Note of Camaraderie to our Sisters and Brothers in Struggle
On the eve of the first important day in the 2016 primary election cycle, we offer a draft, never before published but still highly relevant, from a high point of struggle during the last presidential election cycle. The Chicago Teacher’s strike of 2012 was an important moment for the struggle against neoliberal “reforms” to public education, as well as for the trade union and working class movement as a whole. As teachers in Oakland, California involved in efforts at building organization and struggle of parents, teachers, and students, we have been inspired and challenged by the solidarity that was demonstrated on the streets of Chicago during the strike, and we deeply respect the years of strategic work that went into organizing a base of teachers that was able to carry out such a strike. The experiences of Chicago have provided an example of a higher level of militancy and struggle than we have seen in decades.
CORE and the CTU deserve the most recognition for this. As part of this recognition, we wish to deeply engage and scrutinize the strategies that were used to carry out the preparation, execution, and follow up from the strike. Our engagement and scrutiny of these strategies comes from a place of wanting to carry forward at the highest level the struggle against neoliberal capitalist reforms from our location in Oakland; at times this will mean pointing out aspects of the strategy used in Chicago that we are critical of, while at other times it will mean putting forward some initial thoughts on alternatives grounded in our experiences in Oakland. We come from a humble place of respect and camaraderie with our sisters and brothers in Chicago, and we hope that our engagement and scrutiny is taken as a sign of respect for the hard work put into the 2012 strike.
Throughout the country we have seen repeated attacks on teacher unions; these attacks are occurring in the context of an all out assault on unions and working class people as a whole. From Madison to Chicago to Oakland and beyond we have see Democrats and Republicans carrying out legislation that seeks to undermine the gains that workers struggles and trade unions have won for their members; we refer here to seniority, health care, wage increases, and positive developments in working conditions. These gains have been achieved by the movement of working people getting organized formally and informally, in unions and without them at times. All of these forms of movement, organization and struggle are part of what we refer to as class struggle.
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Eric Garner’s final words before being choked to death by police for selling cigarettes
Back in the 90’s Michael Jordan was asked if he would support Democratic Party challenger Harvey Gantt, who was running for a North Carolina senate seat against incumbent and strident racist Jesse Helms. Jordan refused and reasoned, “Republicans buy sneakers too”.
Fast forward 25 years to Lebron James demonstrating a similar ambivalence when asked to take a position on the racist police killing of Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice was twelve years old when police officer Tim Loehmann shot him in the stomach for playing with a toy gun; he could have been wearing the latest Lebron sneakers as he was murdered. In seven years, Tamir could have been Lebron James’ teammate.
Tamir Rice was 12 years old when gunned down by police
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We continue to share reflections and analysis on the recent student protests in the Bay Area.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement and the movement against police violence has taken on new forms, and has now spread to schools as sites of potential power. Students have held large protests and shutdowns at Mizzou and Berkeley High that have garnered national media attention, but there have also been smaller struggles that have gained less notoriety but are equally as important for militants to study.
These small movements show us new forms of organization that emerge in response to police murders, how students are coordinating these protests, how local histories influence the forms of struggle that take place, the role of Black leadership, how multi-racial solidarities emerge, how students are pushing the boundaries of what the #BlackLivesMatter movement means, and what the limitations may be.
Communist militants must grasp these events on their own terms in order to better understand how the student’s rebellious energy can deepen and spread to other sectors of the economy and to broader layers of the class.
One such event occurred last month, when students at Castlemont High School, in deep East Oakland, held protests and walkouts in response to the police murder of Richard Perkins, Jr. at a sideshow. In order to document the emergent student movement in the Bay Area, we have interviewed a number of students at Castlemont High and we provide our reflections below. Please read, critique and share!
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The recent wave of student revolt around the world has brought to light the power that students have to challenge oppressive racial and economic regimes.
In South Africa, university students held national mobilizations against tuition increases and for university workers’ rights. They were able to shut down the entire university system, and ultimately force the government to negotiate with them.
In the US, Black students at the University of Missouri have mobilized against violent, anti-Black threats on campus. These students organized with professors and football players to shutdown key parts of the university, and ultimately forced out the school chancellor and president.
Similarly, Black students at Berkeley High School organized a 2000 person walkout in protest of violent, anti-Black threats. This event made national headlines as another moment in the broader #BlackLivesMatter movement
These experiences raise vital lessons for militants to study and learn from. In this vein, we provide below a flier that we produced shortly after the walkout on it’s lessons and possibilities. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
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Posted in Bay Area Class Struggle, Flyers, Resistance News
Tagged austerity, Berkeley High School, Berkeley Protests, blacklivesmatter, BLM, Mizzou Protests, Police Brutality, race, racism, south africa, Students, walkouts
We would like to introduce you to the Advance the Struggle Free Education newsletter, an agitational tool we use at various campuses across the Bay to connect with school workers and students interested in engaging around the conditions and struggles of the education sector.
