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May 4, 2024 157 mins

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
A zone media.

Speaker 2 (00:03):
Hey everybody, Robert Evans here and I wanted to let
you know this is a compilation episode. So every episode
of the week that just happened is here in one
convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to
listen to in a long stretch if you want. If
you've been listening to the episodes every day this week,
there's going to be nothing new here for you, but
you can make your own decisions.

Speaker 3 (00:26):
Today, Shreen and I are talking to our friends at
PK Gaza our Meednabdullah. You might remember them from an
episode we did last October, and I've interviewed them before
for Men's Health magazine in the UK. PK Gazer is
a group that teaches parkour and free running to young
people in the Gaza strip. They've been doing this for
a long time and have some great videos you can

find all over social media and YouTube. Both our D
n Abdullah have the opportunity to leave Gaza. Our Ed
now lives in Sweden. Abdullah lives in Italy. We spoke
a couple of weeks ago, but very little has changed
since then, and I just wanted to note that Abdalla's
audio is a little bit rough, but we thought what
he had to say was really important, so we hope
that you'll take the time to listen to it.

Speaker 1 (01:08):
My name is Ahmed Matar. I am at twenty eight
years old at the moment. I'm Palestinian from Gaza. Currently.
I live in Sweden since eight years ago. And yeah,
I live in Sweden. I worked with Parkour and I
left from Parkour and that's what I do here. And
the last summer was my first time visiting Gaza since

eight years and yeah, but I'm back in Sweden. I
was back in Sweden one month before the war started again.
And yeah, a lot of a lot of things to say,
a lot of things to express, and but yeah, that's me,

Ahmed Matar, twenty years old from Gaza.

Speaker 4 (02:00):
I've a nice to meet you all. I'm a Puga
stop and I'm twenty seven years old. I'm also Palestinian.
I'm proud of that. I think the city originally and
you live in Italy right now. For the most three years.

Speaker 5 (02:14):
We wanted to talk to them about how it feels
to be outside of Gaza and wake up every day
wondering if a bomb has killed your family or if
your family is getting enough to eat?

Speaker 3 (02:25):
How have you been coping with, like dealing with It's
bad enough for those of us who don't have family,
watching the horrible things that happen every day, and like
every morning you look on your phone and it's something worse.
How has it been for you, guys? Just to give
people an insight into how you're coping.

Speaker 1 (02:41):
From my side, I can say, yeah, life is a
stop since the day that the war started. Six months
since this war, and every day just watching the news.
I go to work and then I come back while
while I'm at war, I'm just watching the news. I'm

lessening to the news, and that was my life since
six months at the moment, and I don't feel to
do anything else. I cannot feel like to train, and
I cannot feel like to enjoy or to forget what's
going on there because it's my family there, my friends,

my people. If I feel like I want to forget
about it, it feel like I'm I'm like betraying my people,
my family. So I prefer to just watch the news,
feel the same as them, and just do my best

to help them with what I can. But it's actually
like I just feel helpless at the moment that I
cannot do anything to them in that situation like this,
the moment.

Speaker 5 (04:01):
Oh Dulla said that when he chose to leave Gaza,
it was one of the most difficult moments of his
entire life. He knew that if he stayed, there wasn't
much hope for his future, and he'd have to give
up on so many of his dreams that would be
achievable if he hadn't been born in an open air prison.
Now that he's left, he can pursue his dreams in Italy,

but he struggles to express how difficult he has been
finding being so isolated and distant from his friends and family.

Speaker 4 (04:29):
I mean, one of the most important things in all
life is it's not really the most important in his family
since I really lived Italy. It was not really easy
for me because he knew that I would be alone
and I would be away from my family. But I
took that decision because they knew that somehow I had to,
let's say, somehow to sacrifice, and because you know, I

was focusing somehow on my future, my goals, which was
not really almost impossible. It's impossible to do it where
I was, which is going to.

Speaker 6 (04:58):
See it was the hardest decision of made ever in
my life, that even before anything really started, I'm going
to explain how I feel since months back.

Speaker 4 (05:10):
I'm sure that everybody knows right now if he's going
to put himself in my place, that he wouldn't have
the right words to express his feelings. And I'm sure
and I'm someone right now who doesn't really have the
right words to suppress it them to tell you what
I feel and how I feel, because it's it's not
something that's easy for anyone to experience in his life.

So that's how I feel.

Speaker 3 (05:37):
We wanted to ask him how they were able to
keep in touch with their families. I remember I was
talking to Upmed in October and like we were talking
about how hard it was just to find out if
your families were okay every day, right, like just to
contact them and check is that still the case? Like
how has it been just trying to contact your families

over the last six months?

Speaker 1 (05:59):
It is actually still the same that they have to
try calling and calling and calling the whole day until
they catch up, like the connection is cut off or
it's almost like impossible to get connected with them. So
I have to try the whole day until like I
get someone answering me because it's like I guess it's

because it's a small place where they are, like in
Rapa and there's more than one and a half million
people and everyone is trying to call to Gaza and
to check with everybody in there, so it's make it
hard to get connected easily with them. So I try

like every day. For sure, I in the end, it's
better than before. At the moment when they were in Canyonits,
it was like that I had to ask my friends
who levey close to my area and then they tell
me if my family are or not. And sometimes I
I'm having no information about them for a whole week

and just worry to if everything is okay with them.
At the moment, I just wish for the best. That's
what I am at home, wishing everything is okay with them,
but without knowing if it's them or another family who
got boned, because the TV is not showing a name

or a family anymore, because it's you know, you're talking
about more than thirty five thousand people getting killed, and
to mention the names of every person getting killed, it's
something impossible in the media. I guess I.

Speaker 4 (07:45):
Just want to mention, how does it feel for anyone
who's really listening right now? How does it feel if
you know that you know someone who's really the most
important in your life, and you know the team in
danger somehow, and you're trying to call one day to
day through three days or even four weeks. Sometimes sometimes

they even it happened two weeks and a few weeks,
and you know that people they are dying every day,
and it might be someone from your family that you know,
like something you know happen and you cannot reach them
because of the signal, because of the collection of good

whatever it is, How would you feel A.

Speaker 3 (08:30):
Had said he hadn't actually seen his family for nearly
a month because they hadn't had good enough signal for
a call. Abdullah, on the other hand, hasn't even seen
a picture of his family's its bombs begin to fall
on the place where he grew up six months ago,
like I have not.

Speaker 1 (08:45):
Seen my family like face to face on a camera
or for more than three weeks at the moment the
moment I saw them, And they have to go somewhere
really high building too, so they can have internet. If
they get this internet, and in the same time it's
very dangerous for them to go on a high buildings.

So yeah, you know, sometimes when my father sent me
a picture of him on messenger more than a month ago,
and then I was like just choked, how to see
his white hair, like oh, gray hair everywhere, and he
just changed in these six months totally, like I would

not recognize the same person like he was before the war,
because I was there seven months ago in Gaza and
he was totally young, like you know, he's just fifty
years but it's not that he had gray hair everywhere
like how I saw in his picture. And then I

see how suffering they are facing, how tough life they
are having at the moment, just through his face, his yeah,
his picture that he sent to me, which is really
just for sure heir to see that, how how they
are growing too fast because of this genocide we only come.

Speaker 4 (10:17):
I just want to add that I'm happy that you
Ahmed to be the chance to to see your father.
I still for the last six months I didn't see
a picture or didn't want to pull my father.

Speaker 1 (10:35):
Just understand, I they really risk their life to go
and talk to me. And then I always I also
tell them to not do that. When I when I
see them going to that building or where they go
to get the internet, I was just telling them go home,

be at a safer area. But still like they tell
me there's no safe area. There is no safe area,
and there is. It's the same anywhere, but then it's
still like, yeah, it's a It gives more fear that
when you are on a high building, any high building
getting targeted in Gaza.

Speaker 5 (11:39):
I have been having an extremely hard time looking at
what's happening through my phone, witnessing the suffering of people
who might as well be my family. They all look
and sound like my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my parents,
my siblings. I can't even imagine experiencing this if it
was my actual family. I genuinely don't know how I

could cope with not being able to reach them for months,
or not even knowing if they're okay. I wanted to
know if Ahmad Dinner Bellah have found ways to cope,
or at least ways to get through each day. Do
you guys have a community that you can reach out to.
Do you guys talk to each other a lot? How
How do you guys stay sane, like, how do you

not lose your mind? Just as everyone else goes about
their life.

Speaker 1 (12:25):
We talk to each other, mean abdollah, almost every day
in the evening, we spend like more than four hours
at least in a call. And besides that, yeah, while
we are sitting calling each other, we are watching the news,
and yeah, we have to be informed about everything is happening.
That's how it make us feel better at least to

know what's going on and to follow the news. Thing
else can help it. I think I would not feel
happy to go and enjoy while my family is not enjoying.
And yeah, I don't feel good about it. It's not
that I I should enjoy, it's I feel like I'm

not gonna enjoy until my family is safe. Until my
family is enjoying, and this is gonna take years, I guess.

Speaker 4 (13:21):
You know.

Speaker 1 (13:22):
The aroma troma is that affected them from this genocide
is gonna take a while to hear to recover. They
will take long time to recover from this. And I
don't know if I am affected by it or not.
But you know, my life, as I told you, has

been just watching news for six months and nothing else.
I don't know how is that affecting me in the
long run, like after the war ends. But for me,
Parker has always been a way to to recover, and
I'm sure Parker will help me later.

Speaker 4 (14:03):
I'm always trying to say to talk to myself because
I guess it's really important. Everybody has to talk to himself,
because it's the most important thing that Yeah, I'm your
positive people's believe I'm not to lose your mind, tries
just to be normal because of the end anyway, you
don't have anything that you can do in your hand.

Speaker 7 (14:25):
You know.

Speaker 4 (14:26):
That you cannot change something like I already have fen
of mind. I really told that I'm really proud of
myself that at least I'm trying to stay normal. I'm
trying to keep myself and act as a normal person.
But the main question is I don't know will I

would be able to. I'm afraid that once it's going
to happen, that I'm going to lose everything and I'm
going to destroy everything. And of course, you know, sometimes
I'm trying to do out. I'm not trying to be alone,
just trying to keep my mind and my life a
little bit more busy as much seek.

Speaker 3 (15:09):
I've known Abdullah and I've made and several other members
of PK Gaza since twenty twenty. I worked on a
story about him in twenty twenty one, which was about
the last time I could sell stories on gadz because
for the most part, you only get to write about
people in Gaza when they're dying. I asked them about
the well being of some of the other members of
the team.

Speaker 1 (15:28):
Side, Yeah, he's in our thoughts all the time and
we will never forget. And for sure for Side was
like the last person I saw in Gaza when I
left Gaza, and.

Speaker 7 (15:44):
He was with me.

Speaker 1 (15:47):
Helping me with everything, like so I can live from
Gaza to Egypt. So he was helping me with all
the process I need in the crossing area because it's
very busy and you need to know people in the
crossing area so they can fix you and help you
and carry my stuff with me. And I no say it.

Since I was born, I can say Said's father and
my father are very close friends. And since I grew up,
like since I started to be aware on this life.
I met Said and we were friends, neighbors. We were

always playing together, and then we decided to go for
a kung fu club and we started to train kung
fu and martial arts together. And at the age of
nine years me and Said also met Abdullah and met
the other guys who does also martial arts, so we

started to do martial arts together. And then we met
a Barker guy Mohammed Jakhbir and Abdo lan Chassi, which
made us turn into Barkour after and everything I was
doing in like in my sports life and outside of
my sports life, I was always meeting Side as a friend,

as a brother and we were at each other's houses
and eating together. And yeah, Side was really meaning a
lot to me because I have always known him as
the good guy who help everyone who need help.

Speaker 8 (17:34):
And the.

Speaker 1 (17:36):
Lately say it was like the manager of the Barker
Academy that we created there and he was taking care
and teaching kids for free and volunteering and putting from
his time so more kids can go there and learn
Barkour and my brother was one of them and he
was helping him. And during this war, Side was the

only one that informs me about my family in about
how they are because he was the only one. He
was connected to the internet at that time. So I
was going through him about my family, and we were
talking every day during.

Speaker 9 (18:18):
This war, and.

Speaker 1 (18:21):
Suddenly I just saw new it is about. That he
got killed together with his brothers while trying to rescue
some people from under the rabbit and then another rocket
upon them and killed them all. I could not understand

it and still cannot believe that Side is gone. It's
something that I would not believe that they go to
gas and say it is not there. I cannot imagine
how it feels to his father, to his mother, and
that they lost the three of their sons at once. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (19:02):
Yeah, but.

Speaker 1 (19:04):
Side will always be in our memory, in our heart
that we will never forget Palestinias.

Speaker 4 (19:10):
They are really different than anybody else. When the bonds
really happening, everybody just trying to scale. Everybody's just trying
to run away. What Side and his brothers did. They
just went after that building was bombed. They just went
to help others, to take others from Aldo Drepol, you know,
to help them to see if they are injuries. If

they are you know, they can't help others. And that
was their fault that they were trying just to help
others and then they could pomp three of them. That's
that's what happened with them, and that's what most of
the plastina durns. But they were really prayed, and yeah,

it's it's it's such a ross that nobody can can imagine.

Speaker 3 (19:58):
It's hard enough for you a friend, so suddenly it's
even harder when you have been able to see them
for months and never got to say goodbye. We asked
about the last time they spoke to their friend, and
we asked him to share some of their memories of him.

Speaker 1 (20:12):
So he was aside, was telling me, listen to this sound,
and then while listening, I was just hearing shooting. And
then he was telling me, this is a quad Captor.
The quad chapter is like a drone that is developed
to shoot at the same time so it can film
and see everything moving and shooting it at the same time,

so it can kill people which is moving. And he
tells me that everything is moving in this area, everything
is moving around us, is getting shot. And he was
at his home and together with his family, and I
was telling him, just saying, leave the area. Go somewhere

that is better, safer or something that you don't have
to hear this sound. You maybe can get killed inside
your home because you know this squad captures is a
drone that can go inside windows, anything that it can
go from the roof and enter your home. Yeah, that's

what he told me. What he told me was like, yeah,
but if I live home, I will get killed. And
if I if I leave another place, I will also
get killed because it's not safe anywhere. It's the same.
So if I die at our home or outside our home,
it's the same. And in the end, I go to

the heaven. It's directly it's better for me. And that's
what he was saying, and that's what he received. He
wanted the heaven, I guess. And but we we wanted
him back in our life. We did not want him
to go. But yeah, that's life. Take the good people

for us always.

