Tag Archives: Police Brutality

The San Francisco Chronicle: State Journalism At Its Finest

These protesters have been tried in the public arena and left open to vigilante justice and a lifetime of being associated with crimes for which they have yet to be convicted, with a permanent Internet trail for any future employer to consider. Far from critical journalism, this is state propaganda at its finest.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12423-the-faces-of-resistance-mock-san-franciscos-newspaper-of-record

“That’s Why I’m a Communist” – Trade Unions, Social Struggle and the State in South Africa


My mother was a kitchen girl//My father was a garden boy//That’s why I’m a communist//I’m a communist//I’m a communist! – Popular apartheid-era song still sung today

The recent armed conflicts between miners and police in South Africa are part of a long legacy of class struggle against the capitalist state.  Recently we in AS along with our comrades in La Pena 2nd Gen organized a forum to tap some of our comrades’ knowledge on the incredible history of South African working-class resistance, both against apartheid and against the neoliberal African National Congress.

The first presentation “The Birth of the Modern Trade Union Movement in South Africa”, by former Black Panther Gerald Smith, is a very useful initial overview of South African history from a class struggle perspective; it’s also a more specific history and analysis of Black labor militancy in the 1980s under apartheid.  Learn something from his dynamic speaking style!

The second presentation, “Social Struggles and the Capitalist State in South Africa since 1994”, by UC Berkeley PHD student Zachary Levenson, focuses on post-apartheid history.  Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and describes the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.

Check it out and tell us what you think!

Blood Shed of the Innocent – Sounds of the South

Artists from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South

With the chorus of ‘eighteen years and we’re still the victim’ this song from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South represents in English and native tongues the hypocrisy of the post-Apartheid regime in South Africa. The African National Congress was a political party central to ending apartheid, making use of political strikes as one of its most powerful tactics. This tactic must be used here in the USA. But without a communist goal, all the best tactics in the world will loop back to capitalism and all its horrors.

Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa under the ANC but its plain to see the dictatorship of capital still reigns supreme. The National Union of Miners has always been a pillar of the ANC, but today they work hand in hand with capitalists to put down workers’ righteous struggle. With our own black president, with our own popular “Democratic” party, and with our own sell-out unions, we in the US feel South African proletarian pain.

Dying for a Raise: Mumia on the Marikana Massacre

March on 9/5/12 against the murder of 34 strikers – copyright Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

(Audio at Prison Radio).

The Massacre in Marikina, South Africa, of striking mine workers has caused dismay and disbelief the world over.

Thirty four miners were slaughtered, and 78 others wounded by a hail of police gunfire.

How could this be in today’s South Africa?

How could this happen in a post- apartheid South Africa?

How could this happen in a predominantly Black government, led by the African National Congress (ANC)?

 

The spectacle tells the tale: black police, clad in blue overall uniforms, were called by the Lonmin Mine Co. officials, to stand against Black miners holding a wildcat strike demanding better wages and improved working conditions.

 

Miners at Lonmin Platinum are paid on average R4, 000 (=$480 U.S.), and were demanding a raise to R12, 500 (=$1,500) per month.  These strikers, several thousand rock-drill operators, were trying to live and raise families on $120 –per week!

 

When they refused police orders to disperse from a nearby hill, the cops attacked them with automatic weapons fire.

Who do you think they worked for: their people – or the mine operators and owners?

Whom did they serve and protect?

 

In Marikana, in South Africa’s North West Province, lies a mine boasting one of the world’s richest veins of platinum.  Indeed, South Africa is home to some 80% of the world supply of platinum, one of the world’s most precious and strategic metals.

 

And striking miners are dying for a pittance, while owners and investors are making billions!

 

The cops of capitalism serve those who can afford their services.

 

Period.

 

Marikana, North West Province, South Africa joins Sharpville for police and state massacres of Africans.

 

Just as Sharpeville sparked resistance, let Marikana now do the same!

 

–© ’12 maj

Raw reflections on a day in Anaheim

Comrade Mara writes:

Spending the weekend in LA preparing for a presentation with comrades allowed me to spend some time with the comrades in SULU (Struggles United/Luchas Unidas) and attend a demonstration against the Anaheim police department for their series of murders of working class latinos.

