“It’s so important that we have a conscious mind. How are we going to restore our relationships? If we are advocating for harmonious community, and we would love to have a sense of justice and prosperity, we cannot be using the same methods and the same tactics. Ends and means for me are the same.”
Francisco ‘Pancho’ Ramos Stierle is a Mexican-born former astrophysics student turned full-time community activist and humanitarian. He became a known figure of the Occupy movement after being arrested while meditating during the dismantling of the Occupy Oakland Camp.
The man everyone calls Pancho was previously a doctoral student of astrophysics at the University of California at Berkeley, but when he realized his work would serve as one of the institution’s facades to create “safer nuclear weapons,” he resigned from the program, stopped cooperating with the university and became involved in community organizing. An avid student of Gandhi, Pancho believes that “if we are working for liberation, we better stop paying for war,” and that his energy would be better used encouraging “matching the collective madness with a collective love.”
His activism work has focused on issues of human rights, nonviolence, restorative justice, immigration, permaculture and the development of a gift economy. He has worked with youth and supported families affected by Arizona’s SB1070 law. He is involved in Free Farm, a San Francisco garden distributing vegetables to city-dwellers. He has participated in movements to democratize the University of California system, protect old growth trees, facilitate urban farming, and move past youth violence.
Actively involved in the Occupy movement, Pancho’s view is that 10 percent of the occupation community’s energy ought to go toward protests, marches, boycotts and civil disobedience, and 90 percent toward the construction of alternatives to the rotten system. “The more we concentrate on the constructive program, the more we’re going to have food sovereignty and water sovereignty. And we will be ready to make a bonfire of passports and visas and GMO seeds. But first we have to have our own food system, our own justice system, our own restorative system.”
Pancho was arrested during an early morning raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment while he was meditating. Considered a “high profile undocumented protester” by authorities, he was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody rather than being released on bail. A campaign was launched for his release, including a Change.org petition that gathered 8,000 signatures. To which Pancho responded in his spirited style, “Just tell them I love them all. Great space to meditate!”
In a statement from jail, he declared “When the city of Oakland decided to raid Occupy Oakland, it spent around 2 million dollars to do it. On the same day, Oakland closed five public schools. This is the same thing happening across the country. We do not have an economic crisis, we have a crisis of priorities.”
Known for his easy smile and kind heart, Pancho’s mission is “to live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify humanity.”
Visit his blog:
An interview with Pancho Ramos (Yes! Magazine)
Protester Pancho Ramos Stierle Faces Deportation After Arrest (Democracy Now, 7 min)
On Spiritual Activism and Nuclear Guardianship (10 min)