Berkeley Post Office Defenders (BPOD) wanted to send a clear message in lights and action to the Postal Service, and coincidentally, Congress did too (sans the lights and action...).
Buried deep within an omnibus 1.1 Trillion budget bill that passed Congress on Friday, January 17th, Barbara Lee and other Representatives had inserted "advisory" instructions to the US Postal Service "suggesting" that they temporarily halt the sale of Historic Post Offices across the United States - including the Berkeley Post Office. "Temporarily" as in at least until such time as the US Inspector General issues a report, due in March, about their investigations into whether the Postal Service is violating various laws that specify procedures for selling these magnificent, 100 year old buildings which our great-grandparents built and paid for, now belonging to We the People.
While Postal Service management is not required to follow these advisory instructions, in the past they have always deferred to Congress' wishes when given such direction, so this is considered a significant victory for Post Office defenders across the country.
BPOD also wanted to deliver a message to the Berkeley City Council, which will soon be considering a Zoning Overlay Proposal for the Downtown Berkeley Historic District. While this sounds like the dreariest of technical goo (and it is!), getting this zoning proposal passed by the Berkeley City Council is very important - it's another leg in a set of diverse tactics to oppose the sale of the Berkeley Post Office and oppose the privatization of our Postal Service - a move that would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of living wage jobs.
The Zoning Overlay Proposal would rezone the area around Martin Luther King parkdowntown, which includes the Post Office, the Old City Hall, and other historic buildings, so that were a sale of any of these buildings to private entities to take place, the building (or its successor) would have to used for a civic purpose such as a library, as opposed to a commercial, industrial or residential use.
City Hall is right across the street. Are you listening?
This idea - conceived of by a BPOD member - has gotten national attention, receiving writeups in the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.
Along with the Light Brigade message, BPOD and Save the Berkeley Post Office have been working to collect over 1000 signatures to deliver to Berkeley's Mayor Tom Bates, requesting that he come out in support of this zoning proposal. (The City Council voted unanimously more than a year ago to oppose the sale of the downtown Post Office; the vote for the zoning change should therefore be unanimous as well, but we shall see).
The last message BPOD and friends wished to deliver to the powers-that-be is that "We Are Not Going Away" until the Berkeley Post Office and the Postal Service are safe from being sold off (often to the lowest bidder!) and privatized.
In August, 2013, BPOD set up an outside Occupation for thirty three days, attracting international attention and local controversy.
Last night tents were again raised in a symbolic, one-night encampment, signalling the continued resistance!
A GOOD time was had by all at the festival, with music from three different bands: the Funky Nixons, Phat Love and Fresh Juice Party. Working class solos were sung by BPOD's own Dave Welsh, retired postal carrier, musician and movement activist bar none.
A GREAT time was had by those who stuck around after the Light Brigade for an 'Ed not Bombs' food extravaganza and after-gluttony walk-in, sit-down sidewalk movie offering.
Photos tweeted out by @StrikeDebtBA, and by Alyssa.
The Writing Table, part of the day's activities. Free stationary and stamps!