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Update on Fruitvale BART Protest
by reposted (from
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 8:41 AM
As I write this there are no less than 6 helicopters circling overhead in downtown Oakland. On the first day of the 10th year since Amadou Diallo was brutally gunned down by police in New York City, Oscar Grant was fatally shot in the back by a BART police officer, and the event was caught on video.
As I write this, rumors are flying and media is fanning the riot flames - car and trash fires, police in riot gear and tanks, restaurant windows being smashed, tear gas and rubber bullets being used. We won’t know the full picture till the night is over and the smoke clears, but the story of the successful nonviolent protest earlier this evening has been overshadowed by this angry chaos.

What is absolutely clear is that folks are furious about the murder of Oscar Grant, furious that a week has passed with no statement or acknowledgment of what happened. What is clear is that we currently don’t have community accountability over our police here in Oakland. In this bubble of progress we are hampered by the same brutal power dynamics that plague the rest of the nation. Racially driven policing that allows the use of lethal weapons in the pursuit of justice is a failed model.

What we need:

- we need police to be accountable when they participate in brutality against us. In this situation, BART police should have issued a statement acknowledging what we all saw, including an apology from Johannes Mehserle, the officer who pulled his gun and shot Grant in the back. There also needs to be a transparent process for the officers involved to be charged and held accountable for what happened. Otherwise, this is just another brick in the wall between police and the communities they are paid to protect.

- we need community justice processes that allow us to address moments of tension and unrest without the lethal presence of police. In Detroit, Ron Scott and others are working actively on Peace Zones, where the community comes together to assess community crises and mete out restorative steps for the guilty party. They are not the only ones piloting this model.

- In addition, if police hope to gain our respect and trust in their process, they need to commit to disarming themselves of lethal weapons immediately, and learn the skills of negotiation and community engagement. There is a BART board meeting TOMORROW Thursday, Jan. 8, 9 a.m., at the Kaiser Center, Third Floor - they need to hear our voices.

- We need ongoing supported focus on police brutality and accountability, even as we develop our own peace zones. It’s no longer sufficient to get furious when a civilian is killed by police, and maintain that fury until the officers are acquitted or resign. For the past 10 years it has been nearly impossible to get sustained support for this kind of work from the foundation world, so as organizers we have to sustain this work in other more community-based ways. I definitely want to shout out The Gathering, who have picked up this unpopular issue as it relates to juvenile justice, with the commitment of Harry Belafonte - they are joining the Oakland community for actions next week. I have also heard that Uhuru will be hosting a meeting tomorrow evening to discuss accountability and healing.

- we need to express our gratitude to groups like Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), who identified the gaping hole that exists in the non-profit and organizing community of Oakland in terms of police accountability work. CJNY stepped up in a major way for today’s nonviolent action, but they can’t maintain this effort on their own. Bay Area groups who focus their work on young people of color, this political moment needs you.

- And I know I am biased by the perspective of working at The Ruckus Society, but we need to engage in the deep training and skill development around pulling off large scale strategic direct actions. There are ways to pull together mass actions in a short time period that gain media, build the power of our positions, and help the community to see and understand the situation and how they can get involved. Over the past few months organizers from directly impacted communities - Bay Area immigrant youth and a multi-racial LGBTQ coalition - have successfully shut down the ICE headquarters building and protested Prop 8 in downtown San Francisco using affinity groups, action teams, brilliant blockading tactics, and police and media liaisons. Those actions were planned and pulled off in VERY short amounts of time, and Ruckus is definitely not the only group that does this sort of skill building. Most importantly, in terms of tonight’s events, there are also ways to de-escalate situations, even when people who aren’t directly impacted by oppression start losing their composure.

We know how to do this, and must apply that knowledge, or risk losing all credibility in terms of our demands for peace.

