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Incomplete round-up of May Day chaos in the Bay Area

From Anarchist News:

Based on media coverage of the past week, here are some highlights:

—Monday April 30th, San Francisco, nighttime—

-Several hundred people march from Dolores Park behind a banner reading ‘Strike Early; Strike Often.

-First police cruiser to respond is covered with paint bombs and has its windows smashed by a garbage can, forcing it to retreat.

-Police who attempt to respond are forced back inside the Mission Police station when the crowd arrives and begins attacking. Windows are broken. the building, several vehicles, and a few cops are rained upon by paint bombs.

-Roughly a dozen yuppie business on 18th street and on Valencia have their windows broke and/or are hit with paint bombs.

-The fence is torn down from around a multi-million dollar condo construction site, which then loses its brand new windows.

-Several cars are have their windows broken and tires slashed. The vast majority of which were luxury cars. One luxury SUV is set on fire.

—Tuesday May 1st, Oakland, daytime—

-Snake marches leave strike stations and attempt to force the closure of several banks, businesses and government agencies (including CPS). Several scuffles break out with police and do-gooders. One such bank is entered and trashed from within.

-Police attack, fire crowd control weaponry, arrests, de-arrests, all out brawling.

-Several banks and ATMs suffer vandalism. As do a handful of businesses, including Mcdonalds.

-Windows smashed out of Police van which is trying to make arrests.

-Windows smashed on one news media van parked at Oscar Grant Plaza, tires slashed on another.

-Plaza is temporarily re-occupied and the surrounding area covered in graffiti.

—Tuesday May 1st, San Francisco, daytime—

-Building at 888 Turk is re-occupied and declared to be the SF Commune once again. Banner dropped from the facade reading ‘ACAB’.

-Individuals on the roof of the SF Commune fight the police who are attempting to evict it. One throws several pipes at SFPD vehicles, breaking their windows and otherwise damaging them. Another masked individual throws bricks at the police, knocking down officers and those standing too near to them.

—Tuesday May 1st, Oakland, nighttime—

-Police attack demonstrators at Oscar Grant Plaza, all hell breaks lose. Running battles between police and demonstrators all throughout downtown. Police use snatch squads and brute force.

-Many dumpsters and trash cans are set on fire along Broadway.

-Banks are attacked by demonstrators evading the swarming riot police.

-Two OPD cruisers are set on fire.

-CalTrain building is attacked

-Four Fremont Police vehicles have their windows and/or tires taken out.

Strength to those arrested in relation to the May Day events in the Bay, and elsewhere.

Freedom for Pax, and all other comrades imprisoned and awaiting trial.

Love to all the rebels who demonstrated their ferocity this week, including those who carried out targeted attacks in Bloomington, Portland, Memphis, Denver and NOLA.

Particular affection for the comrades in Seattle and New York: Seattle which made us cry in the face of pure beauty; and NYC which tried its hardest to do the damn thing, in spite of having to confront the world’s seventh largest standing army in order to do so.

Everything for Everyone! Let’s abolish this absence!
Death to the existent!



The Strike Started Early: Protesters vandalize police station in Mission

According to the SFgate:

04-30) 23:09 PDT SAN FRANCISCO– A large group of protesters marched from Dolores Park shortly after 9 p.m. Monday night and vandalized parts of the Mission District, including the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission station at 630 Valencia Street.

At least a dozen businesses, including Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero streets and Locanda restaurant on Valencia, had their windows broken out and were splattered with paint and food. Vehicles along Valencia and Guerrero streets had windows broken out – an Aston Martin had its windshield shattered and brown paint covered the hood.

After the attack on Mission station, 15 to 20 officers lined up outside to guard the station. The group moved north on Valencia, with the crowd breaking up at 12th and Folsom streets, police said. One officer said of the vandalism, “It was like the station was under siege.”



An Update and Thoughts from the Oakland Commune

From BayofRage:

In the early hours of Monday morning (11/14) the police conducted the second eviction of the Oakland Commune. Far less spectacular than the first, a few hundred campers and supporters picketed and protested inside police perimeters and under the ruthless lights of helicopters for hours. Numbers dwindled down to dozens by 9 a.m. The following day, as planned, a large rally was held at the downtown Oakland Public Library followed by a march back to Oscar Grant Plaza (OGP). Upon arriving at OGP no tents were raised, the kitchen was not re-established, and there was no library, no free store or medic tent. By the mayor’s orders, the plaza was to be open to the public for 24 hours a day, but no camping would be tolerated and the plaza would be under police supervision for 3 full days thereafter. Next to the mud puddle that used to be our strong, police-free common space, we held our regular Monday night General Assembly under the eye of more than one hundred police, paddy wagons on hand. Despite how uninspired and crushed one could feel at this time, it was hard to forget, after all we’ve been through, that this is still Oakland.

