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clashes during the general strike in oakland
11/03/2011, 9:39 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How could this be anything other than the elaboration of civil war?



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…



Greece: Clashes with police during two-day general strike

According to LA Times:

“Riot police fired tear gas at youths hurling rocks and petrol bombs near the Greek finance ministry Tuesday, trying to quell the anger unleashed during mass protests and a general strike as parliament debated new cost-cutting measures.

The latest austerity measures must pass in two parliamentary votes Wednesday and Thursday if Greece is to receive another batch of bailout funds to see it beyond the middle of next month. If the votes don’t pass, Greece could become the first eurozone nation to default on its debts, sending shock waves through the global economy.

The clashes came at the start of a two-day strike called by unions furious that the new (euro) 28 billion ($40 billion) austerity program will slap taxes on minimum wage earners and other struggling Greeks. The measures come on top of other spending cuts and tax hikes that have sent Greek unemployment soaring to over 16 percent.

“The situation that the workers are going through is tragic and we are near poverty levels,” said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union blockading the port of Piraeus. “The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war.”

A peaceful demonstration of 20,000 people in Athens was soon marred by outbreaks of violence, when two groups clashed. One side took refuge near a coffee shop, and police fired tear gas in an attempt to clear the crowds and get them out.

The situation quickly degenerated, with masked and hooded youths pelting police with chunks of marble ripped off building facades and steps. They set fire to giant parasols at an outdoor cafe, using some to form barricades, and smashed windows of a McDonalds outlet and other snack shops.

Peaceful protesters nearby braved thick clouds of tear gas to stage an outdoor street party, banging pots and pans in time to music on loudspeakers.

Staff at upscale hotels handed out surgical masks to tourists and helped them with rolling luggage past the rioting, over ground strewn with smashed-up marble and cement paving stones.

Youths torched a satellite truck parked near parliament. The fire caused a freezer at a neighboring kiosk to explode, and hooded youths ducked behind the burning truck to help themselves to ice-cream cones.

The scale of the strike bought large parts of the Greek economy to a standstill. Everyone from doctors and ambulance drivers to casino workers and even actors at a state-funded theater were joining the strike or holding work stoppages for several hours.

An ongoing strike by electricity company workers kept up rolling blackouts across Greece. Not far from the violent protest, cafes and ice cream vendors popular with tourists used portable generators to keep the power on.

Hundreds of flights were canceled or rescheduled as air traffic controllers walked off the job for four hours in the morning. Another walkout is scheduled for later. Strikes by public transport workers snarled traffic across the capital and left tourists stranded around Piraeus.

Many Greeks insist they should not be forced to pay for a crisis they believe politicians are responsible for.

“We don’t owe any money, it’s the others who stole it,” said 69-year-old demonstrator Antonis Vrahas. “We’re resisting for a better society for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”

Despite the discontent being displayed – a sizable but peaceful demonstration was held in Greece’s second city Thessaloniki – the country’s lawmakers are preparing for their second day of debate over the austerity measures. The package and an additional implementation law must be passed so the European Union and the International Monetary Fund release the next installment of Greece’s (euro) 110 billion ($156 billion) bailout loan.

Without that (euro) 12 billion ($17 billion) installment, Greece faces the prospect of a default next month – a potentially disastrous event that could drag down European banks and hurt other financially troubled European countries.

But even lawmakers from the governing Socialists have been upset over the latest measures and Prime Minister George Papandreou has struggled to contain an internal party revolt. He reshuffled his cabinet earlier this month to try to ensure his party’s support for this vote, but the Socialists still only have a 5-seat majority in the 300-member Parliament.

Papandreou urged lawmakers Monday to fulfill a “patriotic duty” by voting in favor of the new measures, but two of his own lawmakers have suggested they won’t.

European officials have also been pressuring Greece’s the main conservative opposition party to back the austerity bill.

“Both the future of the country and financial stability in Europe are at stake,” European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said. “I fully respect the prerogatives and the sovereignty of the Greek Parliament in the ongoing debate. And I trust that the Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default.”

But conservative party leader Antonis Samaras has refused, arguing that while he backs some austerity measures, the overall thinking behind the package is flawed.