At this moment, as Mayor Ron Dellums meets with protesters, and the Oakland Police Department hold a long overdue press conference, we must not sink to the reactive and chaotic level of Officer Mehserle. This is our moment to unite behind a nonviolent call for transparency, accountability and justice from Oakland Police Department. We must model the community we wish to be.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by ROUND 3!
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 9:08 AM
by Aline Amy
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 9:39 AM
really?! round 3? really?!
u think it helped? you've got to know it didnt, it actually took away attention from the cop and put it on the violent protesters. du! dont you know they put instigators in the audience to stir things up so they can impose their restrictions? been going on for decades. the public can not act violent and out of control it TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY GETS TWISTED IN THE NEWS AND THATS WAT IS TALKED ABOUT NOT THE COP KILLING AN INNOCENT!! WERE ARE THE BLACK PANTHERS?!!! ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE
by Q.
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 10:05 AM
This article is BS! Giving yourself a pat on the back. Pleassse! Ruckus should have had its windows smashed in line next to the McDonalds. Where were they to help the community and young people last night? Where were all of our white allies? Posting messages on facebook saying they wish they could be there or that they were knitting. Who were the folks pushing dumpsters down the street (Anarchists) and who were the ones getting beat and tear gassed (Kids of Color). This is a real outrage next to the shooting!
by W.
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 10:11 AM
we need to engage in the deep training and skill development around pulling off large scale strategic direct actions.


We know how to do this, and must apply that knowledge, or risk losing all credibility in terms of our demands for peace.


TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR SHORTCOMINGS before patting yourself on the back. That is so disgusting and the exact reason why it broke out last night into what it did.

DID Y'ALL PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE besides coming home and blogging about it?

Downfall of CJNY -- You can't bring people together and not expect them to express their anger.

Ya'll were not organized and the consequences were paid.

The gathering? What have they done for the city of Oakland besides Lip Service?


by QW
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 10:16 AM
It was so disrespectful to hear CJNY "organizers" of the peaceful demo talk about how they are trained and professional activists.

Do you actually think that message connects with the Youth in Oakland that you get paid to profit off organizing the execution of Oscar Grant?

You provided the platform yet you were not organized in mobilizing people.

You actually expect them to stand there and cry? To act defenseless as Oscar was when he was shot?

The Rodney King riots had LA in an uproar and he wasn't even killed. You expect everyone to stand back and gather peacefully around this? You can't even blame them.

Blame the anarchists for using this to their advantage and smashing businesses of color.
by Ermi
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 10:45 AM
yeah - Obama better take note if he knows what's good for him.
Before youth unemployment instigates a similar response, he should start a WPA style program that gives graduating students jobs out in the parks or community. If you look at the people with multiple college degrees who are fighting for temp jobs, secretarial and retail work right now, what is it going to be like when we abandon the younger generation in terms of unemployment in 2009-2011.
by anarchist person of color
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 1:27 PM
"Blame the anarchists for using this to their advantage and smashing businesses of color."

Every time there's violence, the activist/"radical" community is always the first to blame "anarchists" for how they lost control of their own demonstrations. (Seriously, who need cops when you've got friends like these.) Could it be that local "kids of color" were angry and wanted to express their power and saw no other means than to smash windows and burn cars? Could it be that they wanted to provide their community with leverage (i.e. violence and the threat of more) in the movement to get justice for Oscar Grant? (Pay attention to the concessions made by Dellums and when they were made in last night's sequence of events.)

By the way, most of the "anarchists" I saw last night were "kids of color" and I certainly did not see them smashing windows or burning cars. In fact, I saw "anarchists" putting out fires threatening local business and working class apartment buildings and trying to maintain calm when the crowd would get panicked. The first windows were smashed when the cops began rushing into and attacking the crowd. (We're all on the same side here, right?)

