Tag Archives: Oakland

Castlemont High Walkouts to Protest Police Brutality!

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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 sideshowIn 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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Reflections on last years Oakland high school walkout

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)

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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Emergency Response to Pigs Who Killed Eric Garner (All Week!)

From blackmask1312:

FTP1

https://www.facebook.com/events/669784216473687FTP2

Get up! Get down! Fast food workers run this town!

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Oakland, CA – On September 4th, 2014 at 14th & Broadway, a key site for the Oscar Grant rebellions and Occupy Oakland, fast-food workers and organizers were arrested after rallying and protesting for $15 an hour and demanding unionization of their workplaces.  This was part of a national day of action. This day of action was the 7th strike since this campaign started in Chicago 2012 by SEIU and other political forces, with 150 similar protests taking place in major urban cities.  Through polls and other media forms, the public has shown serious support for higher wages in the fast food industry, thus opening the possibility of a public and political campaign to organize fast-food workers. Consequently, in the 1 year and 10 months since its inauguration — this effort has generated notable worker actions with repression mostly kept in check. Working off of the Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938, the campaign utilizes many legal avenues and creates favorable conditions to breathe class struggle life into the fast food workplace, potentially opening windows for thousands of these workers to be armed with a ‘politics of struggle’ in the workplace. The combination of advocating unionization of the low-wage workplace through direct action, and publicly fighting for a higher wage can be a functional framework for getting working class struggle off the ground. Not surprising, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour has been a position generating national momentum. These positive developments still face the politics of the campaign and its organizations. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a central political force of the campaign, and in short has built a movement set on union expansion that subordinates the potential working class power in the workplace.       Continue reading

WOSP – The City of Oakland’s Plan for Gentrification: A Target For Anti-Displacement Activity

What follows is a critique of the West Oakland Specific Plan – WOSP – which the city of Oakland hopes will help in “developing” West Oakland and is attempting to pass in the coming weeks.  We offer this critique and brief thoughts on strategy in order to support the ongoing work of combatting displacement and gentrification that has been hitting the Bay Area for a long time.  Please add comments, questions, and critiques in the comment section in the spirit of deepening our collective discussion of anti-displacement analysis and strategy.

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Advertisement for Public Release of WOSP in Feb. 2014

Snapshot of the State and Capital in the Bay Area

If the Bay Area’s economy was compared to every other national economy in the world, it would be the 19th largest.  The Bay has the highest GDP per capita in the entire United States, and even outpaces London and Singapore.  It captures 40% of the entire flow of venture capital in the US (p11), which constitutes a higher amount of capital than that captured during the dot.com boom.  While the Bay accounts for only 2.4% of the total jobs in the US, it has 12% of the computer & electronics manufacturing, 10.3% of software development, and 8.3% of internet related jobs (p13.) Seven of the top 10 social media companies are here – Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Linkedin, Zynga, and Yelp.  In short, the Bay is home to one of the highest concentrations of capital in the world and mapping out the composition of capital is key for us to situate ourselves as we continue to engage in class combat. (Footnote #1)

The regional state is well aware of its place within the world economy.  Over the past years, city politicians from the greater Bay Area have come together to generate a 30 year strategy about how to restructure the region’s housing, employment, and transportation structures.  Plan Bay Area (PBA) was developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to carry out the tasks of determining how the state can support and facilitate the accumulation of capital throughout the region.  In order to grease the wheels of the local capitalist economy, the PBA aims to redevelop housing and transit throughout the Bay; New units are set to be built, new transportation “hubs” developed, and both of these projects are to be coordinated across single cities and the bay area as a whole.

PBA aims to align the various metropolitan areas of the Bay in their development of housing to match projected increases in employment.  Internet, computer and electronics manufacturing, along with professional, scientific and technical services are accounting for some of the largest contributors to job creation here.  PBA states that between early 2011 and late 2013 the Bay Area added more than 200,000 jobs, an increase of 7.5 percent that is well above the state’s average of 4.5%.  PBA is projecting that this area will continue to outpace the rest of California and the US in its share of job growth due to the heavy concentration of tech related industries which forms part of the economic base of Bay Area political economy.  (Footnote#2)

West Oakland Specific Plan – One Part of Capital/State’s Total Plan

We find ourselves in a city that’s clearly at the crosshairs of the system’s plans for intentional development and displacement: highly concentrated capital in the Bay Area and projections of millions of jobs being created in the next 10 years; a strategic plan by city politicians across the Bay to house these new high wage workers within its multiple cities; and the ongoing displacement of low wage workers and unemployed people.  This is the situation Oakland Mayor Jean Quan references when she states that she’s seeking to bring in 10,000 new residents to Oakland while saying nothing about keeping long term residents and working class people in Oakland. Continue reading

#HoodiesUp: All Out to the Justice for Trayvon Rally and Community Speak Out (7/15)


Here is a copy of the flier.  Please Distribute far and wide!

