St. Louis: Squats Served Eviction Notices; Oakland MusicBox house raided
[From the Open Publishing Newswire -- TCIMC editors. below the fold: more from Feb 13th Music Box raid in West Oakland CA]
As you may already know, some of the squats in St. Louis received sad news earlier this month: eviction notices.
In case you’ve never had the chance to meet them in person, the houses are part of a six-and-a-half year old squatter community. Some of them are quite small and others quite large. Always with the desire to push ourselves in terms of what we thought we were capable of, we created an orchard, vegetable and medicinal herb gardens, an outdoor movie theater, and a wood-working studio in the squatted houses and surrounding lots. Three years ago we started a social space, A Boulder on the Tracks, which itself is the base for benefits, reading groups, discussions, parties, shows, a pamphlet and book distro, a lending library and a weekly food-sharing with our friends and neighbors. An apothecary and darkroom are near completion. A bathhouse/ observatory (bathervatory) is often dreamed about.
When the squats first started, we tried our best to make them our homes: well-rehabbed, coming and going openly and keeping more than just a few belongings and a mattress there. We’ve given so much of ourselves emotionally, mentally, physically and materially over the years (though relatively nothing monetarily), and gotten so much back in return. They’ve inspired unknown numbers of other squats locally, regionally and nationally.
Practically, the houses have met so many of our needs – housing, friendship, and a space to experiment: what it means to live collectively while also keeping a sense of our individuality, a place to sharpen our knives, and a setting to learn how to care for each other better. Materially, they’ve relieved so much of the drudgery of money, and, in that, some of the constraints of work, externally imposed self-discipline, and the deferment of our day-to-day dreams. They’ve also managed to out-live other precarious living situations (jesus, how many times does one normally have to move in six and a half years?), and have functioned as a place for friends who’ve suddenly needed a place to stay or needed to leave an unsafe environment.
The squats have also pitted us against Paul McKee, may he never know love or fulfillment, and his ilk. Their kind has more than once boarded up the houses and called them unlivable – what a complete and total inversion of the world if there ever was one! We return the condemnation a million-fold against this city, this country and this world. We hate and pity McKee’s kind for seeing money, profit, property and an obstacle – not lives shared amongst friends and comrades – when they look at our homes.
By most accounts, what started out as a small experiment hoping to last a month (maybe three if we were lucky) has been quite a success.
Those of you who have gotten to experience the squats – knowing full well they would someday end – have probably secretly thought to yourself, “but maybe they won’t…” Well, maybe.
Over the next month we’re planning a smorgasbord of parties and events – to mourn, celebrate and scheme. If you aren't able to come, remember: love isn't so much a feeling, but an action.
Greetings to fellow squatters in California, Spain, Greece, Russia and anywhere else comrades are living in contest liberated space.
For us here, this is only the beginning.
3 days ago on Feb 13th 2013, my home , The Music Box, located on 3404 Market St in Oakland was raided by the FBI, OPD and various officers leading the investigation from Citrus Heights, CA.
The police officers at first vocalized that the intended purpose of the raid was to look for a murder suspect. Latter, they vocalized that they were there only to search for his personal belongings that could be connected with the case. The warrant stated that they were there to search for a myriad of different objects, mostly pertaining to electronic devices, digital media storing devices, clothing, and objects connected with illegal cannabis production. The warrant also stated that they could come back within 10 days of the raid to confiscate other electronic devises, specifically cell phones.
The person whose homicide case they were conducting the raid in conjunction to was in prison for other charges during the time of the raid and had been behind bars for at least a month.
The raid started at approx. 7 am, with one of the residents spotting armed police officers and federal agents approaching the house across the street, the officers then approached the front door, coming through the gate and busted in, flashing a search warrant at the resident who answered the door. They busted all of the residents o of the Music Box out of their bedrooms and forced us all to wait outside in the front of our house, forced to pee in front of them, all of us in our underwear and pajamas for approximately 2 hours while they searched through our home, taking and breaking things leaving with what we saw to be 3 or 4 bags of things. No known electronic devices were taken. They originally told us we were detained but then that too was verbally retractted. They let us all take a look at a copy of the warrant that they left for us. They attempted to interrogate some of the residents about the suspects character, his whereabouts and asking if he had ever attempted to get them to do illegal things with them. One of the residents was put into handcuffs after they went to get a pack of cigarettes.
