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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



Latest Statement From Occupied UW-Milwaukee

“We encourage the continued occupation of the state capitol building in Madison as well as the theatre building at UWM.

We call for the further occupations of workplace, university and government buildings.

We endorse and call for a general strike and will stand in solidarity with all who participate.”



Clash near UC-Berkeley comes ahead of ‘Day of Action’ over budget cuts
03/04/2010, 3:41 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , , ,

This describes the events shown in the pre-game video (posted below) which happened a week ago.

According to the Bay Area News Group:

“BERKELEY — Yet another student protest turned violent at UC-Berkeley late Thursday and into Friday morning, when more than 200 people spilled out of a dance party on campus and trashed university buildings and smashed windows along Telegraph Avenue.

Forty-five officers from several law enforcement agencies responded, including the Berkeley and Oakland police, and the California Highway Patrol, officials said. At least two people — current and former students — were arrested.

Now there is much concern that Berkeley’s on-campus violence could be a harbinger of far more damage next Thursday, when demonstrations against education budget cuts will take place all over the state.

“We know there”s going to be a lot of emotion associated with this,” said University of California-Berkeley police Capt. Margo Bennett. “It’s going to be passionate.”

Others fear the protests scheduled for next week may be overshadowed by rogue protests aimed at issues other than the prohibitive costs of higher education. But on Thursday night students attended what was to be a low-key event called the Rolling University. It was part of a series of teach-ins on state and UC budgets and other education issues, followed by a dance at Sproul Plaza. About 11 p.m. trouble started and police were called.

By the time police arrived they found someone had cut a chain on the fence surrounding Durant Hall, a former library in the center of campus that is closed for renovations, and hung a banner reading “March 4″ above the entrance to the building, a reference to Thursday’s statewide “Day of Action” to protest education budget cuts.

At least 10 people were found inside the building. Several windows had been broken, graffiti was sprayed on interior walls, portable toilets turned over and construction equipment thrown around.

Crowds outside the building continued to swell, and by about 1:30 a.m. Friday, people began to clash with baton-swinging police, throwing bottles, setting trash ablaze and breaking several windows on Telegraph.

The action finally ended just before 4 a.m., police said. “We certainly hope this won’t happen again on March 4,” said university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore.”



Berkeley Pre-Game Communiqué (that’s not the sky, it’s the ceiling)
03/02/2010, 2:17 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,


no conclusions when another world is unpopular
03/02/2010, 12:14 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , ,

From After the Fall:

The parting words of After the Fall– at once both a summation and a call– present the occupations in the past 6 months as a “vulgar and beautiful” destabilizing force within a larger arena of forces, at times nomadic and imperceptible, at other times spectacularly, with declarations and attitude.

Still, the finale of welfare state social services, the numbing terror of disaster, displacement, the colonial politics, the social death of civic life, the logic of representation, the endless reproduction of modern misery, the absent future, the crises of capital, the Afghan offensive, the government in a box– none of this deserves the elegance of any of the words we printed in this publication. They deserve a swift, merciless street fight.

Quickly now.
After the Fall.

I.

We will not be free when we are educated, we will be educated when we are free.
PISACANE, 1857

Society has reached the stage of potential mass unemployment; and mass employment is increasingly a manipulated product of the state and state-like powers that channelize surplus humankind into public works, including armies and official or semiofficial political organizations, in order to keep it at once alive and under control.
LEO LÖWENTHAL, UC BERKELEY PROFESSOR, 1949.

Before the Fall we felt it briefly, in each hour and a half interval: the ten minute grace period between classes, waiting for a lecture to begin, assigning ourselves one uncomfortable chair amongst 130 other uncomfortable chairs, and so began the telling of human History—grand, anecdotal, scientific, relevant or apropos of nothing. And just as we felt this loss, it disappeared. So we laughed, we fell asleep, we posed calculated questions, we watched a bald man every three days in a nice shirt pacing back and forth in an auditorium, the lights went dim, the lights came up, we collected ourselves, ate potato chips and a sandwich. We are kept alive, vaccinated, some even plump, yes, but we feel our surplus status. Excess. Excessive. This excessiveness animates our underlying dissatisfaction. That we do not matter: our private morals, decisions, attitudes, preferences, manners—that we are kept so absorbed, busy forever arranging these abstractions into purchases, identities, further abstractions on the future, sacrosanct opinions on the past. We are governed by the abstraction of the future and a grand or alternative History, sure, but we are also governed by these abstractions of the present.