Here is a copy of the flier. Please Distribute far and wide!

Another Black youth murdered in cold blood, and the murderer, according to the courts, is not guilty! The case of Trayvon Martin is an example of what America is composed of, the racism that deeply penetrates its veins, and the state that overseas its process. Trayvon Martin was vilified by the courts as a thug, and its murderer was defended as a noble citizen. How many Black and Latino youth have to be victims of such violence? When will we build a movement so powerful that can challenge such violence? When will the working class be organized to shutdown the system when such racist violence occurs? These are the critical questions of the day. We have experienced the Rodney King movement, the movement around the murder of Sean Bell, Kimani Gray, Kenneth Harding, and Oscar Grant. Yet these murders continue unchallenged.

Our strategy against such murders shall be, in the short term, organizing militant protests when such verdicts are executed and organize the working class in the long term as preparation for such moments. Only until the working class, located in strategic industries, that shutdowns components of the system, will we see a viable movement challenging the system. In the Oscar Grant movement we experienced a wave of rebellions on January 7th, and January 14th, 2009, as well as ILWU local 10 shutting down the port on October 23rd, 2010. The combination of street rebellions and shutting down industry are effective tactics against the state. The state, a concentration of power, will not take anything seriously, until there is a force that challenges such power ascends in the field of political battle. Our history of struggles against police brutality has been paralyzed between disorganized bursts of anger coupled with nonprofit lead forces that channel anger back into the system.

We need a militant organized movement of the working class who utilizes its position in society against state supported racist violence. The racist nature of American society will never be challenged until the working class begins to shutdown the system as a political response. A political organization with such explicit aims is needed to accomplish such tasks. Now is the time to organize for justice.

Come support the rally occurring Monday, July 15, 2013 at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland.

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2012-2013 Classroom Struggle Review and Reflection

We picked up this end of the year reflection from our friends in Classroom Struggle. Advance the Struggle appreciates the hard work these warriors for public education have put in since their inception during Occupy Oakland.  As the attacks on public schools continue nationwide we feel their work continues to be the most inspiring in this extremely important sector of the working class.  CS Logo2

Friday June 14th, 2013 was the last official day of school in Oakland Unified School District, the last official day for students was Thursday the 13th.

Its always good to see the delighted looks on the faces of teachers and students as they ready their summer plans, and some don caps and gowns to celebrate the pinnacle of K-12 education, also known as high school graduation. Congrats to all of the class of 2013!

Militants in Classroom Struggle (CS) also look forward to summer, as it gives us a chance to review and reflect on the successes and failures of the school year and touch up our strategy for the coming school year (2013-2014).  

Last year at this time, we were preparing to occupy Lakeview Elementary School in protest of the closure of five elementary schools serving primarily black and latino families. This year the district did not close any schools. But they did try to eliminate the rest of the already decimated adult education/GED programs throughout the district. CS is thrilled to report that the district decided to save these programs rather than eliminate them (more on that below including the role CS played in support of the students and teachers of that program).

We continued publishing our newsletter – also called Classroom Struggle (formerly Education for the 99%) – putting out many high quality articles meant to move teachers in a more radical direction with the intent to fight against the worst of Tony Smith and the Oakland School Board not to mention austerity funding from the feds. and Sacramento. We continue fine tuning the newsletter by distributing it across the East Bay far and wide, and make every effort to gather feedback from all of our readership. The cover and back cover art is the work of current public school students and teachers, and we will feature a new header for each new issue.  The latest is linked here:

http://education4the99.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/5th-newsletter-go-critique-webview2.pdf  

It includes: a critique of the report on “teacher quality” published by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and heavily endorsed by GO (Great Oakland Public Schools), a solidarity letter for our teacher comrades in Mexico currently fighting against similar neo-liberal assaults on public education we’re fighting in the U.S., testimony of a public school custodian, a report on the adult education fight, and a update on the trauma of school closures from a parent of of an affected student. Please check it out.  

We began making interventions in the Oakland Education Association (OEA) as site representatives. Passing motions in support of Adult Education students & teachers along with Mexican teachers fighting neo-liberalism. Our goal was to push the union to act above and beyond the narrow interests of teacher unionism. We got motions passed for OEA to help us build for two forums we organized. The first provided a report/analysis on the current funding issues in OUSD, the second gave perspective on the importance and challenges involved with building a base of parents, teachers/school workers and students, it featured a founding member of Chicago CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators). The teachers responsible for organizing widespread support for the fall 2012 CTU strike. We are still very critical of current stance of OEA’s leadership, but have seen the rep. council meetings heading in a more critical direction and featuring very promising debates. Continue reading