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Open Letter from Anarchist Participant in The General Strike.
An open letter from an Anarchist with Occupy Oakland.
After the successful national day of action and general strike in Oakland, naturally, we see the topic of violence and non-violence growing within our movement and within the voices of corporate media networks. Obviously this is a result of certain actions that individuals and groups within the movement decided to partake in. Unfortunately we are hearing a great deal of slander, and nonsense at the forefront of this discussion. As someone who has been with the occupation as much as possible, I feel it's necessary to confront this.
Isolating people based on their willingness to engage in self-defense by actively protecting the spaces we’ve all worked so hard to build together, and the symbolic defiance of exploitative property by making absurd claims of them being “Outside agitators” as if it they are some how separate from the many people who have been actively involved in building these spaces of 'direct-democracy' and communal living should not only be considered an attack on solidarity, but an attack on movements of the people. What divides movements of the people, weakens movements of the people.
Many of us out there today and tonight were Anarchists, but many were also not. We are the ones who were in the streets, ready to provide support & solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters. We were ready to brave against the violence of the state arm and arm with you, to protect one another, and provide medic support to anyone who fell victim to the police assaults. We are the ones whom also involved themselves with serving food to the commune, providing sanitation, organizing actions and broadening the movement. We are not separate from the movement. We are not outside agitators. We are a part of the movement, we are involved with the struggle. We stood with the occupation before day one, we stood with the occupation tonight and will continue to do the same in the future. Don’t let age old divide and conquer tactics convince you otherwise, please.
What do I mean when I say “by actively protecting the spaces we’ve worked so hard to build together”? Well I’d like to invoke a quote taken from a statement of solidarity with the occupy movement written by Egyptian activists and rebels, “It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.” Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, those of us who belong to the community and movement of many Occupations around the globe can relate to this quote all too well. They continue to attack us & our reclaimed communal living spaces with a clear display of intimidating tactics, force, and brutal violence. To only add to this, their militarized presence alone is a form of violent authority.
Is it correct to call defense of our direct-democracy,our autonomy, our communities, and bodies senseless, and violent? Is it OK to attack the legitimacy of the countless struggles that have chosen to do this? Were individuals on the Nile bridge (Egypt) whom, literally, fought off police attacks senseless? Were the Argentinians resisting the ruling classes in 2001 by combating police attempts to violently remove them from the city center by charging down riot squads, senseless? Are the Greek anti-austerity mass gatherings and 'occupy Athens' senseless for doing the same? These are questions we must ask ourselves. I'd quickly respond saying,No,Not at all. Actually the strength of these movements grew and expanded in these moments of resistance. To quell spontaneous and energetic moments many people within the movement take part in, would be to to essentially contribute to extinguishing the collective power we've created. It's important to remember our ability to adapt to situations and repression in necessary but diverse ways is what helps us become unpredictable, and a force to reckon with. This is what we need in order to remain strong under serious repression. It's why we were able reclaim the Plaza, and it's why we had the streets without much trouble from police for most of the day during the strike.
Now onto what I mean when I say “exploitative property”. We all see the sinister nature of most of these large financial institutions & multinational corporations, that’s why we're all coming together to denounce them. Property owned by the 1% is used to exploit the labor of the people for the creation of wealth; The rights of their private property are continuously trumping the rights of the people. We can see this on physical display when veterans are getting shot at in Oakland, or when 3rd world Coca-cola union organizers are being killed by private militias and police enforcing ’property rights’. Hence, the use of the words exploitative property. You may say breaking a window is not largely effective, and I would agree with you 100%. That is not the point I'm implying. We call this violent, yet that very property some people wish to target is property used for the exploitation of the globe. Being starved is violence. Getting your arm cut off in a factory is violence. Development on indigenous lands is violence. Having your home foreclosed by Bank of America is violence. More than thousands of people being incarcerated is violence. The 'rights' of their property is upheld by violence, clearly. If certain people want to take part in acts against “property rights” of corporations as a symbol of defiance towards institutions of private tyranny, then so be it. I’ll send more solidarity their way than the way of the property of a bank. After all, who is more likely to help me set my tent up in the plaza, or to provide me with water as tear gas is launched. Who is anyone to shun, and demonize them blindly and rampantly? Lets not play into the role of the corporate media here, by becoming a mouth-piece of the interests of the "1%".
Everything I've experienced with you all here in Oakland this Wednesday was for the most part exhilarating, amazing, and even inspiring. It’s great to see so many people uniting, and coming together to fight against the economic conditions the people of the world are subjected to. My intention with this letter was to express the need for the solidarity within the movement to remain strong; Diversity needs to be accepted. We are not blind, the situation is escalating and the movement must not devote itself to one approach with senses of dogma. As said before, strength comes from the ability to adapt when under attack. Don’t be fooled, we are under attack. Every single day, directly and indirectly. Do not denounce the courage of those willing to defend themselves and our collective spaces of direct democracy. Just as we shouldn't denounce the courage of comrades who use their bodies in non-violent resistance. Know your friends, and don’t confuse them as your enemies. Support them. We’re all out here together, don’t let anyone change that. We have a beautiful thing happening in Oakland. LETS KEEP IT UP!
your friendly occupying Anarchist.