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Wall Street perfidy? Damed straight. Foreclosures? Hell yeah. Police Repression? Hella yeah. And farming? Yup, that too.


Today, Earth Day, a couple of hundred occupiers from around the Bay marched from Berkeley, CA to a plot of land in Albany, CA (just to the north) known as the Gill Tract, then began violent destruction of property pulling up weeds and planting seedlings. They call themselves Occupy the Farm. At the intersection of Marin and San Pablo in Albany The Gill Tract is

... the last remaining 10 acres of Class I agricultural soil in the urbanized East Bay area. The Gill Tract is public land administered by the University of California, which plans to sell it to private developers.

For decades the UC has thwarted attempts by community members to transform the site for urban sustainable agriculture and hands-on education. With deliberate disregard for public interest, the University administrators plan to pave over this prime agricultural soil for commercial retail space, a Whole Foods, and a parking lot.

The plan was kept sooper-seekrit. Marchers did not know where they were going until they got there. Police were not there ahead of the game. An Occupy Oaklander told me that even though the banners for the farm occupation were done in his back yard, even he didn't know the target. The initial occupation appeared to be well-planned and well-executed.

But where there is UC, there are UC Police. Which means being on high alert for pepper spray, beatings and stupidity. For the nonce, fortunately, UCPD came, observed, and left. So far.

Police were on hand at the site not long after the activists broke in at mid-afternoon. By early evening no arrests or confrontations had occurred. There was no immediate comment on the situation from UC Berkeley representatives.
When I was at the site about four hours ago, there were no police save one on top of his van filming from the street about fifty yards away. There was talk that the UC Police had informed occupiers that they were trespassing; that the police had said they would be back "at 10:00 PM" a deadline which has come and gone. I heard that some people were planning on trying to stay there overnight.  About a hundred people were still there when I left.

The University has plans to turn part of the lot into a Whole Foods market, an irony not lost on the occupiers who were busy turning the soil. A banner read

Whole Food, Not Whole Foods

Here are some tweets, most recent to least recent:
Jaime Omar Yassin @hyphy_republic
spending night at the farm camp on san pablo/marin in albany. come on by, we need tents, sleeping bags, food, security volunteers

Occupy Oakland @OccupyOakland
uber impressed with #occupythefarm. tents and a lively crowd! join us at marin and san pablo! #oo #ows

becca v.b. @vontweetz
Running the #NLG Occupy Legal Hotline for #OccupytheFarm support - Call 415-285-1011 if anything goes down-So much good work! #occupyoakland

Yvonne Yen Liu @yvonnegraphy
#OccupytheFarm liberates UC Berkeley land about to be sold to corporate speculators @OccupyFarm &

Susie Cagle  @susie_c
The fight for Gill Tract in Albany began long before #OccupytheFarm. Albany school district "urged" UC for farm in '03.

Justin Beck @pixplz
Cops say leave or risk arrest #OWS RT @CourtneyOccupy I'm broadcasting "#Berkeley #occupythefarm" live on @Ustream

Susie Cagle @susie_c
"Folk plan to stay the night and protect the space from police and hungry deer." #OccupytheFarm

It's rather chilly tonight in Albany/Berkeley. Who knows how many peeps will remain and risk arrest or citation, or what will happen tomorrow.  But with articles already in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury and the Daily Cal (UC's Student newspaper), the fight to preserve this land from the people who "paved paradise and put up a parking lot" is about to take on a whole new dimension.

Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 10:33 PM PT: Occupy The Farm Press Release

Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM PT: A suite of pictures here

6:48 AM PT: Occupy The Farm website

6:50 AM PT:
As of about 12:30 a.m. Monday, University police had not responded to a request for information about how they planned to deal with the occupation, and there had been no coordinated police activity within the site.

Two UC police officers spoke peacefully with Occupy participants at 12:30 a.m., and asked them to keep the area clean, and said the action would likely garner much more attention from authorities Monday.

7:01 AM PT: Nice collection of pictures, plus article

Originally posted to jpmassar on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and SFKossacks.

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