That is the crisis, a lost faith in an inhabitable future, that the work ahead is as limited as the work in place now: the absent future, the dead future, the unemployment, the anxiety. For an economy that so often drains meaning from the immediate present for an imaginary future, a loss of faith is crisis.  A surplus population of students, writers, photographers, freelancers, philosophers, social theorists without a doubt—but also increasingly of engineers, scientists, lawyers, businessmen, politicians. The economy that animates the university is an engine that produces irrelevance. That the economy itself provokes such a crisis of faith is testament to its own inner operating procedures, and perhaps to its own grinding contradictions.

And yet in the Fall something broke. Students and staff made a different claim on the university. We were not convinced that a dead future could be renegotiated through a “New New Deal.”  We were not easily chaperoned to the endless deferral of “Sacramento,” we did not hide from the rain, we did not quietly suffer the eclipse of the university by the county jail system. Our faith in a future abstraction was not renewed; it was replaced by faith in one another in the present.

II.

The movement should exist for the sake of the people, not the people for the sake of the movement.
AIMÉ CÉSAIRE, 1956.

Secure at first food and clothing, and the kingdom of God will come to you of itself.
GEORG W.F. HEGEL, 1807.

To put forth empty slogans to “Save the University” in a moment of student occupations is as misguided as calling to “Save the Prison” in a prison riot—redemption in this case would be to restore the status quo: the exclusions and incarceration, the slamming gates of the university and the warehoused social death of the prisoner.

They function as opposite poles on a spectrum of class reproduction. The university—an arm of the economy and state—in all of its exclusions and exclusivity, its funding schemes and governance, is bound to and dependent upon the prison. Certainly this was momentarily evident when we snuck a glance behind the theater of scripted rallies and petitions and discovered the batons and tasers of riot cops, county jail and county court, and a multimillion dollar administrative public affairs media campaign aimed at criminalizing students. In this way there is no “outside” to the university: there are no “outside agitators” as the public relations office declares. For us the only outside agitators are the administration, its police, capital and the state.

During the Fall, students occupied in order to cast the administration, its police, capital and the state as the outside—to reconfigure the sides—the “insides” and “outsides”—of a struggle. We knew fundamentally there was no ‘outside’ to the university—the university is yoked to San Quentin, computer factories in China, deforestation in Indonesia, mineral mining in the Congo, nuclear energy in Russia, green capitalism in Sweden, coffee houses on Telegraph, intellectual property rights in India, coked up hipster parties in Echo Park, and weed farms in Mendecino. Perhaps this is the university’s appeal as well. It is a world. Everywhere, connected to everything.

So we thought it was a matter of subtraction: to take ourselves and these buildings with us to transmit a message that “We will get what we can take,” that “Everything belongs to everyone.” Among some, the reaction was predictable. “Only children can take everything.” “We must all make sacrifices.”  “Our leaders are doing their best and making difficult choices on our behalf.” Another world is unpopular. And yet we found, despite mistakes and despite successes, that another world was recharting the global map: solidarity messages and actions from Pakistan, Japan, Ireland, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City.

And now we move outwards, towards the ways in which the university is maintained: compulsory labor, the rented homes of university students and workers, the police violence in these neighborhoods. We gravitate towards the Miwok tribe in Stockton, CA who in January this year occupied their headquarters after being served eviction papers. We gravitate towards the January 21st attempted occupation of a Hibernia Bank in downtown San Francisco in a struggle against homelessness, the occupation of Mexico City’s National University in the late 90s, the 2009 summer-long Ssangyong auto plant workers’ occupation in South Korea. We gravitate towards the young people who last year set fire to downtown Oakland to show they were still alive, to reveal a spark of their own relevance in the shadow of the police execution of Oscar Grant Jr. and so many others. We recognize ourselves in them. For all of our apparent differences, how we have been classified and filed under the logic of capital, race, gender, citizenship, ad nauseam, we know these categories do not guarantee a politics– we know our differences and commonalities are more complex than what is allowed in this world. Our faith is sheltered there, housed in mutual recognition, in building-seizures and confrontations.

III.

The present, due to its staggering complexities, is almost as conjectural as the past.
GEORGE JACKSON, 1971.

