SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice

Sick of Distortions and Disinformation! The Truth Must Come Out! An Eyewitness Account
by afrosocialist
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 8:21 AM
I'm sick and tired of the lies and misinformation emanating from both the corporate-whore media and the "anarchist" apologists on Indymedia--who are both distorting what happened in downtown Oakland Wednesday evening, each for their own particular reasons. It's time the truth came out. It's time to break the silence.
I was at the Fruitvale BART rally Wednesday afternoon, on the march Wednesday night, and downtown (at 14th & Broadway, then down 14th to Madison, then down Madison to the Lake) until after 10PM. I personally witnessed what happened with my own eyes.

When the masked young people (who, in their great majority, were white kids) started burning the first garbage dumpster near Laney College, about half the Black folks in the crowd said, "Aw fuck this! I'm outta here! I ain't getting caught up in the middle of that, those cops'll be shooting soon!" and left.

Then later at 14th and Broadway, many Black youths joined in the demonstration. They were chanting slogans like "We're all Oscar Grant!" These Black youth were very militant, they were facing down the riot cops and defiantly raising their fists in anger and solidarity.

Meanwhile, behind them on 14th St., east of Broadway, masked white punks proceeded to smash car windows, shop windows, etc.

After a couple of trashcans were turned over and lit on fire on the northeast and southeast corners of 14th and Broadway, the police began pushing the crowd down 14th. More cars were smashed, one SUV was set ablaze, and I clearly saw a small group of masked white kids smashing the windows of the three storefronts on the southeast corner of 14th and Webster.

All the way down 14th to Madison, Black youth continued to face down the police, legitimately but militantly protesting, exercising their First Amendment rights. And the white punks continued to break shit.

The riot police forced the crowd to turn north on Madison. Masked white punks torched a car just outside of the Islamic Center of Northern California, while Middle Eastern Muslims inside were holding some sort of event. Several elderly Muslims came out of their mosque in their religious garb, looks of utter confusion and horror on their faces. Here was a persecuted minority being terrorized by the "anarchists", self-professed friends of the oppressed and marginalized.

All the way down Madison, white punks smashed the cars of working-class Black folks in their own residential neighborhood. I was there, I saw. In the aftermath of the white hooligans' onslaught, I spoke to many Black neighbors who came out of their apartment houses demanding to know what was going on, what was this all about.

I apologized to them, explaining that this was a riot that grew out of a march to protest the police murder of Oscar Grant on New Year's in the Fruitvale BART station. I told them things had got out of hand and that the march organizers had lost control.

I told them that I had been on the march but that I was appalled by what was now happening. I explained that there was a police perimeter of about 3 blocks in any direction, and that I was now trying to find a way out of it to get safely back home.

Many people offered me glasses of water, and some even invited me into their homes to wait out the chaos. All expressed sympathy and support for the cause we had marched for, saying that we were right to try and force the powers that be to hold the cops accountable.

But these Black residents of Madison St. also expressed outrage at having been targeted and having their cars destroyed. One brother stated that his car was totaled and he would now lose his job because he works in Fremont, and the insurance won't cover the damages because he cannot afford the premiums for anything better than basic liability coverage. He was close to tears, and he was saying, "You go back to your people, your protesters, and tell them what they have done to me!"

Meanwhile, by the time I had this conversation, along 14th St. and down Madison, the cops had violently, brutally begun arresting the Black youth who were still militantly confronting the police, but who had not been smashing cars, windows, etc. Watching from the sidewalk, I had personally witnessed at least six arrests that night. Each were of young African American men, who were doing nothing more than defiantly staring down the police, yelling slogans, raising their fists and exhibiting other militant gestures, all within their First Amendment rights.

These arrests went like this: The riot cops would advance in their line. Then they would halt in line and within a few minutes without warning 6 or 8 of them would break ranks in a wedge-formation, brutally tackle or beat down a young Black brother, usually tazing him in the bargain, handcuff him behind his back, place him in a painful, arm-twisting restraint hold and, then, with two cops roughly handling him, he would be violently thrown into a vehicle.

I did not, for as long as I was on the streets that night, see the cops apprehend even one of the white vandals who were breaking shop windows, or smashing cars. The police were allowing these activities to continue unimpeded.

To me, in retrospect, this Wednesday night riot was a virtual Kristallnacht by white hooligans against the Black community of Oakland. Like in the original, German Nazi Kristallnacht of November 1938, the police essentially looked the other way when it came to the roving bands of perpetrators and took out any frustrations and aggression they harbored upon innocent young Black men, just as the Nazi cops had done to Jews who displayed the temerity to protest their awful treatment.

I eventually found my way out of the hell that downtown Oakland had become by walking for miles until I found a hole in the police cordon and finally catching a bus back to the Fruitvale district, where my car was parked, and then driving home.

Upon arrival at my house, after a stop to pick up a six pack of beer to calm my nerves, I turned on the 11 o'clock news. What I witnessed disturbed me even more.

After shots of broken glass, smashed and burning cars, etc., they switched to clips of young Black men being arrested by riot cops.

This gave the clear impression to the viewing public that Black youth were responsible for all the damage. "There 'they' go, they're rioting, burning down their own neighborhoods" is the cliched stereotype that must have resulted in the minds of multitudes of average news watchers who had not personally witnessed the events that had unfolded before me that night.

Malcolm X characterized this type of media coverage very accurately, when he said, in February 1965 after his own home was bombed, "With skillful manipulating of the press they're able to make the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim…" (To read the speech in its entirety, see http://www.malcolm-x.org/speeches/spc_021465.htm)

I have a degree of respect for the working-class political philosophy known as anarchism. For this reason, I refuse to dignify these white punks, thugs and hooligans with the title of "anarchists".

These masked white kids are no anarchists, they are opportunists, they are poachers on the Oscar Grant Justice Movement. They are white destroyers invading in the Black community.

They are no anarchists, because they are acting on behalf of the police state, doing part of the cops' job for them. They are being used to discredit the Oscar Grant Justice Movement, to frighten Black folks from protesting against the murder, to divide the community against itself. They are being used by the state to justify the next wave of repression against progressive elements of society in general and the Black community in particular.

I guess COINTELPRO activities are now being sub-contracted out to a wing of the "anarchist" movement. How clever.

These idiots don't care about Black people, Oscar Grant, police terrorism towards people of color, or anything like that. If they did, they would not be doing the things they are doing the way they are doing them. They are using Oscar Grant's tragic murder as an excuse.

They can justify destroying Black workers' cars because, as we all know, automobiles are evil polluters destroying the planet. This is the logic, I suppose.

So, I'm not concerned about assisting all the arrestees without qualification. I'm interested in helping the folks who were legitimately protesting but got arrested anyway (the Black youth), while (as far as I could tell) the perpetrators of the vandalism, arson and general mayhem were largely allowed to get away with it. These criminals posing as anarchists can rot for all I care, they've brought on themselves anything they get. I hope they are all charged with multiple felonies and are forced to pay restitution to all the good African Americans whose hard-earned property they have ruined.

