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East Bay | Police State and Prisons

Confronting the Many Faces of Repression
by Occupy Oakland Anti-Repression Committee
Monday Oct 22nd, 2012 3:46 PM
Over the past year, we have experienced many forms of overt police repression, from the camp eviction and night of tear gas on October 25th, to raids on the vigil, to snatch and grab squads on May Day. We feel that as a community we need to shift our thinking about repression, to recognize the subtler more insidious forms that it takes and the ways that it targets our sources of strength and plays on existing conflicts and divisions in an attempt to weaken, distract, and consume us. If behaviors support and consolidate state campaigns of repression–then they do the state’s work of repression.

Rethinking Repression

Over the past year, we have experienced many forms of overt police repression, from the camp eviction and night of tear gas on October 25th, to raids on the vigil, to snatch and grab squads on May Day. We have come to expect the riot-clad police, with their batons and chemical weapons, although repression comes in other forms as well. As a community, we have not been sufficiently attuned to these other faces of repression. As the Anti-Repression Committee (ARC), we too have focused primarily on the overt police violence on the street and its counterpart in the jails and courts. We have spent countless hours in communication with people in jail, working with NLG folks to secure lawyers when possible, doing and mobilizing court support, and providing commissary and other forms of support for our comrades who remain locked up. We have also held workshops to talk about some of the other forms that repression can take–and ways that we as a community can keep one another safe–but we have not done enough as a committee to address these other faces of repression. We feel that as a community we need to shift our thinking about repression, to recognize the subtler more insidious forms that it takes and the ways that it targets our sources of strength and plays on existing conflicts and divisions in an attempt to weaken, distract, and consume us. This does not mean that we should become mired in trying to identify state infiltrators and agents. We may never know who the infiltrators are, and ultimately, whether individuals are directly working for the state when they engage in disruptive and divisive behaviors is not the point. We need to instead focus on behaviors. If behaviors support and consolidate state campaigns of repression–then they do the state’s work of repression.



Attacks on the Anti-Repression Committee

There have been a number of attacks on the Anti-Repression Committee, claiming a mismanagement of funds and spreading misinformation regarding bailing procedures. We wish to clear up any misconceptions. ARC manages the bail fund, and has no connections to the OO Finance Committee, nor any access to other OO funds. The bail fund was established through a donation of $20,000 by OWS which was initially managed by the OO Finance Committee. However, in early March the Finance Committee notified us that the account was temporarily frozen because the Finance Committee member under whose name the account had been opened had resigned and removed his name from the account. We were told that in order to access these funds for bailing purposes, members of the ARC would have to step up and sign their names as account holders and thus become responsible for managing these funds. Despite our hesitations, several committee members decided to do so and this account has been exclusively managed by the ARC since that time. We issued a financial statement at the end of July documenting all funds raised and spent by the ARC. [**Hyperlinking feature broken, copy-paste link to view] ( http://occupyoakland.org/2012/07/financial-statement-from-the-anti-repression-committee/ ).

We would like to reiterate that all ARC bail funds are used only and exclusively for bails. This includes both the original $20,000 OWS donation as well as the additional $22,000 raised independently by the ARC through its Wepay. Despite accusatory suggestions that we should put these funds to other uses, we feel that the countless donors who entrusted us with this money did so under the clear impression that the funds would be used for bailing jailed comrades and not for other purposes. Therefore, the ARC also works to raise supplemental funds through fundraisers in order to provide for other repression related expenses (like commissary or jail calls). All of these raised funds and expenditures are also accounted for in our financial statement.

