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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Apple and Google busses blocked in Oakland
Report of action at Alameda/Oakland border
On Tuesday, April Fool’s Day, 2014, a group of people blocked an Apple bus attempting to cross the High Street bridge from the Fruitvale district of Oakland into Alameda. Consequently, a Google bus was also blocked behind it. Another group of people handed out fliers to Google and Apple employees waiting for their delayed bus. The two busses were blocked for half an hour and there were no arrests.
Every weekday at 7:30 AM, an Apple bus crosses this bridge and picks up workers at the Park and Ride in the Bay Farm neighborhood on Island Drive. At 7:45 AM, a Google bus follows this same route. Google once kept a public map of its East Bay pickup locations up on its website, but it has been taken down since the protests began. We are releasing this information so it is no longer secret. The following text is an explanation of our motivations.
Glass as Continuation of War by Other Means
On June 26th, 2013, a group of consumers met at the Port of San Francisco. They were loaded onto a ferry and taken across the bay to a secret location. Their destination was the Google Glass Basecamp, located at the former site of the Alameda navy base.
During the Vietnam War this navy base produced hundreds of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, a jet most commonly seen dropping napalm and other explosives on village and cities in Vietnam. Lately, this decommissioned navy base has come to serve Google and their efforts to spread the new wearable surveillance technology: Glass.
When the new Google Glass recruits arrived in the island city of Alameda, they were given wholesome organic food from a local company and allowed to drink champagne in the air traffic control tower. Where naval technicians once dispatched war-planes, the Glass Explorers now donned new face-computers and learned the practices of the first cyborgs. Dozens of people handed Google $1,500 each in order to experience this absolute and total luxury.
An experience like this is particular to what many call the North. It was once widely understood that the North exploited the South, although in the North this fact is often ignored. The cheap labor, fruit, vegetables, oil, minerals, metals, and wages in the South enable the opulence of the North. No one in the North wants to remember this simple fact, so we are here to make sure you do.
The Rotten Apple of the North
On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs took the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. He and his crew at Apple had spent the last days tricking out the auditorium, getting ready for the launch of their newest commodity. That day, Steve Jobs held in his hand a small device called the iPhone. Everyone in the audience watched in wonder as this dying alchemist demonstrated the capabilities of his latest technological stillbirth.
Steve Jobs announced to the world that in his future, everyone would have a computer in their pocket and be plugged into the internet. No one could have imagined how quickly and insidiously his world would spread. Now it is common to seen lines of people immersed in the light of their smart phones, oblivious to reality and frantically pacing through the cities like drones.
In 1994, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) and the indigenous Mayans of the Lacondon Jungle staged an insurrection in the Mexican state of Chiapas. After a quick and bloody war, the EZLN was able to claim a large segment of the state as an autonomous region free from capitalism. Chase Manhattan famously advised the Mexican government to eliminate the EZLN, fearing that their movement might spread. Since then, it has come under repeated attack by corporate interests and paramilitary groups tied to the Mexican government. In a world dominated by the North, this autonomous area in the South poses many problems for those who profit from ignorance.
On January 27th, 2014, nearly 300 government-aligned paramilitaries arrived in 41 pickup trucks at an autonomous Zapatista community named Diez de Abril. They proceeded to cut down 9 pine trees, 40 oak trees, 35 coffee trees, and 3 banana trees. They loaded this wood into their trucks and said they would return. Three days later, over 200 paramilitaries returned in their pickups with machetes, rocks, and guns. In the attack that followed, two young men suffered brain injuries and one may lose his eye.
Two months later, on March 21st, 2014, a Zapatista named Juan Carlos Gomez Silvano was gunned down near the autonomous Virgin de Dolores community. He was shot twenty times by the paramilitaries. Very few heard of his death.
All of this was done so that the 10 de Abril and other communities would leave the lands they cultivated in common. The paramilitaries want the community to return to the world of landlords and cattle-barons, a world where they are still enslaved and the insurrection never happened. While the Zapatistas take care of each other and live without capitalism, the paramilitaries want farms where they extract the maximum profit, pay the lowest wages, and produce commodities for the North to consume.
While people in the North scroll on their smart-phones, a dirty war is taking place on the edges of one of the only places free from capitalism. While people in the North line up outside an Apple store, waiting for the latest gadget, thousands of indigenous people in Chiapas are fighting to remain on the land where they grow their own food and work for no boss. While people in the North are busy designing apps and gentrifying neighborhoods, working for people they don’t know and spending their wages on luxuries, there are people in the South who know how to live off the land, who eat their own organic food every single day, and who fight to end capitalism. Now you know the EZLN exists, and now you can guess why they are ignored.
Smart Phones and the End of Capitalism
Since 2007, when Apple released the first widely consumed smart phone, the entire structure of capitalism underwent a significant change. Commerce could now take place among more people at every hour of the day through the screens in their pockets and the credit card numbers they typed into them. Facebook and Twitter pulled in millions of people because of this new mass-consumer technology, linking them together in a monitored and controlled medium that could be updated on the bus, in the office, or on the street. The nearly two billion people currently connected to the internet are kept connected through these new devices. It is an undisputed fact that the majority of those connected exist in the North.
The North and the South are not just global areas of contrasting luxury and toil. The North and South exist everywhere capitalism exists. In Oakland, the price of the newest iPhone is trivial for someone living in the hills but significant for someone living in the impoverished flatlands. Many workplaces require connectivity amongst their employees and for those paid minimum wage, a smart phone and data plan are not small expenses. But to those in the hills, the price is relatively inconsequential. In this way, the smart phone imposes itself on those in the South who are required to be connected to the internet through a commodity they cannot afford. Beyond this, having a smart phone often becomes a status symbol in the South and can drive people to emulate the appearances of the affluent from the North.
It is common to see poor people waiting in lines for bread, for documents, and for court. The capitalist South is a slow land of analog mediums, slumlords, predators, state terror, poverty, gangs, exploitation, and death. The South exists in Oakland in the Fruitvale neighborhood, just across the canal from Alameda.
Google and Apple employees are currently living in Alameda, a wealthy and conservative city separated from the violence and poverty of Oakland. Like all good inhabitants of the North, their sterile environments will eventually drive them to colonize the livelier areas of the South. In the case of Oakland, the next obvious target of this colonization will be the Fruitvale district.
Our action is the opening of a new front in the war against gentrification. We announce that any further incursion into the Fruitvale will not be tolerated. If the employees of Apple or Google attempt to replicate what they did to the Mission here, the backlash will be ten times more potent. Like the Mission, the Fruitvale hosts a large latino population, many of whom have fled the ravages of capitalism in the global South. If you start to displace them once more, do not be surprised when hundreds of people in balaclavas mobilize to displace you.
What you are doing is not going to work. The Fruitvale will never become the Mission, a place where gentrifiers can have the police kill who they dislike. We cannot fail to notice you, nor can we fail to act. While what you are doing may be clouded by your own ignorance, the smart phone in your pocket might be able to help you. Just type in four letters of the EZLN into your Google search engine and read what comes up. Imagine the EZLN in Oakland and you will get a glimpse of where this is all going. Although it’s not up to you, some of it is, and you will not be excused for your mistakes. You have a smart phone, after all.
Los Pinche Compas (Those Fucking Comrades)