A Reportback From Friday's Solidarity Street Party in Oakland
On April 28th, Brandy Martell was shot to death on the corner of 13th and Franklin. Brandy was a black transwoman – the murderer, a transphobic man. A member of the Oakland Commune who was nearby rushed to Brandi's assistance. Using training received form the People's Community Medics, he provided emergency first aid for Brandy, holding her bullet wounds and administering CPR. The police didn't show up for 25 minutes, emergency services for 45. For 45 minutes, our comrade tried to keep Brandy alive while the police stood by, offering no assistance. The police inaction should come as no surprise to anyone who has interacted with the racist, homophobic, murderous OPD.
On Tuesday evening, supporters of CeCe McDonald gathered underneath the window of her jail cell. CeCe is a black transwoman from Minneapolis who was violently attacked by Neo-Nazis last year. In her fight to survive she stabbed one of her attackers (Dean Schmitz) in the heart, killing him. CeCe was convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter and will be formerly sentenced on June 4th. Under her cell, supporters played Rihanna's Only Girl and sang as loud as possible so CeCe would be able to hear. She did hear their music. In fact, she sang along and described the experience as “very emotional.”
The events of May Day are also fresh in our memory. On Tuesday the Oakland Police arrested or hospitalized many of our friends, queer or otherwise. Our wounds from the police violence of that day are still, literally, open. Some of our friends are still locked away in cages. Our show of solidarity with CeCe and Brandy asserted our own strength and willingness to defend ourselves on our streets. Many of us are survivors of physical anti-queer violence committed by bigots, with or without the protection of the badge. As survivors we carry trauma from the violence we have experienced but it won't keep us out of the streets. We take the streets to discover our collective capacity to defend ourselves and to confront the violence perpetrated against us, be it capitalism or transphobic attacks.
Friday night some of Oakland's gender rebels who took the streets also picked up the boom box. In solidarity with the calls to free CeCe and remember Brandy, we chose to dance down Oakland streets blasting popular music, leaving behind a trail of fliers and caution tape. Posters were wheatpasted on the windows of multiple galleries and surrounding businesses. Our target became the entrance of Art Murmur at 23rd and Telegraph. Two hundred of us blockaded the intersection as hundreds of fliers rained from a neighboring building. A banner was dropped that read, “Oakland Rebels Gender Rebels FUCK OPD!” After drawing attention to the murder of Brandy Martell, the heartbreaking imprisonment of CeCe McDonald, and the Oakland Police Department's atrocious acts of violence, the march took over West Grand and Telegraph before dispersing.
Some have said that our action, an illegal multi-racial dance party, was an inappropriate response to the murder and imprisonment of our loved ones. On this point we could not disagree more. We know that dance parties, like the one outside her cell, have inspired CeCe. Our dancing was also a celebration of Brandy's life. It was a party to ensure that Brandy will not be forgotten. Her image will forever be burned into our minds.
The dance party for CeCe, Brandy and all of us did not occur in a vacuum. An emergency vigil and speak out to remember Brandy was called for by radical feminists last week. There have been at least two letter writing parties to CeCe in the past few days. This week's Fuck The Police March, organized by Occupy Oakland's Tactical Action Committee was dedicated to CeCe and Brandy. It would be ridiculous to say that dance parties are the only appropriate response to Brandy's murder. But it would be equally absurd to claim that only mournful vigils are appropriate. Our response must be multi-faceted: we celebrate, we mourn, we fight back. Let the actions continue and the rage flow.
Like our comrades in Minneapolis, we sought to make last night's songs and actions inescapably loud. We hope our energy reverberates through the walls of concrete and dances right into CeCe's heart. We ask for actions of vengeance and love to intensify in the Bay Area, across the United States, and the world.
For an end to violence against transpeople. For an end to all policing. For continued attacks against the white heterosexist order. Free CeCe...or else.
TEXT of flyer dropped during solidarity action:
LOVE FOR THE OAKLAND REBELS. FOR ALL REBELS. FUCK THE POLICE. DESTROY WHAT DESTROYS YOU.
We are here to remember Brandi, a transwoman shot to death on April 28th on the corner of 13th and Franklin. A comrade from the Oakland commune, who has himself been falsely accused of committing a "hate crime" against a bourgeois business owner, performed CPR on Brandi until she died from blood loss. They were surrounded by white cops who stood idly by waiting for the ambulance that showed up too late.
We are not content to merely remember Brandi, but to avenge her death. The OPD left her to die. Again we realize that the police are the enemy and that we have only each other to rely on.
The cops that stood by while Brandi bled to death were the same pigs who arrested and beat our comrades on May Day. The OPD's threats of violence and imprisonment have not cleared us from the streets. Our individual acts of resistance, alongside our collective actions on days like May Day, are our response to the everyday misery of life in this society. The culture of rebellion that exists in Oakland is not that of activism or politics; It is our livelihood.
More than one person has nearly lost their life while attempting to defend Oscar Grant Plaza from the cops. We can't be bought off with concessions. We will not allow Jean Quan to recruit us into her army of nonprofit recuperators. We will not follow the liberal's delusions of "justice". We won't be stopped by the attacks of the OPD on our comrades. On the contrary; Our struggles become all the more imminent.
Tonight, we are also extending solidarity to CeCe McDonald, a transwoman in Minneapolis, who fought back against her neo-nazi attackers, killing one of them. Last Tuesday, May 1st, she pled guilty to second degree manslaughter and is expected to be sentenced to 41 months. Her survival inspires us. Like Cece, we too are often left with one of two options: Death or imprisonment. And like CeCe, we won't hesitate to fight back when we're assaulted, whether by bigots or the police.
UNGOVERNABLE DISPOSSESSED LAWLESS TERRORIST ILLEGAL GENDER STRIKE OAKLAND COMMUNE BLACK BLOC IRRATIONAL REBELLION EXCLUDED BELLIGERENT REVOLT REVOLT REVOLT