Furthermore, in response to criticisms that we make selective choices on who to bail and not bail out, we would like to reiterate once again that the ARC bails strictly according to OO policy. This means that we never bail prior to arraignment (when bails tend to be reduced dramatically or forfeited altogether) unless there is an emergency situation as defined by OO policy (for example medical emergency or child custody). Furthermore, we have always provided bail for arrestees after arraignment as long as the bail amount was within the possibilities of our fund (some bails have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars). We NEVER make decisions regarding eligibility for bail in these situations (whether based on the type of charges, the nature of political action or any considerations about the “worthiness” of individuals in terms of bail), but rather always follow the same procedures outlined by our policy. (http://occupyoakland.org/2011/12/bail-policy-of-occupy-oakland/)

Finally, we would like to address the aggressive campaign of baseless accusations that have been targeted at our committee for months now. Some of the individuals making these accusations, including Shake Anderson, have been doing so for months through rumors and gossip rather than direct requests for accountability or transparency. Individual members of the committee have received aggressive and accusatory personal messages, and have repeatedly requested that these concerns be addressed to the committee (either via email or at weekly committee meetings). However, despite current claims of lack of response, these individuals have never directly communicated their concerns to the committee (despite numerous invitations to do so). Furthermore, we are outraged at how these accusations of scandal have diverted the time and energy of our community – particularly given that a financial accounting was provided long ago (and continues to be ignored) and that the committee has always been willing to answer questions or address concerns. While accountability and transparency are cornerstones of any strong social movement, we recognize these continuous and baseless attacks as attempts to distract our committee and the larger community from the real work at hand, and as a form of repression.

We are a committee that was entrusted with OO’s bail fund – a responsibility we do not take lightly. We have worked hard to manage these funds in an accountable and transparent manner, despite the fact that none of us ever chose to take on financial responsibilities (bail funds were essentially frozen unless ARC members were willing to take on financial responsibility) . We have worked to more than double the original $20,000 OWS seed money. We have worked tirelessly to respond to a harsh year of repression including almost 850 arrests. And after it all, there is still over $13,000 in our community’s bail fund, as well as an additional commissary fund raised to support the needs of long term arrestees like Kali and Truth. This means that we have maintained almost 75% of the funds that were originally entrusted to us a year ago and that our community still has the necessary bail support to continue its struggle. We are proud of our committee’s work and find the recurrent attacks to be baseless and intended to divide and distract.



Petty Forms of Repression: Personal Attacks, Rumors, Gossip…

Repression often takes quite mundane and petty forms like personal attacks or the spreading of rumors. The result of these behaviors is the targeting, exclusion or silencing of individuals and the creation of divisions and distrust within the community. These petty forms of repressive behavior slowly tear away at the bonds of community that serve as the backbone of our movement. They drain us of our energy and our sense of solidarity. We are not suggesting that aggressive, violent or harmful behaviors by individuals should ever be tolerated or excused. Rather, we hope that we can find ways to collectively address these concerns without being pulled into patterns of behavior meant to divide and harm us. We refuse to allow the (very real) wounds and disputes in our community to become a playground for the state’s campaign of repression.



Violence & Intimidation

One of the issues that has been divisive within our community is the question of property destruction and how violence should be defined. While many of us in ARC would dispute a definition of violence that includes property destruction (and instead restrict our definition of violence to those acts that cause harm to living things), we also recognize that many within our community see property destruction as an act of violence. We do not all need to agree on this point, but our disagreements on this question need to be expressed in a way that is not harmful to others in our community. For a while the Bridge Caucus provided a model and a forum for dialogue amongst people with differing definitions of violence and views of property destruction. Such discussion and debate on this issue, and questions of tactics and strategy more generally, should be welcome.

What we as a community cannot accept is threats, intimidation, and acts of violence directed against one another. In recent weeks a number of individuals have been subject to different forms of threats and intimidation. Some have received threatening personal messages. Some have been harassed and made to feel unsafe on the streets. That such behavior coming from people who identify as part of Occupy Oakland is entirely unacceptable should go without saying. But we draw attention to these recent threats because we need to recognize the way that they further the state’s goal of repression, regardless of who is behind them, by making us more insular (turning inward to the safety of a small group of loved ones and trusted comrades) and cautious (afraid to reach out and take the risks necessary to make the changes we desire).

