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From an online history of the takeover of the SF Federal Building in 1977 by over 150 disabled people...
The second big issue that we had was food. We could only carry in so much food and there wasn't a cafeteria in the building or if there was, we didn't have access to it. They figured they would starve us out, which is actually what they did in a couple of other of the cities. One of the people with us was a black man who was part of the Black Panthers and he called up the Panthers and said, "I'm here in this demonstration." So the Panthers turned on the news and saw that we were occupying a federal building, which they thought was really nifty. They thought that anybody that challenged the federal government's domain over their lives and were fighting for self-sufficiency and rights were cool people. And they had one guy in there and so they showed up.

They were running a soup kitchen at that point for their black community in East Oakland and they showed up every single night and brought us dinner, for the entire demonstration they showed up. The FBI was like, "What the hell are you doing?" They answered, "Listen, we're the Panthers. You want to starve these people out, fine, we'll go tell the media that that's what you're doing, and we'll show up with our guns to match your guns and we'll talk about, you know, about who's going to talk to who about the food. Otherwise, just let us feed these people and we won't give you any trouble"--and that's basically what they did.
― 49 ―

I think the secret history of the 504 sit-in--that almost nobody talks about it--is that we never, ever would have made it without the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers fed us dinner--and they fed 150 people of which only one was a Panther--every single night for the whole demonstration. We never would have survived without them. There's not even a fantasy that we would have survived without them. They kept us physically alive.

The first week was the toughest. It was funny because I think the feds figured, "Oh, they'll fight, or people will get cranky and get tired of sleeping on the floor, and get tired of sleeping in their sleeping bags and, you know, there are all these disabled people and da-de-da." What they really underestimated was our determination. We were high. We were ecstatic. There were 150 of us: some people were blind and some people were deaf, some people were retarded and there were all these nondisabled people and we were like--a lot of us who were disabled as kids had gone to crippled kids camp--we thought it was camp! [laughter] We didn't care. You know, we survived surgery! We survived hospitals! This was nothing! We had choices here. We could go to that inaccessible bathroom, or that inaccessible bathroom. We could go down the halls by ourselves, we were with our friends, I mean, they were never going to get us out of there!

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Date: 2007-06-11 04:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is exceptionally awesome. I ended up following the link and reading the whole story--it's incredible and the sort of thing I really wish had been in my US History textbooks.

Date: 2007-06-11 05:31 am (UTC)
ext_3152: Cartoon face of badgerbag with her tongue sticking out and little lines of excitedness radiating. (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Oh me too! I was sucked into some kind of archive-reading vortex all day long on that site.

Plus I watched Hardcore Sitting ( about 5 times.

Date: 2007-06-12 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
exceptionally awesome

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