Can you imagine what would happen if a white boy had been shot by police, and the family and other concerned citizens had organized a peaceful rally in Piedmont (let's say), and a gang of Black youth had used the excitement as an opportunity to come into the white neighborhood and bust the glass out of people's cars? Why, you know, they'd have all been shot on the spot. No further commotion.

Let me be absolutely clear about one thing: I was present in Seattle for the WTO protests in 1999. The anarchists of the Black Bloc broke windows there. Liberals and pathological pacifists condemned them for their "violence". But I defended their tactics.

In Seattle, the police were violently, viciously attacking peaceful protesters--pregnant women, elderly folks, it didn't matter--who were trying to hold intersections to keep the WTO delegates out of the Convention Center. At moments of the greatest peril from the police, the Black Bloc would march in to the rescue in a kind of brigade, seemingly out of nowhere, using their hammers to smash the plate glass windows out of corporate monstrosities such as Niketown. By so doing, they created a diversion and protected the peaceful demonstrators. The cops would chase after the anarchists and leave the peaceful demonstrators alone to hold their intersection. And then the younger, more agile Black Bloc would seemingly vanish into the woodwork of the city, only to return as if by magic when a situation became dangerous again.

The Black Bloc were the people's heroes precisely because they attacked CORPORATE property, and they did so TACTICALLY. They likely saved many from the disfiguring blows of police batons, and their actions contributed mightily to the famous victory of the people and the momentary defeat of the capitalist globalizers.

But what happened in Oakland Wednesday night was of another species entirely. Innocent Black, Muslim, Latino and Asian Oaklanders, none of them rich, none of them deserving of such treatment, took most of the blows and suffered the greatest extent of damage at the hands of masked white hooligans. To me, this situation bears a closer resemblance to what occurred in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 (if you don't know, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_Race_Riot) than to the Seattle events of 1999.

To all bona fide anarchists: Act now to stop these white thugs from continuing to do what they've been doing! Respect the self-determination of the Black community! Don't allow these idiots and criminals to usurp the name and reputation of the venerable working-class social philosophy of Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman and Vincent St. John! Take direct action against this irresponsible element tarnishing your movement's legacy, now!

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Miguel
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 8:44 AM
I agree with much of this account except for one thing. Not all Black Youth acted in a great manner. Several have noted that a group of Black teens bumrushed a small grocery store and engaged in some gleeful looting . Let's face it . Any sort of confrontation brings out some opportunists and/or thrill seekers just looking for action .
The difference is that in serious discplined actions real monitors (not ''peace police'' ) make it clear that some actions won't be tolerated . And make it clear those type of acts won't be tolerated .
But i will also say this . Except for clear cases of self defence any offensive miltancy *should be curtailed for this campaign against the murder of Oscar Grant. To do otherwise plays directly into the hands of those who badly want to cahnge the narrative .
by Miguel
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 8:54 AM
I should say that i'm not opposed to real examples of mass militancy . If for example 500 people were to engage in a mass sit in at the Alameda county couthouse demanding that DA Orloff indict and prosecute Mierserle that would be great !
by another angle
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 8:58 AM
Although I don't share your opinion on the destruction of property belonging to uninvolved individuals, I understand your and others' frustration. I lost some property that night as well. However, your view of the racial background of participants is completely skewed. There were are mix of people there that night, involved in a mix of activities. I saw these things with my very own eyes and it is unfair of you to silence or speak about the motivation of individuals involved while you couldn't be everywhere (especially since it seemed that you had taken a break from the rally/protest). And while everyone should know that the police state favors white skin, there were arrests made of people of every background. Of course, people of color will be charged with more serious crimes and be less likely to have their charges dropped, but I personally know of one white individual who is charged with assault of a police officer even though she did not lay a finger on him. Furthermore, there were a significant number of Latinos arrested that night.... where do they fit in your analysis?

There are people who would like to make this into a race issue. And it is insofar as it will always be people of color who will more at risk. (Can anyone imagine a cop pulling a gun on a white kid? I can't.) But the outrage has come from many sectors of the community, and like it or not, there are individuals from lots of different backgrounds that don't give a f**k if Oakland burns. Seriously, do you really think it is only white people that engage in property destruction? Explain LA 1992.
by ...
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 9:12 AM
As an anarchist I tend to agree with the sentiment that a lot of people posing as anarchists are white middle class liberals that don't know shit about working class organizing. Am I sad that 17th st got hit up? yes. Am I going to go around blaming different groups of people? no.

But, I was down there and saw what happened. Your account is completely fucked. I as well as anyone who witnessed what went down knows what happened.
by jehan
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 9:13 AM
The racial bigotry exhibited by the police and media is total bullshit.
Thanks for this account, I've added it to Stumbleupon, and Digg!
I've also commented on it in my blog. http://donttrustcops.blogspot.com/2009/01/bart-shooting-aftermath.html
by Mesoloma
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 9:34 AM
Anarchists care about ANARCHY! No government evermore!
by Observer
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 10:50 AM
I saw the tail end of the rally at Fruitvale and then took a Bart Bus to Lake Merritt. The evening strangely began to take on Rodney King overtones when we had a curfew for a night or two in San Francisco. I cautiously got close to the protest and viewed the scattered garbage in the streets. Where were the police? Who was going to clean up the streets and speak to the confused community? No one was in control. Then, the riot cops. Then, Dellums. Primarily youth of color strained to get close to him in order to talk. The group of us walked down and up some street. I was there to protect the youth. If I had seen a cop raise a baton over a peaceful young person simply talking to the Mayor, I was going to speak out and felt passionate enough to do anything to stop the shedding of blood or whatever of a young person. Being angry and young is not a crime! The SWAT team-like tactics of Oakland to deal with a protest were an affront to my sensabilities (sp?). I eventually became so damn paralyzed by what I saw on the part of the POLICE that I had to call a crisis hotline. Youth need real empowerment. Neither smashing property nor heavy-handed policing is the answer. Groups, leaders, organization, real power should be in the hands of youth! Youth power! It is a state of affairs in our society that this does not exist already. People need a voice! People need power! Dellums did not explain how the bring about that process. He said, "Calm down." Youth need to BE on the Bart Board. Youth need to be in control and not the other way around. Repression is not the answer and never was. Think everyone!
by take a breath
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 10:56 AM
that's the most inflammatory and insulting thing I've read about Wed. -- enough with the nazi comparisons to everything

you must have just been running with white kids if that's your account, as the social unrest was definitely equal opportunity multi-racial

in fact, I'd say it was the most multi-racial protest I've seen -- all the way from the BART rally to downtown -- that I've seen in the Bay area since the anti-war protests in Oakland (not SF) in early 2003.
by ArrestMehserle
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 11:41 AM
I'm white and I was there for Oscar Grant. I was there in solidarity to protest police brutality. I fully support black self-determination but I won't stand on the sidelines when the police murder a black man.