Since November, anarchists amongst us have been especially targeted with threats and vigilante violence. We saw this on the anti-capitalist march on Nov. 2nd when those engaged (or perceived to be engaged) in property destruction were tackled, had sticks and chairs brandished at them, or their masks removed and photos taken–all in the name of nonviolence. And we are seeing it now. Fliers have surfaced calling for people to arm themselves with bats and weapons to “beat the shit out of anarchists/vandals” and thus “defend” Oakland against “their divisive & violent message.” Again, we must underscore the worrying irony of calling for violence against a group of people–ostensibly identifiable by race and dress–in the name of nonviolence and stress that any such threats, whether coming directly from agents of the state or not, do the state’s work, and plays into a long history of the state using the scapegoating of anarchists to divide movements in the U.S.



Profile Jacketing

We are deeply concerned by the increasing demonization of “anarchists,” the “black bloc,” and “outsiders” now being conflated under the term the “Oakland Commune”. This is occurring in flyers, social media communications and manifestos. We see this demonization as being a clear expression of the state’s current strategy of presenting a profile of Occupiers as a dangerous, outsider white anarchist “criminal street gang” bent on irrational destruction. It doesn’t matter whether these attacks are being made by individuals who are directly tied to the state as agents or provocateurs. The important thing is that this narrative directly mimics the state’s campaign of repression, one currently being used to jail and charge us with conspiracy. By perpetuating this narrative one is perpetuating the state’s repressive script.

The state’s script involves claims of violence and threats to public safety, and manufactures an organization out of loose political affinity (people together in the streets for an unpermitted march or unsanctioned action) in order to criminalize both the alleged behavior and association itself. In a recent press release, SFPD transfigures a tactic (black bloc) into a criminal organization, making reference to “members of the criminal street gang, Black Blok (sic)”. ) ( https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4pdvMvLhJfdbm9XX0dZYmJpX1E/edit?pli=1 )

Similarly, the piece circulated last week (“Fuck the Oakland Commune Hella Occupy Oakland”) takes what was an affectionate name that some used to refer to the camp and community created at OGP–the Oakland Commune–and makes it into a discrete thing, a shadowy organization, comprised of a “group of ideological extremists” who seek to “foment chaos and destruction” and who have cost Oaklanders their “sense of safety.”

Labeling something a threat to public safety is a key way that the state justifies its repression. We see it in the SFPD press release noted above, and we have seen it repeatedly used against Occupy Oakland. The camp was evicted because it was deemed a threat to public safety. Occupiers were given stay-away orders in the name of public safety, to constrain “those intent on using violence against the community” (http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Occupy-Oakland-tamed-with-stay-away-orders-3341492.php).

But what we also see in these examples is the way that the state claims that it’s really only a small group of trouble-makers that it’s coming down on, the bad protester-turned-criminal, that repression is reserved for the criminal and not the lawful, good protester. This logic structures District Attorney O’Malley’s justification of stay-aways: she declared that those with stay-aways “were not rallying on behalf of Occupy Wall Street, or even the greater Occupy Oakland movement. Rather, they advertise themselves as ‘militant, anti-government, anti-police, and anarchists,’ with a mission to destroy the community fabric of Oakland through the use of violence.” This same line, this same attempt to isolate and root out a small group of violent trouble-makers threatening the community is echoed in the recent attacks on the “Oakland Commune” as a “vanguard clique” “operating in the shadows of Occupy Oakland” ( http://hellaoccupyoakland.org/occupy-oakland-media-collective-statement-on-the-oakland-commune/ )

This type of profile-jacketing does not come without severe and devastating consequences. We see this in the recent FBI raids and grand jury investigations of those deemed as anarchists in the north west, the arrest of those deemed as part of “black bloc” during the anti-columbus day march in San Francisco, and in the ways that this narrative continues to draw divisive lines within our movements that distract from real work and criminalize those that fit the profile. This profile of the “outside agitator” and “anarchist” has been used over and over by the state, dating back the the early 20th century when anarchists were deemed “terrorists”. Let us not do the work of the state for them by criminalizing our comrades by buying into the state’s narrative and profile of the “bad protester”.

The state has to generate some level of consent for the violence it seeks to unleash upon us. This profile is one of the means of doing so. When we help the state consolidate that profile, we assist it in doing its violence to us, all of us.