Speaker 3 (22:02):
That's the end of part one, but we'll be back tomorrow.
It was the second part of our interview with Avemed
and Abdullah Gaza Pakur.

Speaker 5 (22:18):
Since October seventh, Israel has killed tens of thousands of
Palestinian civilians, many of them children. All over the world,
people have taken to the streets to call for an
end to the killing, to show solidarity with the people
of Palestine amidst their genocide. This is an unprecedented act
of solidarity, but it's also been a long time coming,

and we wanted to know how it made Ahmed and
Abdullah feel.

Speaker 1 (22:43):
I walk in the straights here in Sweden and they
see the people wearing the koffe Yah, the Palestinian Kofeya,
and it's something that made me feel for sure happy
and to see that the people start to be aware
of what's going on in Palestine in us, start to
understand that we have occupation, that we that finally you

need to look in our cause and solve it. This
is Ballistine, this is Palestinians that they need their freedom,
they need to live as any other person or on
this earth. And to see this support of the people,
it's the most important for us to to live. It

gives us a sense of freedom while we are not
free yet, just make us give us hope that something
will happen in the future. It's because it's a story
of obbressed people who have been suffering, suffering for years,

and I guess these people need attention, need the more
effort of the so they can get their freedom as
as they have when they have done about the black
lives matters. And it's also it should it should come
from the people. That's how the world get affected. If

the people go against their governments, against the the decisions
of their leaders, that's what gonna change the public opinion,
the leader's opinion.

Speaker 3 (24:27):
Also, I wanted to ask about, like people want to
help now more than I think they ever have in
this country. People are aware, people who weren't aware before,
People who couldn't have told you, like where like Palestine
was in relation to the map, Maybe now want to help.

Speaker 10 (24:44):
And that's cool, that's great.

Speaker 3 (24:45):
Like I think obviously people have a lot of learning
to do, because this isn't an issue that's been very
well covered by the media in the US for decades. Right,
the media in this country has also dedicated itself to
dehumanizing Muslim people for a very long time, but extensively
over the last twenty years. So, like two things that

come out of that. I want to ask, like, if
people want to help and they have money, that tend
to be the easiest way to make a difference, Right,
But you've told me before, a lot of the angios,
your parents, your families end up buying the food that
gets donated, So is there an engio that's better? And
then like what can people do to learn? I guess

like to learn more. I mean either from you guys,
or things or books or films that you think are good.

Speaker 1 (25:36):
I mean the all the companies or the organizations that
works in as are Yeah, for sure, they're trying their best.
But yeah, as you have seen that most of the
trucks are standing outside Rapa crossing and they are just
allowing two hundred trucks a day for two million people
who are hungry are suffering. So yeah, for sure, like

the food is not enough, and when someone wants to
get this food, he have to or he or she
they have to buy the food and it's more than
tin times more expensive than what it was before, and
sometimes it reaches even more and even the vegetables, it's

like higher than the price is here in Europe. Imagine
like a country under a war, no work, no jobs,
everything is stopped and the prices are going higher and
higher because the stuff is very limited and the food
is limited and everything is limited. So for sure, like

people want to sell the stuff that they have so
they can ear money so they can buy another stuff.
And that's how the people are doing in Gaza. So
if they get something maybe for free, which is very
rare that it happened because it's too many people. For example,
my family are buying the food, and I know how

it is for them that it is hard for them
to get the stuff that they even need because all
what they have is food that is backed in cans,
beans mostly beans actually, and that's what they have everything.
They tell me we have been eating beans or a

lot of these and pasta and they buy this stuff.
It's not that it's for free sometimes every other month,
every other two months to get a bag of flours
so they can make bread.

Speaker 5 (27:43):
And it's not just food aid that can be hard
to get your hands on in Gaza. Even sending money
is difficult.

Speaker 1 (27:50):
Yeah, it is starvation for the people. People are really
like suffering from that and cannot imagine And how is
my family living that situation, because I really find it
hard these times they even send my family money because
of how like most of the offices are closed that

can that can receive money from outside Gaza. So it's
most of the offices are very busy that they have
to stand in a queue for more than ten hours
five hours sometimes and in the end they tell them, oh,
we're sorry, we are out of cash, and that's what happens. Yeah,

and I imagine like the same money going and coming back.
So it's sometimes there is nothing in the banks, there
is nothing in the offices that is exchanging and receiving
money from outside. Like Western Union is not working anymore,
money Gram is not working, and now the people are

using something like a crepit coin like USDT, and and
you know, to send one hundred dollars for example, they
take like more than fifteen percent of that, and then
in the same time you also have to pay another
ten percent or five percent for sending because the USDT

is not equal with the USD because in the corrective
coin it's more expensive, so you need to pay more
dollars to get USDT and then there they receive it
as a dollar. So yeah, to support, I suggest if
anyone wants to support or have the money that wants

support a family or peopulling as the only thing is
to actually contact the family that they want to support directly,
because yeah, the all the support that goes through the organizations,
the international organizations takes very long time and in the

end it triches Gaza and the it's not enough for
the people, and then the Bible have to buy it.
It's not that Ghaza for free.

Speaker 5 (30:33):
Although millions of people are trapped in Gaza right now,
we also know that some Gazans have been able to leave.
We've seen fundraisers pop up for people trying to get
themselves or their families out of Gaza. We asked Ahmed
and Andola if they had an idea how much it
would cost to leave Gaza right now.

Speaker 1 (30:50):
But then imagine Egyptians government are charging five thousand dollars
for each truck entering Gaza, and they're charging every person
five thousand dollars to leave from Gaza. So it's something
else to help with. If you want to help someone
to live from Gaza, is also help our families or

something like that.

Speaker 4 (31:13):
I can say.

Speaker 1 (31:14):
I mean, I'm trying to get my family out of
there because I don't see any better future in Gaza
at the moment. Imagine like this, what happened to Gaza
will need at least more than ten years to recover.
All the schools are destroyed, all the houses, our home

is bombed, you know, to rebuild a home, it's not
just about rebuilding a home.

Speaker 3 (31:38):
Even if the bombing stopped today, the crisis woulden't. Almost
all of Gaza's infrastructure, it's hospitals, universities, schools, and streets
has been destroyed. There's nothing left in Gaza. There's nowhere
to go if you're sick. There's nowhere to buy food
or clothes for your children. There's no where to buy
the materials to fix your bombed house. Given all of this,

it's hard to see a future for people there, which
isn't very difficult. So we asked Abdollah, not made about rebuilding.

Speaker 1 (32:06):
You need to rebuild everything. You know, where will the
water go, Where will the water come from? The electricity?
Everything is bombed. You know, you need to build a
whole new city, which will take at least at least
at least at least ten years. It's much much more.
And the affection of it on the Bible themselves also,

what they have suffered, what they have, you know, it's
going to take them a long time to heal. So
I think I did not want to take a step
a step like this, but I will ask in the
end my people who follow me to if they want
to support the people and if they want to support

any member of my family to get out of Gaza,
because I don't see it any better and I'm not
ready to lose any of my family. And yeah, I imagine,
like I have a brother who's twelve years old at
the moment, and I have a sister which turned sixteen,

and another sister which has two kids, and one of
them was born in the war, like four months old
at the moment, And what about these kids, what will
they do if they stay in Gaza. And you can
apply that on the rest of Gaza people. Abdalla's family
and his brother's sons, his brother's kids. So yeah, that's

the best is I don't know, but most many, many
people want to really get out of there at the
moment because they think about what happened to Gaza. It
will take years, and it's my family's future, and they
don't know for how long it will take to fix

this future if they stay in Gaza and if they
still stay alive, because if they inter Gazza. At the moment,
my family is in Rafa and close to the borders
area with Egypt, and that's the only place where are
most of the people at the moment. Like more than

one and a half million are staying in a very
small area and Israel inter Rafa. That will be just yeah,
the huge is disaster that could ever happen on earth.
That imagine thirty six thousand people killed, and that's the

one that is confirmed on the list that they found,
but you know, thousands and thousands are like they cannot confirm,
like they already unknown, they don't know who they are.
And there's thousands under the rabble that they cannot get
out and many missings, so it can be it could

reach to one hundred thousand together with the injured people.
And that's not a small number. And imagine if the
enter to a place like Trafa, that will be just
like double what have happened at least I hope that

with not having but I see that Israelis are very
decided that they want to do that even if no
one would be able to stop them, they say, and
they would do it even without the support of anyone,
without the support of the USA or without and that

shows how criminals they are. I can say that they
want just to slaughter all the people in Gaza. They
don't care about civilian or not civilian.

Speaker 4 (36:10):
Yeah, I.

Speaker 1 (36:13):
Want to do my best to help my family, and
they see.

Speaker 8 (36:18):
I have to.

Speaker 1 (36:21):
To take them to a several place and I don't
know if it's possible of this day in Gaza.

Speaker 3 (36:29):
Like anyone else, Armed and Abdullah want their families to
be safe. But because they were born in Palestine, they
don't have the privilege of not having to constantly worry
about their families safety. They also don't get to be
the ones making choices to impact their safety. Instead, these
choices are made by other people. Those people don't know
are mad n Abdullah or their families. They might be

IDF Terir own operators or US diplomats. To those people,
their families are just numbers, but are made and Abdullah,
their families are their whole world.

Speaker 1 (37:00):
How it works to get people out of Gaza is
like you have to send someone in Egypt to pay
for the government in Egypt. So they put their names
in the last of Rapha borders so they can travel.
That's how it works. So and they charge every person
at least five thousand. You pay more than you are
able to leave earlier. If you don't pay, or you

pay five thousand, you stay and wait in the queue.
If you don't pay you die in Gaza. Yeah, you're
worth nothing. That's how it is. I don't know how
it is for Abdullah. How does he feel about the
future of Gaza at the moment? How do you feel
like for the next ten years watching your family? I

cannot imagine. That's the thing. That's why it lead me
to steps like that, because I always never wanted to
My family are very you know, loving to the country
that they don't want to leave Gaza. My mother was like, no,
we build home first, and I was telling trying to

convince her by just explaining the situation and the next
ten years from now, which is another disaster after the war,
which is make her understand more of the effort so
true to think about her children future and yeah, but

in the same time, I understand the love for the country.
I always love Gaza and they even have Gaza and
everything in my life, I have it in my name
even like I always if I say my name, I
say I'm Mather Gaza as as my name. You know,
I don't say I'm a'm at mother in my social
media even it says Mather Gaza since always not during

the war, and it's because I'm proud to be from
there because it's the place that taught me the strength.
It gave me, the bower it gave me like it
taught me a lot of values that I use in
my life at the moment. That made me patient, made
me strong, and that's what is Gaza. It made me

the person I am that I always hope and I
always dream. I always have an x to dream because
we always dream. As a bit of beeble from Gaza.

Speaker 5 (39:28):
Al Billa told us that his family is similar to Ahmed's,
not wanting to leave Gaza because of their love of
the land. Their priorities are to help their families. He
said that when people ask him how can I help,
his view is that everyone has their own way of supporting.
It does not necessarily have to mean financial help if
that is not a possibility for someone. He stressed the

importance of posting on social media to continue spreading awareness
and how the Palestinian struggle is a struggle that concerns
all of humanity.

Speaker 1 (39:59):
You know, the beginning I was, I was thinking like
I want to go to Gas directly after this or
during the war. But the wars I see it, the
harder it make it like that even if I go,
what will it help with my family? Like home is destroyed.

Everything is destroyed, not just our home, our whole area,
like our neighbors, everything or our hood is destroyed, which
is as we said, would take long time to fix.
So going to Gas, yeah, for sure it can help.

But in the same time, in the long run, it's
not the the thing will that will make a change
for my family's safety and future. And that's why I
don't know. I am stuck in between two things, like
going to the place where I grow, where I learned

all of these values to be strong, and but in
the same time living life where everything is destroyed, where
you don't have a future, or decide to be in
a severe place where you may be fix the future,
but away from your country, from your heart, because you know,

for us, Gaza is our heart. We really love Gaza.
We care about everything in Gaza. But that's where I
am stuck between safety and future and the heart Gaza,
the place where we love.

Speaker 5 (41:48):
We really appreciate you, both of you guys, sharing your
your feelings and your stories. And I think I'll make
a great point about how even if you can't support financially,
there's a huge benefit of continuing to share posts about
Palestine and continue to talk about it and not letting
life just go as usual and making people remember what's

happening and not letting them forget. So I think that's
the part you remember for all the listeners, just if
you're able, Like, the least we can do is talk
about Palestine. That's the very least, very least you can do.

Speaker 4 (42:21):
Thank you.

Speaker 1 (42:21):
It was a bleacher, a blisure to talk to you
and share the story with you, for sure, and to
tell you the situation of every person who's living outside Gaza,
away from their families. That's I guess, not just me,
not just up the lights, every Palestinian from Gaza who's

living away from their family.

Speaker 4 (42:44):
They are really.

Speaker 1 (42:47):
Suffering, I can say, because we are not living normal
since this unicide started in Gaza, and we hope it
will end soon so we can see our families. And yeah,
stop the killing of this people from this children, because

it has been a war, a genocide on the children,
women innocent. More than fifteen thousand children have been killed
and much more disappearing. And yeah women and so it's
more than seventy percent of the people who being killed

are women. And children and also prest Is el three
and men teenagers.

Speaker 3 (43:40):
Guys, Where can people if they want to follow along,
like to hear more from you guys, just to see
your stories? Where can they find you a on social
media online?

Speaker 1 (43:50):
You can find me on my Instagram at Arghaza or.

Speaker 4 (43:54):
THEO this week that's my accounting Instagram. Ahmad was saying,
I mean we really appreciate everything and we are I
mean we are here because also what we want as
much as people to know about it and just to
think and to know that in urgasman super expinions, they
are not really numbers. They are people. There are people

that everybody has really hot and it's beating all the time,
and we have feelings. We we we have everything that
any human thinking in this has and this world as
same as everybody is really listening right now, when we
are all equal, there's nobody is better than another one.

At the end, we are all the same. So it's
we are not numbers. Just I would I would like
to everybody remember this. There's so many and so much
really bigger stories behind every every want, everyone that will
really killed. Everyone has a family, and you have to think,

what if there's just you know a person that he
lost either one from his family. That's one story. The
other person that he lost his kid, that's another story.
The other person lost his mom, that's another story. The
other persons his dad, that's another to the story. So
everybody has his own story. That's why I'm just trying

to show that we are not just an numbers. There's
so many other things that we haven't we would feel
often so even though the people they are still alive,
and they are alive, they are dead. They're not alive
because literally they have nothing, even whether they lost someone

from the family or whether they can die even from hunger.
Thank you guys so much.

