Voices of #OccupyOakland: Tess Unger on the Childrens Village #oo

Posted on 26 January 2012 by @kevin_seal

The following is an opinion-editorial piece written by an Occupy Oakland organizer, and is a message from the Children’s Village / Parents and Allies Committee of Occupy Oakland.

My name is Tess Unger, and I am speaking on behalf of Occupy Oakland’s Parents and Allies Committee. When the encampment existed in Oscar Grant Plaza, families were an integral part of the community. The Children’s Village was formed so that parents could feel connected to the movement, so that they could engage in general assemblies and working groups while their children made art or read books or played a pick-up game of soccer.

It also existed as a social center for people from all over Oakland, giving parents with young children a chance to interact and network with each other. We always had an abundance of food, clothes, diapers, and toys — all donated by the good people of Oakland. We didn’t anticipate how many families we would come to know and love that had no other shelter than the tents they stayed in at the plaza. The camp offered too many families something that the system had not: a sense of home. Without the tent city, many families have had no other place to go but back on the streets.

Currently, children comprise 28% of the homeless population in Oakland. There are 16,000 homeless people in Alameda County and half are families. It is a sad commentary on humanity that this system allows an abundance of usable shelter to sit empty and abandoned when there are so many people without homes.

The Children’s Village will march as a part of the move-in day on January 28th. We will have a teach-in and solidarity picnic at a nearby park, and families can decide to join the building occupation should the city officials and OPD act safely and in fairness. While it is our hope that the police always consider the possible presence of children before taking violent action against protesters, we can no longer act in faith that this is so. Our event on this day will happen within walking distance of the building, but far enough away so as not to expose children to any possible violent resistance from the OPD. We hope that we are being unnecessarily cautious, that if police and city officials are present, they come in peace and ready to listen.

This action is an opportunity for the City to begin to restore the trust of its citizens and repair some of the PR damage that has been done over the course of the Occupy movement’s short but amazing history. We hope, for the sake of our comrades, our children, and ourselves, that this is a day of enlightenment and evolution for the great city of Oakland. The whole world is indeed watching. Thank you.

If anyone has questions regarding the Children’s Village’s plans for #J28, please email them at [email protected] The number to reach Mayor Quan is 510-238-3141.