We welcome any feedback and encourage our friends and supporters to spread these widely!
Here is our first edition:
Even leftists and revolutionary minded people who are critical of Bernie Sanders have put forward the idea that, despite his limitations and the problems with his politics, he’s still defending the public sector more so than other presidential candidates. However, this position fails to take into account Sanders’s position on standardized testing, punitive measures against public school teachers, and the fact that he has in various ways supported both Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race To The Top education policies. We present the Class Struggle Education Workers leaflet critiquing Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s positions on public education because it concisely presents the problems with their positions. Click image for newsletter.
All of us have been paying close attention to development of black insurgency over the past few years. The power of street protests, new black activist groups, and recent anti-racist demands at universities highlight the direction that the movement’s energy is going. Further, the recent spread of pro black, anti-racist demands at numerous universities following the Mizzou protests demonstrate one possible way in which the movement is cohering: through the development of common demands on college campuses.
The Berkeley High School walkout that went down last week shows us that high schools have tremendous potential in also becoming sites of anti-racist and black resistance. In the spirit of exploring the dynamics of insurgent energy spilling over and taking new forms on high school and college campuses, we present to you some reflections on a high school walkout that happened a year ago in Oakland.
While this action is no longer in the recent memory of activists, the way in which students self-organized and developed a set of demands on their specific institution – the Oakland Unified School District – presents an interesting moment that preceded this recent uprising on campuses. We hope that it can contribute to the ongoing discussions on strategy that we’re all taking part in.
November and December of 2014 in Oakland
Protesters block Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Oakland was an exciting place to be, again, during the hot winter weeks of late November and early December 2014. Protests raged nightly, and so many of us found ourselves marching together through the streets, evading cops, and blocking freeways and BART stations wherever was possible. Walking down Broadway, turning right on 7th street and heading toward the West Oakland BART station. Stopping midway and having debates about which direction to go – toward 980? Back toward the 880? Piedmont? The chaotic discussions we had brought that familiar feeling of ungovernability back to our lives. Our militant and disorderly activities were creative and generative to the extent that we got practice in challenging the infrastructure of Bay Area capitalism, attempting to block flows of traffic in ways that at least felt like we were disrupting flows of capital. Celebrating militancy is important, but perhaps more important is pointing out some of the limitations of our courageous actions.
There are three key limits that we want to highlight here.
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We’ve been a little dormant lately, but we have a number of events and writings on the way. Please come reconnect with us at our upcoming event on farmworkers struggle in Mexico. Below is a description of the event and the event flyer. Please spread the word!
Do you know who picks your strawberries, cucumbers and pumpkins? Have you heard of the Driscoll’s produce company? Did you know that workers just hours south of the Bay Area are getting paid starvation wages? Did you hear that these workers waged a historic strike demanding dignity earlier this year?
Join us at a forum to hear a reportback on the struggle of agricultural workers in the San Quintin Valley of Baja CA, Mexico. A delegation of bay area activists along with a local San Quintin organizer (via Skype or in person, depending on their travel schedule) will present information on the historic strike that happened earlier this spring and how you can connect with and learn from the ongoing organizing of farm workers just across the border.
Wednesday Aug. 12th 6:30-8:30 PM
La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA
Sponsored by Advance the Struggle
Facebook event page: https://goo.gl/sy2OVi
Click for high res flier
The following piece is a contribution from a high school student in San Francisco. This is the first in a series of student and youth political writings on our blog. Big ups to all the young people engaged in the fight for justice and liberation!
by The Act of Kindness
Women’s rights have changed over the years. Back then women were suppose to just take care of the children and clean the house. They were not given a right education. In the millennial generation we have progressed to all women having voting rights at the age of eighteen, right to education in the U.S, and abortion rights. Currently, in the U.S having the right to abortion hasn’t really been the case. In a case in Indiana March of this year, Purvi Patel was charged twenty years for having a miscarriage; she is supposedly guilty of “feticide.” This charge not only caused a petition and protests, but made women wonder if it is really safe to tell doctors, clinics, etc. about their abortion due to the very real fear of getting locked up.
This is because of the gender roles that society “naturally” gave to us. We as women are considered the ones that must take care of the child and if not we are considered “bad” women because we don’t follow through with society’s ideology. In many cases, women cannot provide for their child because of lack of affordable if not free health care, substandard education, and affordable housing because the government lacks support for families.Yet the government still demands women create strong families.
In order for women’s rights to be passed working class women need to be aware that the government is not doing anything to help them. Then once they are aware women would sign a petition for women to have the same rights and present it to a government official and if that doesn’t work, strike until they get reproductive rights. Women need to fight for their kids so their kids don’t have to live in the same condition and once and for all have equal rights for women as men.
To the theoretician of capital and it’s destruction, the founder of the First Communist International, and father of modern communism, we wish you a happy birthday!
For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.