By now you’ve probably seen the photos of the heavily militarized police force present at recent demonstrations in Anaheim – fatigues, pigs hanging off the sides of trucks with weapons at their side, horses running into demonstrators, etc.  What follow are just some quick notes on thoughts that came to me as I spoke with the community, various revolutionaries, and considered the relationship between the resistance in Anaheim, the response of revolutionaries, and what I’ve been part of and seen in Oakland over the past few years.

Some of the maoists I spoke with (of the party building as opposed to social-democratic NGOish variety) immediately responded by going into the community where the murders took place and carrying out a door knocking campaign.  The residents were encouraged to send messages of solidarity on a banner which these maoists then brought to the demonstrations in front of the police department.  While the door knockers encouraged people to come out to the rallies and protests, not much else was proposed aside from buying newspapers and signing the banner.  Nonetheless, the immediate inquiry into the community is a move that could generate positive results if coupled with a more proactive program of struggle.

A variety of Trotksyist groups responded in particular by relating to the circle surrounding the families of the men murdered by the police.  This included forming a political bloc with them at public meetings and press conferences where the families, no doubt encouraged by people with friendly-to-the-state agendas, called out for the “violence” (e.g., property destruction and other militant tactics) to cease, because it would “not help in bringing [the victim] back.”   

ImageThe anarchists I spoke and marched with on Sunday were determined to carry out a march away from the police state once hundreds of people were gathered and rallied up.  As we’ve seen before, the simple chant of “march, march, march” was called out for a couple of minutes before a group of black clad, mostly younger, group of folks began marching toward Disneyland, the capitalist center of Anaheim.

Image

While the march ended up gathering several hundred of demonstrators to march in the streets, the march was quickly attacked by police mounted on horses who were able to anticipate the direction of the march and keep it contained within a single lane of the road.  The composition of the march included many community members, children, and revolutionaries which was very positive.

Image

Continue reading

Oakland to Seattle: Solidarity Against Police Brutality

This statement was written by participants in the Justice for Oscar Grant movement in Oakland, including the group Advance the Struggle.  Please distribute widely, to help build for tonight’s demonstration against police brutality in Seattle.  For more info about the events leading to this demonstration, check out Jomo’s article “It doesn’t get better, we rebel to make it better.” 

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AFTER THE JUNE 24, 2012 POLICE BRUTALITY INCIDENT IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — written 6/28/12

Dear Comrades,*

It was recently brought to our attention by members of the Black Orchid Collective that during the end of the Gay Pride weekend (6/24/12) LGBTQ youth organized an anti-racist and anti-heterosexist street dance party. This unpermitted gathering was assaulted by the Seattle Police Department (SPD), who unleashed unjustified brutality at the participants. Six young people were arrested.

Lt. Greg Calder was filmed pepper-spraying a youth at close range, and then physically abusing this young person. The victim was then arrested for assaulting the police despite video evidence that clearly proves the cop to be the aggressor. First off, we now know due to extensive documentation and experience that so-called “non-lethal weapons” (pepper spray, tasers, tear gas, etc.) have led to the death of far too many people. Secondly, the SPD in particular and the American police in general routinely blame the victim and frame up innocent people in these situations. The police only serve the rich and protect the conditions in which oppression thrives.

Down in the Bay Area, we have police departments that claim to be on the side of queer communities just as in Seattle. SPD’s actions on June 24th only prove what we should already know: police are not queer allies. Even if they are themselves gay, lesbian, or transgender, they are our queer enemies.

On April 29th in Oakland, a black trans-gender woman named Brandy Martell was murdered in Oakland in a homophobic hate crime. Police arrived on the scene and did nothing to help the dying victim. In fact they even turned an ambulance away while a passerby did CPR that he learned at Occupy Oakland’s medic training. As long as police attack people for dancing in the street for the cause of liberation, we can be guaranteed that they will stand idly by in the face of homophobic violence from the community.

We support all struggles motivated by love, striving for true freedom, and battling oppression, as these are the basic ingredients of a future society in which equal rights exist for all, and everything is provided for everyone. Radical queer movements will be amongst those advancing the struggle toward the society of the future. We can be assured that the police will be there every step of the way to try to prevent such a society from smashing out of the one we are imprisoned in today.

REMEMBER STONEWALL!

DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST THE SIX PARTICIPANTS ARRESTED BY THE SPD!

