1 – Towards the Sun – Berkeley Leap Day Action Night

By Jesse D. Palmer

Berkeley’s Leap Day Action Night was a glorious, absurd success!! Leap day offers an extra day and invites us to shake off our routine, so wingnuts in Berkeley planned a roving street party for life not death, freedom and joy not oppression and misery with the theme “Medieval peasants storm the castle — Tear down the walls from Palestine to the US/Mexico Border to Berkeley.”

A bunch of people came despite the rain. People brought medieval costumes, signs and snacks. There was a marching band and Guinevere gave a rousing speech: “We are seedlings leaping between the concrete cracks, reaching towards the sun, where all energy comes from. Like tender shoots pushing through the cold cement, we rise up, wherever we can, however we can, in any tiny break of pavement. … 

“We never chose to grow between the cracks of asphalt poured down on the ground, but we found a way, with the same prehension of all life. We never wanted to live always 3 bad months away from being homeless, but never 3 good months away from being a millionaire. We never agreed to breathe in poisoned air, to drink polluted water, to fill the land with plastic, to bring entire ecosystems to the brink of extinction, we never agreed to any of this being done, but we can all agree that this shit is fucked up!” …

Then we walked across the street for a speech in front of Chase Bank which continues to invest in suicidal fossil fuel infrastructure 30+ years after the science of climate change has been clear. We scattered ashes to represent wildfires caused by climate change. We also visited Bank of America which helped fund Cop City in Atlanta — so we dumped compost in their entryway. May the cop-capitalism alliance decompose.

Then the march headed down Telegraph Avenue and on up Durant to Taco Bell, which had the nerve to locate right next to an existing mom-and-pop burrito shop. We decried Taco Bell’s parent company Yum Foods’ 2021 investment in an Israeli tech company despite a boycott against trade with Israel. Then we circled People’s Park — now surrounded by a University of California 17 foot tall steel wall made of double-stacked shipping container and defended by round-the-clock security. As soon as we turned the corner holding a ladder, the security guards freaked out… even though the ladder was only 10 feet long and the wall is 17 feet tall.

When we got to Dwight Way, out came a 3-person slingshot and most people in the crowd took a turn hurling seed balls containing 20 plant species over the wall to bring healing and regrowth to the scarred and imprisoned Park. Despite a bunch of security guards and UC police in helmets, no one stopped us. After we ran out of seed balls, a dance party began on the closed street and portions of the wall were decorated with spray-painted slogans. 

Since 2000, Slingshot has declared a universal general strike, jamboree, street party and be-in each Leap Day everywhere. In 2024, other events we’re aware of happened in Louisville, KY, Blacksburg, VA & New York City — perhaps there were others, too. 

Leap Day Action Night isn’t a traditional protest nor is it another frivolous distraction while the world goes to hell around us. A lot of people are wallowing in doom, denial or resignation — which only decreases our chances for survival. But the capitalist system, its technology and its distractions are fragile and unsustainable — they’re disintegrating around us as the environment teeters on the brink of collapse. Alternatives based on cooperation, sharing, living in harmony with the earth and loving each other exist. We refuse to be reduced to consumers, viewers and objects to be managed. Let’s build a world that’s awake and engaged — that shifts the focus from things and entertainment to firsthand experience and life.