Exacerbating Divisions & Differences

Repression has always involved prodding, manipulating and exploiting existing divisions within the movement (whether race, gender, class, sexuality, or any other forms of oppression). These exist in the larger world and it is no surprise that they permeate our movement. We must continue to work on addressing and fighting these oppressions and power dynamics. We must however be careful not to play into the state’s desire to divide us. We must always remember that these divisions, which cause devastating and painful realities in our lives, are created by the state, and also protect the state by making it so difficult for us to stand in solidarity with each other. It is not a surprise that this would be such a dominant tactic of repression unleashed against our movement – which after all drew its strength from alliances and solidarities across these divisions.



Anti-Repression is Solidarity

We have focused on these different faces of repression so that we can more effectively withstand and resist them, by drawing on our best tool of anti-repression: solidarity.

One year ago, hundreds of cops in riot gear launching their chemical and “less than lethal” weapons didn’t keep us from the plaza. That kind of courageous standing up to repression is part of what made OO capture the national imagination. If that kind of overt violent repression didn’t stop us, what does it say about the power of these more insidious forms of repression that they appear to have such an immobilizing impact on our community? This Thursday marks the one year anniversary of October 25th – let us continue our legacy by standing up to repression in all it’s faces.

We will not be broken, we will not be baited.



In solidarity,
The ARC

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by miles
Monday Oct 22nd, 2012 8:28 PM
Thank you ARC, for distilling the trouble being caused by irresponsible people claiming the monopoly on legitimacy relating to OO events and actions. Your statement is principled and much needed during the tail end of OO's decomposition and disintegration. With any luck, Thursday will be a day to reinvigorate those who yearn for and remain committed to the reclamation of public space.
by anonymous
Monday Oct 22nd, 2012 9:29 PM
This is sooo right on. Thanks ARC for holding it down so consistently.
by case in point today
Monday Oct 22nd, 2012 10:29 PM
OO Media people, despite being disbanded as such by the real Occupy Oakland general assembly earlier this year (http://occupyoakland.org/2012/03/1-for-3412-ga-proposal-to-denounce-people-who-tweet-a-shit-storm/), seem to be running on all cylinders lately disrupting through slander and threats.

"Beat the shit out of anarchists" flyer found in Oakland
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/10/13/18723651.php
- It's anonymous, but everyone knows this came from Khalid and allies within the so-called media committee. Khalid had threatened organizers of the Feminist Vigilant March with violence a few weeks earlier, using nearly identical language. And this is the same Khalid who saw fit to break into the Holdout over the summer to steal computers and more.

Who is the Occupy Oakland Media Collective?
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/10/19/18724078.php
- This is in response to press release and corporate media interviews by Shake and Khalid where they openly claim to be representatives of Occupy Oakland (see http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_21787566/flier-calls-violence-against-oakland-anarchists and http://hellaoccupyoakland.org/occupy-oakland-media-collective-statement-on-the-oakland-commune/)

They've been attacking people on facebook and twitter too. Here's an example from today, where one of the "media collective" people is attacking Omar from the People's Library, Omar being the same person the media committee attacked with baseless and dangerous charges that led to them getting kicked out of the real Occupy Oakland.



Jaime Omar Yassin ‏@hyphy_republic
People can judge your charges by the work we've continued to do. I'm happy to stand so accused under that metric @geekeasy @mrejfox
6h

Adam Katz ‏@geekeasy
@mrejfox And yet, I do recall people also accused @hyphy_republic of "bullying women" at Lakeview school.
6h

Jaime Omar Yassin ‏@hyphy_republic
My god, you're a lying pos. Who are these "people". you never have evidence for any of your assertions. @geekeasy @mrejfox
39m

Jaime Omar Yassin ‏@hyphy_republic
majority of the bottomliners at Lakeview were women. Ask anyone of them if these are charges are true @geekeasy @mrejfox
52m

