By tiny aka povertyskola-
We had dreams, we had love
We had comeUnity called
Wood Street Com-mons
The couch got stuck on the stroller as it dribbled out of the teeth of the giant crusher. The sound of wood and plastic crunching became a terrifying melody . “This is only week one and they have already destroyed so much,” John Janosko, one of the warrior leaders of Wood Street Commons, a beautiful MamaFestation of homeless peoples self-determination in occupied Huchuin (West Oakland) had to scream above the endless drone of garbage trucks, poLice vehicles and the mouth of the omnipresent bulldozer lurching backwards and forewards in a violent dance.
I watched, shouted, stomped and paced back and forth on that weary stretch of Wood street - a former industrial zone, train station and freeway overpass that seemed to stretch for miles until it didnt, butted up against an encroaching pale gray-green, off-white, pseudo redwood and glass slathered condominium devil-opments (or CONdumbMinions as I called them) with signs announcing New Units Starting at 800,000. This PovertySkola had barely survived 22 poverty based evictions and 3 sweeps when mama and me lived outside, not to mentions incarceration in county jail for tickets for living without a roof and suffice it to say, there are no words to describe the bulldozing of everything you own, nothing
Wood Street Commons and Cob on Wood, two poor people -led autonomous land projects, have been building, loving , supporting and creating an inter-dependent safe space for fellow houseless people in Oakland for several years. Each project, next to each other on that empty pre-gentriFUked stretch of West Oakland, created free stores, a community kitchen, healing space, barbeque pit, tons of murals, a garden, and so much more. Each of them were strategically destroyed by the settler colonial state and city government.
“Your sweeps take away peoples homes, peoples belongings, peoples lives, every scrap of them trying to take care of their families and their survival,” Jaz, one of the other long-time resident leaders, artists, visionaries of Wood Street who has worked for years to help their fellow residents live and thrive with love stood in the middle of a pile of chairs, tables, blankets and a lamp while the DPW workers paced unmoved around them and the Jaws of the crusher continued to crush.
Day One with testimony
“Why are you sweeping us? We have nowhere to go? Lamonte Ford, longtime resident of Wood Street, peacefully stood at the barricade the poLice already put up on Day one of this violent eviction while Rupa Marya from Doctors without Borders made the argument that these evictions are a public health crisis.
By Day 2 the kkkops were roaming around the land with bolt cutters while the people tried to resist. One of the residents ending up injured and arrested for just trying to keep his home and James Burch of Anti-PoLice terror Project’s hand getting injured by the bolt cutters.
On day 3 of the Wood Street Destruction after a grueling day of more belonging theft, bulldozing and poLice terrorizing, at 6:00pm when people had already retreated for the night and theoretically that day’s destruction was over, a rogue bulldozer came careeening down the street and into a fence - barely missing rumming into residents. “They acted with complete disregard to anyone’s safety and almost killed people in the process,” said two long-time residents standing by the fence.
The Herstory of State Sponsored Lies about Houseless people
It began with the lies about houseless peoples and the “fires” at Cob on Wood, who although they built a beautiful circle of natural, cob homes and bathrooms, were relegated to being talked about as through they were criminal for the sole act of being houseless.
“They blamed all of us for the mysterious fires that happened at Cob on Wood and yet everytime there was a fire, CalTrans was oddly and magically nearby, ready with red tags, citations and false accusations,” said Lydia, longtime houseless resident and single mama co-founder of Cob on Wood. “They used the fires as the excuse to evict us,” concluded Lydia.
The fires, the evictions, the harassment, the evictions and the endless and constant sweeps have rolled on at Wood Street incessantly. Last year after a series of lies by the city, radical interventions by council person Carroll fife and endless speakputs , actions and organizing moves by the residents and their large community of supporters (which includes all of us Houseless/formerly Houseless folks at POOR magazine) -they were violently pushed onto the last much smaller stretch of Mama Earth at 1707 Wood Street
And true to Liberation form they built up their community space -they increased the capacity of their community kitchen and they held a series of beautiful parties, speak-puts , poetry readings (including a series of poormagazine street writing workshops- which produced all of this badass work)
And then this day came. Following multiple Temporary restraining orders to block the sick inevitability of the looming jaws of settler lies of private property the final eviction notice was served and executed last week.
These aren’t tiny homes - these are tiny Tombs…
6x10 boxes cuz lives like ours are’t listened to …
Day after day the crushing CONtinues
It has been truly deadly and exhausting. Day after day of crushing, removing, poLicing and harassing, All this so-called progressive city offered has offered is what i called in a recent poemSong i wrote for Wood Street; Tiny tombs, I mean Tiny homes.
“We have no place to store our belongings, these aren’t homes,” said one resident as she was marched over to “see her new home” by the on-site case mangler present at the evictions, The anti-social worker was hired by the city to “supervise” the eviction of the Wood street residents out of their ComeUnity.
The myth of tiny homes is just that, a myth, low-key jails, like SRO’s with untenable rules like no visitor policies and no cooking and no standing standing your box and beyond. These politricksters have so much to learn from self-governed movements like NIcklesville and Camp Resolution.
“We are resisting - we wll not give up, “ said Xochitl Bernadette Moreno at a danza prayer circle we brought last week. Xochitl is an atrist, media producer and one of the many powerful solidarity supporters, prayer bringers, advocates and co-founders of Essential Food and Medicine who has been supporting and standing alongside Wood Street Commons and Cob on Wood from the beginning In addition to EFAM, Love and Justice in the Streets, Anti PoLice terror Project, POOR Magazine/Homefulness and so many more movements, there are warriors like Xochitl and Delphine and Veronica Ramirez from PLACE who will be here and will not stop fighting for liberated self-governed land instead of more hygienic metaphors about our houseless bodies and never-ending removal
The heavily poLiced city Evictions CONtinue - the community still needs support- Follow @WoodStreetCommons on IG - go down to 1707 Wood Street to help move, document or redistribute.