I do not support the destruction that happened downtown on Wednesday. I left at the onslaught. I agree with 'afrosocialist' that I believe the destruction was instigated by a group of white kids who hate cops (I'm not even going to call them anarchists because I don't know how many of them would be able to accurately define the philosophy).

I returned around 9pm to see what Dellums was saying. That guy is an idiot. He sure fanned the flame. After he retreated to City Hall a new wave of of destruction began. There was some very legitimate anger and rage at the riots. I was angry and outraged. But I do not support indiscriminate destruction of people's livelihood. Go ahead and burn a police car, fuck up McDonald's. But don't smash the windows of mom and pop stores or working class people's cars.

I did see much of this on the news and I agree with 'afrosocialist' that the news portrayed mostly blacks being arrested and causing damage. There were white kids there too but the media certainly didn't show this. Out of the 105 arrested, it would be very interesting to see what the racial makeup is.

I understand why the destruction in downtown Oakland happened. I don't condone it, I don't support it. I left because I didn't want to be a part of it for the very reasons 'afrosocialist' mentioned. The destruction affected innocent people and actions were not targeted towards BART or the City of Oakland. But it happened and I blame BART for its inaction with the investigation and arrest of Johannes Mehserle.
by anarchist
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 11:43 AM
are you fucking kidding me?


you must have either A. not been there. or B. be pushing the same ridiculous reformist SOCIALIST agenda.


if this is your contention, that only white kids smashed car windows

then please explain to me this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5361rUgc-Fg


even so far as

"take a picture of me i'll knock your white ass out"

i am not saying the smashing or burning of cars was stupid, or counter productive or anything


but when you go around saying a group of ONLY WHITE people were smashing cars , and that they were trying to undermine the whole black community is fucking absurd

i seriously wouldnt be surprised if afro socialist themselves was a fucking cop, if not they are definitely playing the part of one.

by this was not there
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 11:51 AM
I was there and it never happened the way the writer of this article describes it. Burning and smashing cars and shops might be stupid, but more stupid is to try to lie to create your own world fantasy. Be careful not to give any detailed information on what happened we don’t know who wrote this.
by anarchist
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 11:55 AM
all you have been doing is preying on any type of tense race relations in order to push your own fucking agenda, its really fucking disgusting. and it seems because you have told everyone that you are a black person people wont fucking call you on it. as a person of color myself i think what you're doing is fucking atrocious.

the video i posted above, the pictures of people of color involved in the almost flipping of a cop car.

any type of militant action that doesnt fit into your reformist agenda is instantly seen as being "white" or done by a group of "white punks" in a clear effort to discredit resistance.

not only does your ridiculous account go against your stated purpose of a truthful accurate and un biased account, it makes no fucking sense.

if only a group of white punks were breaking car windows, how do you explain the video i posted, or the reports of people of color, in numbers, expropriating things from a store.

seriously, your socialist agenda is out in the open and your call for the appeasement of a cornucopia of enraged people.

if you cant handle the concept of a multi ethnic, and multi faceted rage then just say so.

but dont try and bring racial tensions to a breaking point just because you have an agenda that you feel you have the divine right to implement.

by another mother for justice
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 12:17 PM
There were youth of all colors fucking up shit!! and i saw it with my own two eyes. Yes, there were definitely degrees and different levels of intention to the destruction.

yes there is an element of white bandits who are not disciplined and want to riot against anything and any one.

our young brothers and sisters were enraged and some were tearing up cars, breaking glass, etc.

we need to try to unite the youth, ALL OF THEM, who are outraged by police brutality. We need to provide support, share our radical knowledge with them and help them grow into leaders, the leaders that we desparately need.

There are many ways to support our young people. Some folks need to have serious educational sessions on white skin privilege and personally they need to recitfy their shit in an appropriate fashion . . . preferably by whatever is collectively decided.

Other young and older folks need to have legal suport because many folks got arrested for nothing. Just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. You know that can happen to anyone, anywhere.

All of us need to have the backs of the youth right now. they are the most vunerable. One of their brethren was just murdered by the cops and they are feeling it in a way that we older heads are not. Yes we can totally identify with them as we were youth once also but we were young in a different time and place.

Lastly, the nazi comparison is wrong . . . that was state sponsored terrorism. Wednesday night was a spontaneous expression of oppression. WTO in 99 was organized for about 2 years so all those coordinated black block tatics were well-planned and well executed precisely because it was planned in advance and not a spontaneous expression of oppression as we saw Wednesday night.

We need to remain clear that all this shit happened because Mehserle killed a young black working man, Oscar Grant, and take advantage of this unfortunate opportunity to organize our folks before it become a mised opportunity and vanishes as is so often the case.

TOWARDS JUSTICE
by klone
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 12:57 PM
yes, yes, we were all there, i myself was on 14th and broadway standing up to the riot police and urging the news medis that were there to film the police attacking people rather then the smashed car windows. but alas, that just not good enough news, and news correspondants have little or no journalistic integrity. anyways, what i can say for certain, was that the shit really hit the fan when the tear gas was used, and not to mention, everything remained relitivly cvalm till the riot squad came out. maybe they wanted it to go down that way, they wanted a mob scene so our actions could all be dismissed in the news as senseless destruction, dwarfing the reason we were all there.
by Tex
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 1:24 PM
To compare this event to kristalnact and the Tulsa Race Riot is just shameful. The youtube video posted by an anarchist proves that you either A made this whole thing up or B only saw part of what happened and jumped to some very unprincipled conclusions.

You can make an arguement both against property destruction and/or for white folks to respect black neighborhoods and leadership. But to totally misrepresent what happened makes your arguements ring pretty hollow. I would like to hear how this revelation changes your opinions, hopefully it can help you calm down with comparisons to nazi germany and the jim crow south.
by alexis
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 1:49 PM
It doesn't matter if you're some bullshit liberal socialist who secretly loves the cops or just a cop yourself: fuck you, you're acting like a cop.

Enough with the bullshit middle-class, white values of property destruction = violence, cop.

What's your badge number, afro socialist?

by @
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 5:20 PM
What you liberal fuckers dont seem to udnerstand is that capital is all around us. It is represented as much in the neighborhood mom and pop store as in big multinational corporations like McDonalds. And they keep us - the workingclass - alienated from our good and our surroundings and our ability to live, as much as big corporations. In the ghetto, the small stores represent capital - that is why the korean storeowners was attacked during the LA uprising. That is also why the windows was smashed in the riot a couple of days ago. People say that this was misdirected rage, but for revolutionaries it was just the right direction and show that the workingclass - on some level - spontaneously understand what this prison that we live in and which separate us all from eachother and transform us all to commodities at the same time that it keeps necessary commodities away from us, are made upon. This also shows how useless and reactionary the left is in their pathetic attempt to direct the "dumb masses" in the "right way".