Over the past semester an important set of critiques were leveled at actions we gesture toward throughout this paper and any group engaged in direct action. The editors of this paper hail from different social movements and moments and frequently disagree. We cannot write a collective statement with positive prescription. What we do know is that all liberatory social movements benefit from the destabilization of the university as an institution, as both a dream factory of class mobility and an engine of profound inequality.

A social movement is a counter-force within an arena of power. At its best a counter-force destabilizes that arena and creates social and political openings, in the moment and in its wake. The longer a crowd exists the more dangerous it becomes. It’s there, in those openings, that we find fertile ground for broad and interpersonal solidarity, trust, dreams of the future, collective desire for anything. That is where we build our positive prescription, our visions. Meaningful, useful dreams are only dreamt in struggle, in the spaces opened and left behind by the fight.

The Fall was that kind of moment—a reemergence of new and old formations shaped around new and old realities and ideas. The creation of tactical and strategic openings. The real, if momentary, blockage of institutional policy and systematic violence. The necessary polarization; the flowering of new solidarities and the nourishing of the old; the possibility of generalized direct action, social ruptures; students and all the rest living in a more meaningful present instead of an institutionally-imposed, indebted future. Those currently in power want nothing more than the reproduction of stability and unquestioned legitimacy, the guarantee of an unchallenged control that lasts forever, the disparities each of us have tried to fight as though they were separate and separable catastrophes.

And so after the Fall we are left with some openings: March 4th is one among many. We’ve built, seemingly by vulgar and beautiful chance, a party. The occupation. The mob. A mobile force. A machine. This is to say many of us are you, and likely many of you are us. We are all bound together merely by inhabiting the same arena; many of “us” are people of color, queers, counter-settlers, 1st generation college students, service industry workers–traumatized, beat down, brilliant, and tender.

But we are also adventurists.



Introduction to After the Fall: Communiques from Occupied California (excerpt)
02/17/2010, 11:15 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , , ,

This is a new periodical / magazine regarding the recent wave of occupations in California.  The bookmobile should have 50 copes for free soon.

Excerpt:

I. Like A Winter With A Thousand Decembers

In Greece, they throw molotovs in the street. For every reason under the sun: in defense of their friends, to burn down the state, for old time’s sake, for the hell of it, to mark the death of a kid the cops killed for no reason. For no reason. They light Christmas trees on fire. December is the new May. They smash windows, they turn up paving stones, they fight the cops because their future went missing, along with the economy, a few years ago. They occupy buildings to find one another, to be together in the same place, to have a base from which to carry out raids, to drink and fuck, to talk philosophy. The cops smash into packs of their friends on motorbikes. They hold down the heads of their friends on the pavement and kick them in the face.

In Ssangyong, one thousand laid-off workers occupy an auto factory. They line up in formation with metal pipes, white helmets, red bandanas. Three thousand riot cops can’t get them out of their factory for seventy-seven days. They say they’re ready to die if they have to, and in the meantime they live on balls of rice and boiled rain. Besieged by helicopters, toxic tear gas, 50,000 volt guns, they fortify positions on the roof, constructing catapults to fire the bolts with which they used to build cars.

In Santiago, insurrectionary students mark the 40th anniversary of Pinochet’s coup by attacking police stations and shutting down the Universidad Academía de Humanismo Cristiano for ten days. No more deaths will be accepted, all will be avenged. In France, a couple of “agitators” dump a bucket of shit over the President of Université Rennes 2, as he commemorates the riots of the 2006 anti-CPE struggle with a two-minute public service announcement for corporate education. The video goes up on the web. It drops into slow motion as they flee the mezzanine after the action, not even masked. It’s easy, it’s light, it’s obvious. How else could one respond? What more is there to say? We know your quality policy. A cloud of thrown paper breaks like confetti in the space above the crowd below—a celebratory flourish. The video cuts to the outside of a building, scrawled with huge letters: Vive la Commune.