On Tuesday, a contingent of Oaklanders marched from OGP to UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza to join the students’ second attempt at an encampment on the evening of their campus-wide strike (called for the evening of their first attempted encampment of the plaza). As the march approached the University, rich with the history of 2009′s student occupations, they chanted “Here comes Oakland!”. Occupy Cal’s General Assembly was attended by thousands, and they set up camp and partied late into the night. Police presence was minimal compared to the first day of Occupy Cal. This day’s activities overshadowed and largely disregarded the death of Christopher Travis, a UC Berkeley student who was shot and killed by the UCPD that same day (allegedly for having a gun on campus, though details are unclear).

Wednesday’s GA drew out a rough blue print for actions to come. A proposal to establish a new camp at 19th and Telegraph[link], blocks away from OGP, passed among a crowd of at least 250. This was a particularly bold proposal because every detail of the event was disclosed publicly. It was a testament to the collective confidence and loss of fear that informs the people of OO.

At around 10:30pm it was brought to the attention of the new encampment that the sound truck (used during many marches and throughout the day of the General Strike) had been stopped by the police. This was clearly unwarranted harassment, but the pigs used the excuse of a local anti-sideshow law to impound the vehicle. Campers ran with excitement to 17th and MLK to try and stop them. After the drivers had left the truck, a cop got inside to drive it away, but people had it surrounded. It was only minutes after comrades responded that the police responded too – about 30 riot cops, running towards the comrades with their batons drawn. One of them, in an unmarked crown vic, drove into two people, leaving them without injury but in a fit of rage.

Some thoughts:

Occupy Oakland has received the warmest statements and actions of solidarity and inspiration from comrades in Chapel Hill, Seattle, Egypt, Mexico, St. Louis and many more. It is clear that Oakland has found a place in the hearts of rebels far and wide. But this is not enough. We must challenge ourselves to create our own media and to secure consistent communications among the rebels who carry each other. Meet these ends creatively and not under the illusion that we can subvert the mass media any more than we can subvert the banking industry, the misery of service work, or the police. May these lines of communication open as the veins and vessels in our own bodies did during the inception of Oscar Grant Plaza. Let’s assess our thought processes and the practical application of our most complex theories and simplest desires. If your heart beats to see the world in communization, negated or in total ruins, you know that you will not find your revolution here. Your absent future, on the other hand, may be further realized at this time.

Like the impressive actions of those in black bloc during the Nov 2nd General Strike, or the spontaneous eruptions of spray painting, minor looting and window smashing of that evening, it is important that our demonstrations necessitate creative use of our bodies and minds. Saturday night, 500 or more people participated in tearing down the fence surrounding the lot on 19th and Telegraph. The collective realization that this barrier between Oaklanders and a vacant space could be destroyed spread like wild fire in a matter of seconds. Where we are economically and emotionally alienated from each other, we are also alienated from our own bodies, our desires, our individual and collective potentials. Many in Oakland have resolved to stop asking for their most basic needs to be met. Many more linger in the absence of artillery – friends.

If this movement really is doomed, we must push it to its limits, suspend ourselves in time and space for just now, and redecorate the insulting facade of this world with indications of its destruction. If not for today, than for the security of the network of rebels we must depend on tomorrow. #Occupy is the perfect example.

Keep in touch,
anon

http://www.bayofrage.com/uncategorized/updates-and-thoughts-from-the-oakland-commune/



For the Oakland Commune

A letter of solidarity.



Anti-Police March in Oakland

According to inside Bay Area:

“OAKLAND — The Occupy Oakland encampment at City Hall was quiet Sunday, a day after protesters again took to the streets and nearly had another confrontation with police.

Earlier Sunday, a board covered a section of the Oakland Police recruiting station at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, hours after protesters broke it as a Saturday night march against police brutality was winding down.

The march saw some tense moments as police in riot gear faced off against protesters. Other organizers intervened, holding up peace signs, and marchers returned to their camp at the plaza in front of City Hall, although some marchers broke parking meters, tagged buildings with anti-police slogans, and broke the window on their return to camp. Police did not intervene.

As many as 60 tents are pitched in the plaza at 14th Street and Broadway. City efforts to disband the camp last week led to a confrontation between police and protesters and catapulted Oakland into the international spotlight. Campers returned to the plaza shortly after.

Occupy Oakland demonstrators continue to prepare for their planned general strike on Wednesday, where businesses and residents are encouraged to close their doors, stay home from work and rally for solidarity. Organizers hope to shut down the city.

Also Sunday, well wishes poured in on a website created for Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old former Marine and Iraq War veteran who was seriously injured in the Oct. 25 protest. Witnesses

said Olsen, of Daly City, was hit in the head by a tear-gas canister fired by police trying to control the crowd.

Visitors to scottolsen.org can post messages and make donations to help Olsen’s family in a fund maintained by Iraq Veterans Against War.

Olsen’s roommate, Keith Shannon, said the site was created Thursday and Friday by well-wishers. Shannon expects to take over stewardship of the site soon.

Olsen, who suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling, was transferred Saturday from Highland Hospital in Oakland to an undisclosed medical center.”