Speaker 3 (45:57):
Yeah, thank you man, Thank you boy.

Speaker 11 (45:59):
We really appreciate it.

Speaker 4 (46:00):
Thank you.

Speaker 3 (46:02):
Hey everyone, it's me Games. I hope you found those enlightening.
I know they're difficult to listen to, but I think
they're important as well. I just wanted to update the
end of the episode to let you know that Ahmed
has made a fundraising page. He's raising funds for his
family who are still trapped in Gaza. If you'd like
to donate to that, we will include the link in
the show notes. But I'm also going to read it

here just so you can remember it you're driving or
what have you.

Speaker 5 (46:26):
Hey, everybody, the URL has been updated. Actually it is
now go fund me, g o f und dot m E,
go fund me, dot me forward slash F six B
one F seven b E. So go to that go
fund me and please donate what you can. It will

also be in the description of this episode.

Speaker 10 (46:50):
Thanks welcome a special May Day episode of vicd Appen Here.
I'm your host, Mia Wong. It wasn't too long ago
that unions were finished. The percentage of American workers in

unions plunged towards the single digits. The unions that survived,
battered and broken shells of the mighty behemists that shook
the world for one hundred years, embraced so called business unionism,
which set out not to conquer the world in the
name of labor like its great predecessors, or even really
to bargain for higher wages, but to make companies profitable

in order to keep their jobs. They took pay cuts
and job losses without a fight, forcing their membership into
line and effortlessly crushing the endless slates of reform caucuses
that sought to put the fight back into the working class.
Even the cutting edge of Marxist theory health the time
of unions was over. Workers were too anomized, too divided

to fall or from the immediate processes of production, from
the discipline of the factory, and from the massification of
the city to assemble the working class in its old
fighting form. There would be riots, to be sure, barricades, blockades, occupations,
but not strikes. Whatever the working class did next, the

age of the union was over. For much of the
twenty tens. That prediction was a smart bet. The bold
proclamation of Wisconsin trade unionists that organized labor would turn
back the tide of the Tea Party failed to ruin
under the failure of their attempt to recall Wisconsin's hated
union busting Governor Scott Walker. The Tea Party's march continued unimpeded,

radicalizing even further in the wake of the twenty fourteen
twenty fifteen uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore to produce not
the victory of the working class but Donald Trump. Even
success stories like the rejuvenation of the mighty Chicago Teachers
Union AFT Local one by a bold reform caucus called

the caucus of rank and file educators or corps who
waged a pair of unexpectedly, wildly popular strikes, was tainted
by the reality of limited wins and labor conditions in
Chicago schools that remained appalling. Even as the left returned
in the wake of Occupy Ferguson and the election of Trump,

union membership continued to plunge, and capitalists and Marxist alike
continued to herald the union's demise. They were wrong. History,
it seems, delights in irony. It was the dead enders,
fighting hopeless battles and reform caucuses, losing union election after

union election. It was the wobblies fighting losing campaign after
losing campaign, desperately trying to organize the unorganizable fast food
and Rea tail workers. It was rank and file Marxist
trade unionists waiting sixty long years, their comrades dead and gone,
for somebody, anybody, to hear their plans for shutting down

Capitol's logistics networks. It was labor notes, sixteen staffers compiling
endless analyzes of labor struggles for a crowd that couldn't
have filled a baseball stadium.

Speaker 4 (50:23):
Who was right?

Speaker 10 (50:25):
Unions are back, while still small compared to the height
of union power in the nineteen fifties, twenty twenty three
saw a wave of massively popular strikes waged by unions
from the massive behemoths like the UAW in the Writers
Guild to tiny independent coffee unions whose members Larger existing
unions are rather spin on than spend a single cent

attempting to organize. Only the director intervention of the President
to break a rail workers strike before it could start,
and the last second portrayal of Teamster's leadership stopped twenty
twenty three. This largest strike wave of the modern era,
basking in his triumphs and conspiring to win more, was
Labor Notes. Labor Notes is a curious beast. It is

simultaneously a journal that publishes news about labor struggles, a
network that brings together a group of disparate rank and
file union reform movements, largely but not exclusively from the US,
maintaining a strong emphasis on solidarity and organizing with workers
in Mexico, and a labor conference that runs every two years.

It is a relic of another time, whose time, it seems,
has come again. Labor Notes was founded in nineteen seventy
nine as a way to coordinate and expand the inter
union connections formed to the United Mine Workers of America's
nineteen seventy nine bituminous coal strike. It's one of the
last direct connections to the era where labor was strong

unwinningly task of keeping the flame of labor alive during
the neoliberal downpour. Two weeks ago, they held their largest
conference ever. Four five hundred people crammed into the Wyatt
Regency next to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. At least a
thousand people who tried to register were turned down. I

personally watched interested workers turned away at the door because
the venue's conference halls had already reached the mass capacity
for fire safety. Labor we can safely say is back.
It is returning to the South the great Rock unions
have shattered upon for one hundred years. It's moving in

new directions towards service workers previously thought impossible to organize.
Most of all, it's moving towards something we'd almost forgotten
was possible. It's moving towards victory. The first thing you
noticed about Labor Notes is it's staggered diversity, Young punks

and battle jackets sat on benches next to old anti
war protesters from the sixties. Independent trade unionists and feminist
activists in Mexico rubbed shoulders with battle hearted American union nurses.
White middle aged longshore men and women plotted with young,
queer Amazon warehouse workers to maximize the power of logistics strikes.

You saw old industrial organizers from the sixties passing down
lessons and tactics and stories of strikes that otherwise would
have vanished into the mists of history. Media workers fighting
for their first contract, the lowliest rank and file workers
chatting in breakout groups with union presidents. For all the

talk I've done in this show about how many union
organizers are trans, even I didn't expect to see this
many trans people. It's a cross section of the American
working class come to fight, and that, above all, is
what this Labor Notes conference was about fighting. The most
direct conflict came on the first day of the conference,

when Palestinian union activists called for a pro Palestine demonstration
outside the hotel. The cops arrested three people in an
attempt to clear the street. This, rather predictably was a
terrible idea. Instead of backing down The crowd of several
hundred union activists almost immediately surrounded the lone car and

demanded they let their prisoner go. What happened next, to
use a technical term, fucking ripped. A bunch of kids
had a rave to the changing police sirens. A fifty
year old white duty from the electrical worker stood next
to me. A Chinese transzoman from a podcast union, A
bunch of longshore men, teamsters, staffers from unions. You wouldn't

believe even if I told you Palestinian trade union activists, nurses,
punks from independent unions. No one else in the crowd
could have named. An entire mass of unionists stood their
ground and refused to let the cops take one of ours.
A tradeswoman with drums marched around the police car and
we're all saying which side are you on? After two hours,

the police gave up to a crowd screaming Union power
at the top of our lungs. It was an incredible
display of solidarity that set the tone for the rest
of the event. We were going to fight the bosses
together and fuck them if they came for us. This
is not to say there weren't divisions. A group of

protesters broke away from the cop car to demand that
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, the darling of the Chicago Teachers' Union,
come tell the cops to let our people go. Now
whether or not this would have worked is up to
some debates. These cops were not Chicago police departments. They
were the cops of Rosemont, which is technically a separate

entity from the city of Chicago. However, Labor notes staffers
and securities tried to stop the protesters from reaching Brandon
Johnson and ended up throwing punches at the protesters. As
to quote one observer, union brother fought union brother. This
fight reveals one of the important tensions in the movement.

Should unions continue to back imperfect center left politicians in
exchange for some political benefits, or should they take a
hard line against politicians who betray their fundamental political principles.
Brandon Johnson is a microcosm of the debate. On the
one hand, he was elected with enormous resource expenditure from

the Chicago Teachers' unions. On the other hand, he's been
locking immigrants into berculosis ridden camps as the city lurches
from crisis to crisis. Even many of Chicago's other unionists
were never happy with him in the first place, as
he failed to use his previous position to come to
the aid of striking nurses. When the two points of

view collide, there's a fight. On a national level. The
conflict is the question of Joe Biden in Palestine. At
Labor Notes itself, there's strong support for Palestine. Palestinian solidarity.
Panels were packed to the rafters with workers from every
sector imaginable and activists from.

Speaker 11 (57:21):
Across the world.

Speaker 10 (57:22):
I saw UAW workers deeply unhappy with their union leadership's
decision to endorse Biden, a decision made by maybe five
members of an executive committee, with how a vote from
the union therein lies the issue. As much as Labor
Notes represents the bleeding edge of the labor movements. UAW
president Sean Fein, fresh off the uaw's astounding seventy three

percent victory at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, gave the
conference's closing address. There remains massive bastions of conservatism in
the labor movements, who have actively fought against even statements
on Palestine, much less concrete actions. Unions are still weak
and the positions of activists within them are still tenuous.

Even more favorable shops have yet to turn broader popular
support among rank and file workers for Palestine into substantive
strike actions, and it's deeply unclear to me if any
such action is possible at all. My pessimism on labour's

willingness and ability to stop the genocide and Palestine, a
pessimism reinforced by watching the rapid spread of student campus
occupations while labor remains silent or perhaps more precisely dormant,
is broadly intension with my optimism and effectively everything else
that I saw there. There is incredible organizing going on

at labor notes. People are coordinating rank and file links
between unions whose staffers and leaderships hate each other for
grudges whose origins have passed into the mists of time.
There was quite serious talk about plans to line up
contracts to expire in twenty twenty eight to effectively create

a miniature general strike, or perhaps more precisely, to create
a version of what's called the Spring offensive in Japan.
Spring and offensive are the same word in Japanese, and
so labor unions decided to have their contracts expire in
the spring, thus maximizing the power of their strikes. This
effort to have contracts aligned in twenty twenty eight is

broadly speaking, a larger version of the Spring offensive. We
will cover this more in a later episode. For now,
I think it's enough to say that discussions and organization
were quite serious, and there was significant enthusiasm as well
as discussions of the potential difficulties of getting people's contracts

to actually align. People are organizing to bring their unions
together on a sectoral base to share resources, coordinate, set
standards for contracts, and generally help each other more effectively
oppose the bosses and unions that rule them all. Labor
Notes has also from the beginning been an incubator for

reform movements inside of unions, attempting to wrest control from
corporate administrative caucuses. These reform movements almost always lose. The
last fifty years is littered with defeats in union election
after union election with sub ten percent turnout, and yet
little by little these groups are starting to win. We

heard from a number of smaller rank and file efforts
that had successfully taken control of their unions. The first
major victory was a rank and file slate taking over
the management of the notoriously corrupt and clickish Teamsters. Now
I have my issues with the new Teamsters leadership too.

There are something like two entire hours of this show
dedicated to how angry rank and file Teamsters were over
the fact that UPS workers didn't go on strike last
year due to their leadership cutting a deal with management.
But on a broader level, the victory of the Teamsters
reformed slates and the defeat of one of the oldest

union I don't know if administrative caucus is really a
that's a bit of a euphemism for the UPS sort
of corrupt leadership dictatorship, but their victory on a broader
level was a sea change in American unionism. Their victory

was followed by the victory of Seawan Fain in the UAW,
a man who, as much as he angered members by
endorsing Joe Biden, walked into Labor notes and gave a
speech about the class war and the authoritarianism of corporate greed.
Certainly there was much to annoy trade activists concerned with Palestine,

in the sense that his central metaphor labor was the
arsenal of democracy was in bad taste as he described
the unions that he leads as the successors of Liberator
B fifty two bombers, which not, you know, not precisely
the metaphor id shoes, as your own members are protesting

the bombs falling over Gaza. But on the other hand,
if a giant speech about the class war and the
need to organize across borders is now the conservative wing
of progressive trade unionism, the future is bright. The kind
of militant union actions we've seen over the past year

have coalesced into a sort of strategy of fight as
you build. It is based on a very basic strategy
that you would think unions would have already been doing. However, Comma,
see everything I've ever said about administration, administrative caucuses, and
business unionism and corporate unionism. The strategy is, if you

win things for people, more of them will join unions.
This strategy is already bearing fruit in Chattanooga and has
international implications as well. We heard from organizers that workers
in Mexico and China were keenly watching the UAW strikes,
and for good reason, these strikes are ultimately their fight too,

and slowly but surely workers across the world are starting
to realize it. The degree of internationalism at this Labrynes
was remarkable. I came into an early China panel fully
expecting the same kinds of praise for the CCP that
I've seen in other leftist events held in the city
of Chicago, most recently the sort of fiasco China panel

held at Socialism Conference that degraded into an argument about
whether or not Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa socialist.
Here there was none of that. For sure, there were
some slightly weird German maoist defending the Cultural Revolution, but

on the other hand, there wasn't any defense of Chinese
capitalism or their failed, bankrupt model of corporate unionism. On
top of cross border organizing, sectorially, the conference has a
deep and ingrained pro immigrant position. Sean Fayn is probably
the most high profile political figure I've seen actually discussing

the horrific treatment of migrants at the border right now
and taking time to remind everyone that immigrants are just
workers trying to find a better life. This, however, makes
his support for Joe Biden, the Butcher of Yakumba, even
more questionable. Still, you can see the wheels of history turning.

You can see it there in the muffled buzz of
conversations drifting through hallways, in the roar of the cheering crowd,
in the bright laughs of co conspirators who moments before
were strangers, and the drowsy chatter of abortion workers who
let a transwoman sleep on their floor to hide from
the police. In the chance of a hundred workers refusing

to let the cops take one of their own. You
can see the outline of the great Leviathan, the ruling
class thought buried stone dead in the nineteen eighties. You
can see the working class waking from its day's slumber,
shaking the sleep from its eyes and the dirt from
its back. You can, for the first time in decades,

hear the clatter and the roar as it tests its chains.
The great behemoth is beginning, just beginning, to assemble the
iron will and terrible power necessary to turn its dreams
into reality, to break its chains and shatter its cage,
and reclaim the world it built with its blood and
sweat and tears. That day is not today, it's not tomorrow,

But for the first time in my life, it could
be the day after that this has been it could
happen here, Happy Mayda everyone.