QUEER STRUGGLE IS CLASS STRUGGLE!

* The greeting was changed from “Brothers and Sisters” to “Comrades” so as not to gender people within that binary (done with permission of statement authors).

The Day April 29, 1992 Took Over; the LA Riots and The Music to Come Out of Them

20 years ago today, there was a nation-wide rebellion against the police and private ownership of property. The incident that sparked this rebellion was the innocent verdict given to the Los Angeles Police Department pigs who beat Rodney King nearly to death while being videotaped by the relatively new technology of handheld videotape recorders.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Riots which began on April 29, we want to note some of the great music that came out of this rebellion.  It has been said that if one is to learn about a peoples, one should look at their poetry and their songs.  Advance the Struggle finds this true and believes that culture and art are going to be fundamental to a proletarian led Socialist revolution in the US. If we look around today (2012) and see the relentless police terror on Black and Brown people, coupled with the capitalist economic depression which is far worse than that of 1992, and we see all the positive organized resistance to it, we might start to believe that we are on the cusp of a pre-revolutionary situation. Looking back to ’92, things felt more like they were on the verge of a civil war – and one of the best ways to get a feel for that is through the powerful music that the riots produced.

More after the jump:

Continue reading

Occupy Oakland: Advance the Struggle’s Political Reflection

The mass strike…suddenly opens new and wide perspectives of the revolution when it appears to have already arrived in a narrow pass and where it is impossible for anyone to reckon upon it with any degree of certainty.

                                                          – Rosa Luxemburg, “The Mass Strike.”

Occupy Oakland has reshaped politics not just for this city or the West Coast region where its impact has been greatest, but for the US as a whole and has given hope of revolution within the belly of the beast to millions of people around the world. Significantly, Occupy Oakland has injected a clear anti-capitalist current with the broader Occupy movement and has been able to implement an array of tactics to galvanize those politics. What are the lessons we draw from our young movement? The following is Advance the Struggle’s reflection on the movement. Comments, critiques, and discussion are welcome.

 

Table of Contents


I.    Fight for Space Morphs into Battle for Class Power

II.   Context of Occupy Oakland

III.  Political Origins

IV.  Attack: OPD Raids Occupy. OUSD Closes Schools.

V.   Counter Attack: November 2nd General Strike

VI.   November 19th: Unpermitted anti-school closure march

VII.  December 12th: West Coast Shutdown.

VIII. Class Struggle or Substitutionism?

IX.   Our Future

__________________________________________________

I.    Fight for Space Morphs into Battle for Class Power

Revolutionaries around the world often ask why the people in the US don’t rise up against its government. With the rise of the Occupy movement, a global audience has been glued to the unfolding events surrounding this struggle, and tens of thousands within the US have participated in perhaps their first political protest. Like most movements, Occupy has its contradictions; in fact, its contradictions have largely been celebrated as diversity of political opinion. Working out the political contradictions through action, movement, struggle – in short, through practice – is the only way that masses educate themselves, becoming more clear in their critique of existing social relations and participate more fully in the implementation of strategies for change. Occupy has been a success just as much for the learning process it has unleashed as for the victories it has gained against “the 1%”. In what follows, we attempt an overview of developments at Occupy Oakland and refer to some debates within the movement. We aim to preserve the tone of unity and broad inclusion that has made Occupy so remarkable. What will be explored below is the relationship between Occupy Oakland’s class composition, the tools it uses to formulate strategy and the tactics implemented in practice.

II.   Context of Occupy Oakland

The 2007-08 crisis has radically destroyed the public infrastructure of our society: schools, hospitals, public transportation, and parks have all been violently gutted. This is an expression of a much deeper crisis in capitalism that is pulling society into a downward spiral. The last 30 years we have seen an extremely rapid and unceasing technological revolution within commodity production, one that has devalorized labor-power so fast that the proletariat is being constantly expelled from the work process. As a class, the proletariat is thus unable to reproduce itself.

Continue reading

Fight Police Brutality With the ILWU – This Saturday 10/23!

