%, and their abuse of power."

"We are all the 99% and as a united front we will win back power for ourselves so that we can all
live in good health and dignity."
"People from every single community need to be involved in the Occupy Movement…"
"There are a lot of people who are part of the Occupy Movement who do not understand how race and ethnicity affects the 99%…"

"We went into Lowes and mic checked them about the Islamophobnes who go t them to stop advertising on the All-American Muslim show…"

"Mic check. Mic check. This will only take a minute. We are here to protest Lowes because of the corporate decision to pull advertisements from the TV show All-American Muslim. This show depicts Musilim Americans as positive members of society. And that's why those who want to spread hate campaigned against the show. By caving into their demands and pulling their advertisements Lowes has validated the haters. Islamophobia is a plight on this nation. It seeks to divide instead of unite. It is used to justify war. And it is rooted in fear, ignorance and lies instead of truth, fraternity and love. We say shame on Lowes for choosing hate instead of love. We are the 99% and we will not be divided."

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z121711occupythehood.mp3 || Interview with Z at Ocupemos el Barrio December 17 Chican@ Park