Speaker 2 (01:06:42):
Hey everyone, Robert Evans here and it could happen here.
A podcast about things falling apart and sometimes putting them
back together. I'm writing this after flying back from Texas
where my tad died, to Portland, waking up and basically
immediately interviewing a group of testers in Arcada, California, at

the cal Poly occupation in Humboldt, and then driving to
Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, where there has also
been a campus occupation, And both of these occupations have
some stuff in common, and I wanted to talk about
what was happening with both of them because I think
it's relevant, and obviously it's relevant to what is currently

one of the larger stories going on in the country
right now, which is that a series of occupations on
campuses protesting the Israeli genocide and Gaza have spread to
more than one hundred schools in the United States. You
will have heard of this now. We have covered some
of this in recent episodes, particularly what was going on
in Colombia at least at the initial stages of that,

and today again I'm here to talk about two occupations.
One of them is at cal Poly Humboldt in Arcada, California,
and an other is at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
As an out of side, I have lived in both
of these cities, which is peculiar. It doesn't really mean anything,
but I thought it was weird, and obviously I still
live in Portland. Protests started in Arcada first. On October

twenty second, twenty twenty four, students on the cow Poly
Humboldt also called CPH Campus occupied Seamen's Hall. These students
were not members of any specific group, but we're all
acting in solidarity with GAZA, and we're inspired at least
partly by the solidarity encampment at Columbia University. It started
with a small number of people, about forty five or so.

These are a mix of students, some alumni, and a
few random Arcadens. Arcada is a pretty progressive town. You
might call it Hippi. That's generally the reputation that it has.
Campus police showed up. There was a series of negotiations,
which here means they told everybody to leave, and at
that point the police began escalating things. Because the Arcada

Police Force is pretty small. Cops were called in from
the surrounding area, quite a few of them. There were helicopters.
It's much more of it to do than this fairly
sleepy community in the Redwoods is used to having. Community
members started to show up as well because hey, something
was happening. A ride up from Crime Thinks website describes

what happened next quote, Police from every department in the
county showed up, including a helicopter, canine units, and off
duty police. Students responded by swarming them. The cops initial
plan to carry out a mass arrest was thwarted by
a series of clashes both inside and outside of the building.
The occupiers beat back police advances despite facing brutality unlike

anything we have seen over the last decade of struggle
in Humboldt County. Again, it's a pretty sleepy place. There
were two arrests and a number of injuries. The arrests
were apparently quite ugly, but police were unable to clear
out the occupation. Barricades were thrown into place as the
fighting continued off and on, until a crowd of people
from the surrounding community, including other students and faculty, showed

up out side and effectively surrounded the police. After six hours,
the police retreated, The university declared a lockdown, and the
students were able to spend the next few days extending
their defenses as well upsetting, as well as setting up infrastructure,
including a kitchen. Early on the morning of the twenty ninth,
a team from It Could Happen Here sat down with
two of these students to discuss the occupation.

Speaker 12 (01:10:21):
I go by Stinger online and I have been part
of the occupation since I think the morning of day two.
I think it's been night after the pops tried to
enter the barricaded building and got pushed back. I think

I've been here since the morning after that.

Speaker 11 (01:10:48):
Yeah, Blue, And what's been your history with this?

Speaker 13 (01:10:51):
I came here on Tuesday morning. I just attended a
meeting with everyone, and I've just been here how at
the MAC, mainly because I feel like that's where I'm
the most useful.

Speaker 11 (01:11:04):
What's the MAC?

Speaker 13 (01:11:06):
The MAC is the Mutual Aid Kitchen. God, we've been
handing out food and I've just been helping prepare food
for people and trying to let other people involved do
more things because I know I'm the most useful in
the mac personally rather than being anywhere else doing anything else.

Speaker 2 (01:11:30):
By the time we talked to them, the rumor mill
widely expected the police to carry out a major attempt
to clear the occupation that night. As I write this
ten thirteen pm PST on the twenty ninth of April,
local police have just given Siemens Hall a dispersal order.
So we'll see how that goes. Hey, everyone, Robert here,
we saw how it goes. Police cracked down, arrested a

bunch of people and ended the occupation. We will talk
more about that a little at the end of the episode.
But because their initial efforts to clear out the occupation failed,
police have had to spend nearly a week watching and
waiting as students dig in.

Speaker 12 (01:12:05):
Yeah, police have not tried to like actively push us
out like we've seen on other campuses, where like they've
totally like raided and like worn down tents and everything.
And I think we also, I think a big part
of it is like logistically, we're in a small city
and we don't really have the police force necessary, Yeah,

which is why they've been trying to call you know, unfortunately,
then trying to call officers from other places because especially
like I feel like in the evenings especially, we have
a lot of people both from the community and students
on campus who have been occupying the quad. But what's

so funny is that our main intention was not Like
the original intention was not to barricade that building. It
was just going to be occupied, not arricaded. But because
of police actions, I feel like we've actually stepped up
more so. They kind of shot themselves on the foot
with that one.

Speaker 2 (01:13:08):
This is a pattern we've seen a few times in
recent years. In late twenty twenty, Garrison and I reported
from an eviction defense at the famous Red House in Portland.
The basic idea is that local protesters were trying to
stop police from serving an eviction during the pandemic. There
was a clash outside the house and some arrests, but
police pulled back when protesters were still on the ground

and in numbers. Said protesters began to fortify the area
around the house and eventually the entire neighborhood. By the
time the police realized what was going on, they had
a nightmare on their hands, an occupation that would have
been impossible to clear without significant violence. The end result
of the situation was that the city government essentially negotiated
an end to what was happening rather than just sending

the police back into evict residence. There is much more
to the whole situation than that. This is something people
still get angry about because the patriarch of the family
at Red House was a weirdo sovereign citizen type. But
the goal at the time was to stop evictions during
the pandemic, and the tactics of the day worked. The
cops backed off, the city came to the negotiating table.

It was a successful action, whatever you think about the
individuals involved in it. After the call that Garrison Mia
and myself had with those Humboldt students and we will
hear more from them later, I got a message from
a source that an occupation was also brewing on the
Portland State University campus, or rather that it was going on,
and folks were worried things were about to escalate. But

don't you escalate until you've listened to these ads.

Speaker 11 (01:14:38):
Anyway, here they are, We're back.

Speaker 2 (01:14:51):
Actions at Portland State University started on Thursday, the twenty fifth,
and it was initially pretty simple. One tent and one
banner strung between trees in front of the Branford Price
Miller Library steps. Social media did its thing. Once this
first tent was up, and the encampment slowly grew to
maybe half a dozen tents by midnight. At around one

twenty am, the police swept the encampment. Only a few
people were awake and less than twenty people were present
against maybe forty riot officers. The police pushed people out
of the encampment. They went straight for the supply tent
and took everything, loading medical equipment, food, etc. Into City
of Portland trucks and hauling it away. It was a

bad night for a lot of people. But what I
gleaned from interviewing some of those folks was that they
had learned one crucial lesson, which was that Portland police
weren't willing to fuck with people or property that was
sitting on the PSU steps. This is probably a jurisdictional thing.
School properties the responsibility of the PSU Campus Police PPB

could police the park outside, but either couldn't or just
didn't want to be arsd in dealing with the complications
that might be caused by going into school property themselves.
So the school had to deal with the unenviable complication
of the fact that these were their students protesting at
a famously progressive school and having their cops cleared them out,
especially if it caused violence or somebody got seriously hurt,

would be a real pr headache. The administration at Humboldt
University and famously progressive ARCATA ran into a similar problem.
In the days after the police backed away from their
initial confrontation, students developed a list of demands by consensus.
Here's one of our sources from the Humboldt occupation again
and their description of the demands have been cut together

from a longer interview. Some crosstalk has been edited out
to make things flow a bit more clearly. Anyway, here's
those demands.

Speaker 12 (01:16:47):
Okay, So students, with the mediation of faculty, have reached
out to administration in hopes of re engaging negotiations. So
we would like administration to agree to the following through demands.
One de escalated. We demand the immediate removal of police
from university campus. We also demand the immediate re enrollment

of students who have been suspended. And it problem is
to not suspend, resuspend, or expel any student protesters as
a result of these accusations because they were claiming, you know,
that we had committed property damage and trespassing and things
like that, and that was a lot of the reasons
that they gave for suspending us, Like in the email

we received about interim suspension. Two was divest We demand
that the Kalipoly Humboldt Foundation commits to an audit and
subsequent divestment from any funds related to Israel, Israeli products,
or Israeli companies, and this includes those that own factories
on stolen Palestinian land in Israel. There are four specific

funds that at the minimum, we demand the divestment from
within the next six months.

Speaker 7 (01:17:59):
These were til c X, DFSTX, fe up X, and DOODFX.

Speaker 12 (01:18:12):
And we did research into these holdings that these funds
have and how the companies that they may have holdings
in are connected to Israel. So for example, ti LCx,
their top three holdings are in Qualcomm, Wells Fargo, and Chubb.
Qualcomm is an information technology company that does the majority

of its technology development in Israel, so they have like
factories there and that's kind of where they develop their
smartphone chips and tracking intelligence, which is kind of like
two of the main things that they work on and sell.
And then Wells Fargo was part of a five hundred

million dollar loan deal with multiple other lenders that support
that was supporting Elbert Systems, which is an Israeli military
weapons manufacturer. So those are like two of the big
ones just from the first fund that we had looked into.
And our third demand was declare in solidarity with universities

across the globe and for all Palestinian people, including their
martyrs and refugees. We demand a ceasefire statement from KLi
Pally Humble calling for an immediate and permanent Ceaspire in Palestine,
and we encourage all other California State universities and universities
of California to do the same. As we were writing this,

it was we found out that the faculty administration had
released a Ceaspire statement, I believe, but the actual university
like admin had it, like the whole university admin, but
like the faculty had released a CESPIRE statement. Faculty specifically,

I know there's there's definitely faculty that have There's some
faculty who have been with us since day one, like
CA camping out with everyone since day one. And it's
like a lot of the faculty, we like, we are
totally comfortable putting our trust in like some of these faculty,
Like if there was an emergency, like I would call them,

you know, like if there was an emergency on campus
where like I was about to be arrested, I'm like, yeah,
I'm going to call up this professor. But they have
been and they have been like trying to, you know,
update us with whatever they hear from Admin. But just
in like the past few days, we've actually kind of
discerned that upper admin has sort of cut off contact

with lower admin and faculty. And this is something that
we talked about with faculty members as well. Because of
the significant faculty support that we've been receiving, Administration is
literally just not telling faculty anything anymore.

Speaker 10 (01:20:57):
Yeah, it really seems like it's turned into just this
pure conflict between everyone who is part of the process
of an education fighting against the admin who are not
part of that process, who are trying to stop everyone
with cops.

Speaker 2 (01:21:10):
Back in Portland, that first failed encampment brought more people
out the next day, Friday, the twenty sixth, and by noon,
more tents than a few banners had been set up,
student organizations had put together lists of demands. Now these
demands have varied and have been edited a few times
after long democratic consensus sessions by people present. The list

I was presented with when I showed up on Monday
included three demands. Number one, PSU should release a statement
condemning the genocide of Palestinian people with weapons provided by
the US. Number two, the university should end the sale
of Israeli products on campus and any programs that would
involve sending students, employees, or faculty to Israel. And number three,

the board of trustees should terminate all relationships with Boeing
and other companies complicit in the ongoing genocide. Their list
included Leopold, an Oregon based company who makes rifle scopes,
but also companies like Intel and Hewlett Packard. Boeing was
the company I heard reference most by protesters. The aerospace company,
which is involved in the manufacture and design of just

so many weapons, has a partnership with Portland State University.
Later on Friday, the same day that these lists of
demands started coming together, the school president and cut announced
a pause to the school's relationship with Boeing to address
these protester demands.

Speaker 11 (01:22:32):

Speaker 2 (01:22:33):
What pausing this relationship means is unclear, and a lot
of the people I talked to felt like it essentially
meant nothing but cut wrote quote. PSU will host a
forum at which these concerns can be carefully framed and debated.
We will organize a two hour moderated debate in May
to include faculty and student voices, so you know whatever

that means. By late in the day Friday, media had
started showing up in numbers to report on the occupation,
which was still quite small, but bigger ones were happening
all over the country, and if your local news you
want to do anything you can to tie your area
into whatever the big story is nationwide, so you know,
good excuse to show up. There was also some conflict
between local student groups at this point and unaffiliated groups

of activists, some of whom were also students, over whether
or not to keep occupying over the weekend and keep
attempting to you know, keep an occupation in place despite
police crackdowns, or to save their strength for a new
concerted push on Monday. At any rate, some people stayed
and by seven pm that night Friday night, the Portland

Police Bureau showed back up in full riot gear. Park
rangers told protesters to exit the park area, and a
standoff ensued. While some protesters confronted police head on. A
smaller group of activists used this as a distraction to
move a number of tents onto the library steps, having
noticed that PPB didn't seem to be willing to go
directly onto campus property. Once this was done, the folks

confronting the riot line gradually pulled back to the steps.
The police seemed confused or at least.

Speaker 11 (01:24:12):
Put out by this.

Speaker 2 (01:24:13):
They left for a while, then returned briefly to cut
down the banners hung on the trees. I was told
a number of people mentioned this kind of laughingly when
I was around that the way in which the police
justified this was that a recent anti camping public camping
measure meant to target the homeless specified that the kind
of thing that a banner like. Basically, the fact that

the banner touched trees in two different areas, or like
touch two different trees meant that it would count it
as a tent, and so they were allowed to take
it down. It all sounded pretty silly to me, but
students and others on campus property in the library were
left to barricade the area around the library at will.
They started with pallets brought by an anonymous benefactor. Both

sides of the staircases into the library were initially blocked.
This only lasted until Saturday morning, when an cud president
of the university since August of twenty twenty three, visited
the encampment. Different protesters I have talked to related this
event in different ways. Some described her visit as essentially chill.
Others described Ann as quite angry and even threatening them.

Speaker 11 (01:25:18):
I was not there.

Speaker 2 (01:25:19):
The end result was an agreement, though, if protesters allowed
students to continue to have access to the doorway into
the library so students could still use the library, PSU
wouldn't send in their cops or call in the city
cops to clear out the occupation. After what one source
described as much heated discussion, protesters agreed to this arrangement. Now,

variations of stuff like this are common in occupations at
schools that get this far. School faculty are often sympathetic
to student actions, or at least to the students taking
part in them, and supporting crackdowns is dicey for the
administration at Humboldt State University. The administration attempted to de
escalate and eventually euthanized the movement by trying to provide

a safety valve, a way for students who'd had enough
to leave, along with the suggestion but not the actual
legally binding promise that they wouldn't be punished if they did.
And here's another clip from that interview. I understand that
the school even set up basically a booth where you
could come and officially like de register yourself from the
protests in order to not get expelled or something like that.