On the Previous Few Days, And What Is to Come…

From Bay of Rage:

On Monday, October 24th the second weekend of #OccupyOakland had come and gone; charisma from Saturday’s march [link] had passed and a police raid was imminent. Beyond popular speculation that the city and the police were planning the destruction of Oscar Grant Plaza, there were a few obvious clues that Monday night would be the night. For one, the city had issued letters to select businesses around the plaza suggesting that there would be police activities sometime in the coming day. In addition, the city seems to have forced the Fire Marshall to come to the occupation to “remove” the propane tanks (and thus restricting us from cooking on site).

Before the rubber bullets and concussion grenades, the hundred or so arrests and unrelenting spider mobs that saturated downtown Oakland, there was joyous, eager barricading. It was trash night. The already desolate streets surrounding Oscar Grant Plaza were quickly cleared of whatever debris could act (symbolically and/or effectively) as an impediment to the police. Locked in an alley of City Hall were nearly one hundred metal police barricades. They were quickly liberated from their cage and placed strategically around the encampment. Reports trickled in slowly: several police units, from many agencies all the way out to Vacaville, were mobilizing and traveling to the plaza via motorcade or BART. Arguments broke out at the occupation – some called for a united strategy of defense, while many continued building barricades, spray painting and hammering away at the cobblestone floor. Eventually, around 4am, the distant sirens quickly turned into dozens of police units in formation, giving dispersal orders before attacking the encampment.

There was hopeful but little supposition that these people and barricades could deter the police, let alone defend the camp. When the spotlights from police helicopters began indiscriminately scanning the plaza, a panic fevered the already frantic people. It took only moments to realize that to stay inside the plaza was hopeless. Those intent on posturing and symbolically “standing their ground”, were subject to projectiles, batons and ultimately arrest. The scene was panicked, oppressive and defeating. For now, the fight for the plaza had been lost and most everyone inside dispersed.

Outside police lines, many looked to reconvene, others arrived responding to the emergency text messages and phone calls they’d received from others – they found each other at 14th and Franklin, one block east of the plaza. To the police it was clear that this massing crowd would not be reduced to impotent spectators. Moving away from the sidewalks into the street, what was now the morning traffic detour route, the intersection filled with hateful slogans directed at the police. There was a startling impatience and lust for revenge. It had grown to nearly 200 people when a police motorcade was ordered to intimidate and disperse the crowd. Shape shifting and turning over trash cans, the group headed in the opposite direction. Shouts of excitement, more seething remarks toward the police and a medley of thudding and crashing filled the streets. The police came prepared to assault the plaza, not to be met with the consequences of doing so.  From 5am to 6am the streets east of the plaza held a familiarity to some and an unprecedented emotion for others.

An offensive decision by the city and its allies brought opportunity to those subject to their increasingly irrelevant authority. Tuesday morning, the city took to actively discouraging people from going to work in the downtown area. Despite this official suggestion, one could overhear security guards, baristas and other service workers phoning into work announcing their absence on their own initiative. Someone initiated a campaign to eject Jean Quan from her position as mayor. Tweets and texts exploded with announcements to rally at the downtown Oakland Library at 4pm. The Alameda County Labor Council among other local unions had publicly denounced the actions of the police and the city.

Yet to take shape as either a spectacle or rebellion, The Town, once again, opened itself to the freedoms found in possibilities.

Library. Riot. Continued.
Tuesday, 4pm – Midnight

12 hours later, the contingency plan approved by the GA in case of a raid, was put into place. At 4pm, close to 1000 people gathered at the main Oakland Library to listen to inspirational speeches and condemnations against the police. One could not avoid the general feeling of animosity towards those responsible for what happened last night. Something spectacular was going to happen tonight.

After the speeches, people marched to the Downtown jail to show support for those arrested the previous night. Along the way, the march passed through two separate lines of police, but on the third one, as the march was a block away from the jail, the police pushed back. They grabbed two people from the front of the march and threw them to the ground. Seeing this, the crowd immediately surrounded the cops yelling at them, trying to grab the comrades and free them. People pushed and paint was thrown. As the tension continued to escalate, the police knew they were fighting a losing battle, so they brought in reinforcements with tear gas and flash grenades to disperse the crowd. Those being arrested initially, amongst the chaos, were secured by the pigs and loaded into a van. One of the arrestees was fucked with while in jail, called racist slurs and physically harassed. How could we not hate the police?

Throughout the arrests of Occupy Oakland’s resistance, we demonstrate solidarity with the state’s hostages in a multitude of ways, emotionally and physically. The march regrouped and proceeded past the jail making noise and letting those inside – every single one of them – aware that the march was here for them in total solidarity. A comrade who has been released from jail, arrested the previous night, said that it was one of the most beautiful and powerful things they have ever seen. To hear and see 1000 people outside making noise, making their solidarity known to those on the inside. Solidarity means attack.