The main lesson I got out of last night is that "No justice, no peace" is more than just a chant. The state has to buy peace from us, and the price is justice, our dignity, and our freedom.
by rage on
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 1:41 PM
Oh how we love our anarchists of color! Speak the truth! And then look at the photos and judge for yourself!
by successful non-violent protest
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 1:50 PM
What does that mean? What were your goals and how did the non-violent photo-op, place to plug websites, place to flyer and fund-raise for irrelevant organizations lead you to such a goal? I was so sick of seeing friends hug and talk about what their plans were for the night during that rally. No one was acknowledging the fact that the BART police murdered a beautiful person with a loving family for no reason at all.

This is the bay area. The authorities know how to manipulate us; To make us think we've won. So, they closed a few BART stations for a little while only to reopen again. So, the murderer resigned but faces no charges. I cried for the Oscar Grant and I cried because no one seemed to be interested in doing anything but the same old shit which has never changed anything. We've seen it with Gary King Jr. recently and many others throughout history.

We are crippled with fear, but what will it take for us to wake up? I am so happy and proud of those brave individuals who changed the pace of things and spoke in a language that our oppressors and torturers could understand! Thank you thank you thank you. And please don't let this be the end.
Was it anarchists? Or was in an infiltrator?
Who is really to say who did what?
The media will blame everyone for the worst of these actions, but don't doubt that this resistance is reaching people all over the US that deal with police murder all the time. I am not sure that bad press is bad, I think we live in a time when people feel helpless against the state, there is really no hope on so many levels. That is why people are putting so much false hope in Obama. He is going to be crippled by the system that cripples all change from within, the nature of the beast is to absorb change and defuse it. All we have to do is look at Nancy Pelosi and her promises to end the war to know how effective working in the system is.
Thoughts about Mob actions.
The Riots in Detroit destroyed black busineses and so did the LA riots. Mob actions are rarely focused or decided apon in advance. Maybe Ruckus should have a consensus meeting on the corner to decide targets for the next mob action.
A story from Greece that I liked was that a group of activists targeted a credit card company burned their files and desttoyed their computres, while a mob action was taking place. Using that distraction to create their own action.
by ...
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 3:22 PM
Here's something I found in the Examiner today: “We are not about anarchy — I was told the anarchists were involved in the action; this has nothing to do with CAPE,” organizer Dereca Blackman said. “We had several people who talked about retaliation against the police, and every time they did at our rally, we made sure to let them know that was not what we are about.”

Who is CAPE? Also, the article refers to looting of businesses with no substantiation. I personally saw no proof of this while I was out there.
by No justice, no peace
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 3:38 PM
Peace is not something we demand. Peace is something we give in return for justice and respect.
by Indybay Reader
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 4:21 PM
Coalition Against Police Executions


by adrienne maree
Thursday Jan 8th, 2009 9:14 PM
just a quick point here - if folks don't feel what ruckus does works for them, there are a lot of other groups that provide history, skills and tactics of nonviolent direct action - RAN, greenpeace, earthfirst, soul, project south, the people's institute - as well as brilliant individuals who have been doing the work a really long time. what we provided for the actions yesterday - a bullhorn, and trainers ready to support if needed - was hopefully just a start.
by cjny town member
Tuesday Jan 13th, 2009 9:37 PM
Wow. Deep. Cjny is being called out on not being experienced and for crazy shit that dude even did? Crazy. I rep cjny and you kno nothin about them. Prof organizers. I'm not even sure about that. Folks that care about they hood yes. Malachi is a season organizer, who almost every organizer ib the bay has been taught by. Crea comes from sf and I'm sure she'd argue whether she is an organizer, or just someone who give a fuck. She done hella shit for the bay and shaka from the one wants to blame due evan but no one knew that fool. HE'S FROM LA. This fool comes and doesn't listen to fokes that kno wut the fucks up and takes a group downtown, let some privledged and out of touch with the hood anarchist,bully that dumbass and started fuckin shit up. And now this man aint NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. Matter afact I would be surprise if his ass wrote this bullshit. Cjny go hard and if it wasn't for them, oakland would have started gettin fucked up at 3pm at fruitvale.

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