ILWU Local Ten is shutting down the port on October 23rd, calling for justice for Oscar Grant, with a rally taking place at noon on 14th Broadway. This is significant! The array of organizing that took place — media outreach, thousands of flyers handed out in the streets,

ILWU say Jail Killer Cops

ILWU say Jail Killer Cops

several union endorsements, several community and political organizational endorsements — has now developed a critical momentum for the Oscar Grant movement that was not present on July 8th 2010, January 7th or 14th of 2009. Those rebellions were expressions of raw anger from Oakland youth and young Bay Area working class people of all races. Since then, there’s been a labor-centered development of struggle, where ILWU local ten has publicly stated over and over that their means to fight against injustice will be to shut down the port.

 

In 1912 two IWW organizers, Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovanniti, were framed for murder. Witnesses saw the murder of the striker committed by the police. But the 30,000 worker strike in Lawrence Massachusets, often referred to as the Bread and Roses strike, was led by Wobblies Ettor and Giovanniti and needed to be stopped by the state. The first phase of the strike won wage increases. The workers went back to work, but then restruck later in 1912, with around 20,000 participating, as a political strike to free Ettor and Giovanniti, as they were politically framed for a murder they did not commit. Philip Foner, the American Communist Party historian, claims this was the first political strike of such kind in American labor history.

It should be seriously noted when the labor movement shuts down part of the industry of commerce as a political means of defending itself as a class against racist state oppression. The ILWU has pushed the theoritical concept “an injury to one is an injury to all,” in practice. If this can develop as a trend throughout the country, then new formations opposed to state oppression and based in labor can rise, giving working people in ghettos and barrios through out the country a method for fighting back against police brutality.

Arturo Giovanniti, an Italian immigrant IWW organizer, was considered one of the best poets of the movement. In 1914, he wrote “The Walker,” that carries within its description of incarceration coded messages of liberation:

I hear footsteps over my head all night.
They come and they go. Again they come and they go all night.
They come one eternity in four paces and they go one eternity in
four paces, and between the coming and the going there is
silence and the Night and the Infinite.
For infinite are the nine feet of a prison cell, endless is the march
of him who walks between the yellow brick wall and the red
iron gate, thinking things that cannot be chained and cannot
be locked, but that wander far away in the sunlit world, each
in a wild pilgrimage after a destined goal.

Continue reading

Bay Area Class Struggle History: Panthers at Peralta Colleges

The roots of the Black Panther Party (BPP) lie within student struggle for fully-funded public education reflecting Black history, culture, and struggle. The founders of the party, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, met at Merritt College in Oakland and began to struggle for education together with other black students. But unlike liberal forces in the movement, Newton and Seale saw the necessity to connect their struggle as black students to structural oppression in working-class black communities. Police murder and beatings combined with a deadly lack of jobs, healthcare, food and affordable housing; the BPP saw that the struggle for control over our schools must be connected to the revolutionary struggle for control over our communities. Looking to the present not a whole lot has changed in Oakland: the BART police murder of Oscar Grant and the numerous murders committed by OPD before and after him demonstrate that state-sponsored racism and violence continues to oppress and kill us; East Oakland has some of the highest rates of foreclosures in the state creating more and more homeless families; health clinics and other vital social services continue to get cut back or completely eliminated; free after-school youth programs and daycare centers continue to close down placing more burdens on working-class mothers, who struggle to find ways to make sure their children are cared for when they attend work and/or school. A central difference between then and now is the lack of an organization like the BPP striving to connect these issues and build community control. There is however a growing student movement, which is trying to fight the budget cuts and demand affordable quality education. There are also BPP sun, flag, fistindividuals and organizations who, like Bobby and Huey, are trying to connect the student struggle to broader issues affecting the working-class as a whole. One of these is the militant student organization Student Unity & Power (SUP), which exists at San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, and Laney College. The Laney College branch has put forth a very important analysis demonstrating their radical perspective while drawing from the rich local history of one of the most inspiring and influential revolutionary organizations of all time, The Black Panther Party. This analysis will be useful as we move forward in our struggles for freedom, peep game!

 

Panthers at Peralta

by Laney College Student Unity & Power

SUP draws inspiration from the birth of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966 when Huey Newton and Bobby Seale met as students on 57th and Grove St. (now Martin Luther King Jr. Way) at Merritt College. Unliketoday’s view of Peralta as a job training hub, the Panthers saw the campus as “not a typical institution for so-called higher learning. Grove Street College is what is called a community college: a place where, for a variety of reasons, people who don’t have an opportunity to attend larger colleges and universities go to seek knowledge and hope for a better life.” The Grove Street campus also represented a base for organizing the neighborhood and a place to demand self-determination for Black and all oppressed people via community control of the curriculum, operations and facilities of the College. While engaged in militant resistance to the District, rank-and-file Panther women built counter-institutions to reproduce their culture of struggle.