The march returned to Oscar Grant Plaza where the group proceeded to try and retake the plaza. After 20 minutes of confronting the police at 14th and Broadway, rounds of tear gas and flash grenades were used once again (there would be somewhere around seven different instances of the police using tear gas and flash grenades in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The crowd did not deteriorate this time nor any other).

This was only the beginning…

This first major tear gassing was also the incident were a veteran was hit in the head with a tear gas canister and either knocking him out or causing his system to go in shock – he was on the ground in front of the police with eyes open, not moving and not responding to anything. People immediately ran up to him and tried to get him out of the way, which is when the police throw another flash grenade directly on top of him and near those who responded in aid. This bears repeating: the police throw a flash grenade directly on someone that was lying motionless on the ground, dispersing the crowd that was trying to take him out of the warzone. The injured protester was eventually removed and taken to the hospital with a skull fracture and is currently in critical condition and undergoing surgery. Many were injured. Not everyone has reported their injuries for obvious reasons.

By this point, the march had doubled to more than 2000 people. The group marched to Snow Park to gather, but it wasn’t long until people marched back on the plaza again. In what became the standard of the night, the march confronted the militarized area formerly known as Oscar Grant Plaza and was met with tear gas and flash grenades causing people to faint and throw up. But this didn’t stop anyone; it only galvanized the crowd and incited many at home to head downtown and join the resistance.

The march started at 5 and lasted until late into the night with over 6 hours of snake marches and almost constant confrontation with the police throughout downtown.

Towards the end of the night, people began to worry about being kettled, so some people took it upon themselves to set up barricades around the surrounding intersections. This action would allow people to respond before being trapped, by either getting away or fighting back. The barricades included the city’s own barricades that were established throughout the area, dumpsters and trash cans (some of these were set aflame to relieve the lingering tear gas present throughout all of the downtown and to cause more trouble for the police if they dared to intimidate or assault crowd).

As the night went on, the group slowly dissipated, confident that this fight was not close to over.

The Retaking of Oscar Grant Plaza.
Wednesday, 6pm – Midnight

It was obvious to everyone the previous night that people were heading back to Oscar Grant Plaza. By this time, police were nowhere to be seen around the plaza. The only thing that was there was a metal fence erected around the spot of the occupation. Well, it only lasted a little while. Before the General Assembly even started, people spontaneously began to tear down the fence. Initially, some “peace police,” spouting something about non-violence were trying to get them to stop – that was of course to no avail as the fence quickly was torn down.

The GA that happened that night was the largest one yet for #OccupyOakland, with over 2000 people participating. Since it was such a large GA, everything took more time, but the one proposal that was passed was worth it all. Following announcements that various occupations around the US were participating in solidarity marches, and that people in Cairo are going to march on Tahrir square this Friday saying that “Cairo and Oakland are one hand,” the proposal to call for a General Strike this Wednesday, November 2nd was passed with overwhelming majority (97%). Get ready Oakland, shits about to get real….

Following the GA, people announced that OccupySF was under threat of eviction. People made a call out for people to go to San Francisco and make their solidarity physical. But this wouldn’t happen. Before people could even make it into BART, the station was closed. Pissed, the small group that was heading to SF instead took to the streets in Oakland where the rest of the GA, who was still around, joined them. The march immediately headed towards the jail to show solidarity with those still inside. Everyone could see the inmates hands on the windows and the flickering of their cell lights, letting us know that they see us.

Over the next couple of hours, the group marched around downtown Oakland with no police interference. There were reports of police staging close by, but they never made themselves visible more than a few cars in front and back. After the previous night, they realized how badly they fucked up. Tonight, we controlled the streets. It finally ended in Oscar Grant Plaza, with people just chilling, standing and sitting in the middle of 14th and Broadway (the main downtown intersection), with no attempt by the cops to disperse the crowd.

As the proposed General Strike is just but a week away, there is a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of connections to be established and strengthened. Some people began to set up camp again at Oscar Grant Plaza, but others are merely taking this time to rest, to regroup, to gather themselves for what is to come.

Get some rest comrade. We have yet to see what’s around the corner…



An image of the meeting of at least 1500 people at a general assembly in Oakland meeting to approve a general strike.



#OccupyOakland – One Week Strong at Oscar Grant Plaza

From Bay of Rage:

Social rebels from around Oakland have descended upon Oscar Grant Plaza and have created a genuine, autonomous space free of police and unwelcoming to politicians. Whereas other occupations have invited the police and politicians, or have negotiated with them, Occupy Oakland has carved a line in the cement. That line of demarcation says: if you pass this, if you try and break up or over shadow this autonomous space, you are well aware, as observed over the last couple of years, what we are capable of.

This article is a report back on the first week at Occupy Oakland, a reflection on problems we have been facing and some thoughts on moving the occupation forward; onto some next level shit.

REPORTBACK

After much organizing, logistical coordination, joy, sweat and tears, we’ve managed to hold down the first week of the occupation of Oscar Grant Plaza (conservatively known as Frank Ogawa Plaza). The police have not stepped foot inside the parameter of the occupation without an impassioned, hostile response. Likewise, the people who do enter the space have not left without an inspired and rebellious spirit – a fever.

