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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Notes Concerning Recent Actions against the Police
On Tuesday July 19th, hundreds of people took to the streets of San Francisco in order to demonstrate their rage against the recent murders of Charles Hill and Kenneth Harding in the city by BART police and SFPD respectively. We marched behind a banner reading “they can’t shoot us all; fuck the police” as an expression of our intention that police murder will be met with resistance and retaliation every time they rear their ugly heads in our city.
IT DEFINITELY WENT DOWN:
The march began at Dolores Park where nearly 200 of us departed and began moving towards the Castro. The route followed MUNI rail lines, obstructing the functioning of the rail system as it proceeded. Upon reaching the Castro MUNI station, all hell broke loose. While approaching the intersection (home to the underground MUNI station as well as the crossing of several MUNI rail lines) a significant portion of the march had donned masks and hoods. What had now become a mob moved effortlessly past the bewildered cops and descended into the station. Down below on the mezzanine level, trash was set alight and thrown down onto the tracks below, followed by advertisements and signs. The ticket machines, the fare checkpoints and the agent booth were all smashed with hammers and flags – totally ruined. Smokebombs and fireworks were thrown throughout the station, adding to the chaos as the group resurfaced. The march then moved back through the Castro, hurling bricks over the heads of riot police and through the windows of Bank of America before heading into the Mission.
Those at the front of the march, made the spontaneous decision to continue onwards to the Mission police station on Valencia street. As the march approached, the pigs moved into formation to protect their sty. This didn’t stop us from throwing flares, a paint bomb, and a hammer at the façade of the building and at its defenders. The crowd, now swelled to almost 300, stayed in front of the police station for a while, screaming in the faces of the scum that patrols our streets and kills and imprisons the people we love. After making it abundantly clear that we wanted them the fuck out of our neighborhood, we continued through the Mission . At this point, the march dwindled slightly but continued down Mission St. Things escalated again when CBS news began harassing the crowd. People grabbed the big ass camera and smashed it on the ground. Police moved to make an arrest, but were repelled by the stick-wielding crowd.
After leaving the Mission, the crowd took Market St. and began moving through downtown toward Civic Center Station (the site of Charles Hill’s murder) and then onto Powell Station. At this point the number swelled again to more than they had been at any point, as countless onlookers joined the anti-cop demonstration. The crowd was big enough to block both sides of Market (a rare occurrence). The police began issuing dispersal orders from their sound truck tailing the march. Not giving a fuck, however, hundreds of us drowned out their orders screaming “SHUT THE FUCK UP” over and over. As the march turned up Powell (where we had intended to disperse) riot cops were able to surround and kettle about 30 people. As they filled in to enforce their kettle, hundreds of people pushed against them, hurling projectiles and screaming at them to let them go (and die). Skirmishes broke out as a handful of friends were unarrested and several more attempts were made to free those trapped inside police lines.
When it became clear that it would be impossible to free the 30 or so friends caught by the police, the strategy shifted to outright fighting. As the police began moving the vans containing the arrested, our crews and others did everything we could to stop them. The vans were chased and blockades attempted. The police and their vehicles were pelted with rocks, bottles, D-batteries and whatever else could be thrown against them. All-out brawls broke out leading to police injuries and a handful of arrests. Several police motorcycles were knocked over and stomped on. The night ended with a tense standoff against police. At this point, hundreds of people from the surrounding area had flooded the scene, screaming at the police or just looking on in awe. More shit got thrown at them and eventually people left, as we had word that several of the arrested were already being released.
It is the humble opinion of these participants that this last round of events was marked by some of the most wild physical fights with police at a demo in a long time. By the end of the night, all but one of the arrested had been released with misdemeanors (for disobeying orders and/or battery). One person remains in jail, being charged with Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Felony Vandalism. (Updates soon)
RESISTANCE IS SPREADING:
Yesterday’s attacks come in the context of a growing campaign of diffuse attacks against the MUNI system in retaliation for the murder of Kenneth Harding. On Saturday, within moments of his murder, people on scene began attacking the police with bottles and trying to disrupt the T-train. In the subsequent days various crews of people in and around Bayview have spontaneously and diffusely taken up a campaign against the MUNI system: blocking tracks, breaking the windows on trains and busses, attacking agents, fighting with the police. Most of this resistance, of course, has gone unreported by the scum media. At a press-conference held in Bayview on Monday, many family-members of police victims and other angry people gathered to denounce the most recent murders, share stories about how much they fucking hate the pigs, and articulate a strategy of resistance.