Is that a like I think you're It was unclear
to me from what I read, like exactly how that
system was supposed to function, but it seemed kind of shady,
so they.

Speaker 14 (01:26:39):
Wanted us to So they set up a table by
one of the exits, and they wanted us to like
give them like our information, and they were like, if
you do this, you won't get immediately arrested. But keep
in mind they said not immediately arrested, And they even
clarified like in their alert about they were like, by

the way, this doesn't protect you from any future consequences.

Speaker 12 (01:27:04):
So it was like, why would we do that? Then?
What is that a doing for any of us?

Speaker 10 (01:27:08):
I don't think a single person took that opportunity back
in Portland.

Speaker 2 (01:27:12):
After the detunt with the school administration, things continued awkwardly
but smoothly.

Speaker 11 (01:27:17):
For the next day or so.

Speaker 2 (01:27:19):
Protesters continued to fortify the library defenses while students entered
and exited and used it at will, although the school
did shut it down early on Monday. In the meantime,
protesters used the small space available to them to set
up minimal infrastructure as an humble, small kitchen tent was
put up, along with a larger medical tent, a designated
smoking area tent, and an art station for people to

make signs to hang from the barricades. Donations began coming
in on Saturday night and flooded in on Sunday, the
point that by Monday protesters had stopped accepting donations of
a lot of stuff like food and water, but also
things like batteries and generators because they just didn't have
room to take any more of them. During these weekend
days and nights, those of the encampment discussed demands, their plans,

and strategy for the future. One topic of discussion involved
the houseless. Would local houseless people be welcome inside the
encampment and would they be welcomed to some of the
donated resources. The ultimate decision, and I hear that this
was not a particularly controversial one, was yes.

Speaker 4 (01:28:21):

Speaker 2 (01:28:21):
I should also note here that the Humboldt students we
talked with claimed that their school's treatment of houseless residents earlier,
like a couple of years ago, was one of the
inciting incidents of this occupation. Obviously, the genocide in Gaza
was the spark and purpose for why the occupation at
Humboldt happened and why this occupation at PSU happened. But
nothing happens in a vacuum. And I wanted to include

this bit from the interview because I think it's interesting.

Speaker 12 (01:28:47):
We're joking about this is life the third strike for
administration because in twenty twenty two, the La Times released
an article about how administration was kicking homeless students off
campus for living in their vehicles. Jesus and I believe
our university, out of all the cal States, has the

highest rate of homeless students. Yeah, and so this kind
of this outrage a lot of people, including people on campus.
We actually had a few days encampment on campus for
that too, I believe, and I feel like that never
really got it got partially resolved, but Admin was like

really fighting against all the possible options because there was
like a couple of people arguing that, like we keep
in mind, I don't even think these people were from campus,
but apparently the two people like filed complaints about how
the people living in their cars were like messy or something,

and so one of our requests was like, Okay, maybe
like we could get a few more gumpsters or trash
cans in the area where people are living. Yeah, And
I'm just totally fought back against that, and so that
was like what we're jokingly calling, like, oh, that was
like strike one and then strike two. We were saying,

is the faculty strike that happened earlier, I think this
semester that was I think all over the state, But
it really only lasted like one day, despite the momentum
for possibly lasting longer than that. And Admin wanted like
sent out an email saying like if your faculty isn't
holding classes, put their names here, geesh, and obviously all

of us were like, what are you talking like you
want us to like you're asking us to snitch on
our like professors and faculty right now. So that's what
we're joking, is like strike two because we're like, we're
not doing that. And then this is what we're calling
strike three. And I was like joking earlier wh to everyone,
I was like, strike three and we're out. Strike three

and they're out, and everyone was like, yeah, I freaking hope.

Speaker 2 (01:30:58):
So can't be. Occupations like this are always complex things,
not just in the different motivating factors that come together
to make situations like this possible, but in the ways
in which extant student groups and organizations that arise spontaneously
due to the pressures of the moment, interface and interact.
When I arrived at the encampment at about one PM,

I was introduced to several media liaisons for the occupation.
They were extremely careful with what they said. A lot
of it was just kind of repeating the list of
agreed upon demands that the protesters had come up with.
I did ask about a few other things. I wanted
to know how protests in twenty twenty in protests on
other campuses had impacted the tactics being seen here. The

most common response I got to my questions where variations
of that's not something we'd like to talk about. But
they did go into detail in a couple of things,
and one of those was what it would take to
actually conclude this occupation. They noted that if representatives of
the campus administration, including the president, were to come to
them and make concrete steps to divest from Boeing and

other military contractors that the school currently has a direct
financial relationship with, that that could be the basis for
moving forward in some way to start reducing the extent
of the encampment. Possibly, so that seemed to be kind
of their line, if we actually see some real evidence
that the school is divesting from these military investments that

they have, will be willing to negotiate further. But what
the school has done thus far, basically just announcing a
pause and saying we'll meet about the Boeing thing later,
that's not enough. The liaisons I talked to also made
it clear that they found the wide wave of campus
actions around the country inspiring and that that had had
an impact on how things were being carried out at PSU.

I was pretty impressed by their message discipline to be honest.
As a journalist, you want people to talk to you,
but actions like this are dangerous, and cops aren't the
only danger. Anytime your movement gets pressed the attention that
it acts will also attract grifters, particularly of the right
wing variety, people who want to find someone they can
catch saying something aggressive or dumb, or that just sounds

bad out of context. You, as organizers and activists, want
to keep attention on your goals and message and away
from that kind of bullshit. I should also note that
there were some mentions of their desire that the campus
essentially carry out an amnesty policy for people who had
already been involved in the occupation, so that nobody would

get kicked out of the school as a result of
their participation in this movement. I've heard similar things from
the protesters and Humboldt. Yeah, it was an interesting conversation,
and what's also interesting are these ads and we're back

as my time at the protest on Monday, war On,
Individuals from the occupation would occasionally march through the crowd
and around the encampment, which grew at its height of
the day to around five hundred or so people. In
the late afternoon. This was a mix of protesters, including
people from a march that had formed elsewhere and ended
up at PSU, and some bystanders, a lot of whom

were students sitting nearby dorms. People who were members of
the occupation would ask passers by and media not to
film protesters and encourage folks to get involved and help
with the occupation. Pamphlets on their goals were handed out,
and pamphlets on radical political action were passed around. There
were also some people tabling for different causes. There was

one group of people who were taking down folks information
in order to support essentially a ballot measure that would
increase the tax on corporations worth more than twenty five
million dollars that were based in the city of Portland,
which sounded nice to me. And in addition to that,
there were people who were working to organize a you know,
one of those Sorry his very late, but essentially how

people are a lot of people are attempting to get
people to organize to like register is unaffiliated and the primaries,
especially in order to like, you know, make a statement
to the Biden administration about their support of Israel. There
were folks who were trying to raise and get people
involved in that as well. So again, you know, it

was like many protests of this size involved a lot
of people. Sometimes in the past, especially in Portland, I
have seen kind of more extreme and yeah, let's say
extreme activists get angry at stuff like this, particularly when
it's asking folks to like fill out or sign petitions.
There's some concern obviously that like that could effectively docs

people who are there. I've always found that concern a
little silly. I think people can be trusted to kind
of measure their own threat matrix and decide am I
going to be doing anything at this protest? That means
I shouldn't, you know, put down on a piece of
paper that I was around here that issue. I didn't
notice at this Everyone seemed pretty copasetic, and as a
general rule, it was quite peaceful. Folks seemed more or

less on the same page. The mostly masked protesters that
I met were a pretty diverse lot, and this included
a number of Muslim students, at least one of whom
I watched prey before taking their place on the barricade.
I also noticed numbers of students in his jobs watching
from nearby windows, and eventually from the park out in
front of the occupation. From conversations I had on the ground,

I became aware of the fact that several student organizations
were hesitant to support, particularly the weekend occupations, as they
had had concerns for the safety of their Palestinian members.
One particularly salient fear was that fordn students who participated
and were arrested might risk not just their academic status
but their ability to stay in country. And I know

that a number of the protesters I met there who
were particularly you know, white folks, felt like one reason
they needed to participate was that they could participate without
taking that kind of risk. On for the largest portion
of the day Monday, I watched his activists reinforce the
barricades on one side of the library, and the crowd

grew quite large in the park. Some signs I saw
among the crowd and on the barricade included mass college
protests are always on the right side of history, and
fuck your homework. People are dying. There were speeches, but
not much in the way of action until very late
in the day, when all but maybe one hundred and
fifty or so of the crowd had filtered away. My

notes at the time say the big change happened at
around six fifty five pm. By this point in the
early evening, I had seen very little of the police.
Every now and then, a few PSU cruisers would come
by circling the area, and small groups of four or
five hecklers carrying makeshift fishing poles with donuts on them
would run beside the squad cars, basically trying to like

tempt the police officers to go grab the donuts. This
seemed to demoralize the campus officers enough that they mostly
stayed away. I believe that at this point the city's
plan and the administration's plan was to avoid doing anything
fucked up and violent in front of such a large crowd,
because that would be to risk restarting the whole twenty

twenty Portland protest cycle.

Speaker 11 (01:38:18):
Again. Remember, it's not just as simple as can we
crush this protest?

Speaker 2 (01:38:22):
But if we go kick all these people out now
and a bunch of them get seen in broad daylight
getting beaten and gassed, does that mean we have to
deal with thousands of people in the street tomorrow. Honestly,
staying away was the smart play on behalf of the police,
and as a result of them making the smart play,
protesters in the encampment were themselves confronted with a choice.

The space that they had been allowed by the school
to occupy in the sort of weird Dayton situation had
been filled both with donations and just the number of
people who were inside the occupation. There was no room
to make it any bigger. So their next options were
either number one, expand the occupation to the park and
the Portland Police Bureau has the ability to legal ability

and obviously the gear to clear out the park. In addition,
just from a tactical level, it's difficult to defend an
encampment in that park the way that it's set up.
You really don't have you know, you're kind of surrounded
on all sides. The police can really mess with you.
I've been gassed in that park a few times, I'm
quite aware. The other option they had was take the

entire library building and force a response from both PSU
and the city government. This would obviously give them warm
room to maneuver, give them more room to take in
more people, and it would force an escalation with the
city government and with the school, which is you know,
what they were looking for. Again, this is overall about
particularly their school, not divesting from companies that they see

is complicit in the genocide in Gaza, and about you know,
wanting to force a response from that's school's leadership. You know,
There's a lot more to it than that, but that's
what they were trying to do, and that's what they
chose to do. A little before seven pm, someone on
a bullhorn came out and began asking all of the
people who were still there who was willing to engage

in real militant action, and for those people to come
help occupy the library. Those who were less willing to
risk charges but still down for the cause should form
ranks out in front of the property. There were people
with shields, etc. They looked like little bitty pealanxes.

Speaker 12 (01:40:29):
You know.

Speaker 2 (01:40:30):
People had a mix of umbrellas and shields and you know,
usually two lines thick or so of people linking arms.
And I thought at first they were just kind of
getting ready for the police to come in to sort
of resist the charge if they occupied more of the library,
But that's not what happened. For a few minutes, different
organizers kind of put these groups of people together and

drilled them, walk them through basic tactics, talked about what
they should expect, and not long after this, two different
PSU police cruisers began to coach from two different streets
both of these different groups of people. These little platoons
split up and one would confront each vehicle. The officers
were badly outnumbered in both cases, and they pulled back

and essentially left the library without anyone really watching over it.
The activists who were inside the library used this as
an excuse to occupy the rest of the building. Once
the police cruisers had been forced back, the protesters from
these platoons started grabbing heavy objects that were just around
them on the campus and dragging them back to fortify

the entrances and exits to the structure. Much of this
took the form of black clad activists swarming onto a
sports field behind the library and grabbing soccer goals, football
training sleds, and other heavy pieces of equipment and using
them to wall off exits and entrances to the ground
floor of the building.

Speaker 11 (01:41:49):
I watched one group.

Speaker 2 (01:41:50):
Of protesters cut through locks to liberate a pair of dumpsters,
which quickly found their way into the barricades in the
front of the structure. I did not into the library,
fairly certain that would been illegal, but I did see
numerous people running around on floors above ground level setting
up the space for a proper occupation. I was told
by at least one person that activists were purposely keeping

the interior space accessible to those with wheelchairs, and there
were a number of folks with wheelchairs who I saw
outside at the occupation. I did not see any specific
people inside. I left after nine pm, having been on
the ground and wearing my armor for about eight hours
the day after landing back in Portland. That was all
I had in me, but quite a few people were

still present, both outside and inside the library when I left.
Roughly an hour after I got home and started writing
this episode at about eleven pm PST, a series of
frantic late night phone calls resulted in the president of PSU,
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, the Chief of Police for Portland
and the City DA Mike Schmidt, holding an emergency press conference.

Local KTU reporter tan vy Varma summarized the conference message
this way on Twitter.

Speaker 4 (01:42:57):

Speaker 2 (01:42:58):
PSU president said, the protesters damage property and I've broken
into the library. She says she cannot entertain property damage
or breaking an entering. She asked them to choose to
engage civilly. She says they'll be asking PPB to remove
the trespassers from the library. PPB Police chief says he'd
like to resolve this with no force or arrests. He
has asked those who are breaking the law in the
protest to stop. It's unclear to me at present how

many of this is going to shake out. As I
type this, the occupation at Humboldt is under heavy attack
and it sounds like it's going to be quite ugly.
Hey everyone, so you know, again this is a little
messy because I wrote this late last night. I woke
up in the morning to listen to the edit of
it and some things that happened in the early hours
of Tuesday morning. About twenty five people were arrested after

more than a hundred riot officers arrived at the cow
Poly Humboldt campus and cracked down on the Gaza protest occupation.
Riot police arrived around two thirty am. Legal observers say,
no injuries. It's kind of really unclear to me how
bad it was what actually happened, but you know, quite
a few people have been arrested, and at this point

it looks like they're being charged with some pretty narly
crimes conspiracy, I think, assault on a police officer. So
this is one of those things that's going to be
an ongoing story. The university accused the occupiers of doing
more than a million dollars worth of damage to university property.
I'll actually just read a quote here from an MSN article.