On the first night, there was concern about how many people would show up or if any of them would feel empowered enough to stay the night. Despite the rain, at least 1,000 attended the rally and about two dozens tents were erected. After food was served, the first general assembly took place in the amphitheater of City Hall. In the form of a speak-out, an amplified sound system and an open floor made way for those in attendance to passionately talk about why they were there – why they hate capitalism, its pigs and its prisons. Here, people could speak their minds without the obstacles of an agenda or decision-making.

Different from many other occupations in the occupation movement, organizing took place for a week prior to the plaza takeover. On the very first day, the camp had a fully functional kitchen, an info-tent and a supply tent. By the end of this week there was a medic tent, art supply tent, an insurrectionary library, a free store, the Raheim Brown Free School, a media tent, a POC tent, a Sukkah, a DJ booth, and not to mention hundreds of sleeping-space tents. In addition, the rotating kitchen crew has been feeding everyone consistently from 8am until midnight and throwing spontaneous BBQs. Despite a few hiccups, these designated areas and tents have been beautifully maintained and non-exclusive – functioning to attract new-comers, leaving little prospect for anyone to feel like a spectator.

Immediately, different logistical issues that had to be dealt with spawned various working groups, or committees. These committees are in constant rotation. This “beauty in chaos” allows for a loose, flexible structure. Simultaneously, people are freely organizing and interacting with the camp however they desire. A few crucial sub-committees that the occupation hasn’t necessitated until recently, but have since been created (and experimented with) are: security (dealing with outside forces such as police, who from the beginning were not welcome), mediation (dealing with internal conflicts and dynamics), a facilitation working group (which organizes the agenda and shapes the process of the general assembly), a POC caucus that has been meeting every day, and finally, a newly formed anti-authoritarian/anti-capitalist caucus and a queer working group. People are no longer spectating the increasingly rapid destruction of their everyday life, instead they are actively participating in breaching normalized boundaries – how people relate to one another in a way that empowers everyone involved.

The General Assemblies, or “GAs,” are places where the people of the occupation can get updates, have debates, plan for actions, and decide on proposals. The GA Facilitation Working Group came up with a modified consensus process where a 90% majority – instead of 100% – is sufficient to pass a proposal. However illusory or “democratic” this process functions, its strategic implementation strips power away from potentially authoritative individuals who might hijack or otherwise sabotage our ability to make decisions and move forward. Because there is a specific group working on the facilitation process, the GAs operate smoothly and are usually quite exciting. Additionally, a lot of people that speak at the GA are really fucking on point. Thus far the general assemblies (of 200-300 people nightly) have passed decisions to never endorse political parties or politicians, to send a solidarity statement to comrades at Occupy Wall Street and another to those on hunger strike in the Pelican Bay state prison. This is also a space where anti-state and anti-authority sentiments flourish, be they against the police or the city government. As can be expected, some people say some really fucked up racist/sexist shit, but they are usually booed off stage. With what may be a perfect ending to the first week, a letter from the city (delivered en mass 30 minutes before the GA) was read aloud. The city detailed specifically what must be improved or taken care of “for our own safety” (when did the city ever care about our safety anyways?). Boldly (you could feel tension when the idea was initiated), some began chanting, “Burn it”. Without hesitation, someone took a lighter to the letter. Another person added lighter fluid to the burning, single sheet of paper. The flames raged wildly for a full minute. The crowd of at least 300 cheered and hollered with an enthusiasm unprecedented at any prior GA. For some reason, we feel that Occupy Oakland is different…

In addition to the amazing infrastructure and the excellent facilitation that has been set up, the organized events are extremely diverse and most of the time explicitly political. Each of the events throughout the first week nurtures the overall, vengeful tone of the occupation – performances, Hip Hop shows, poetry slams and movie showings. In each case, people find time away from hard work to enjoy each other’s company. In addition to planned events, numerous impromptu ciphers, dance parties and performances break out – accentuating a generalized desire to cultivate autonomous actions. One day a SambaFunk Band marched their way into Oscar Grant Plaza, proceeded to play for almost an hour – hundreds surrounding them, dancing. This beautifully unexpected addition to the occupation, along with others like it, demonstrates a recurring spontaneity. Multiple times throughout the day you hear people exclaim how inspired they are by this occupation and what is possible here. In addition to the more creative and fun events, workshops take place during the day and have been explicitly nonconformist. The workshops range from topics such as contemporary uprisings in Greece, Chile, and Oaxaca to Occupy Everything, which connect the student occupations to what is happening here. This upcoming week, everyday from 1-5pm there are more of the same: specific talks discussing particular political topics such as “Police/State/Prison” and “Oakland schools are being shut down! What are we gonna do?” Notably, the very first demonstration out of Occupy Oakland was an anti-capitalist march where over 200 people marched through downtown Oakland chanting,  “1, 2, 3, 4 – organize for social war!” — among other things . This march attracted a diversity of people. Over 200 rebels chanting these radical slogans chill you to the bone. The following night, a queer march left from the occupation and went to Hella Gay, a queer dance party in Oakland. Upon reaching the club, marchers demanded to be let in for free and the venue acquiesced.