Also, im sure the people dont give a fuck what the mother of grant thinks because this struggle has allready transcended him and what happened to him (just like it did in Greece by the way). This is about the opression of the policestate, something that everyone of us feel every single day. We dont need hers or anyone elses premition to rebell against it. And anyone who wants to make this about this individual case or the individual cop is a reactionary who is disrupting our struggle. Basta.
It is possible that several police officers may have gone undercover, posing as anarchists, and that they are the ones responsible for creating the mayhem on Wednesday night.
They are called 'provacatuers' and there are many documented cases of police using these provacatuers throughout history.
It is their goal to marginalize these protestors and this incident. Another of their goals is to take the focus off of the original homicide that started all of this.
They want to divide us and conquer us.
They trick the people who watch TV into thinking that it was the black youths who were smashing and burning.
At the same time, they trick people like the author of this article into believing that it was white 'anarchists' who carried out the violence.
I believe what you say that you saw, I just believe that most likely it was actually UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICERS disguised as 'anarchists'.

The police want us to be racist against each other.

Know who your enemies are....the POLICE!....not each other.

All races unite against police brutality and racism!
by Peace Officer
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 6:04 PM
Think about the physical requirements for destroying property. Throwing, hitting with a stick (I saw broken planks of wood near cracked store-front windows), violent tendencies,... Never, in my years of visiting Long Haul have I ever encountered odd people. Anarchy is a discipline. If anything, I wasn't their type! Real anarchists are DAMN SERIOUS about what they think is right. The nonsense on Indy_Bay pertaining to violence must not be coming from real anarchists. Who are the one's with batons and guns? No matter what, go study your anarchism-it ain't about inciting, flaming, and isolating. Who benefits when progressives are splintered? There are real answers to problem's caused by the State. Together, we will get there.
by @
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 6:05 PM
You are the one dividing us into groups. You are the one calling some protesters "good" and some others "bad". You are the one putting groups up against eachother. Maybe you and the person who wrote this article are the cops undermining our movement.
by @
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 6:08 PM
Seriously, what the fuck are you talking about? Anarchists wants to incite and start uprisings. That is "real anarchism". You must have confused anarchism with liberalism...
by Oaktown eye
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 6:58 PM
Two people have come forward as the main organizers of the protest. One is Dereca Blackmon, 38-year-old $75,000/yr chief of some program called Leadership Excellence that lives off government grants.

The organizers made two big mistakes. 1) They did not focus the protest around one or two demands on the government. If was just a general call to vent emotion. 2) They did not have a crew of monitors committed to calling out the thugs who smashed the cars of innocent workers and broke the windows of innocent scuffling little business owners, like a braid shop no less.
by Flanarchist
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 7:13 PM
Well, well ... this thread is very interesting and I'm glad to see it. I feel that Afro-socialist brings up some good points and that no one should just dismiss his feelings. Wheter you are a "socialist," an "anarchist" or a reform capitalist who is upset about police brutality - you do need to consider the targets of your actions. That is the point isn't it?

People are going to be angry and there is going to be an emotional aspect to any response to footage that we have all seen. That is also true. People should be allowed to express their anger and the community should expect some of this. But, smashing up working-class peoples's stuff, is stupid and counterproductive.

I also really like the fact that Afro-socialist brings up the differences between what the Black Bloc did in Seattle and what some random people did recently in Oakland. I also was in Seattle and I hate the way the Black Bloc has been portrayed by feel-good liberal dumb-asses like Townsend (the maker of "The Battle in Seattle") or the Rainforest Action Network. Their whole take on that is naive and divisive and they are quite lame. But, I'm also familiar with the area of Oakland that Afro-sociliast describes - and, they are not the enemy. They are not priviledged or corporate. They are often the ones who suffer the consequences of police brutality in the first place. So, to smash their cars is also misguided and lame. The so-called "left" in the Bay Area just continues to be plagued by stupidity, arrogance and utter lameness. It comes from all sides (from the bugey do-gooders who feed the media stories about the "bad protesters," to the uber-sectarian identity-focussed guilt flingers, to the "I'm more radical than you, watch me smash something" types ... it is all lame.

And, it is too bad because there is such a rich history here and so much potential. But, for now, it seems like if you want to experience real solidarity or real organizing - you have to go someplace else ... someplace that doesn't even pretend to have an "anarchist chic" or to have giant fund-raising "mainstream activists" like Global Exchange ... Lame Lame Lame ...
by alexis
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 8:41 PM
Here's how we think differently:

1. My specific demands are that the government disband itself and cease and desist all coercive activities effective immediately. This includes, but is certainly not limited to: wars on drugs, terror, immigrants and the poor, policing, monopoly enforcement, union busting, bailing out financial institutions, etc.

2. You want to replace the real government with a fake government of "protest monitors" to enforce liberal property rights.
by junya
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 11:32 PM
An interesting discussion. I suppose it is good that we air our feelings. We live in a land sickened by ethnic division, and none of us are immune.

The author of the above article believes that this is the time to relate ethnicity, tactics, and political sophistication. Some folks commenting on my article debunking the Taser-confusion hoax, Plan 9 from BART Police, believe we should stop pointing the finger at police and state violence, and instead focus on individual or group violence, which they say claims more lives. That's another interesting discussion.

Yet, it seems that some form of Attention Deficit Disorder is taking over. Please recall: the public has captured and distributed a video of a chilling, unjustified, extrajudicial execution of a helpless young person. Ten days later, the killer still walks free and, literally, has not answered to anyone. On some level, the injustice of this is recognized by a wide spectrum of society. That makes this a unique opportunity to educate the public on the deep-rooted and prevalent threat to the human right to life: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the state. While historically many of these killings reflect patterns of ethnically discriminatory policing, state terror is increasingly refusing to be limited to the traditionally targeted communities. The ease of sanitized killing, introduced by new technologies such as Taser, have helped fuel this expansion.

So can we defer these discussions of individual actions, and keep the focus on the state's ongoing blatant disregard for human life? Anyone who believes state terror is restricted to young black males needs to learn from the killing of Eric Kleemeyer by the Santa Clara police in Jan. 2005, or the killing of Bich-Cau Thi Tran by the San Jose police in Jul. 2003, or selected cases from 2006 listed in "Close To Home (part 2)" . We owe it to those no longer with us to focus on seizing this opportunity to raise public awareness of the extent and nature of unpunished extrajudicial killings in the US.
by afrosocialist
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 12:39 AM
Chris R. and Flanarchist, thanks for taking the time to actually read what I wrote and trying to understand what I was trying to say and engage seriously in discussion on these points.