Marianne Moore ‏@alltopieces
@geekeasy don't remember meeting you at #lakeviewsitin. I was there every day. can't recall @hyphy_republic bullying anybody. @mrejfox
5m

https://twitter.com/geekeasy/status/260517334601584640



They just don't know how to let things be, always talking smack without solid grounding in facts, making enemies, and disrupting the scene. For what? For the benefit of making their own selves feel better about having been kicked out of Occupy Oakland, the only committee ever officially disbanded by the general assembly. This groups of perhaps a half a dozen or so disruptive miscreants create nothing of value themselves, only spitting shit outwards from their little sewing circle. That would include Ben and Stephanie too, more silent people behind media committee mischief, constantly churning the shitstorm from behind the scenes

Anyone who associates with the so-called OO media committee or works on the fake-assed hellaoccupy website should be shunned, the sooner the better for the sake of unity in Oakland.
by Jim
Tuesday Oct 23rd, 2012 12:31 AM
This is a good article. Self-government is all about self-disciplines as well. I respect the concept of OO, but feel those behind property damage do more injury than good.
by Kate R
Tuesday Oct 23rd, 2012 8:36 AM
Thanks so much for this. Really lays it out. You guys rock.
by reader
Friday Oct 26th, 2012 10:30 PM
I've removed the links to East Bay Occupy groups from our website -- it's impossible at this point to tell what's going on, who is who, what is what.

I know what it's like to be on the inside and feel disgusted when I hear someone on the outside paint us all with one brush, but honestly, that's where OO is at this point.

It's amazing to think that the violent repression of the corrupt thugs in uniforms in Oakland could so easily pull apart a group in which over 700 people chose to sit on cold concrete in the RAIN to vote, patiently, on badly written and few decent proposals . . . for hours. It was an amazing thing, the world that was briefly created there, but the deep need to be able to crack heads back, and smash windows in response, outweighed all of it.

I marched with tens of thousands to the ports in total media silence. The cameras waited only for the first can of spraypaint, the first hooded person to do a single thing.

I don't live in Oakland, but just outside of it. With the election afoot, each of us is slammed with emails, phone calls and ads.

I never once got a request -- directly -- to come and find out what Occupy was all about. Occupy never got organized even half as much as an ALL VOLUNTEER POLITICAL PARTY, which figures out how to send tens of thousands of emails to registered voters.

Occupy didn't figure out any method of outreach beyond posters because they were knee deep in teenage emotional vitriol about violence or anti-violence or property destruction.

And then the whole thing about renaming it . . . a name I forget now, now that all of that is gone. The teenage angst won that argument too.

I know Oakland has been abused in horrific ways for years. But so have a lot of other places. Some of them seem come out of it and move forward, like Egypt, at least haltingly, but some of them end up in horrific violent mess that goes on and on, like Syria.

Who is to blame?

The adults aren't perfect, but as we can see, when the kids get free reign, they wreck the place. They're kids afterall.

As a resident just outside the borders of Oakland, I could pass every day and never ever ever know a thing about OO except that kids smashed the windows of small businesses. There is no connection to the OPD in the media except that a few rogue cops were bad. The public does not make any connection between kids smashing windows and police murdering person after person after person.

No movement can organize in a serious and useful way when everyone is overwhelmed with emotion about internal issues. The OO discussions I saw were unbelievably toxic and abusive. I literally found the experience to be not unlike the wikipedia experience when one deals with the intelligence agents defending big lies -- psychological poison that makes you feel like you don't even want to open your laptop again.

I'm glad to see groups starting to come together over rejecting the toxic mess of OO and hopefully creating something new and functional that figures out, first, how exactly the mess of the mainstream media's allegiance to business and militarized police should be addressed.

Until then, any movement in Oakland can be taken apart with a single infiltrator throwing a paint bomb at a bank.
by Outsider
Saturday Oct 27th, 2012 1:42 PM
I fail to see how non-violent protest made anymore of a difference than rioting to stop the following:

-WALL STREET CAPITALISM
-CAPITALISM
-BANKS
-POLICE BRUTALITY/MURDER
-WAR/GENOCIDE

It just seems like everything we do whether we vote, boycott, strike, or riot, nothing works. Wall Street is still doing business. Capitalists are still making profit. Banks/Bankers are still hurting/killing people. Police are still hurting, killing and oppressing the poor while repressing tent protest. And the war against the world by the U.S. military is the most brutal of them all. OH, and a President that just doesn't get it when people say " no more war". There's just no end in sight to any of it. What do we have to do to end it all? I know Occupy is dead and that's no ones fault bu the police, but isn't this an opportunity for us to build something more radical in the place of Occupy? Isn't that the next step?