Incessantly, Occupy Oakland startles and excites many with its implicit radicalism. On Saturday, October 15th, MoveOn.org (a “grassroots” organizational front for the democratic party) organized a march and demonstration in conjunction with the national occupation movement’s day of action. They attempted to exploit Occupy Oakland when they announced that it would draw to a close in Oscar Grant Plaza with a series of speakers including several mayors from around the Bay. Upon this announcement, a proposal was brought to the GA: a refusal of special treatment and/or endorsement of politicians and political parties/organizations. It passed like a maple leaf in the wind. After negotiations with MoveOn, and based on our own policies, no politicians would be allowed to speak on behalf of their party at that event and thereafter. Surprisingly, MoveOn eventually complied with our demand. When someone broke the agreement (rather, they took advantage of a loophole) and began reading a statement from Congresswomen Barbara Lee, someone from the occupation promptly told those from MoveOn how they broke the agreement and how the democratic party is “counter-revolutionary.” At this point those who were brought to the occupation via MoveOn’s march begun to disperse and explore the camp (perhaps because it was far more interesting than hearing all of the old boring democratic rhetoric that has been said time and time before).

ANALYSIS

Over the past few years, Oakland has demonstrated its uniqueness in social conflict and protest. This distinctiveness isn’t anything new; rather, it has just reemerged. To elaborate, a comrade wrote in The Occupation Movement: On Greed, Unity & Violence:

“Oakland is currently under occupation by the police. The form of this occupation varies; the situation is much different in Temescal than in deep East Oakland. We live in a militarized space. Whether it’s police executions of Black youth, police harassment of sex workers along International Boulevard, or the city council’s racist legislation in the form of anti-loitering laws, gang injunctions or the suggested youth curfew, this paramilitary occupation is a project of local government to pacify and contain the city so capitalism can go about it’s business uninterrupted.

But Oakland doesn’t just have a violent, repressive contemporary situation; we have a vibrant history of struggle and resistance. From the 1946 General Strike to the formation of the Black Panther party in 1966 to the anti-police rebellion following the execution of Oscar Grant in 2009, Oakland has long been a city full of people that refuse to sit down and shut up. Despite every attempt by the state to kill that spirit, it lives on and will be out in full force over the coming days.”

Occupy Oakland reflects Oakland’s radical history. Because of this, an overwhelming anti-police sentiment guides the conversation about and the reaction to police. The GA has refused to comply with the city’s demand that we apply for permits (which we were told would automatically be accepted without charge). This lawlessness has played out when police have attempted to enter the occupation. On several occasions, many surround the approaching police and in unison began chanting “Pigs go home!” and “Cops get out!” When the police officers realize their lack of power, they have no other option but to leave. This tactic of resisting the presence of the police started spontaneously, but has since been the usual response. We hope that other occupations will look to this practice and realize its significance.

Despite the brilliant infrastructure, there have been problems. Some extremely important committees have been slow to respond to the growing need of the camp. Some of this is due to the transient nature of the groups, where people come in and voice their disagreements and then take off, leaving the work to the people in the committees who are already stressing about getting things done. Although there is “beauty in the chaos,” it has become evident that to some degree, disciplined organization is imperative. Ideally, a harmony of chaos and composition will surface.

One of the biggest problems emerging in the camp is specific dynamics of racism, sexism and other oppressive habits. In the first several days, excitement and festivity ruled the commune. This slowly transitioned into over-frequent dance parties that spilled late into the nights. Excessive drinking, unwanted sexual advances, harassment, and fights persist daily. This behavior, it should be mentioned, also exists without the presence of alcohol, but takes on a different form with alcohol. [NOTE: we are beginning to see reports of delinquency, drug use and violence in the media that may begin to duplicate in other media outlets. This could be the beginning of a campaign against the occupation. We would like to mention that these problems exist everywhere, as this occupation is to some extent a microcosm of Oakland, and until there is incentive to unlearn these behaviors, “peace” cannot be actualized. Again, this is not to say that they are not serious or that they are tolerated.] All of this has led to concern about the camp developing a Burning Man or Woodstock environment, devoid of almost all political content (other than the politics of culture, sub-culture and counter-culture which have a very limited potential and ultimately alienate people from one another). What is desired is a complete transformation (or destruction) of society, not just a cultural one. These dynamics are not unique to the occupation, but rather happen every day in Oakland and everywhere – they are symptomatic of a society that has broken all of us. In reaction, a mediation team has been set up to deescalate situations and allow for dialogue between those in conflict, resulting in much benefit. Despite all of this, Occupy Oakland is magnificently self-regulating – when a fool’s gotta go, a fool’s gotta go. This occupation is constantly growing and expanding – becoming more and more dissident by the day, pushing us all to our limits. Let’s see what else this occupation movement has to offer…

