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(en) US, Parks and Streets Reclaimed in Modesto: A Report from Reclaim the Parks By crudo

Date Wed, 27 Jul 2005 09:25:14 +0300

On July 23rd, Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians, (DAAA)
Collective, called for the third annual Reclaim the Parks in
Modesto CA. Wanting to expand the scope of the park
occupation beyond just being about the homeless, and the
issues that they face regarding police repression, lack of
affordable housing, and lack of permanent shelter, the event
worked to draw connections between other issues that also
affect other communities such as urban sprawl, police
brutality, lack of access to housing and jobs, and
environmental racism. The event attracted around 100-150
people throughout the day, three meals were served as well as
a Really Free Market, and a group of about 30-40 anarchists
and anti-authoritarians from Modesto, Fresno, and the bay
area also marched through the streets of Modesto in an
un-permitted march that lasted close to an hour.

Reclaim the Parks started off with breakfast served by Food
Not Bombs, and the opening of our Really Free Market. The
only police presence was a police car parked across the street,
but soon left after collective members started to video tape it.
The Really Free Market was very large, and huge bags of
clothing where laid out, as well as extra food, kids toys, and
stuffed animals. A literature table was also set up, and massive
amounts of anarchist propaganda was put out for free. Lunch
was then served, and several games were played. A
piñata’ in the shape of a large pink pig with a police
uniform was set up on a rope system, as people took turns
whacking the crap out of it with a PVC pipe. The piñata did
not last long, and soon candy littered the ground underneath it.

Later, a round circle discussion was formed to talk about
various issues, and give various communities the chance to
talk about different projects going on in their home towns. The
group of mostly young people was very diverse, with people
coming from various backgrounds. Members of the
communities of Grayson and Patterson where on hand to
discuss with the group the concerns of their community in
relationship to the Covanta plant, which burns various
computer parts and plastics and releases Dioxin into the air,
and has harmful side affects to the people who live nearby. The
presenters also talked about the process of environmental
racism in the city, pointing out instances of harmful companies
polluting and harming largely working class and communities
of color. Bay area anarchists talked about work to counter the
Minutemen, work being down around the proposed San
Francisco faire hike, and various upcoming events in the city.
Organizers with the DAAA Collective talked about the history
of Reclaim the Parks, police harassment issues towards the
homeless, and also police repression topics that face other

At around 4pm the group took to the streets of Modesto for a
march, crying that another Modesto was possible, but one that
would rest control in the hands of the people, workers, and
communities that made it up, not in the city’s elite.
Holding banners which read, “Community not
Development”, and waving anarchist, IWW, and other
flags, the group made their way towards downtown Modesto.
Chanting “Who’s Streets? - Our Streets!”, and
“Shelters not Prisons - Food Not Bombs!”, the march
worked it’s way down main streets of the city, until the
march spilled into an intersection, taking up several lanes. In
about five minutes, police were behind the march, and then it
was followed by police on motorbikes. Chants were started of
“Sammy Galvan Will Be Heard! Justice will be
served!”. At one point, police attempted to block the
march, and as several police got out of the cars, the march
broke out into a full run, and then restarted going up a street of
oncoming traffic. According to various people in the march,
and also police later in the day, the police called out to various
other police on duty and to various people within the march by
their first and last names, identifying various collective
members that were in the march. Now marching up a street of
oncoming traffic, the march was now trailed by several
motorbike cops, an undercover car, and police cars. Police
made attempts to push the march onto the sidewalk again and
again, as the march went in and out of the road.

The marchers continued to march, as they took a side street
that was completely empty of people, as they walked closer to
their destination of Cesar Chavez park. Police, using the
opportunity of no one around, drove their motorbikes onto the
sidewalk, (where the large portion of the marchers were at that
time), and blocked exit into the street with police cars. Quickly
the officers moved out of their cars, and detained one person
who they considered to be the leader, (the author of this
report), and then proceeded to detain two other individuals that
are organizers with the collective. When asked why they were
being detained, the officers replied to the protestors that they
three were being detained because the police officer “knew
them”. One collective member with a camera who was
filming the march and stayed on the sidewalk the entire time,
was told that he was being detained, (after repeated asking),
because he had crossed into the street without using the cross
walk at a specific intersection. The officers that were present
indeed did know many of the local organizers with the
collective. Many of them have either had arguments with us
and threatened us with arrest while we engage in Copwatch,
have argued with us, ticketed us, or threatened us with arrest
when we table in the downtown area during Anarchist
Café’, some have had complaint forms filled against
them by us, and the head police officer on duty also has taken
statements from us in regards to complaints we have filed
against various officers. Police have also numerously singled
out various people within the collective who they consider
“leaders” for ticketing before. While the three people
were getting cited, police then tried to talk to “the
leader” of the event with little success. After picking out
the tallest white man in the group and trying to talk to him, the
detainees were let go. As the police then left, we then spotted a
police officer taking pictures of us, but when we started yelling
at him and talking pictures of him, he then rushed off in his car
with great speed.

After the police left, the march continued on the sidewalk until
we reached the next street. This street was the freeway
overpass, and once again the street was occupied. The
marchers then made their way through the West Side Modesto
neighborhood, chanting, flying flags, and holding banners.
Many people came out of their homes, talked to us, and were
very supportive. Once at Cesar Chavez park, we fed dinner,
re-set up the Really Free Market, drank water and rested in the
shade of the trees as we reflected on a long day.

We feel like the event was a success, although we can learn
many things about the action that we can do better next time.
In both the areas of militant street protest, and on the ground
organizing, we can only expand and learn in both arenas. The
added help of people from out of town was also crucial to the
action itself, and shows that solidarity can greatly help small
town collectives with the help of just a handful of new people.
Outreach and critique of capitalism and the state will continue,
organizing and working to build alternatives to it will go on,
and actions against the apparatus of private ownership of the
means of production and the hierarchal nature of class society
will increase. Here in the valley, as well as across the world -
our resistance is as global as their capital! Our cities are like
factories, and the police like the guards - join us on strike!


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