– Karl Marx, The German Ideology
This reflection was written by a comrade of the Advance the Struggle crew on November 29th, a day after the Black Friday shutdown of the West Oakland BART Station. It was not published because it provoked some internal debate and discussion within our crew that we wanted to have prior to putting it out online.
We offer it here in its rough and unfinished form as an artifact of what some of us were thinking of in the beginning of the national rebellion against the non-indictment of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Riots, Freeways, and BART Stations: Reflections on How We Attack White Supremacy
The police execution of Mike Brown is not simply another example of black youth experiencing a state sponsored murder. In addition to the tragedy of another black life stolen by the white supremacist state, Mike Brown’s death has called into being a nationwide movement against police brutality. This movement has further impressed upon many people’s consciousness the delegitimization of the state that the murders of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin and others have left. Further, the rebellions and direct actions that have been carried out by individuals, communities and organizations have demonstrated an expansion in the repertoire of resistance tactics that new and experienced militants are willing to carry out in order to disrupt the white supremacist capitalist economy and its racialized state.
So far, the two main forms of militant action that people have taken have been street rebellions characterized by informal, decentralized and evolving leadership structures as well as targeted direct actions featuring highly organized, formal and centralized leadership structures. The rebellions that happened in the streets of Oakland on the the three evenings after the announcement of the non-indictment of Darren Wilson were examples of the former, while the Blackout Collective’s shutdown of the West Oakland BART Station is an example of the latter.
Both sets of actions were successful in disrupting sections of the economy during the holiday season, inflicting high value damage to a capitalist economy during its peak season. Further, both actions played a role in developing the leadership capacities of young black militants, and secondarily other militants of color and white militants, though in very different ways. Reflecting on these experiences may help us to begin thinking through how we can build upon the successful acts of resistance we’ve taken, and move forward together in continuing our organizing operations.
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Photo: ‘Millions March’ in Downtown Oakland
December 13th and November 24th
The Millions March, a national solidarity event with the Black Lives Matter movement that took place on December 13th, compels me to address the political dynamics of that nationwide event in order to open a dialogue about the objectives and tactics of the movement. At the beginning of the march, one of the leading speakers called on White Allies of Black people to refrain from speaking on the bullhorn and from marching at the head of the protest; the purpose of this rule was to ensure that black and brown voices were emphasized throughout the march – a theme that was present throughout the march and throughout this movement as a whole.
When we arrived at the Oakland Courthouse, the leaders urged black and brown protesters to stand together on the steps leading to the courthouse and for white protesters to remain at the bottom. When the list of speakers was over, the lead speaker of the march implied in her words that the march was over and that people should head back to the site of the initial convergence to engage in Healing Circles. As the mass of protesters began to move, a black protester announced to the marchers that the march was not over. Indeed, the majority of protesters remained on the streets of Oakland hours after the spectacle at the courthouse.
Now – let’s pause for a moment and rewind three weeks to November 24th, 2014 – the night of the non-indictment of Darren Wilson. On this night we also experienced a powerful display of black, brown and multiracial solidarity; this night, however, was slightly different than the Millions March. People, more or less spontaneously, filled the streets the night of November 24th; during the beginning of the rally on 14th and Broadway, black protesters lead chants of “Black Lives Matter” while people danced in a circle; electricity filled the air as protesters carried out an unpermitted march from downtown Oakland to the 580 Freeway entrance on the north side of Lake Merritt; at some point in the evening, a brave group of young people took over the 580 Freeway, blocking the westward flow of traffic. The people who carried out this first freeway blockade were a mixed racial group of people; black protesters were certainly represented in the mix, contributing to the dynamism of the action; brown, asian and white protesters also filled the gravel laden lanes of the highway. All protesters were clear in their messaging: black lives matter, and police violence must end.
Our intention is to explore the way in which movements such as that experienced by us in the winter of 2014 can contribute to the development of a revolutionary situation in the US; further, we see the questions of racial empowerment, identity and solidarity to be of central importance in building movements against state violence and building revolutionary organizations.
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How to get involved flyer
Here is a flyer that we have been using in the Bay Area that seeks to continue and center the conversation of these protest around: How do movements become revolutionary? It seeks to provide some tips and ideas of how the community can get involved and how to ‘generalize the activities from the movement into other spheres of society’.
Hit us up so we can come up with more ideas together, share resources, and collaborate!
We wanted to share this great video that has footage from multiple marches in Oakland over the course of 2 weeks. It really captures the dynamism of the past few weeks. We are still working on the finishing up some pieces for our series reflecting on the last few weeks of mobilizations, so keep checking back! Video after the jump. Continue reading →
An independent grouping of students and school workers came together to organize an action against police violence. Young people of color are constantly surveilled and harassed by police in their communities and schools, so it’s inspiring to see a spirited action done in a militant and structured way. Our friend John Reimann has produced this video of yesterday’s action, which you can see after the jump. We will be sharing more strategic reflections on the organizing involved in this shortly. Enjoy the youth energy in the meantime. Continue reading →
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