Beneath the internal conflicts lies an aching desire to externalize such wrath. Hundreds upon hundreds of people simply talk and mingle, discussing politics and life. You can almost taste a collective hostility towards each individual’s own socialization. People are learning how to be human beings without the mediation of capitalism and its apparatuses. Whereas alienation and isolation rule our every interaction, it has been replaced by the crisis of remembering the last 10 names of those you’ve met in the past hour. The war on alienation and isolation is fought through complex and voluntary social experiments, ultimately revealing the gaps of power relations that are facilitated, in part, by capitalism

Another pressing issue is that of expansion. The plaza now hosts somewhere around 150 tents on the grassy areas alone. Sunday night, 30 minutes before the GA, a letter from the city was delivered en mass to people in the occupation. It detailed the city’s intolerance to many things, among them, camping in the concrete area of the plaza. Logistically, moving to the concrete would be the most immediate remedy to the growing population density of the occupation. Are we to push that boundary? Already, a small encampment has manifested in Snow Park, which is a few blocks from Oscar Grant Plaza. Almost all of the grass is taken up at this point and if we are to push the boundaries with the city, we must be prepared to defend the spaces we select to house us next. Expansion onto the concrete would only be a temporary solution. If we are to expand to another location, we must nurture the crisis of the occupation – population density – and encourage many more from the street find a home in the occupation movement and seduce others out of their homes to do the same. [NOTE: Those occupying Snow Park stand their ground against police who tell them they are not allowed to be there due to a school being nearby. Since then, to some extent, the school and its students have announced support of the occupations in OG Plaza and Snow Park. However, Snow Park is in need of a greater occupying force. As of tonight, we are unsure whether that extension of the occupation can be held through the following day.].

The recent letter from the City gives light to their attempt to stifle our capacity. With good reason, they are afraid. It is likely the occupation will attempt a diversity of expansion strategies through the coming week. Undercover police are naive to think we haven’t noticed their technique of dividing the occupation on already present tensions – some COINTELPRO type shit. The camp is vulnerable – bearing wide-open entrances in almost every direction. Do we look to barricades? Do we take the barricades into the street? These are questions that will be answered in either a collective, intuitive and organic response to police eviction or in much planning and preparation. One thing is certain: the people of Occupy Oakland are well prepared to defend their new home.

Occupy Oakland (as you may have gathered at this point) is unlike any other. We begin to appreciate this when we realize our potential and current condition – that we are a force to be reckoned with, a danger to the capitalist functioning of Oakland. Police attack is no more imminent than the all too likely opportunities of widespread insurgency. Strategizing in accordance to our immediate geography’s potential as well as its weaknesses is key. Unions, schools, libraries and more, they are already our allies, as we are theirs. An overpowering confidence saturates the air of Oscar Grant Plaza – a threat and a promise.

Occupy Everything! Demand Nothing!

-Autonomous individuals among the liberated space known as Oscar Grant Plaza.



The first excursion out of Occupy Oakland – An Anticapitalist March

From Bay of Rage:

This Friday, Oct 14th, the 5th day of Occupy Oakland, an anti-capitalist bloc led the first march out of Oscar Grant Plaza (Frank Ogawa Plaza). A diverse crowd of at least 200 chanted “Fuck the police, we don’t need ‘em. All we want is total freedom”, “Burn the Banks”, and “ 1, 2, 3, 4 – organize for social war” throughout the demonstration. The march started from 14thand Broadway where we circled around the plaza, stopping at the State Building briefly, and then proceeded to the Oakland city jail by going down Telegraph and then snaking our way through Old Oakland. At the jail, bullhorns, air horns, more chants and announcements of support echoed through the cages inside the stark narrow building. Prisoners inside responded with noise and wild gestures barely visible through the slit windows of the north facing cells. Someone made an announcement about the ongoing hunger strike of over 12,000 prisoners taking place in California prisons and that some of their demands consist of better living conditions, medical care, and an end to solitary confinement.

Joining the march was a significant contingent of members of the local Muslim community who held their Friday prayers shortly before the march set off. An Imam who participated in the march later offered his full support of the Occupation and stressed the importance of solidarity and self-organization. Confrontational rhetoric is too often feared as being alienating to hypothetical communities but, in moments of crisis and revolt, many people are immediately interested in identifying with the radical spirit of the moment. People recognize themselves in the struggles of others and often go beyond what they might deem to be politically acceptable in the normal sense. The once “alienating” slogans of past years, “Occupy Everything” et al, have now become standard and the least controversial of chants.

As the march returned to the occupation, so did the police. They lined themselves along the corner of 14th and Broadway. But it was all in vein. Within minutes, the crowd retreated from the steps of city hall, where they were rallying, and forced the police off the sidewalk and into the street through chants such as “Cops get out!” and “Pigs go home!” They eventually got back into their cruisers and left the occupation.