The message at the conference and in people’s actions is clear: “We want pigs off the MUNI system and we want the system to be free, or there will not be a system at all.” People vowed to continue their attacks and blockades against the trains and buses operated by MUNI until they are fare-free and cop-free. As austerity takes its toll on poor people in the Bay Area, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only solution is attack, and that these attacks are the clearest way to demonstrate our solidarity.
It is in following the lead of those struggling for freedom in Bayview that we decided to trash the MUNI station in the Castro. This is only one contribution in what is mounting up to be a wave of chaos against a system that values a 2$ fare over our lives.
SYSTEMIC DISRUPTION AND SABOTAGE:
Last week, over 100 of us disrupted the BART system by blockading trains and vandalizing stations. This activity resulted in 3 hours of solid obstruction and delays through the BART system caused by several station closures. This was called for in response to the killing of Charles Hill on the Civic Center platform by BART police. Once again, we disrupted the transit system in an act of vengeance against the slaughter at the hands of the armed enforcers of fares. Last night, in addition to putting the Castro MUNI station out of commission, we blocked tracks, buses, and trains. Police went on to close at least three BART stations for fear of the destruction at the Castro station being brought on other stations throughout the system. Through our actions and the response of the police, we brought the transit system in the heart of the financial capitol of the West Coast to a grinding halt for the second time in as many weeks.
It should be noted that obstructing these systems and destroying their apparatuses takes very little effort. System disruption is a valuable tool, and should be considered for use as a response every time the pigs murder someone in our towns. The economic damage and the disruption to networks of control caused by these actions is deeper and wider than a brick through a window (however lovely the act may be).
WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE PIG LIES:
Fearing full on rebellion, SFPD and their servants in the media have gone into full spin mode. Each day they make new justifications for their killings. They say Charles Hill had a knife. They say Kenneth Harding shot at them. They talk about Harding’s previous convictions and allude to his connection to the murder of a pregnant woman in Washington State. In each of these cases, it is important for the enemies of the police to not be tricked by these diversions.
The issue has never been the character of Kenneth Harding or what type of weapons the victims of police violence may or may not have been carrying. The issue is that the armed enforcers of Capital and the State have enforced a death sentence on the poor in this city; made themselves the judge, jury and executioner of anyone who cannot afford a fare, is homeless, or breaks their meaningless laws in order to survive. We don’t care if Kenneth Harding had a gun. In fact, we wish he had shot the men who went on to shoot him ten times in the back and throat. Any justification for his murder misses the point that the situation should never have happened in the first place. We shouldn’t have to pay for their trains and the cops shouldn’t exist to enforce fares (or anything at all). To blame Kenneth Harding or Charles Hill or any victim of police violence for the atrocities enacted upon them by the police is to side with the State, always. Kenneth Harding is dead for one reason: because officers shot him ten times in the back and throat and watched as he bled to death on the street.
It is also worth noting that the mythology of black male violence against women is consistently used by the police and other armed white people as a pretense for racist murder, whether at the hands of a lynch mob or by the bullets of a cop’s gun. To counter this narrative, and the entirely false idea that police exist to protect women, a feminist contingent within the march prepared a statement and distributed it, denouncing the police.
When the police kill in our cities, we need to respond immediately and to continue and escalate that resistance. This has been the case so far in the response to the recent murders in San Francisco. People throughout the city – victims, family members, angry kids, anarchists, communists, hooligans – didn’t wait for the Left or any Non-Profit groups to begin. We acted without hesitation and constraint, in doing so setting the narrative of the struggle against the police. It is important that we not fall into the traps set out by the State. The struggle cannot be limited to one neighborhood or one “Legitimate” series of concerns or any one part of the population. We need to fight against SFPD throughout the city, against BART Police throughout the Bay, and against policing on a global scale. This weeks events have already demonstrated that angry people are willing to act against the police and the system they enforce in their neighborhoods, and to join the struggles of others and act in solidarity through attack. The struggle that began with the Oscar Grant rebellion is just beginning to emerge from hibernation. People here are just beginning – collectively and diffusely - to resist police terror in our streets. This is just a taste.
In sadness and in rage.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
JULY 20, 2011