This piece is an effort to remember the lessons of their struggle. Continue reading

Start Building for 10/23 – Work Stoppage Against Police Brutality

Recently the ILWU called for a rally on October 23 and expressed interest in a work stoppage to ensure that Johannes Meserle receive the maximum sentence for the murder of Oscar Grant. The ILWU have a long history of taking a leading role in periods of mass struggle and of engaging in political strikes. The San Francisco General Strike started when state and private police killed 2 longshoremen as they tried to break picketlines that had closed not only SF ports but all of the ports on the west coast for 2 and a half months. In 1973 the ILWU refused to ship munitions headed for Chile following the military coup and suppression of the Cordones (workers councils). In 1984 the ILWU shut down the ports for 11 days in a political strike against aparthied in South Africa.

ILWU Local 10

The ILWU is able to take such militant action without being destroyed by the ruling class because the longshoremen occupy such a strategically strong position in the production of profit – the unloading of the majority of commodities headed for consumption. Harry Bridges, along with a rank-file committee organized and led a strike in 1934, quickly growing into a general strike through all of San Francisco and even Oakland, it continues this militant historical legacy into an array of other struggles long after. The ILWU is now throwing their weight into the struggle for justice during a period of racist state murder and mass incarceration marked by the deepest economic crisis in capitalist history. On May 1, 2008, International Labor Day, they shut down all of the west coast ports in a one day political strike against the war. On June 20 of this year the Longshoremen refused to cross a picketline blocking the entrances to the port to stop an Israeli ship from docking in the wake of the Freedom Flotilla Massacre. Now they are calling for a rally on the 23rd of October at Oakland City hall and may shut down the ports.

Continue reading

To the Budget Cut Movement: No More Ignoring State Violence

by Rebelde

The anti-budget cut movement and struggle for public education in California over the last year has inspired worldwide resistance, and has brought in a lot of new people who have never organized or been political before. The March 4th movement provided an outlet for people to get involved and educate themselves about the budget cuts; it also created a base to build off for the next cycle of struggle. Since March 4th conferences have gone down and a new date for mass action has been picked: October 7th… but will October 7th be qualitatively different than March 4th? Will more sectors of society be brought in? Will struggle deepen and become more militant? As the economic crisis deepens and affects more and more people internationally, there is a real need for a militant perspective examining why the budget cuts are happening, who is causing them, and who is suffering from them.
So far the education sector has largely lead resistance to the cuts, on college campuses specifically, but these cuts go far beyond the universities. It is not just education that is being destroyed; social services, such as free and/or affordable healthcare are being cut; there are massive foreclosures and a lack of affordable or public housing; unemployment remains high. Anyone can see that these cuts aren’t just affecting students, but the working-class as a whole. While all these cuts are happening in the public sector the top corporations and banks were immediately bailed out by the Federal Government as soon as their financial instruments evaporated in the bubble pop. If it wasn’t clear to you before that this system was based off of exploitation and a class divide between the rich and the poor, massive bailouts to the capitalists and bankers while we are left to struggle for the basic necessities of life should make it clear.

Police attack people protesting the racist murder of Oscar Grant. - July 9th, 2010, Oakland

These budget cuts are also occurring during a time period of massive state violence to communities of color and queer people; the passage of the anti-immigration bill SB 1070 is causing and supporting more profiling of immigrant populations and ICE raids; the Oscar Grant movement has exposed the police’s continual assault against Black women and men that stems from the days of slavery; and there is consistent harassment and murder of queer and gender oppressed people. Is a budget cut struggle solely confined to defending education enough to really fight the cuts and the crisis? Is it enough for the people most affected by it to be brought in? No. We need a larger analysis that identifies the true enemy, the capitalist system, which relies on other systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, & homophobia) to target and discipline people of color, women, and queer folks to keep divisions within the class that makes uniting and resisting harder.

Continue reading

General Strike for Rodney King!

When Rodney King was severly beaten by 4 LAPD officers and the police were found not guilty, Los Angeles exploded in rebellion and riots.Thousands upon thousands of working-class residents of all races broke into commercial stores taking commodities for free.  