As well as looking to get the next batch of bailout funds, Greece looks like it will need another financial rescue.

The initial plan had assumed that Greece would be able to return to the markets next year.

That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen so Greece is looking for more money. Papandreou has said a second bailout would be roughly the same size as the first and hopefully on better terms.

“I call on Europe, for its part, to give Greece the time and the terms it needs to really pay off its debt, without strangling growth, and without strangling its citizens,” he said.

Even with the new austerity measures and a second bailout, many investors still think Greece is heading for some sort of default because its overall (euro) 340 debt burden is too great.”



France: The Cold Autumn Heats Up

From Libcom:

“Despite the colder weather, and the increasing lack of petrol, the social movement is heating up, fueled by fun, fire and fury. “Operation Snails’ Pace”, strikes, mini-riots, schools blockades, General Assemblies, occupations, and today the 4th 24 hour “General” Strike since 7th September …but where is it all going? What contradictions aren’t being confronted? Read on…

Lorry drivers yesterday joined the movement, with the explicit aim of “blocking the economy”. They have been launching “Operation Snails’ Pace” (going slow on major roads and motorways) around Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, south of Paris, Tours, Frontignan, Arras, various parts of Normandy and lots of other places – officially there were 30 “go-slows” around 15 different towns yesterday. This, on the day before the Union-called “General” Strike called for today, Tuesday October 18th: “General” is in inverted commas because clearly there’ve been loads of people who have worked in those sectors which have officially come out on strike. Some of these ‘go-slows’ lasted only 20 minutes, but others for several hours. Ordinary cars go-slow in the fast lane, because big lorries aren’t allowed there.

Various petrol depots have been blockaded. Despite the government claiming on Sunday that only 200 petrol stations have closed down, the organisation responsible for producing petrol station statistics said yesterday – Monday – that 1500 have closed; and the amount of petrol stations that have run out of Unleaded 95 or Unleaded 98 must be a great deal more than that. This shortage is as much to do with the refineries’ strikes and blockades as with the dockers strike which has left at least 60 tankers stuck in the Mediterranean, unable to embark.

Lycees continue to be blocked (officially – ie Ministry of Miseducation figures – 260, but 600 according to UNL – the Union Nationale de Lyceens).
There have been mini-riots and stand-offs with the CRS in at least 5 towns – Nanterre just outside Paris, Lyon, Lille, Mulhous and Borges. So-called “casseurs” (literally “breakers”: see this text from 1994 in English “Nous sommes tous des casseurs”) have been attacking this and that all over the country, sometimes intelligently, sometimes indifferently, sometimes stupidly and sometimes really nastily.

In Marseille the binmen have been on strike for over a week (joining the dockers and the refinery workers). The rubbish is upsetting the tourists, who are anxious to consume the new gentrified areas, brought in by artists and the construction of a modern tramway, free from the stench of revolting proles. The mayor is also upset. Marseille is already preparing for the year it becomes the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2013. With Ryanair withdrawing from its airport base there, giving the term ‘capital flight’ an almost literal meaning, the project of bringing in the punters from the four corners of the globe could well be grounded. All that glorious regeneration of a nice cleaned up surface, designed to reduce all sense of a past into a souvenir photo, could be destroyed by radical subversion. A binman said, “We’re the proletariat, we can’t just sit and twiddle our thumbs.” Though this possibly comes from an old-style CP-influenced guy, in the atmosphere of Republican ideology where everyone is encouraged to describe themselves as a “citizen”, this is a refreshing reminder of a basic socially antagonistic truth. A 16 year old from Marseille, Sarah Jlassi, added “This has gone beyond pensions, it’s about our unjust, divided society.” (The Guardian today). Though this is certainly at the centre of the movement, youths in the media and on the street, from whatever background, are constantly saying how stressed their parents are after work, how consequently they can’t communicate with them.

A few years back, the mayor brought in the army to clear the rubbish. Whether he does so again, in the current more generalised climate of class war remains to be seen, but he could encounter more frustration than merely Ryanair’s O’Leary playing hard to get. Certainly in the longer term – the overtly ‘radical milieu’ there has long been organising against gentrification and the cultural rubbish that’s going to fill the streets in less than a bit over 2 years time (a translation of this text on art and gentrification has become very popular there over the last 18 months).