In Vienna, in Zagreb, in Freiburg—in hundreds of universities across central and eastern Europe—students gather in the auditoriums of occupied buildings, holding general assemblies, discussing modalities of self-determination. They didn’t used to pay fees.  Now they do. Before the vacuum of standardization called the Bologna Process, their education wasn’t read off a pan-European fast food menu.  Now it is.  Fuck that, they say.  They call themselves The Academy of Refusal. They draw lines in the sand.  We will stay in these spaces as long as we can, and we will talk amongst ourselves, learn what we can learn from one another, on our own, together. We will take back the time they have stolen from us, that they’ll continue to steal, and we’ll take it back all at once, here and now.  In the time that we have thus spared, one of the things we will do is make videos in which we exhibit our wit, our beauty, our sovereign intelligence and our collective loveliness, and we’ll send them to our comrades in California.

In California, the kids write Occupy Everything on the walls. Demand Nothing, they write.  They turn over dumpsters and wedge them into the doorways of buildings with their friends locked inside. Outside, they throw massive Electro Communist dance parties. They crowd by the thousands around occupied buildings, and one of them rests her hand upon the police barriers. A cop tells her to move her hand. She says: “no.” He obliterates her finger with a baton. She has reconstructive surgery in the morning and returns to defend the occupation in the afternoon. We Are the Crisis, they say. They start blogs called Anti-Capital Projects; We Want Everything; Like Lost Children, the better to distribute their communiqués and insurrectionary pamphlets. Ergo, really living communism must be our goal, they write. We Have Decided Not to Die, they whisper. Students in Okinawa send them letters of solidarity signed Project Disagree. Wheeler, Kerr, Mrak, Dutton, Campbell, Kresge, Humanities 2….the names of the buildings they take become codewords. They relay, resonate, communicate. Those who take them gather and consolidate their forces by taking more. They gauge the measure of their common power. They know, immediately, that if they do not throw down, that if they do not scatter their rage throughout the stolid corridors of their universities, that if they do not prove their powers of negation, if they do not affirm their powers of construction, they will have failed their generation, failed the collective, failed history.

But why wouldn’t they throw down, and scatter, and prove, and negate, and affirm? After all, what the fuck else is there to do?

Read more



A Torchlit Evening with Birgeneau

From Anarchist News:

“Everybody throw your lighters up, tell me y’all finna fight or what?” -The Coup

“It is no secret that the kids are pissed. Since September, we’ve carried out over a dozen building takeovers of varying scale and intensity on California campuses, and during the Days of Action against Cuts and Hikes in November, students in Berkeley and LA actually fought police. In the past few days, evictions of occupied spaces at SFSU and Berkeley by the armed agents of the state and academy can only represent the future of this form of education. Last night, we marched to war and for once didn’t wait for the enemy to strike the first blow.

Everyone can follow the thread connecting these events. The police action towards students in the past few months could be accurately called “extraordinarily frightening and violent” as Birgeneau whined of the ruckus that woke him last night. As a leading beacon of the capitalist media recently observed, “Whether you’re an oppressive foreign dictatorship or an American state in the process of committing fiscal suicide, you know you’re losing the public relations battle when encounters between armor-clad riot police with truncheons and college students are broadcast on TV.”

Despite the liberal overtones, Newsweek exposes some important points. The dictatorship of capital is indeed performing an ensemble suicide, and as we are its captives, our will to live can only be expressed through revolt — refusal, negation, and the unleashing of unlimited human strikes. As students, we are supposed to be the embodiment of society producing its own future, but this society has no future; there will be no “return to normal” and we must find ways to inhabit this reality. From Berkeley to Greece and back around the other side, we are in civil war. This is the basis of modern life, and it is high time we illuminate this fact for any who remain confused.

It’s worth noting that last night, the activist-mediators and movement-bureaucrats who have behaved as volunteer deputies so many times in the past few months were nowhere to be seen. This was neither peaceful nor a protest; the time for dialogue is over. The path of reform and representation is our target as much as the sphere of academic production itself. Birgeneau was right, we are “criminals, not activists”: we are no longer kept obedient by the myth of peace as our normal condition. We must wonder as well about the people who cleared obstructions from the street in the wake of the march – streets used minutes later by police who attacked the mob and arrested 8 comrades on extreme and absurd charges. A reminder to everyone: solidarity means attack!

The rage that was loosed upon the chancellor’s disgusting palace was not only well-deserved, but a long time coming and should not by any means stop there. Not until every knowledge-factory grinds to a halt and every rich man’s house is either squatted or burned to the ground.”

http://anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10267

For more about the situation:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/12/BASN1B3D59.DTL&tsp=1#ixzz0ZVNpoIUb




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