Everybody that responded with "you're a cop", or various other ways of saying "fuck you", or insinuating that what I wrote was not sincere, or implying that I made shit up in my account (One muthafucka actually said, I was on 17th St., and none of the stuff afro describes happened, even though I made it perfectly clear I was on 14th St.!!!): Did you even read what I wrote critically?

Chris R. brings up a point that I made over and over in the original post, but in a different way. I want to thank him for having a brain and actually trying to clarify--rather than just being knee-jerk and defensive and resorting to "shoot the messenger" tactics, like most of you have done.

Many people who responded to my piece chastised me for "blaming the destruction on anarchists". Not so! Read the article! What I said, over and over again, is that the punks who perpetrated this travesty in fact ARE NOT ANARCHISTS, COULD NOT BE ANARCHISTS.

Anarchists would never destroy the hard-earned property of other working class people. I'm not talking about the mom-and-pop stores (so save us the shitheaded arguments about small business), I'm talking about the cars that the Black wage workers who live on Madison St. depend on to go take them to work everyday, so that they can continue to live under roofs and feed their kids.

Do you fucking ignoramuses know that most insurance policies have specific exemptions in them that indemnify the insurance companies from covering damages resulting from riots or civil unrest?

That means, in some cases at least, you have inflicted upon members of the working poor the worst fate of all: losing your job and your car all in one week. Because you can't get to work in a car with all its windows smashed out, and you can't afford to fix them yourself on your pathetic wages, and your insurance company won't pay to fix it because it was smashed by some punk ass white kids who decided it would be fun to riot through your block and then brag about how tough they are over beers while they watched it all on the 11 o'clock news in Piedmont or Berkeley.

So no: I don't think any group or individual who would consider it appropriate or a legitimate form of protest to smash working class Black folks' cars, taking away Black workers' livelihoods--especially given the U.S. history of white supremacy, job discrimination, slavery--to be anyone who has any understanding of anarchist theory, at all.

So, far from "blaming anarchists", my entire point is that the perpetrators of this onslaught COULD NOT BE anarchists! Regardless of whether that's what they call themselves or not.

Before this week, if somebody would have asked me, "Which group of white people dons masks after dark and goes on forays through Black neighborhoods, lighting fires, smashing their property and generally terrorizing the population?", I have to admit the word "anarchists" would never have entered my mind. I would have responded, "Why, the Ku Klux Klan, of course!"

Which brings me to the point that Flanarchist makes, "you do need to consider the targets of your actions." (Thanks, Flanarchist!)

This is another point I was trying to make in my original post. Maybe I wasn't too clear. I'll try to draw y'all fools a picture this time. Gimme a minute, lemme get out my crayons...

In March 2008, the Port of Oakland made an agreement with unions, community organizations and the City, to take steps to reduce the diesel emissions from semi trucks that carry cargo containers in and out of the docks. This was because a study exposed the fact that astronomical rates of cancer existed in the Black low-income neighborhood of West Oakland. The port agreed to levy a new container tax on the corporations that ship their manufactured goods by water, the proceeds of which would be used to buy greener equipment and to convert to biofuel instead of diesel.
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/blogs/west_oakland_diesel_brings_the_cancer/Content?oid=667426

But in December, the Port unilaterally reneged on that agreement, causing consternation and despair among the said community groups, unions, City and Black low-income residents of West Oakland.
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/blogs/oakland_port_backs_out_of_pollution_promises/Content?oid=879579

APL (American President Lines) is a major multinational shipping line that has its international corporate offices in City Center, downtown Oakland, located at 1111 Broadway. It is one of the companies that opposed, for obvious reasons, the container tax that would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention that it would have saved the lives of those pesky Black low-income residents of West Oakland. APL is also a noted war profiteer in the Iraq War. To top that off, APL is about to relocate its headquarters to right-to-work state Arizona, which will further despress the Oakland economy. Hint: There are huge plate glass windows on APL's building.

The Port of Oakland corporate offices themselves are at 530 Water St., near Jack London Square. Lotsa glass on that building too.

The point I'm trying to make is that, for actual, thinking anarchists, there are literally dozens of appropriate and legitimate economic targets, right in downtown Oakland.

But a Black, working class residential neighborhood is not one, you stupid punk ass bitches.
by Anarchist
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 2:03 AM
Pushing your bullshit racial agenda does not help the family of Oscar Grant. Creating divisions between black and white people who hate cops will not get rid of cops. It only makes them stronger.

You're taking advantage of a black kid's death, and of a riot, to push your party's fucking oppressive and exploitative doctrine. Get over yourself, you maoist piece of trash. Fuck Slavery. Fuck Communism. Fuck you.
by afrosocialist
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 2:26 AM
What the hell are you talking about?

(1) I ain't now nor have I ever been a Maoist.
(2) I ain't creating divisions between anybody, I didn't trash a working class neighborhood. I'm only taking exception to the fact it was done and noting the fact that a group of mostly whites carried out this atrocity, not in one of their own neighborhoods but in a mostly Black one. And I'm urging whoever is responsible not to repeat it, because these ACTIONS, not anything I'm saying, will create racial animosity.
(3) I'm not pushing any doctrine, I'm talking about legitimate questions of revolutionary tactics, whether your an anarchist, a Maoist (which I'm not), or any other brand of socialist.
(4) I'm taking advantage of Oscar's death, exactly how again? By expressing my opinion about the best way to conduct a fight for justice for him, his family and other young Black men the pigs are targeting? I'm expressing my opinion on Indybay, a free speech medium for open discussion and dialogue within the radical community.
(5) You've got no idea what I have or have not personally done for the Grant family.

You need to lay off the crack, or meth or whatever you're the fuck you're on, "Anarchist".

I haven't posted anything on Indybay or Indymedia for awhile up until this past week. Would somebody tell me when it degenerated to this sorry level?
They dream of orderly revolutions, neatly drawn up principles, anarchy without turbulence. If things take a different turn they start Screaming provocation, yelling loud enough for the police to bear them.
Revolutionaries are pious folk. The revolution is not. -- Alfredo M. Bonanno
by @
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 3:01 AM
So Capital doesnt exist in a workingclass neighborhood? Sure it does.
by ????
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 7:23 AM
Oaktown Eye wrote:Poverty pimps get plenty of the blame

Two people have come forward as the main organizers of the protest. One is Dereca Blackmon, 38-year-old $75,000/yr chief of some program called Leadership Excellence that lives off government grants.

The organizers made two big mistakes. 1) They did not focus the protest around one or two demands on the government. If was just a general call to vent emotion. 2) They did not have a crew of monitors committed to calling out the thugs who smashed the cars of innocent workers and broke the windows of innocent scuffling little business owners, like a braid shop no less.