In Languedoc-Roussillon, where I live:

Nimes (Gard county), all the lycees closed, and there were sit-ins at the prefecture.

Ales (also the Gard) – a blockade of the railway lines, with fires to keep warm.

Firemen were on strike throughout the Gard, only answering the most urgent calls.

In Perpignan, 150 strikers blocked a petrol depot for 4 hours, with tyres burning all over the roads. A train driver supporting the blockade said on telly, “This is not just about retirement but about the whole future of this society”, though the different ways of understanding the implications of that are about as many as there are people who feel the same way. 200 teachers occupied a local state institution (didn’t catch what it was). A firetruck was attacked with stones.

In Frontignan, near Sete, 300 train drivers and truck drivers, plus others, blocked an oil depot, beginning very early in the dark morning – stopping distribution in 3 counties. A train driver said, “We’re doing this for the future – for our grandchildren”, though they were also clearly doing it for themselves.The cops, preceded by a nicey nicey reasonably-toned Prefet (head of administration for the area) asking for a calm dispersal, unblocked the depot in mid-afternoon without resistance – 300, in a fairly isolated spot, not being enough against cops armed with tear gas and flash balls. However, the expulsion was immediately followed by a mini-General Strike in the Frontignan area.

Aude also had a blockade of an oil depot up till mid-afternoon.
In Montpellier the “concierge” (security/surveillance office) of a lycee was completely wrecked by fire. And many of the windows of this lycee were “broken” (they’re very thick top security windows, so none of them shattered) by 50 or so hooded youths. A teacher, who quite possibly objected to this reasonable attack, had a molotov thrown towards her, without touching or injuring her at all. She called them terrorists. The school was evacuated.

On Friday 15th October, 60 or so youths attacked the blockade of a the top notch lycee in Montpellier (“Joffre”) – the BAC (anti-criminal brigade) and suspected RG (equivalent of Special Branch) cops had been seen in their cars outside, leaving just a minute before the crowd of youths arrived. The youths also attacked “college” (12 – 15 yr olds) students, and went on to attack another school nearby, this time going through the dormitories robbing what they could. A car with a couple in it was overturned outside this school, and apparently a tram driver was stabbed in the hand. A radio journalist told a teenage girl he was interviewing that he had inside information that they’d been manipulated by the police, though he never actually broadcasted any of that (probably for fear of losing his job). Clearly, however, the degradations of life on the estates and the gang mentality that survival engenders, means that some youths don’t really need to be manipulated – they see everything in terms of a dog eat dog world, and it will take some considerable risk of a dialogue between those who identify with and participate in a more general social movement and these more nihilistic but utterly directionless youths to shift this to the advantage of both. Certainly moralistic finger-wagging is the last thing that will influence any change in this area: it’s part of the world they rightly hold in contempt, but cannot see or struggle or really want to find any way out of. This is not helped by the catch-all condemnations of anything that involves violence as “casseurs who’ve got nothing to do with the movement”. The local press was full of condemnation of these acts (though some of the worst, surprisingly, weren’t reported) but when the headmaster of Lycee Joffre pushed the gate onto the hand of a blockading school student and broke his wrist, this was played down as an ‘accident’. At another school in town, an anti-blockade teacher on the inside of a gate blockaded on the outside pushed a large barrier (that had been placed on top of the dustbins that are the main structure of lycee barricades) back onto the pavement, narrowly missing seriously damaging the faces of a couple of students. A parent who politely warned the teacher of the dangers of what he was doing was later punched in the face by this teacher. But blanket criticism of “casseurs” is a convenient way of ignoring these contradictions, and of not looking at what is justifiable and what is sick in “casseurs” actions.

Lycee youth chant of the week: “In Parliament the MPs jerk off all day” (it rhymes in French and they sing it).

A lot more could be said, and I haven’t even been to develop the answers to the questions posed in the introduction, but I’ve got to go now. Apologies for the lateness, and insufficiency, of this: internet, computer and personal problems have caused the delay…………”



video from the G20 riot in Toronto


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