Those arrested faced a range of different charges depending on
individual circumstances, including unlawful assembly, vandalism, conspiracy, assault of police officers,
and others. In addition, students could face discipline for conduct violations,
while any university employees arrested could face disciplinary action. That's
them quoting a university news release. So that's kind of

where we are with cal Poly Humboldt. I wanted to
note that the folks that we talk to, who I
hope are doing well, had requested that we send people
to donate to a bail fund, if at all poss
If you want to find that and support the Humboldt protesters,
you can go to rally dot org slash arc Bailfund.
That's rally dot org slash AARC bail fund, so that

would help out with those folks who currently need it.
There has also been a request to call the university
and request the release of Humboldt protesters for Palestine. The
CPH University police phone number is seven oh seven eight
two six five five five five. There is a suggested
script which I'm going to read here. Hi, my name

is blank, and I demand the immediate release of the
arrested Humboldt student and faculty protesters for Palestine. They should
not be charged, let alone rated an attack for being
on the right side of history. They include, but are
not only, Fern McBride, Olivia Fox, Jared Cruz, Ruhala Agacella,
Lana Word, Alison Merten, Isaiah Morales, and Adelmi Ruiz. So

that's where things are with Humboldt University, I thought are
with the people who are arrested, the people who were
forced out of the occupation. As of the recording and
airing of this episode, the occupation at the PSU library
is still in progress, and what will happen there is
less clear. Throughout today Tuesday, the police and city government

have made some pretty aggressive statements about clearing out the occupation.
About criminal behavior there being unacceptable about their suspicion that
there's been significant damage done to university property. For their part,
protesters have promised that they will not damage any books.
You know, We're going to see what's going to actually happen.

What is clear to me at this point is that
in the last day or so, the situation has gone
from managed something where the police were every now and
then clearing out tents and it was relatively under control,
to something so out of control that it necessitated a
late night press conference by the whole city government. So
we will see where everything canludes with the PSU occupation,

if the police come in and carry out a raid
as was done an Humboldt, or if the university administration
is willing to actually come to the table and make
some of these solid steps towards divesting the university from
companies like Boeing, which is what the protesters are demanding.
All really unclear, but yeah, we will continue to cover

this and you all continue to you know, be angry
about bad things, and yeah, I don't know, I'm still
very tired. Good luck to everybody who is out there
in the streets. Robert Evans here and I wanted to
give an update on Wednesday night. I'm I'm recording this
around four forty pm on Wednesday, But a day after

I recorded the original ending to this, some more stuff
has happened. The occupation has continued. You know, on Monday night,
only a small number of people stayed behind. I think
there may be something like a dozen I was told
who actually slept in the library that night. There was
kind of an anticipation that the cops could come at
any minute. The next day, word spread about the occupation

and there were a lot more people in the library
on Tuesday night, and as a result, it seems as
if plans that had initially been down for the police
to rate on Tuesday night were canceled. The Government of
Portland published an article today and I'm going to quote
from it here. The Portland Police Bureau places an emphasis

on de escalation and time is a key de escalation
tactic that we use whenever possible. That has not been
my experience with them. If police action can be delayed
to a time when conditions are safer, we will do so.
An example of this occurred Tuesday evening. A plan was
in place to resolve the library incident. However, conditions changed
and the incident commander made the decision to delay for
the well being of all concerned. My guess is that

the conditions that changed largely were how many people were
on the ground, as well as the fact that they
didn't feel comfortable with their understanding of how much access
students had gotten. You know, they didn't have a full
operational plan involved. The police publication notes that there was
a rumor circulated that the planned operation was scheduled due
to a decision made by the DA's office. This is

because the current District Attorney, Mike Schmidt, is considered a progressive.
He made a decision not to prosecute all of the
acts that he could have prosecuted in twenty twenty and
has been kind of consistently attacked by the police and
by conservatives in the city for this decision ever since.
Schmidt did prosecute quite a few people in twenty twenty
and beyond, and from the beginning of all of this

said that his office will prosecute students and anyone else
involved with the occupation. I think this is just election
you're messaging by the police going after Schmidt because they
want more of a hardliner in In either case, nothing
was done Tuesday. The occupation continued to spread on Tuesday night.
Students had a movie night. On Wednesday night. As I basically,

as I record this, there's a barbecue and a lot
of this is occurring kind of outside of the library
and like the law and area around it, the idea
basically being to keep numbers up in and around the
library occupation to make it more politically costly and just
harder for the police to actually force everyone out. While
all this has been going on, faculty and student organizers

have been meeting with the president of the university. Students
refused initially to come to a negotiating table unless the
demand their demands for full amnesty were guaranteed for students
and non students who were taking part in the occupation.
This is something When I talked to folks on Monday night,
the focus was on There was some talk of amnesty,

but a lot of the primary thing I was told
about was that the school needed to divest from Boeing
and other arms manufacturers. The demand for amnesty has grown
as the occupation has become more of a real thing,
which it had started to be by the end of
my time there. On Monday, there was some initial talk
from the university president that she was willing to not
press charges. If you know, the students who were involved

agreed not to violate the student Code of Conduct for
the rest of their time at the university and basically
handed all of their names over to the university. That
was not an agreement that wound up coming through, very
similar to what we saw at Humboldt. Right where you've
got this the school being like, well, we'll offer some
sort of amnesty, even though we can't really promise full
amnesty because the DA can choose to prosecute people still,

but if you sign your name up on this list
that you were here in committing crimes, we'll kind of
try to do something that did not wind up de
escalating the situation. And as I record this, the library
at PSU is still occupied by students. We'll see how
all of this goes. You know, I've heard a number
of things from inside the occupation. It's kind of one

of those things where the full details of what's happening
will shake out. It's been, as these things always are
a little bit messy. The first night I was there
and up through you know, a sizable chunk of Tuesday.
You can find articles from media who showed up saying
that protesters let them in and then at some point
the people at the gates so to speak, changed and
a number of press got in and took some pictures

of the occupation. You can find those online. There's a
lot of local reporters koyn and whatnot who have published
different things about the occupation. It's been interesting to see
like the reactions of different reporters because they change based
on like the kind the reporter who's there, and kind
of I think, how personable they are with people and
the folks that they wind up meeting. So you'll you'll

find some local reporters being like everyone was really nice,
and some local reporters being.

Speaker 11 (01:52:33):
Like everybody was really mean.

Speaker 2 (01:52:34):
They wouldn't let me in, And it's you know, these
are not uncommon things to encounter when you're seeing press
interact with a protest like this. One of the things
I do find interesting that has been emphasized to me
by some of the older protesters who have been taking
part in aspects of this occupation, is that the student
protesters who are organizing and leading this, who are of

course younger and we're too young to have generally been
involved twenty twenty stuff. Are really open minded, you know,
despite kind of political disagreements that may exist between people,
there's this understanding that like folks are a lot less
ossified and their beliefs about what constitutes valid action and
what constitutes, you know, how people should proceed with things

like generally, that has been impressed upon me by some
of the older activists is that these younger student organizers
seem much more open minded and optimistic about accomplishing things
and trying new things. And this is definitely a different
kind of occupation Portland has seen. I noticed some of
that on the first night earlier in their courting. I
made that comment about how I noticed that people were

out kind of taking petitions and whatnot for different bills,
taking advantage of the fact that there was a crowd
who had gathered for the protest, and that in the
past I had seen folks like that have issue with
members of the crowd, and I didn't really notice that
this time. And I guess maybe that comes down to
some of what some of these older activists have told me,
which is that a lot of the student organizers here

are kind.

Speaker 11 (01:54:02):
Of less set in some of their ways.

Speaker 12 (01:54:06):
You know.

Speaker 2 (01:54:07):
We we'll see as this all continues to develop. There's
a very good chance that by the time you hear
this episode by Thursday morning, the police will have raided.
That's definitely been happening all around the country. You know,
as we have researched and recorded these episodes, there have
been police crackdowns at Columbia University, at UC San Diego,

at UCLA. We've seen, you know, a lot of pretty
hideous things on the news in regards to these student occupations.
And there's a very good chance that Portland will have
joined that parade of ugly videos by the time this
comes up. But as I record this, there's a barbecue
going on, and I hope that will be the case
tomorrow as well.

Speaker 15 (01:54:48):
Bye, this is it could happen here. I'm Garrison Davis,
And once again, it does continue to be happening here
as a massive wave of police repression is levied against

students protesting the ongoing Palestinian genocide. Since it's been so
busy and hectic, I thought to end this week on
a bit of a lighter note. Last week I did
an episode on a new movie titled The People's Joker,
an unauthorized Batman parody through the lens of a surprisingly
genuine queer coming of age story by transgender filmmaker Vera Drew.

If you want to hear me geek out about that
movie in gay Batman Stuff, you can listen to that
episode from last week. But this episode is going to
delve more into the diy nature of this movie, some
behind the scenes and how you go from an idea
to a piece of wacky queer art playing in a
movie theater or a TV show on your local cable

access TV station. So I talked to two trans women
who are currently making independent queer media, mentioned Vera Drew
as well as Ella Yeerman, host of the late night
comedy show Late Stage Live, transgender and a comedian, the
two most persecuted classes. So I've been keeping up with

Ella's indie transgender gen Z comedy project since it first
got announced earlier this year. I have kind of a
love hate relationship with the late night comedy news format,
and I myself have thrown around the idea of playing
with that format. So when I first heard about Ella's
new show, Late Stage Live, my first thought was damn it,

That's such a good title for a show, and now
I can't use it. Just this immense sense of jealousy
washed over me, and I've had to watch everything she's
put out since then.

Speaker 12 (01:56:47):

Speaker 8 (01:56:47):
I'm Ella Yeerman. My pronouns are she Her. I am
a comedian, journalist, writer living in Brooklyn. I host Late
Stage Live, which is a queer gen Z public access
night show on Brooklyn Public Access and YouTube. And I
also host T for T Comedy, which is Brooklyn's premiere

all trans stand up comedy show. We film in a
Brooklyn Public Access studio called brick Bric in front of
a live studio audience. And the vaguest pitch I give
to people who have no idea what the show is
is that it's what if The Daily Show was hosted
by a transgender woman. And we draw a lot of
comparisons to the Daily Show by virtue of sort of

similar formats, But myself and my writers are really interested
in sort of, for lack of a better term, queering
the late night format and sort of exploring what late
night can do for a younger, more radical political audience.
The Daily Show was like a really big radicalizing force
I think for a certain generation people really John Stewart

took that show and turned it into a really powerful
tool for getting people engaged and aware of things that
they might not have otherwise been aware of. But the
culture has really shifted in terms of politics, in terms
of media consumption since John started the Daily Show in
the nineties. We have shows like Last Week Tonight with
John Oliver, we have shows like My Coworkers and Bosses

at Some More News and when we have like all
of the alternative media sphere, ranging from like Tucker Carlson
and Alex Jones to the Young Turks to everybody and
their mom on YouTube.

Speaker 15 (01:58:25):
Now, kids these days don't really watch the news. I
don't know anyone my age who's tuning into MSNBC. A
twenty twenty two statistica survey of gen Z reported sixty
percent of respondents never go to local or national papers
for news, and only a respect of five percent checked

their local or national papers for news daily, weekly, or
once a month. But fifty percent of gen Z check
social media daily for news, with seventy five percent reporting
they check at least once a week. TikTok reigns supreme
for information dissemination. Over one third of adults under the
age of thirty regularly scroll the app for news, often

treating it like a search engine, with the rest of
the youths and young adults going to YouTube as well
as other social media apps to fill in the information gaps,
as well as podcasts such as this.

Speaker 16 (01:59:21):
My writers and I especially read Pope.

Speaker 8 (01:59:23):
My head writer and I talk a lot about just
like where our generation is getting its information from and
where it's consuming media, and how ideas and political ideas
are being disseminated, especially in the age of short form
content with TikTok and the democratization of information. We did
a whole episode about sort of misinformation and the democratization

of information a few months ago, where there's like, obviously
all of these benefits to the lack of centralization of
media consumption. We're seeing a lot of that with the
Palatine stuff right now. People don't have to rely on
the New York Times, people don't have to rely on
these big media insitutions with their obvious biases to get information.
But it also sort of engenders this I think, this

very specific attitude towards intellectually.

Speaker 16 (02:00:11):
Engaging with information.

Speaker 8 (02:00:12):
The platforms and the systems that we use really encourage
very quick opinions and fast reactions and picking up your
phone and talking immediately about something as quickly as possible,
hot take political environments, and we were really interested in
looking at a format that has historically been more about
a team of people with multiple perspectives coming together to

create one piece of analysis and taking longer to look
at those pieces of analysis and being able to really
dig into data, and then what putting that into a
late night format means. We have a live audience, which
a lot of stuff on YouTube doesn't have, and we
have a lot of the trappings of like og late night.

We have like sketches, and we have correspondence, and we
have a theme song, and a lot of that has
sort of gone away as we've moved more into like
a YouTube media sphere. So it's been exciting to both
bring that back for like esthetic and nostalgia's sake, and
then also to sort of see what and I think
the show's in early stages, so I am excited to
keep playing with this but finding out like what exactly

the package does for the content. We talk a lot
about like form follows function and vice versa. But I
think there's like intentionality behind presenting it as a late
night show. It's not just like for aesthetic value.

Speaker 15 (02:01:33):
Speaking of late night televised comedy, The People's Joker follows
an aspiring comedian who goes by Joker the Harlequin as
she attempts to host a Lauren Michael's TV show, legally
distinct from snl Oh, and on her way, she transits
her gender and fights Batman. The project started a few
years ago because a friend of filmmaker Vera Drew jokingly

commissioned her for twelve dollars to make a re edit
of Todd Phillips's Joker movie. Phillips had been in the
news cycle complaining that quote unquote woke culture was making
it too hard to make comedy, which is interesting coming
from a guy who's continually made some of the most
successful comedies in the past twenty years. But I digress.

Here's Vera Drew talking about how The People's Joker ballooned
from an ironic re edit of the in Cell Joker
movie into a whole new piece of queer cinema.

Speaker 9 (02:02:25):
Yeah, I started doing it like in earnest I started
like actually re editing the movie, and I had worked
at Absolutely Productions for years as an editor and had
kind of come up as an alternative comedy editor, so
you know, at that point it was probably just going
to be like a lot of art sound effects and

woosh noises and slips and slide whistles. But as I
was working on it and kind of just making this
like big piece of like bound footage video art, like
a narrative kind of just like fell into play and
it kind of just came in an instant and I
was just like, oh, Okay, I think I actually want

to make like a coming of age film, but I
want to make like a parody of The Joker, like
in that process and kind of just like tell like
a really earnest and super personal autobiographical story about my
life and growing up in the Midwest and coming out
as trans and comedy and you know, my relationship with

my mom and toxic relationship I was in and stuff,
but kind of process and mythologize all of that through
Batman characters. So that's kind of the origin of the movie.