Did you know that the poverty pimps that hosted the protest also put the $$$ intended to go towards Oscar Grants family in the wrong hands? A woman claiming to be his sister took off with the $$$. She wasn't his sister and friends of Oscar Grant told the organizers so. Corporate media is claiming most of the rioters were professional activists and even throw in the word corporate demonstrators. Watch the clips on Channel. 2.

This gives us all a bad name.

They asked for us to protest and we did. Both non-violently and otherwise. We must come together. We must not duck into the night into your gentrified downtown lofts as I have seen Hipster wanna be anarchists do.



by Alfie
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 8:17 AM
Does anybody know if this is legit or a provocation? Apologies to Afrosocialist if you are a real person just trying to voice your opinion.
by Stop the Hate
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 9:14 AM
I saw an anglo man standing before is smashed out car. He was pissed. Pissed off at the system? No, the person (s) who wrecked his ride. He stood there for about an hour. I am sure some of you guys saw him. What is going on here in this discussion is odd. Swear-words and insulting are not political tactics. Who is reading indy-bay? The cops are everywhere. We should be so lucky to have anarchists everywhere. Something is fishy here.
by anarchist
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 1:43 PM
afrosocialist, you are clearly trying to back pedal, you made the very obvious generalization in your post that the anarchists were a bunch of white kids and were the only ones breaking things, while every person of color was "militantly expressing their first amendment right"

dont try and back pedal, just admit that you said some dumb shit.

when you know the fact is both blacks and whites and every other person were participating in each activity.

if you are talking strictly about working class black people's cars then say that.

i dont know of those incidents, nor was i present so i cannot comment.

but due to the overwhelming variety of people that were present, id say blaming it on one race of people is pretty fucking ignorant.
by afrosocialist
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 2:48 PM
Comrades & Friends,

I generally try and come at any political discussion I attempt to engage in with a sense of humility and openness to others' perspectives, and I try to be constructive in my criticisms when I feel criticism is necessary.

When I wrote my original account, I was very upset and angry. I was filled with indignation that a majority white (if not all-white) grouping when through a working class Black neighborhood destroying the cars of average folks, some of which I know personally, and who I know to be scratching and scraping, struggling and striving to survive on the employment front. Taking a person's car away at a time like this is a severe blow, and the 99% of folks on Madison do not deserve this treatment. They do not support the repressive state structures that murdered Oscar Grant. They are the Oscar Grant movement's natural allies.

I might have exaggerated a bit--but not it terms of reporting the facts about what I saw--but in terms of my rhetoric which I admit was over the top due to my anger in that moment, but which was intentional because it was aimed at making a point and getting folks who might have participated in the rampage down Madison St. to look at the implications for the Black folks who live there.

I did this because I know the Black residents of Madison St. are allies and potential fighters in the Oscar Grant Justice Movement themselves, and I was and still am concerned that this type of actions toward these types of targets (or is it, "collateral damage"?) will create nasty racial divisions that will polarize the movement for justice we all want to build.

Since I wrote what I did initially, I realize that I painted a two-dimensional picture of a three-dimensional phenomenon. People have since shown me videos of events I didn't personally witness where Black kids are engaging in property destruction. But I never said they hadn't been.

Many of y'all misinterpreted what I said in a very simplistic way, IMO. I did not mean BLACK KIDS = GOOD, WHITE KIDS = BAD or any other liberal or "christian" moralistic thing like that.

I'm talking revolutionary tactics.

What are appropriate targets, legitimate economic targets for those who want to engage in property destruction? Nobody yet has attempted to fully address that question. Condemning me as a cop, a Maoist or a piece of trash apparently relieves folks of responsibility to discuss hard questions.

What does breaking working class people's cars do to hurt the police state? Those were not cop cars. And they didn't belong to any of the corporations whose power the state exists to ensure.

Why not go after legitimate corporate and state targets, if property destruction is what your into?

And finally, am I the only one who thinks there's something terribly wrong with a vastly white grouping rampaging through a vastly Black neighborhood smashing shit and terrorizing the inhabitants?

I wish we could get beyond this nastiness and actually have a discussion of the core issues I was trying to raise, as friends and comrades. We're on the same side, even if we support or emphasize different tactics, we all want the cops held accountable we all want justice for Oscar and his family, we all want a world in which forces of repression can not just arbitrarily take out our youth, friends and loved ones on a whim.

"Capital-A" "Anarchist" was very nasty to me, trying to silence me on a "free speech medium for open dialogue and communication within the radical community". I think you have much more to fear from him, who is obviously an undemocratic, authoritarian monster waiting to happen, than from me who is just trying to express an unpopular viewpoint in an open forum and hopefully spark a fruitful discussion. Which whether you happen to agree with me or not, will ultimately benefit the movement.

Any movement that does not size up its mistakes and achievements, its victories and failures, through open and honest discussion, is doomed to fail to achieve its original objectives, and will ultimately degenerate into its opposite. (This speaks to the kernel of truth in what "capital-A Anarchist" was saying. This speaks to how, historically, certain genuine workers revolutions were ultimately transformed into authoritarian regimes.)
by anarchist
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 4:04 PM
ok then

i can concede that yes smashing up cars in a black neighborhood is a dumb thing to do.

but when there is a general revolt and riot going on you cant really paint the parameters that hard.

powder kegs blowup they dont strategically hit. at the next march you should pass out hand bills that have a suggestion of legitimate targets rather than waiting til afterwords to decry the actions.

better yet try and get people to march to the police station.
by People of Color Anarchists
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 7:00 PM
Oakland: Congratulations.


Dear Oakland,
The night of January 7th we were with you, you were with me, when we saw a glimpse of the future: we smiled and embraced as we lit fires, stomped in windows, destroying real estate, both big and small business as usual. We shared tips on makeshift face masks, we rested together on the sidewalk to catch a breath, we reminded ourselves to "stay calm! don't run!" when the cops gassed us or when they did their sorry shuffle: charging a little, pushing a little, running a little. We disbanded and came back together time and time again and realized we could make the city into anything we wanted.

We flew through the night, always outrunning the twin monstrosity of police and liberal politics-- both who call for passivity-- staying close to familiar faces, but always defending a stranger. Here we write this letter even while we know that where our words so often fail, only our fires emerge victorious. But let this letter be a word of encouragement. Let this letter be comfort in the courtroom when you stare up back at the judge, when they call you a criminal. We do not silently watch as they disappear us into their prison dungeons, their service industries, or when they feel free to wave guns at us and shoot us. Let this word be with you.

The early morning of January 1st was no accident, just as the fire lit night of January 7th was no accident. There are those who left early on the 7th who decry destruction and only want the specificity, the precision of a planned action with a planned target. They don't know that our plan was to rebuild our humanity and that the target was the city. They expose us to their legitimacy litmus. They are afraid of our wild ambitions, they have a smug disdain for our free humanity, they are torn between their boring critiques of capitalism and how they don't want to think we're mongrels-- but in their hearts, they do. We see them all the time: little conquistador Napoleons who want to mastermind a charge and lead a loud megaphone chant. Don't let them guilt or shame you-- if it helps, let this word be with you.