There is a solution. REVOLUTION! Protest doesn't go far enough. Rioting doesn't go far enough either. We're not killing the system by holding signs and breaking windows. I'm sorry. It's just not happening and not going to happen that way. We need to come up with a plan that goes right to the heart of the system and then WE ATTACK and END THE NIGHTMARE! I support everybody who tried everything. I've tried everything myself and I'm just as fed up and frustrated. I'm not going to kid myself about about divisions in occupy. Some people just don't get it and don't see a need for revolution and never will. That's nobodies fault but their own and we can't force people to better.

Let us remember that the poor are the very first victims when it comes to being ripped off by capitalists, beaten/killed by cops, brainwashed by the U.S. military and getting foreclosed upon. The poor are always the very first victims of this system and ain't nothing but a revolution gona help them and the sooner they figure it out and organize one to help them selves the better.
and you cannot live on the replacement of CO2. Ought we not make a plan to end motivation of the industrial revolultion by coal, gas, oil, and atomic energy??

Fact is U.S. Imperialism heading the world Imperialist-Camp is planning more and more supreme worst crimes of aggressive war for more and more pollution oil, and its Militaries are planning and doing aggressive wars to maintain their dictatorship over the Status Quo of more and more pollution of the environment for money.

Should we not therefore set out deliberately to re-tool the industrial revolution to wind, tidal, and solar power which transforms to electricity and ends therefore the fossil fuel burn-out of our world's oxygen. Truely it is now that the mode called fail-safe is upon us, and the world's peoples, plants, animals and continuance of the present society will inevitably end the oxygen in our precious atmosphere.

The coast is toast and the temperature is rising, and already now there is more CO2 cascading into the atmosphere than nature can replace the oxygen. This is what the terminal decay of the world's empires looks like. Certain death of all the planet's livability if it continues for much longer in time.

We need to re-tool to the renewables and restore the matriarchy as part and parcel of the renewables. We need to double democracy and elect women equally at all levels, such that one man and one woman per constituency is elected. The world's trade unions call this 'Gender Parity' needs organizing to be restored.

Natures 50-50 electing is the ecological organic green revolution's way of materially restoring balance, harmony, and joy to the man and woman question. Male domination is the empires vision of democracy, and with the British Tribes that was essance conquest, by the Roman Slaveholders Empire and all empires globally.
Since 42AD and after to this very present day, the full democracy has been subverted by Empires.

Woman needs to do the power of half the law making in political, economical, judicial, cultural, and religo-wise spheres of society. In the 'Western World' that is still not done. The Vietnamese and Chinese are insisting that woman must be elected equally thusly doubling democracy and restoring a natural constitution. The Quoran insists since ancient times that woman must be treated and elected equally also. Too many wars for Empires has blocked it from occuring.

That is natures big plan 50-50 electing, and remember man domination of all democracy reflects the fact that man has been a hunter killer for hundreds of thousands of years ( original warmakers) while women have been most responsible for the species life of that time around the camp fires of time. With Herstorical Materialism marginalized by the Empires State, history has proven that war after war, after war, after war has been the result.

Kellogg-Briand Treaty (1928) which is the Law of the Land says the U.S. Constitution, makes the point that the WMD-weapons of mass destruction are so ruinous and destructive that aggressive war must be ended as any nations foreign policy.

That therefore the path to liberation is to dismantle the war machine of Imperialism as WMD, and dismantle its very manufacturies. That along with woman's liberation and a new five hour work day turning all technology over to solidarity with the planets ecological organic green web-of-life, will cause a necessary victory, and a new society to come into being.

Workers of the world unite!! End pollution wars, not endless wars for more and more pollution. You yet have a world to win!!