Speaker 4 (02:03:43):
I guess.

Speaker 9 (02:03:45):
I had also kind of been kicking around an idea
for like a body horror, like a trans Body horror
movie before that that was basically like about a drag
queen who was physically addicted to irony and like couldn't
like survive without it. But it was also like destroying
her from the inside out, and the two ideas kind

of like merged together into this sort of I guess,
like ver Drew, I watched a lot of Batman growing up,
but from a weirdly young age, I was also always
weirdly fascinated by late night TV. My parents never watched
the news, but they watched late night. They got their
news from Stephen Colbert. They got their news from, at

least at a certain point, Jimmy Fallon, although that fell
off quite quickly. But I've just always been incredibly fascinated
by the whole late night format as a cultural source
for news. At a certain point, around twenty seventeen, YouTube
started pushing late night clips into everyone's feeds, and everyone
just got so inundated with this style of political comedy.

Speaker 16 (02:04:50):
I also grew up on The Daily Show and Colbert.

Speaker 8 (02:04:53):
My parents are both journalists, so I probably am a
little biased towards being someone who did read the paper
growing up, who did like watch CNN growing up, but
I recognized there's this huge chunk of America who gets
their news from yeah, Colbert's monologue, from Letterman's monologue, from
the Colbert Report, which is such a crazy.

Speaker 10 (02:05:14):
Very very scary.

Speaker 15 (02:05:17):
I had so many like conservative family members who did
not realize the Colbert Rapport was satire, took it as
a legitimate news source.

Speaker 8 (02:05:26):
Well, I mean when Trevor Noah took over The Daily Show,
they tried to do like their version of the Colbert
Report with Jordan Klepper's The Opposition, And I think there
are a number of reasons that didn't work out, but
one of them being that the like the Colbert Rapport
was partying the other Fox News guy. Yeah, I was
parting that whole realm of people, and the Opposition was

partying info Wars, which is almost an unparitable thing. So
like the like the right wing media ecosystem has shifted
so far that that you can't really get a Colbert
Report now, it just doesn't work. But yeah, like there's
so many people who get their information directly from that.
And I think a lot about like the creator responsibility,
like which is a word that gets start or a

lot around in social media spaces. But it's interesting to
think that Colbert now and Stuart and even like Seth
Meyers have this responsibility as like informants to their audience,
in some sorts of the sole source of news for
those people. When we were writing our misinformation piece, we
did talk about how in twenty fifteen, there was a
poll that came out that said that like the majority

of liberals, like the highest percentage of rules got their
news from The Daily Show with John Stewart. And I
think a lot about the excuse John used to give
to conservatives at the time who would criticize him for
not doing his due diligence on any given subject. He
would often say, well, we're a comedy show. The show
that comes on after us is puppets making prank phone calls.
And he would sort of like deflect that responsibility by saying,

I'm an entertainer first. And I think that one of
the big things that has changed in the last twenty
years or however long, is that the line between enter
retainer and journalist has totally blurred. With like the rise
of like video essays on YouTube, and just like again
like the democratization of information and content creation, everyone is

sort of an entertainer. Everyone is sort of a journalist.
There is like a responsibility that comes with having a platform,
and so obviously, like our show, takes a great deal
of care to make sure that the information we're presenting
is it's accurate and correct, and that the analysis we're
doing is as empathetic and thoughtful as we can.

Speaker 15 (02:07:30):
I do think there is real value in going after
late night as a specific culturally impactful mode that isn't
just comedy, isn'to just to the news, and in its
quest to be a little bit of both, it becomes
its own thing. I've always been interested to see what
a late night show with my politics would look like,
and I think to some degree, you can look at

John Stewart in the two thousands, and I've been watching
Stuart's new stuff on The Daily Show every Monday, mostly
just to see how he's going to handle this landscape,
which is very different from one he left in twenty fifteen. Nowadays,
I think you can look to John Oliver as being
probably slightly more radical, but even still there's a decent gap.
Certainly some YouTube shows try to fill in that gap,

but I've really enjoyed watching the Late Stage team apply
classic late night stylings to a more radical queer form
of politics, including like Ella mentioned correspondence segments as well
as actual reporting. Late Stage Live did a recent piece
on the effects of Libs of TikTok. It was a
really good look at something that I oddly hadn't seen

anyone else really interrogate before, actually looking at the people
that Libs of TikTok has targeted and how that has
literally affected their lives.

Speaker 8 (02:08:45):
Obviously, we are still like growing and trying new things.
I was really proud of the Libs of TikTok piece.
It was the first time we'd done like firsthand reporting
on the show, and it's stuff like the thing I
want to keep exploring. One of my favorite parts of
the Daily Show is the more serious, like field pieces
they end up doing that obviously also have comedic games
applied to them, but also are like real journalism that

maybe mainstream news institutions don't cover, and that's really exciting
and obviously coming from like a specifically queer perspective. There's
not a ton of specifically queer news. There's a few magazines,
but there's nothing huge.

Speaker 15 (02:09:19):
It could happen here will return after these messages we
now returned to it could happen here. Something I noticed
about both Late Stage Lives and The People's Joker is
that they're not just made by queer people, but the

work itself feels queer. I think part of the reason
why is that both carry this spirit of patchwork and collaboration,
proudly featuring a sense of punkish outside noess that's uninterested
in being tamed for a sis straight audience. The end
result is one holy reflective of the community that has

fostered the arts creation. To extrapolate on this, let's return
to my interview with Vera Drew. I know, for for
a while you were getting people to send in to
like send in stuff to get put in the film.
There was kind of it was like a very collaborative
start to this project, and I am I am interested
in that aspect of like how this is like both

like a collage multimedia piece, but also it's not like
the work of like one singular artist. It's like a
very like queer community made thing. And it definitely feels
that way, especially with all of like all like the sets,
all of like the art. It's so many different styles
mashed together. Into like this beautiful mosaic, and I'm interested
in like your decision to have it be that collaborative

thing and how that kind of came together.

Speaker 9 (02:10:46):
Thank you for asking, because yeah, I don't I don't
really get to talk about that that much. And it's
it's definitely like a part of this that really, I
think is why the movie just feels inherently queer. You know,
we had just this incredible team of people working on
it because you know, like I said, like I did
cash in like every favor I had, you know, to

cash in. But you know, the movie started as this
like video remix thing, and then I think as we
were writing the script and it became more narrative driven.
It was just like we were always writing this script
that was very impossible to film, uh you know, just
a very like there's Batmobile and like yeah, you know,

fuck are you gonna do that? But we weren't really
thinking about that as much. We were just like, let's
just write this movie, and let's just write it as
like a comic book movie, like let's have the tropes
of a comic book movie and a queer coming of
age film and and just fully execute those and you know,
I think the idea of it becoming sort of this
mixed media piece was was very gradual. I think like

it was one of the many things about this This
movie was made very intuitively, like I never had a budget. Really,
I never make a movie like this again. It was
it was very like kind of figuring it out as
you go in a lot of ways, especially just on
the like business side of things.

Speaker 15 (02:12:04):
Yeah, it has that kind of Inland Empire uncanniness a
little bit totally.

Speaker 9 (02:12:09):
There's definitely that. It's definitely I'm working backwards this. This
is my Inland Empire, and you know, like twenty years
I'll have my eraser Head finally. Yes, yes, But it
really just kind of followed that like sort of intuitive path,
and I kind of announced what I was doing and
I said, you know, my friend and I are making

this Queer Joker parody, and anybody who wants to help us, like,
you know, right here, and I kind of at that
point it still was in this kind of like loose
space of what is this really? But just so many
artists came forward, and most of them artists who had
never worked on film or TV before. So it was

a lot of just like fine, artists and painters and
illustrators and visual artists, and then like a lot of
people too, just that I had seen for years on
trans Twitter or like like featured in like very like
fringe like zines and shit like that. So it's just like,
holy shit, like we could really make this movie that
looks like nothing you've ever seen before, and we can

do it too in a way that like we're creating
original art. You know, like all the art in it
is original. I mean like we recreate a lot of
sets and stuff from famous comic book movies, but like
it was painstakingly created and every character had its own
character design, you know, original character design. Like we couldn't

just take mister mixuplick and put them in the movie,
Like we had to go, okay, like how can we
clear mister mix OLEPLI, Like, Okay, We'll make a mix
mixy and they'll be like a weird like floating like
Hanna barbera cartoon type. It's kind of more hr puff
and stuff. Was the vibe we went for there, very
sit in Marty Kroft.

Speaker 15 (02:13:57):
Even with a community of queer artists, how does one
go from the idea stage of say, hey, let's make
a more queer and radically oriented late night comedy show
to having it actually be filmed and then broadcast. So
I asked Ella what allowed her to get this project
off the ground and what her process was like going
from an idea to something that's now on air.

Speaker 8 (02:14:20):
So, like I said, I've been writing for some More
News for three years and I love that job and
I love my coworkers there, but they are doing one thing,
and I, over the last year or so sort of
started to realize that I also wanted to be doing
this other thing. I wanted the live studio audience. I
wanted a very queer focused show. I wanted an in
person writer's room ultimately or like a local writer's room,
because everyone else at some more News is LA based

as far as I'm aware, and I'm the only East
Coaster out here, and I just wanted the whole bunch
of things that Somewere News wasn't doing. So I was like, Okay,
I guess I have to do that myself because there's
no one else doing it that will hire me. But
I'm grateful that I had my experience with some More
News and continue to have my experience with them. Because
I structure our writer's room very similarly to them, and
I took a lot of inspiration from their early stages

in terms of like the creative side of things, and
then in terms of like finding people and making it happen.
Something I've learned my whole life as a creative is
that you just sort of have to fucking do it.
I've been like self producing work.

Speaker 16 (02:15:17):
Since I was eighteen. When I was eighteen, my community.

Speaker 8 (02:15:20):
Theater in my hometown had a big all hands meeting
where they were like, Hey, we're out of money.

Speaker 7 (02:15:25):
What do we do?

Speaker 8 (02:15:25):
And I said, you should do a Shakespeare play because
you don't have to pay for the royalties for that.
And they were like, well, we don't have anyone who
wants to direct a Shakespeare play. And I said, okay,
then I'll do it. And they were like, okay, then
you do it. And I sort of had to just
do it. And I did it and it was messy
and pretty amateurish, and then I did it again the
next year, and I got better, and I did it
again the next year. It got better after that, and
then after I graduated college, I started doing stand up again.

I just stand up a little bit pre transition and
it was terrible, and so I stopped to become a
girl and I started doing stand up again, and I
realized there wasn't a ton of spaces in the stand
up scene for trans people, and I said.

Speaker 10 (02:16:00):
Okay, so let's host a trans show.

Speaker 8 (02:16:02):
And I found a bar and I got in touch
with the bar, and then I just started dming comics
and I said, hey, I don't really know any of
you because I'm not really integrated into this comedy scene,
but please, and the show solely grew and I started
to meet more people, and then by the time I
had the idea to do late stage, I had been
doing my show for about a year and a half
and I was pretty integrated into the comedy scene, so

I was never worried about finding writers in terms of quantity.
I reached out to my headwriter, Read Pope last April
after seeing a similarly live show by my friend Kay
Loggins called Knight Live that she does every so often,
and I helped her with the production day on that
and it was a thirteen hour production day, and I
just remember having so much fun realizing that you could

find people in the artistic community like enough, people who
were willing to do it.

Speaker 12 (02:16:51):
So Yeah.

Speaker 8 (02:16:52):
I reached out to Read in April and I said, hey,
I have this idea, and they said, cool, here's a
list of people I think would be fun to work with.
And we reached out to a small handful of writers
and some of them got back to us and some
of them didn't, and we slowly found our team of
people who were able to commit to at first monthly
and now weekly writers meeting.

Speaker 15 (02:17:10):
After the writing team was assembled, they still needed to
find a place to record the show. The director and
executive producer Octavia helped find the public access station in
Brooklyn that Late Stage now shoots at, which is open
to the public.

Speaker 8 (02:17:23):
Do you have to take a five week course there
where you get certified in all of the equipment and
then you just get to sort of reserve their space
and do whatever.

Speaker 16 (02:17:30):
You want there.

Speaker 8 (02:17:31):
And over the course of those five weeks, Read, Octavia
and I would take this like bi weekly class and
afterwards we've got and get food and we would just
talk about what the show needed and where it was.
Every time a roll popped up in discussion that we
didn't have yet, Octavia or Read or I would say, oh,
I know someone and we'd pick up the phone and
call them immediately. And so it was a very organic
growth in terms of production team at first. And that

just comes from like working within your own community and
like finding an artistic community. I don't think I could
be doing this two years ago, Like I'm really grateful
for having hosted a stand up show for many years
first to integrate myself into that community and knowing a
lot of like hardworking, multifaceted artists.

Speaker 15 (02:18:09):
Once again, the ability to make friends, both in your
local community and even online remains one of the best
ways to get shit done. The collaborative multi media collage
aspect not only impuse a project with a sense of
DIY queerness, it also makes tackling a project as gargantuan
as The People's Joker a bit more feasible.

Speaker 9 (02:18:29):
We'd have these like artists with like you know, like
Maddy Forrest makes beautiful puppets and just beautiful art, so
it's like, okay, like obviously we're an ad Maddie asked
Maddie to make the mixele Plick puppet, and like it'll
be like a Sid Mardi Kroft puppet, and like one
of the other artists that came through was Salem Hughes,
who makes these like three D like low poly three

D models, and at that point it was like, okay, well,
that obviously has to be like our bat cave, like
we'll make it look like a like a Doom like
N sixty four video game or something, and the batmobile too.
So it's just kind of like figure like breaking up
everybody's role into these individual pieces and like kind of
going by like both physical locations, like reserving one artist

for each physical location that we'd see pop up and things,
you know, like Paul McBride did all of the Joker
apartment shots and we recreated Woking Phoenix's Joker apartment, but
you know, change the color and the wallpaper and blah
blah blah. And Paul again like another person who just
like Paul just makes three D models just to like relax,

I guess, like he just makes these beautiful interiors. And
it was like, okay, cool, we'll make like a beautiful,
like hyper realistic interior. I never really forced my aesthetic
on anybody. I really just allowed people to just kind
of like lean into their aesthetic and just do what
they wanted and kind of like just run wild and

be like okay, so you make low polyart, like we'll
do just do that in this case. And our amusement
park set was made by this artist at GRAT and
he just makes beautiful DMT like psychedelic imagery. So it
was like we got this you know, hyper crazy, like
weird perspective amusement park from him, and we turned that
into a three D model, you know, rather than going

like how are we going to make this work? You know,
like this is a this is a flat painting, you know,
like it's a location we keep seeing in the movie,
like how are we going to make it work? But
it was just like just kind of saying yes and
to everything and really allowing everybody to just play to
their best strengths. And I knew that, like my voice
and my vision were always going to be there, like

my face was going to be on screen for most
of the movie, and like it's my story, Like I
was never really worried about losing myself or disappearing in
the art at all, and instinctually I just kind of
knew it would make the movie feel very clear. And
that's really just what it was.