The media tried to paint the riot as angry violent Black people attacking working-class white people and Korean shop owners– they were consciously trying to turn the multi-racial rebellion into a racial war.  But the media was not able to supress a powerful radicalization of LA consciousness.  Bloods and Crips started having serious discussions about unity, positive revolutionary energy was flowing from the ghettos and working-class neighborhoods; these developments are captured well by the documentary Bastards of the Party.

May 19th General Strike - Malcolm Flyer

It’s important to remember that we are all facing the sentencing hearing for officer Mehserle on November 5th. The flyer above is the political effect of the radicalization produced by the ’92 Los Angeles rebellion against the acquittal of Rodney King’s attackers. What do these two struggles, separated by 18 years, have in common? The Oakland/SF local (Local 10) of the longshoreman’s union ILWU is planning to do a job action and/or rally on October 23rd to fight for justice for Oscar Grant, and militant rank-and-file union members have argued that their radical action in isolation will have a very limited effect. One ILWU rank-and-file worker argued that what we need is for BART (lightrail) workers, bus drivers, government workers, private workers, to also shutdown their workplaces in the name of Oscar Grant. This form of struggle can be more effective than breaking windows or pleading with the government through non-profits because it uses the greatest power that working people have: our ability to get organized and control the economy. We’re posting the flyer from ’92 to make these kind of connections with another historical moment where riots began an ascending wave of radicalization. Around the country people look to the Bay as the current front lines of the struggle against police brutality: will we rise to the new possibilities and show ’em how it’s done?

What’s Next in the Struggle for Oscar Grant?

The outcome of the verdict for Johannes Mehserly, the cop who murdered Oscar Grant, left people with feelings of outrage, disappointment, and defeat, and rightfully so. We live in a world where police can kill innocent and un-armed people, have it captured on video, and still get off. The fact that Mehserle was convicted at all should be seen as a partial victory for the black working-class of Oakland. That victory was largely due to the black and brown Oakland youth who took the streets, and made the system listen to them as they bashed in windows of banks, corporations, and other sources that profit off of the exploitation and murder of black and brown people. When the day of the verdict finally arrived on July 8th we found ourselves in a similar place: angry in the streets with no real outlet to fight back. Our options were dismal, chaotic rioting on one end, and non-profit sponsored apolitical, non-violent speak-outs on the other end. Im not against rioting or community expression, but none of these options represent a concrete and effective way for people to resist, a way to flex their power as people and workers, while simultaneously striking back against the bourgeois state that relies on the police to repress our resistance through murder and incarceration

The day of the sentencing is November 5th, which is three months away. People are still angry and we have plenty of time to do something about it, but what? We have tried a variety of tactics from symbolic rallies and marches to riots/rebellions, and nothing has managed to bring justice for Oscar Grant, and the Black working-class yet. It’s time to try something different. A huge jumping off point for this is the recent involvement of the Longshoremen who are a part of the ILWU local 10. So far the Oscar Grant struggle has been organized mainly by activists, and community members with no involvement by organized labor. The longshoremen have a reputation of being one of the more militant unions. They have shut down the coast numerous times for political reasons: apartheid in South Africa, Mumia, and most recently for Palestine. The longshoremen also have majority Black membership, and their reps have experienced state violence on the job and during actions. All these things have fueled their own interest to get involved in the Oscar Grant struggle. They recently had a meeting, which they opened up to the public, to discuss the planning of a protest on Saturday October 23rd, where two major outreach committees were created to try to mobilize the community and other sectors of labor. This demonstration has the ability to bring in 1000’s of workers and community members if the organizers build it right.

So you are probably wondering how this demonstration is different from any other symbolic protest. It will be another permitted, Saturday afternoon action that probably won’t change a thing. There is some truth to that, but this demonstration is deeper than it seems initially. First of all there is potential to shut down the ports that day, because the Longshoremen work Saturdays. If the ILWU is able to mobilize all their members and locals to the demonstration that day, then there will be a work-stoppage, and that is significant in its own right. Politically this demonstration represents an opportunity for us to bring in people from different struggles and sectors of labor and the community. The most active struggles right now have been for Oscar Grant, Immigrant Rights and the Budget Cuts. All of these struggles have been disconnected from each other in key ways, which has been a huge weakness of the organizers in these struggles, because not only are we stronger when we are united, but these struggles are organically connected. They all share the same enemy: the racist, sexist capitalist system.

