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East Bay | Police State and Prisons

An Open Letter to Occupy Oakland from One Anarchist
by An Anarchist
Sunday Nov 6th, 2011 5:38 PM
from one occupier to everyone else
An Open Letter to Occupy Oakland from One Anarchist

Parroting the absurdities of Acting OPD Chief Jordan, the mainstream and self-proclaimed “alternative” media have been trying to outdo one another with their scurrilous denunciations of “anarchists” for the actions of last Wednesday's Black Bloc. They have taken it upon themselves to further a process that has already begun inside OO of marking a separation between good protesters (the ones who obey the law) and bad protesters (the ones who cause trouble), with “anarchists” becoming a convenient scapegoat and stand-in for “bad” ones.

I for one will not denounce actions that come under the umbrella of Diversity of Tactics (the practical manifestation of agreeing to disagree); the property destruction that occurred last week is miniscule and mostly symbolic compared to the real daily violence people suffer at the hands of evictions, school closures, the shutting down of low-cost health services for the most vulnerable among Oaklanders, and police brutality. People are right to be angry, and they are right to act on that anger. The aggressive vigilantism of the voluntary enforcers of capitalist relations (the Peace Police) is much more disturbing.

The scapegoating of “anarchists” is made easier by the climate of ideological denunciations from the Left and Right. It's fair to say that nobody but anarchists like other anarchists – and even that's a stretch.

But before the urge comes up to denounce anarchists whenever anything doesn't go your way, think about this: if it weren't for anarchists being involved in the pre-occupation organization of OO, it wouldn't look the way it does now. If anarchists hadn't been involved in laying the foundations for the modified consensus process being used at virtually all meetings, including the GA, the decision-making process would be much more cumbersome and disempowering. If anarchists hadn't been involved in helping to make the sub-committee infrastructures possible, they would become increasingly bureaucratic and centralized in the hands of politicians with personal and/or organizational agendas. If anarchists hadn't been involved in making the Plaza a politician-free and police-free zone, there would not be the kind of autonomous and empowering space all of us have come to appreciate about OO.

Anarchists at OO have been largely invisible as anarchists because we are not interested in converting people or recruiting them into little political cults. We prefer to help built community as caring individuals and affinity groups, to be known as trustworthy allies in the fight against all forms of interpersonal and systemic violence. We are present in all aspects of helping organize and sustain OO, making it a positive space, liberated from oppression – not in spite of, but BECAUSE we are anarchists.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by A participant
Sunday Nov 6th, 2011 10:39 PM
Another response that ignores the criticism from other radicals and anarchists.
by Aaron Aarons
Sunday Nov 6th, 2011 10:57 PM
I don't consider myself an anarchist, even if some of my Leninist friends think I'm one. But I do support many of the things anarchists do that get them into trouble with the non-violence fetishists, including things like burning banks and police cars.

Then again, I advocate support for the struggles of anti-capitalist revolutionaries who are not anarchists, including the FARC-EP in Colombia, the Maoist revolutionaries in India, and the PFLP in Palestine. I also think leftists should support armed actions against imperialism and its agents even when those actions are carried out by reactionaries, such as Islamists, who also do many things that we would vigorously oppose.

By the way, let's not get carried away with this '99% vs. 1%' nonsense. The proportion of the world population that lives off of the extraction of surplus from the labor of others and the destruction of other people's environment is way over 1%, and in the U.S. it's probably more like 50%, even after the proletarianization of a large part of the U.S. population that's been taking place since at least 2008.

by oaklander
Monday Nov 7th, 2011 11:03 AM
The damage done to the relationship between this movement and Oakland communities was not minuscule, it was huge. How ironic that people like the poster accuse people who are serious about wanting to see this movement gain real traction and bring REAL, substantive social change of "enforcing capitalist property relations" if we speak out against counterproductive, self-indulgent actions. Tens of thousands of people shut down the port of Oakland. Hundreds of thousands of people have recently taken their money out of big banks. These are the kind of actions that can bring change. Boycotting Whole Foods would affect them more than breaking their window. Would be helpful if people who are angry would channel that anger into helping this movement instead of undermining it.
by lynx
Monday Nov 7th, 2011 11:48 AM
I wrote a long detailed critique of what happened (http://www.emceelynx.com/2011/11/to-my-fellow-anarchists/) and have gotten an incredible amount of hostility from the 'smash moar windoze!!!1!!" crowd for it - especially after it was re-posted on anarchistnews.org. L

to the anarchists who've commented here saying essentially what I said, that this was a poor tactical decision which hurt anarchist organizing locally - I wouldn't complain if you felt like backing me up here.
by a participant
Monday Nov 7th, 2011 12:40 PM
The people that took over traveller's aid building are responsible for the trashing of local businesses even if they didnt do it directly. They unleashed a pointless clash with the OPD by their fucked up actions and THEY should make amends. Though I doubt their dogmatic defenseviness will allow them to admit their mistakes.
Im not really a fan of the "small is beautiful" political tendency, but trashing local businesses so obviously plays into our enemies it pisses me off to no end.

So it's days later and a lot of us are waiting for an honest accounting of this fiasco.
Thank you again comrade MC Lynx!
by ntuit
Monday Nov 7th, 2011 12:49 PM
Whatever property damage and material damage was done - I have not heard of anyone who was physically injured by the protestors (anarchists or whoever). On the other hand, police have sent people to the hospital - two veterans (Scott Olsen and Kayvan Sabeghi) have been seriously injured by police with life threatening injuries and others have been hurt by state sanctioned government actions. Not that is should really matter whether a human being is a vet or some other class that panders to regimented thinking.

Funny, but business owners and established media don't seem as interested in that kind of violence as the type that might hit their pocket books. I'm not condoning or denying anything. But as usual, the mainstream and "liberal" priorities are totally skewed. They really cannot see the true violence that has been perpetuated by the US governments (state, local and federal ) and it's masters - the corporatocracy. Of course, they have their spin masters to feed the mainstream media what it wants but the anarchists and their friends can only speak from bruises and trips the the Intensive Car Unit at Highland and Children's hospitals.

when americans can really understand the true meaning of violence the movement will have succeeded on a major scale.
by aaa
Monday Nov 7th, 2011 1:27 PM
Thanks a lot, Ntuit. Yet another posting by someone who defends the smashing of Oakland but is unable to offer any coherent strategic justification for it.

We are all against police brutality. We are not impressed by your sophisticated understanding of the true nature of violence. We simply want this movement to keep growing.

Try harder next time.