Speaker 13 (02:20:58):

Speaker 9 (02:20:58):
It was really just this big kind of DIY community
art project, and it was a big task for me
to kind of like find the unified aesthetic. But thankfully,
you know, like I've done VFX, I had a lot
of other VFX artists helping me work on the film,
and we were able to kind of find a through
line in the way like all filmmakers have to. You know,

you just stick to a color scheme, you stick to
a very certain type of pacing, and you know, and
musically too, like I think we really like were able
to like bridge a lot of the things together just
by like having constant music playing. And you know, I
think I was really influenced by Natural Born Killers and
Pink Floyd's of the Wall and also Headwig in The
Angry Inch. I think we're like kind of the Big Three,

and also returned to Oz those are the Big four,
and just to round it out to five, then Batman
Forever of course. But I think like a movie's never
really been made. I think plenty of movies are made
like this all the time, like where these like little
communities of people get together, but like this was like
an intercontinental kind of community project, and it was beautiful,

Like I'm so glad we did it, and it was
it was an opportunity to really hopefully, like get a
lot of artists visibility in spaces that they normally wouldn't
be visible, and an opportunity too to like work with
a lot of really talented people and allow them and
make them feel valued.

Speaker 12 (02:22:22):
You know.

Speaker 9 (02:22:22):
I just worked on so many things where it's like
you get art back from somebody and then you're like,
we got to send this back or you're fired or
you know whatever, and this is like I never wanted
to be that. It was very much like this is
kind of all of our movie in a way. And
now that the movie's out there too, I really think
of it. It's like it's just it's got its own life,
Like it's kind of no longer mine, and it kind

of never really was. It was always like ours. It
was always mine and my friends and you know, all
the people that worked on it with me. And I
think that is just really cool, and thanks for giving
me the opportunity to talk about it, because I think
it's one of the things that kind of gets lost
about this project a lot, just because of how personal
is and because of like our legal stuff. But like

I would have never been able to make this. If
it wasn't for the team, we will return to, it
could happen here. After these messages we now return to.
It could happen here.

Speaker 15 (02:23:24):
What I find most inspiring about projects like The People's
Joker and some of the other indie no budget transfilms
by filmmakers like Alice Mayo, Mackay and Mia Moore, as
well as projects like Late Stage Live, is that they
demonstrate that we don't need to rely on big studios
or big production companies to green light things in order
to make our own stuff.

Speaker 10 (02:23:44):
You can just make it.

Speaker 15 (02:23:46):
Which is not to say that it's easy, but the
biggest drive to getting something done is literally just getting
it done.

Speaker 10 (02:23:52):
Is just doing it.

Speaker 15 (02:23:53):
And if people see you doing a cool thing, oddly enough,
some of them will want to help you, which is
kind of a bizarre, but it does end up being true.

Speaker 8 (02:24:02):
The core thing I've learned about producing work over the
last many years is people are willing to do stuff
if you do it first. If you prove to them
that you're committed to something and have a cool idea,
people will jump on board. Yeah, And I think that's
been proven by how excited our audience has been for
the show. How willing people have been to jump on,

and our entire crew and writing stuff is volunteer. Right now,
We're making a little bit of money on Patreon, but
certainly not enough to pay the twenty plus person team
that ends up working with us every month, although that
is the goal down the line. But yeah, people are
willing to do a cool thing and volunteer their time.
Artists want to be making stuff, and so it's just
about doing it and then just doing it again. When

I first started hosting my stay up show, we did
it the first time, and I spent months like thinking
about it, and after the first month, I was like,
oh my god, that was so hard. How am I
going to find enough transcomics to you at a second time?
How am I going to have the energy to do
a second time? And my boyfriend at the time said,
if you want it to be a monthly show, you
just have to do it every month for a while,
even if it sucks, and then eventually it will suck less.

Speaker 16 (02:25:08):
And he's right. He's still right, and I'm still doing
that show two years later.

Speaker 8 (02:25:12):
And we did late stage the first time, and it
was several months push to get the first script out
and we got the first episode out and we were like,
oh my god, Okay, let's do this again in one month,
can we do it? And we did it a second
time and it was also fun and good, and then
you just like figure out how to make it easier
each time. And I will not deny that it is
hard work. We are all slowly killing ourselves to make

this show. I work a forty hour food service day
job that I came directly from to do this interview.
Everyone else on my show is either working full time
on top of the show, or unemployed and slowly losing
money at various stages. People would like to fire queer people.
So every few weeks someone comes into a writer's meeting
is like, guys, I lost my job.

Speaker 9 (02:25:57):

Speaker 8 (02:25:58):
So I will not deny that it's hard, and I
don't want to. I don't ever want someone to think
of me saying just do it. Is like it's easy
because it's a lot of work, and all of my
team is like incredibly talented and has years of experience
doing things. Everyone in the comedy scene in Brooklyn talks
about like wanting to get staffed on a late night show,
which is awesome, And I would love to get staffed

on a late age like that's the coveted job at
the end of the line for the stand up community,
but like, you don't have to wait for that. You
can just make the work you're doing. And I've had
conversations with my writers where they've all been like, this
has been a really cool opportunity because at the very
least I've sort of found out if I would actually
want to write on a late night show. We talk
about that as a coveted job, but maybe I don't
want to do that. It's a very different skill than

stand up and that's been a fun learning curve as
well as hiring a bunch of stand ups. To write
long form political analysis, you sort of have to herd
cats to some degree.

Speaker 15 (02:26:49):
Even with a supportive community, the work can be really grueling,
and the road from a finished movie to being on
the big screen can be a monumental challenge. The People's
is slightly unique in this way because of its peculiar
copyright status of being a fair use superhero parody using
some of our culture's most recognizable iconography to tell a

very personal story. Right before the movie was set to
premiere at tiff the Toronto International Film Festival back in
twenty twenty two, Warner Brothers sent a vaguely worded but
threatening letter which resulted in the People's Joker of being
pulled from the festival save for one late night screening.
Yet throughout the legal chaos, Vera Drew remained to steadfast

to ensure the movie would be released the right way
on the big screen where it belongs. This film has
had like a I guess, a troubled history, some some
might say, and how are you able to like stick
with this project after encountering like hurdles and problems, like
because like a certain point, it's like, is this like
a some cost fallacy or something like how did you

decide to like actually stick with this and like really
fight for this as a as a piece of like
expressive art.

Speaker 9 (02:27:58):
Gosh, you know, I mean I think I feel like
I just didn't have like a choice, really, like I
think with the movie done and with how well just
our first screening at TIFF went like it was just
like I was kind of at a point where I
could shelve it, like cause that was really the other option,

you know, put it just away for a few years
and come back and maybe like you know, when public
domain is a little bit more, you know, it falls
under public domain because it will and like I mean,
at least U Joker and Batman will be in public
domain in ten or fifteen years. So like that was

like an idea. I guess that was floated to me
a few times. Bro, It's just like I don't I
didn't want to wait that long, and I had just
I really put all I had into this movie, you know,
like I cashed in every favor I had ever accumulated
in Hollywood financially, Like I took out a huge loan
to finish it, and it was just this big, deeply

personal thing that I had made that originally really was
just for me and my friends. Like it was just
kind of a thing that I had just made. You know,
maybe I would have shown it to like my Patreon
or something, but like after a certain point, like it,
you know, once we had that like premiere, it was
just like like I can't just post this to YouTube.
I can't like just dump it somewhere or like shelve

it all my agents and stuff. I have way too
many agents now, and they all were like telling me
to that basically, like it's it's it's okay that it's
not coming out. We can basically just use this to
get the next project going. But I mean I quickly
realized in that process, like this movie is like a
fucking like you don't show this movie to a studio

executive and then they immediately are like, yeah, let's let's
hire this person. They just want to like have lunch
with this crazy bitch who made the Joker movie, you know.
Like so it was like it just quickly became clear
like where like kind of just the people around me
who had the best interest of the movie at heart,
and also like just what felt bad and what felt

right and what felt right. Really was like taking the
movie out just to festivals and kind of doing like
a secret screening tour, which is what we did, and
that was really exciting and kind of like a jokerfied
way of sort of getting this movie out there. And
that was really just on an emotional and like personal level,
really what carried me through. I was lucky enough to

be in attendance at one of the secret festival screenings
a few years back, and I was delighted to hear
that nearly two years after it initially premiered at Tiff
The People's Joker was able to secure a distribution partner
to put the movie in theaters nationwide, So once again
I was fortunate enough to rewatch a piece of queer
Batman art that otherwise would have never been made under

Warner Brothers Thumb, and I think this is also the
case with Late Stage Live and many of these new
independent queer projects. They most likely would not be produced
by one of the massive media conglomerates that controls almost everything.
You see.

Speaker 15 (02:31:06):
The small, independent nature of these productions actually gives them
an opportunity to be much more queer and politically radical
than what would be allowed under Disney, Universal, Sony, Paramount,
Warner Media Incorporated.

Speaker 8 (02:31:18):
We're like obviously far more radical politically than any other
late night show on the air right now. And it's
something we've been thinking about as we attempt to scale
and try to find people who are going to fund us,
is that there are certainly people who could give us
a lot of money who would also then really want
to like limit the kind of speech we can make
and the kind of opinions we can have. And so
there's obviously a balance as we look for funding and

growth opportunities. But Brick the Public Access network is their
whole thing is free speech, and so part of working
with them is their commitment to free speech and radical programming.

Speaker 15 (02:31:54):
I'm really interested in the choice to have it also
be on cable access. I find that to be oddly
compelling in an interesting way, and I wonder, like, what
led you to that decision.

Speaker 8 (02:32:07):
So part of that is like rules and regulations at
Brick the studio. So you take one hundred dollars five
week class with them to learn how to use their stuff,
and they offer a lot of other classes too. You
can take a podcasting class to use their podcasting studio,
or a field class to be able to rent out
equipment and go do stuff in the field. A lot
of people make documentaries with their equipment. It's a very
cool team. If you're in Brooklyn, you should go work
with Brick.

Speaker 16 (02:32:28):
They're awesome.

Speaker 8 (02:32:29):
But on one of the contingencies of working in their
space is that when you film something with them, you
do eventually owe them a product that they air on
their network, and that for us is the show. We're
not doing a ton of other stuff right now, although
you know, with infinite money and time, we would love
to be doing many other things, but Brick is awesome
and really values like free speech and creator freedom, and

so even though we owe them a product, we get
retain full ownership of our stuff. And so the way
it is in this zany Internet landscape is that YouTube
is the pls to get eyes on a project. Like
if I thought that public access TV was going to
be the place to to like blow up, I maybe
would be like focusing much harder on promoting that end

of distribution. But I think for what we're making and
what we're doing, YouTube and the Internet is like how
to build an audience. But it's it's it does lend
it like an interesting credibility to be on public access
and esthetically we really like leaning into sort of like
the nineties public access vibes. Part of that is the
equipment we're using. Our cameras are not the most modern,

so you get a slightly grainy vibe.

Speaker 4 (02:33:35):
You get.

Speaker 8 (02:33:35):
The backdrop is like string and papers frum together. We're
filming in four to three, which is a really strong decision. Well,
actually we film in sixty nine, we expert in four
three whatever, but it gives us a very distinct visual look.

Speaker 15 (02:33:48):
I think next episode we'll talk more about how so
much queer video art feels like it's forced to be
on YouTube and attempts to break out of that bubble.
When The People's Joker was stuck in legal limbo, there
was a lot of pressure just to put the film
up online for free, and as much as Patients is painful,
resisting that urge and waiting for the right distribution partner

to come along really paid off in the long run.

Speaker 9 (02:34:11):
I was just surrounded by other filmmakers in the genre community,
and you know who would see the movie at this
festival and be like, you need to just wait, Like
the person who's going to help you is gonna come.
And if that doesn't happen, like you can self distribute,
which I did not want to do. Like at a
certain point it was just like I had spent so
much money finishing it. I just I would have ruined

my life. I think if I self distributed it, like
I just couldn't. I didn't have the bandwidth. And I
want to make films, I don't want to distribute them
at this point, like maybe someday, but like right now,
I just like want to tell as many stories as
I can I had a lot of support around me,
and there was just so much enthusiasm from you know,
people like you who saw it at festivals last year,

who like were basically like holy shit, and just all
the kind of responses we're seeing now to it. Like
it was, I got little like micronoses of that last year,
which literally was I mean, I it's probably fucking tacky
to say, but it was just the darkest year of
my life. I was really just an anxious mess the

entire time. But I really did make this movie to
like not only understand myself and sort of mythologize my
life and my friends' lives and stuff like that, but
like I made it to like get better, Like I
made it to kind of heal not only my relationship
with like my gender, but my family and my art

and like how I want to make stuff. And I think,
what's really beautiful what happened in that like dark period
and up up until now and even right now, this
movie does really require me to take care of myself
emotionally and mentally in ways that are what I've always needed.
So it's it's been it's been a cool kind of

just like really expensive therapy. Ultimately, even though a lot
of it's been really grueling.

Speaker 15 (02:36:02):
That does it for this week at It Could Happen Here.
In the next episode after the weekend, I'll conclude my
conversation with Vera Drew and Ella Yerman talking about the
pitfalls of representation, moving beyond the YouTube bubble, and the
future of queer filmmaking. You can go to the Peoplesjoker
dot com for information on tickets and showtimes, and you
can find Late Stage Live by that name on all platforms,

and to support the show, you can get behind the
scenes content on Patreon at Latestage Live. Solidarity to everyone
out there this week, see you on the other side.

Speaker 2 (02:36:36):
Hey, We'll be back Monday with more episodes every week
from now until the heat death of the Universe.

Speaker 10 (02:36:42):
It Could Happen Here as a production of cool Zone Media.

Speaker 5 (02:36:45):
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
coolzonemedia dot com or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can
find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated monthly at
coolzonemedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening,

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