When black and brown youth walked-out to protest the budget cuts during March 4th this past year they made that connection. They weren’t just talking about budget cuts and their schools; they were talking about police and incarceration. They understand that when 90% of the Oakland bailout budget goes to killer cops and not schools that the budget cut movement should be a part of the Oscar Grant movement. Did I mention that 90% of the bailout money went to OPD? Why aren’t we making these connections? When Arizona passed the racist, anti-immigrant law SB 1070 Oakland youth took the streets again walking-out on April 30th, a friday, to protest a system that oppresses the black and brown working-class. At the bottom of all three of these struggles is the violence of the state, both direct and structural, being aimed at working-class communities of color.

With organized labor being at such a low level in this country it is a qualitative advancement in the Oscar Grant struggle to have the ILWU get involved. It also moves us closer to making these connections between the struggles so we are stronger and more united as a class. We need to reach out to other sectors of labor to have them turn out as well. AC transit workers in Oakland are already upset over their contracts and there has been “labor unrest”–workers even directly intervened in the work process by ‘sicking out’ in large groups; the Oakland teachers union, OEA, went on strike April 29th and most likely will go on strike again this fall; high school students have walked out twice; immigrant communities have protested in SF and in Oakland for May 1st and again against the implementation of SB 1070; MUNI drivers in SF are upset over their contracts while the city tries to pit drivers (who, it should be noted, make significantly less than SF pigs) and riders against each other. There is huge potential to have a mass convergence of organized and un-organized labor, youth, activists, and community members to come out on October 23rd to protest a system that takes money out of our schools and into a racist police system that criminalizes and murders immigrants and black people; to protest a system that continually exploits and doesn’t take care of its workers who drive buses, BART, clean up our streets, our businesses, and teach our children. Not only would this be a day where we can all get together and share our struggles, but it will also be an important day to help build up November 5th.

Due to the work of hundreds of in the Bay Area, the underlying unity of these struggles is starting to take shape explicitly. We know October 23rd is not enough. We know that no conviction or sentence for Mehserle would represent true justice while the racist violence of the state continues to terrorize black and brown communities. We know that we have little chance at dignity and justice in a world with few opportunities and intensifying austerity. We also know that by coming together in the thousands to take direct control of our city, we have a real chance to go beyond partial victories, to fight back effectively against the budget cuts and pigs of all kinds, against the violence of the state in all its forms. This Fall, no struggle needs to stand alone. Justice–November 5th.

Moving Beyond Violence vs Non-Violence: Justice for Oscar Grant means justice for all

by Rebelde

Protest sign: "50 days of strike for 50 bullets fired!!!"

Shot from a Sean Bell police murder protest in NY

The Oscar Grant movement and the 2009/2010 rebellions in Oakland have triggered a lot of discussion about violence versus non-violence. What are the correct tactics to fight against state violence? How do we get justice for innocent Black and Brown men and womyn who are brutalized and murdered by the police? These are the questions that continually ran through my mind at the 2010 protest/rebellion on July 8th in downtown Oakland. During the earlier part of the protest a lot of non-profiteers, liberals, and regular people were talking about this debate between violent and non-violent resistance, and largely condemning acts of ‘violence’. Youth Uprising (an Oakland non-profit) was passing out flyers for their community gathering, which said “violence isn’t justice.” All around there was encouragement to be non-violent and peaceful. There was also a serious racialization of violence by the media, the churches, and the local government and non-profits. Violence is characterized as something coming from outside of ‘the community’; beware of the ‘outside agitators’ that come in the form of white anarchists. Before the verdict was released I listened to my co-workers talk about these ‘agitators’ who were coming into Oakland from everywhere to wreak havoc in our city. It was alarming to see this panic and fear of anarchists being conjured up by the bourgeois media and the State. There is some truth to this statement that violence does come from outside of the community, but not in the form of anarchists, but in the form of racist killer cops. What’s really violent is living in a world where people die everyday from curable diseases and hunger; where working-class youth are deprived of an education by closing schools and building more prisons; where the police can kill innocent men and have it recorded on video and still not be guilty of 2nd degree murder!

Continue reading