We called out for help to passer by, pleading for them to record the event, tell people what was happening. Eventually, friends of our house were contacted for help and came by, and around that same time, they let us all go. Thankfully, no one was arrested and the Feds as well as the cops left as calmly as people like that can leave a home they just invaded.
There were approx. 10-15 officers, many armed with assault rifles and FBI agents in swat gear. Many of the officers also had small video cameras around their neck recording the whole ordeal.
The previous day, Feb 12th, a few officers showed up in the afternoon claiming to be responding to a 911 call that apparently came from our home that they were doing a routine check up on. They said, without any instigation, that they were not trying to raid the house. The residents who answered the door told them they could not enter and told them to leave. Latter in the evening on Feb 12th, several helicopters circled our home, flashing search lights into our back yard as well as the front door.
This is not the first time our home was raided. In December, right before Christmas, we experienced a raid that was executed to search for someone who was being charged with fraudulent immigration marriage. The scene then was similar to the one on February 13th, in which cops and that time ICE officers busted into our home, all 20 some odd residents forced out of their various sleeping places, with certain individuals interrogated. That time, the officers did not provide a copy of the search warrant, but let some of the residents take a 2 minute peek at in which the person looking at it gathered that they had been surveilling our home for quite sometime.
The fact that the FBI and the local Police forces as well as police forced from suburbs of Sacramento believe that coming into someone’s home, terrorizing all of the residents, ransacking as well as breaking and stealing their personal belongings for vague purposes is a way to make peace with and please an already fed up public is absolutely absurd. Clearly, this is another example of the FBI’s and the local police forces ploy to exert brut force towards the friends and loved ones of poor people of color being charged for crimes that are, at their source, by and large economic.
This, in combination with the ICE raid is enough to make us all scream. Clearly, both accounts are completely and utterly racist. The illegal and abhorrent manner in which both raids were conducted also cannot be stood for, as it is clearly a gross injustice to our personal liberties.
One could also connect the recent raid on our home to the growing plot to gentrify North Oakland by our cities business elite. With the Bart Shopping Center under construction at MacArthur Bart, with the gentrification of the “Kino” neighborhood, with the well to do, Silicon Valley young urban professional savy of Emeryville, telegraph ave, and Berkeley being on all sides, it seems that the gentrification of North Oakland is inevitably on the rise. It is important to remember that police repression of any kind is inevitably financially motivated, with the repression of poor people, specifically poor people of color generally being a plot to force them out of their homes and destroy their communities to make way for a young urban professional backwash population, in this instance, the backwash of the Silicon Valley. The recent attacks on social centers, squats, the gang injunctions plaguing north Oakland and OPD’s general mission to destroy the lives of and terrorize communities of color in north Oakland as well as pretty much everywhere in the world, are not isolated points of repression carried out simply to satisfy the patriarchal, colonialist desires of the police force in and of themself. They are part of an articulate, financial plan to gentrify Oakland.
The residents of the music box are standing together strong . We care about and love each other very much. We thank everyone who has been supportive in this time of crisis, and hope to stay connected to a community of people who find these sorts of ordeals repulsive. We would like to extend a call for aid and solidarity in a few key ways:
-anyone who is willing to give a work shop about security culture and a know your rights training to the members of our home would be warmly accepted and gifted with a delicious meal!
-places for folks to stay who do not feel comfortable at our home right now
- We would like to talk to other people who have had similar things happen to them and gather info on what sort of things we should do.
-anything else you feel you want to contribute!
Sincerely yours and Fuck the Police,
-The Music Box
please contact born.in.flames19 [at] gmail.com to get in contact with residents of the Music Box, but please exhibit SECURITY CULTURE when contacting us!