They do not know that our power does not have to look like neighborhoods of small businesses that cater to the middle road, businesses that employ us to work unending hours for them, all the while suspecting of us one perversion or another. Not now, or not ever, but especially not now when we live in a world where no one bats an eye when they kill us, imprison us, humiliate us each day. There is no human rights delegation to our daily lives-- there are only capitalist gate keeper service agencies and liberals who think they know what's good for everyone. No flashy car, no Obama/Biden bumper sticker, no "mom and pop" can prevent us or sell us the betrayal of our own experiences. We don't grieve for a car window, or a nail salon, or liquor store, just as we don't grieve for a McDonalds or a bank. We grieve that we are choked each day and we celebrate that just past the tear gas we finally caught a breath of reality. We finally found humanity, together.

It's cause to walk with a lighter step this week, to burn this memory into our histories, to remake our dreams for the future. We are reminded of what's possible: to be tender and patient with one another, and save our rage and distrust for those who destroy us. A heartfelt congratulations to you.


No business as usual, not ever, always towards humanity,
Barbarians,
Criminals,
People Of Color Anarchists,
The Dignified.

With a friendly nod to the day to day realities in Chiapas, the anarchist and the Arab in Greece, the civilian and the militant in Gaza, the suggestion of New School, the anarchist and the radio and the barricade in Oaxaca, the prisoner in Atenco, the legacy of Watts, the day laborer in Osaka, the uprising in St. Petersburg, the Burmese anti-fascist, the uprising in Cincinnati, the dignity of Benton Harbor, the dignity of suburban France, the farmer in Afghanistan, the Chinese in Milan, the young of Ungdomshuset, the militant's Chile, everywhere where our dignity overpowers our shame, where our strength proves itself collectively, where our emotions manifest publicly and collectively, where such basic humanity is born and breathes, where there are those who adhere to a human decency no culture can destroy-- which fortunately, is everywhere. Onwards!

by (A)
Sunday Jan 11th, 2009 11:02 PM
I saw anarchists and students putting themselves in between protestors with bricks and a high school's windows.

I saw anarchists keeping protesters from kicking the shit out of a middle aged white dude who was trying to defend his precious windows with his dog.

i saw anarchists yelling "Don't run, walk!" to keep people from panicking.

I saw anarchists sharing their water with strangers, giving tips on making masks from t-shirts, telling people how to flush their eyes if they were teargassed.

I saw anarchists yelling at people "hey! thats a proletariat person's car! go stomp on that SUV across the street!"

I saw anarchists let strangers hide out in their apartments.

I saw anarchists build barricades to keep the police from being able to move in and arrest people.

Someone shot at protesters from an apartment building near lake merrit. this hasn't been reported on.

I heard a cop yell "See you on bart!" to a group of youngsters. This hasn't been reported on.
by afrosocialist
Monday Jan 12th, 2009 1:22 AM
I know anarchists did all those things. Seems way more characteristic of the anarchists I've known than the results on Madison St.
by KARA N. TINA
Monday Jan 12th, 2009 10:54 AM
Oakland on Fire

By KARA N. TINA

"I'm sorry my car was burned but the issue is very upsetting."

-Ken Epstein, assistant editor of the Oakland Post, who was finishing an article about Grant's death, watched from the 12th story of his office at 14th and Franklin streets as his 2002 Honda CR-V disintegrated in a roar of flames (Oakland Tribune)

The murder of Oscar Grant by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer Johannes Mehserle early New Year's morning sent a wave of grief throughout the Bay Area and reminded all that racism and police violence continue to be endemic components of US society. During the following days, that pain transformed into overflowing anger as multiple videos of the execution recorded by witnesses emerged on the internet and in the media. One week later on January 7, over a thousand people from diverse communities across Oakland and the Bay Area gathered to show their anger and be in the presence of others feeling similar grief. This hastily planned rally shut down the Fruitvale BART station where the shooting took place as speaker after speaker addressed the crowd. Without any plan or organization, the vast majority of those who patiently listened to speakers for over two hours took the demonstration into the streets with a spirited march that made its way towards downtown as the sun set.

As the march reached the Lake Merritt BART station and headquarters of BART police downtown, clashes immediately broke out leaving one police cruiser destroyed alongside a burning dumpster. Marchers dispersed down side streets to the sounds of police weapons discharging and the sting of tear gas in the air. The following hours witnessed waves of rioting and demonstrations throughout downtown Oakland that even forced Mayor Ron Dellums to come out into the streets and promise the opening of a homicide investigation in a failed attempt to subdue the angry crowds. Hundreds of businesses and cars were damaged or destroyed and dumpsters were left burning. The next day, a BART board of directors meeting was filled beyond capacity and overwhelmed with community members expressing indignant rage, clearly feeling validated and empowered to speak up by the previous night's rebellion.

In the days since the unrest, rumors have begun to circulate that anarchists hijacked an otherwise peaceful event and were responsible for unleashing the 'violence'. A cover story in the San Francisco Chronicle two days after the rioting quoted an organizer of the Fruitvale rally as saying that he was led to tears when his work was "destroyed by a group of anarchists." This obscures what actually transpired and why, on that evening, the streets of Oakland unleashed such a powerful show of resistance and solidarity that gave many an empowered glimpse of radical new possibilities.

It is true that anarchists were present from start to finish on Wednesday. Counter to some generalizations that assume all anarchists are white, those who were there on Wednesday come from diverse backgrounds. They participated in a wide variety of ways; from spreading the word about the rally beforehand in order to have a large turnout, to spending hours painting banners and signs, to engaging in militant street actions, to being rounded up and at times beaten and arrested. Anarchists are among the over 100 community members who now face charges ranging from misdemeanor rioting to different felonies.

African-American youth made up the majority of those involved in the actions along with sizable numbers of anarchists as well as other youth of color and activist folk who were all there side by side. During the rioting, there was a sense of unity in the air and a defiant mood of solidarity among all who faced off against the police. Anarchists tend to show up at all demonstrations prepared to act should the situation escalate, and this case was no different. Yet it is simply incorrect to suggest that there was some conspiracy of anarchists from the 'outside' who were able to manipulate the helpless youth of Oakland as part of their sinister agenda. This is a paternalistic misreading of what was unquestionably a spontaneous outpouring of rage, led by youth of color. There, temporary alliances were made as those who were motivated to act in the moment experienced a unique cross-pollination that cut across the inhibiting social boundaries of everyday life.

So the allegations of an anarchist takeover are destructively misleading.