Amidst the recent resignation of Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, the police appeared as if they were receiving mixed messages through their line of command and to be in disarray as they escorted the march through downtown. In full riot gear, their attempt to appear as peacekeepers and public servants was transparently deceptive. This made it easy for those in the march to maintain a contentious presence – confident and without fear of police intervention, even when the police attempted to block our route to the jail and intimidate people once the march returned to the occupation.

Rather than “mic-checks” (which in our opinion, and apparently in many others’ who are participating in Occupy Oakland, create a space for loud leader-types that falsely alludes to consensus) Occupy Oakland’s general assemblies are facilitated and participated in through an amplified sound system. This is done in defiance of the city’s request that we do not use amplified sound (unlike other occupiers in other cities who have conceded to the demands of local government and police). We mention this to demonstrate the success of having a non-compliance position with those who seek to control and co-opt our efforts. We hope others participating in occupations around North America do the same. Several days earlier, Lupe Fiasco was asked if he would like to say anything after delivering much needed supplies to Occupy Oakland. While he did end up getting coaxed into speaking to the crowd, he initially responded, “Nah. Actions speak louder than words.” This phrase, however vague and over-used, narrates well the overall tone of Occupy Oakland. The ferocity of this first action and the rejection of the use of “mic-checks” demonstrates this perfectly.

A combination of the radical, collective history of Oakland and a consistent agitational force is greatly responsible for the high spirits and confrontational nature of this occupation. Today’s march is inspired by this history as well as young people with fresh ideas informed by their absent future. While the police are forced to adapt to their current circumstance, we have staged an environment that requires its participants to constantly recreate themselves. If not to keep the police on their toes, then to ensure that we are always interacting with one another in reverence to the Town’s history while engaging with the ever-decaying present.

Expect a full analysis and report back of the first week of Occupy Oakland this coming Monday.

With love,

An affinity group within Occupy Oakland



Night of the Barricades
10/07/2011, 3:51 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , , ,

From Bay of Rage:

“In the night of October 6th San Francisco Police attacked the Occupy SF encampment at the Federal Building on Market and Drum. After a day in which 800 people marched through downtown San Francisco in solidarity with the occupation of Wall Street in New York and elsewhere around the country, hundreds gathered at the site of the occupation. However by evening the police had administered an eviction notice to the occupiers claiming that the police would move in at midnight alongside the Department of Public Works to clear the plaza. Roughly around 10pm the police began to gather a block away from the occupation. Word circulated quickly and as both the occupiers and the police prepared roughly 150 people assembled at the occupation. After a few hours of waiting, debate, and nervous conversations within the occupation the police finally made their first move. Marching down the street, adorned with helmets and batons, the police escorted a line of Department of Public Works Vehicles. Standing between the occupiers and the living spaces that had been created since the occupations’ beginning, Department of Public Works workers were then forced to begin eradicating the space of any materials related to the occupation. The trucks were quickly filled with the same rapidity as the mood in the air began to intensify.

Almost spontaneously a large wooden pallet that the vehicles had not yet managed to collect was brought in front of one of the trucks. Immediately others began to follow bringing bodies and all material left behind in the encampment and surrounded the police and Department of Public Works vehicles. People grabbed anything they could find – garbage cans, street signs, cones and even the police’s own metal barricades to prevent the trucks from leaving as well as corner the police. While the police had tried to encircle and intimidate the occupation those there quickly used the opportunity to encircle and intimidate the police. As the SFPD closed in on the trucks standing off with what was now hundreds of people on market street and beautifully constructed barricades, they began to make way for the vehicles to leave. This created a series of small scuffles. Eventually the vehicles left and the barricades stood proudly on market street between the starry twilight of 230am and the confused fright of the SFPD.

The night was an incredibly powerful reflection of not only what is possible but  the emergent potential of the Occupy movement. After the police announced that the occupation was going to be raided the occupiers began to decide what to do. The conversation was disparate, timid and unstable. This was directly caused by a few dominant voices controlling a decision making process in a situation that needed immediate attention. As the police came in this timidity, instability and disparity disappeared as all collectively participated in activity that reflected the needs of the immediate situation. No longer was the conversation dominated, but all voices flourished in the streets. People also held together and refused to be the targets of police violence. Instead people collectively resisted the attacks by the police by directly interfering with their ability to function as police by constructing barricades. Their antagonism towards the police was a direct reflection of the immediate goal of responding to a police raid. This act of self-defense was also an offensive direct action and strengthened both the solidarity amongst the participants and the potential for antagonistic expansion.

If these occupations are to both survive and continue they must be protected from the police by any means necessary.

Read the Statement from Occupy SF regarding the attempted police eviction last night

As the barricades multiply almost everywhere, though within a limited perimeter, the security forces receive reinforcements from units that had until then been positioned outside the Latin Quarter and close down the area, which with each passing minute takes on an insurrectional air. - Le Monde, May 12-13, 1968″




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