There were some moments during which individual anarchists attempted to influence the course of events. At one point a group of black youth smashing the windows of a locally owned business were encouraged to target large corporations and banks instead of 'mom and pop' shops. They proceeded to do just that. Anarchists also un-arrested youth, and encouraged people to push dumpsters and other objects into the streets to prevent the police from advancing, a tactic that was quickly picked up and utilized. Other examples of this type of interchange involved anarchists encouraging youth participating in the riots to wear bandanas over their faces, change clothes during calm moments and other tactics to help avoid arrest or identification. Without question, the exchange went both ways as anarchists took away valuable lessons in mobility, evasion, and more as they worked together with the youth throughout the night.

None of this, however, suggests that anarchists had some sort of control or single handedly determined the events that transpired. The rage and energy that transformed downtown Oakland into a momentary battlefield came from those who are most directly affected by the racist police state regime. No one group had any control over what unfolded. It was a spontaneous rebellion that sprang organically from the streets of Oakland and in retrospect anarchists played an important yet relatively minor role.

The property destruction and rage that burned throughout downtown Oakland was at times undirected and ended up damaging many small businesses and cars along with corporate targets such as Sears and McDonald's. However, some of the most powerful moments that parralleled the destruction were confrontations with police and spontaneous gatherings of people in the street who refused to be dispersed. It was during these moments that chanting would again erupt from the crowd reminding all who were present that the direct political demands of justice for Oscar Grant and active resistance to the racist police state system in the United States were the motivations of all who took to the streets that evening.

It's important to also remember that not one person was assaulted during the actions and there were no reports of fights or scuffles amongst the groups of youth who resisted police and destroyed property into the night. In this sense, the rebellion was not violent.

On the other hand the Oakland Police Department, who everyday harass, intimidate and beat Oakland's youth, was unleashing its very real violence that night. Police opened fire on crowds with different types of less lethal projectiles and in some cases shot tear gas canisters directly into people's bodies. A Berkeley High teacher had his face bashed during arrest and spent the night in the hospital before being taken back downtown for booking. A man taking pictures was attacked by police and his bike helmet was cracked as he was beaten. During the mass arrest at the end of the night, 80 people were forced by police to lay on their stomachs at 20th and Broadway, including a very pregnant woman who was screaming in pain.

What manifested during the Oakland rebellion was a moment of interchange and revolutionary transformation that rarely happens within the rituals of left organizing in the Bay Area. Between white "community organizers" overtaken by guilt into an impotent politics of servitude, professional activists worried about annual reports and grant cycles, and vanguardist marxist sects continually looking to use the next demonstration as a recruiting drive, many radicals find themselves in a desert devoid of revolutionary activity and thought. Within this barren landscape, it is rare to find new possibilities for radical social change while combatting racism and the constant oppression of capitalism. Resisting the police shoulder to shoulder, destroying property (albeit with different emphasis), helping one another evade arrest, exchanging tactics and gestures of solidarity across racial barriers pushes the desire for a multi-racial revolutionary movement ahead, more than any speaker at a rally ever could.

Anarchists are very accustomed to accusations of spoiling carefully managed demonstrations, and in some cases this is true and necessary. The Oakland rebellion was a different story. Those who are truly committed to revolutionary change in this country need to appreciate the significance of what unfolded in the streets that night and move forward without falling into the usual sectarian traps.

This analysis was written collaboratively by a group of anarchists based out of Oakland who together were present at all moments during the rebellion.
by Anne
Monday Jan 12th, 2009 11:24 AM
Criticism is part of being a social change agent. You are blind. Perhaps some of your tactics ARE NOT WELCOME. I sure would not like broken glass all over my neighborhood. It kills small animals and gets into the waters. Stop the violence. Stop the violence. Stop the violence!
by ....
Monday Jan 12th, 2009 11:55 AM
"Criticism is part of being a social change agent."

Certainly. But when that criticism continues the false disinformation campaign started by career politicians, corporate newspapers and professional activists (afraid to loose their corporate and government funding) and even takes it further by claiming it's a COINTELPRO campaign against the movement, we need to be able to call people on their shit.

-------
From COINTELPRO on wikipedia: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
-------

The original article is a very effective at doing just that.
by ArrestMehserle
Monday Jan 12th, 2009 12:26 PM
I appreciate that afrosocialist continued with further posts and clarifications. I completely agree that this movement needs to focus on more appropriate targets, not the indiscriminate destruction of working people's shit, black or white. This battle is bringing this killer cop to justice for robbing Oscar Grant of his life. Let's not lose sight of this. I hope to see all of you and your mothers at the protest on Wednesday. Be productive, not destructive!
by @
Monday Jan 12th, 2009 2:24 PM
ok... after going through all the comments here, I think afrosocialist is in fact trying to create a dialogue here with regards to what happened on Weds. Thanks.

I just have couple of things to say. As an anarchist who witnessed events unfolding (and did not participate in destroying property) the situation was not one where any group could control the actions of others. As was said in the article posted above, there was some effort to steer people towards more "legitimate" targets, but often times situations like these are chaotic. Absolutely no one I know planned for events to unfold the way they did.

On the criticism that small businesses and cars should not have been targeted: I completely agree with this criticism.

Looking forward:
100+ people are facing charges, some being very serious. Contrast this with the fact that a cold blooded murderer is still roaming free without spending one day in jail. Also, contrast this with the fact that of the past 10 murders by OPD thugs, ONLY ONE! has been disciplined. Let's have an honest discussion about that. Instead of focusing our rage at each other we need to continue militant confrontations with the police and continue to learn from our mistakes along the way.
by afrosocialist
Tuesday Jan 13th, 2009 4:11 AM
We should focus efforts, moving forward, on some general demands. I think we should all agree on these. There may be others...

Everyone arrested must be released immediately and all charges dropped, unconditionally. Now. I have heard J.R. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee is still incarcerated after being arrested on Wed. night. All prisoners free now. Drop all charges.

All the killer cops must be jailed. That means, all the cops in the Fruitvale BART that night. If I would shoot anyone in the back in front of 100 witnesses, with cops all around me, I would not go home. I would be in jail awaiting a bail hearing. All the cops there were accessories to murder!

The "War on Drugs" and the "War on Crime" is a genocidal policy that must be repealed. It is a policy of containment against the Afrikan community. As well as against the Latino community. We want to end it now!

Jobs for all who want them at living wages with full access to trade union rights. Now. Investment in the Black and Latino communities. This is not "charity" this is reparations. Full employment now at decent pay.

We want every victim of police violence compensated for their misery. Enough already. Now.

by afrosocialist
Tuesday Jan 13th, 2009 4:24 AM
I hereby forgive everybody on this thread that slandered me, treated me like shit, accused me of being a cop, etc. Let's build a movement here.

This has ended up being a very productive thread, IMO. Remember we are in Panther Town. Unlike in other cities, we have got a lot of support from older generations. Remember that. Be smart. Don't do stupid shit. Folks got your back. Act like it.