Notes on Oakland 2011

We expect his­to­ry to provide us with expla­na­tions – to place the imme­di­a­cy of expe­ri­ence with­in a wider sto­ry whose terms will be pro­gres­sive­ly elab­o­rat­ed and illu­mi­nat­ed. Polit­i­cal action, which aims at inter­ven­ing into his­to­ry and alter­ing its move­ment, has an entire­ly dif­fer­ent kind of truth – a sub­jec­tive truth pro­duced in the act of par­tic­i­pat­ing.

The events of yes­ter­day in Oak­land, on the oth­er hand, strike me as unin­tel­li­gi­ble. And I am not sure fur­ther infor­ma­tion and spec­u­la­tion will shed more light on my expe­ri­ence. The actions we take to devel­op cer­tain pos­si­bil­i­ties present in yesterday’s “gen­er­al strike” may pro­duce a lan­guage that will con­tribute to the intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of future events.

It’s not sur­pris­ing when the pro­pa­gan­da machine takes advan­tage of this kind of ambi­gu­i­ty to total­ly dis­tort real­i­ty. But it is obscene, idi­otic, and crim­i­nal.

Before I left for a night­time trip to Oscar Grant Plaza, the New York Times web­site had this as its lead­ing head­line: “Oakland’s Port Shut Down as Pro­test­ers March on Water­front.”

When I got home last night the head­line had shift­ed to “Protest in Oak­land Turns Vio­lent,” with essen­tial­ly the same text. As of this morn­ing, this head­line is accom­pa­nied by a pho­to of a man wav­ing a flag in front of a fire, with no expla­na­tion of the nature of the fire. It describes “a rov­ing group of about 100 most­ly young men” who “broke from the main group of pro­test­ers in a cen­tral plaza and roamed through down­town streets spray­ing graf­fi­ti, burn­ing garbage and break­ing win­dows.” The police, we are told, warned the­se van­dals to dis­perse, and then fired tear gas.

All over the inter­net lib­er­als are warn­ing of agents provo­ca­teurs who are try­ing to dis­cred­it the move­ment, or con­demn­ing the dan­ger­ous anar­chist ele­ment that seeks con­fronta­tion with police. Such posi­tions could be debat­ed if they had any bear­ing on real­i­ty.

I will try to recon­struct the day. My account will be impres­sion­is­tic; it will be marked with bursts of frag­men­tary analy­sis. The chronol­o­gy is framed by three hege­mon­ic ele­ments.

Black Bloc

I arrived in Oak­land just in time for the anti-cap­i­tal­ist march at 2PM. “Anti-cap­i­tal­ist” seems like a broad umbrel­la term, and in some ways it is; there were red flags in the crowd, but also peo­ple with main­stream signs, includ­ing some who seemed to be from unions and non­prof­its, who are per­haps begin­ning to ask some fun­da­men­tal ques­tions.

But “anti-cap­i­tal­ism” has a very speci­fic mean­ing at a protest. It typ­i­cal­ly refers to the mil­i­tant wing asso­ci­at­ed with the 1999 WTO protests in Seat­tle, and it’s a good indi­ca­tion of the pres­ence of the “black bloc,” the nin­jas of the Amer­i­can left who wear masks and break cor­po­rate win­dows.

The black bloc was there yes­ter­day, and they met expec­ta­tions. I saw win­dows and ATMs bro­ken at Chase, Wells Far­go, and Bank of Amer­i­ca. Bank of Amer­i­ca had “1946” spray-paint­ed on one of its total­ly shat­tered win­dows, to recall the pre­vi­ous gen­er­al strike in Oak­land.

I saw no police. I saw no arrests for prop­er­ty destruc­tion. I want to empha­size this, again­st reac­tionar­ies who smear the whole move­ment by reduc­ing it to one ele­ment, and again­st lib­er­als who think that police vio­lence sim­ply brought a minor­i­ty of extrem­ists under con­trol. Prop­er­ty destruc­tion did not start at mid­night when the tear gas came out. The major­i­ty of prop­er­ty destruc­tion – the only prop­er­ty destruc­tion I per­son­al­ly saw – took place in the after­noon with no police respon­se.

Mor­al­iz­ing reac­tions to the black bloc are absurd, but I believe it must be eval­u­at­ed from the stand­point of strat­e­gy. Prop­er­ty destruc­tion is not the same as vio­lence again­st peo­ple, and if destroy­ing the win­dows of a bank reduced the preda­to­ry exploita­tion prac­ticed by the­se insti­tu­tions it would be eth­i­cal­ly unim­peach­able. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I see no way in which it does that. Black-bloc prop­er­ty destruc­tion seems above all else to be a form of self-expres­sion. It does not fit its tac­tics into a long-term strat­e­gy, and it does not move towards dis­man­tling the social struc­ture of cap­i­tal­ism, rather than the phys­i­cal struc­tures that some­times rep­re­sent it. Nei­ther does the high­ly secre­tive and elite group­ing of the black bloc pre­fig­ure com­mu­nist rela­tions.

This does not mean, how­ev­er, that we should mis­rep­re­sent the com­po­si­tion and prac­tice of the black bloc. Dur­ing the attack on Wells Far­go, a man bicy­cled up to the bar­ri­cade, point­ed, and said, “some of you are cops.” He repeat­ed it know­ing­ly and biked away. Count­less peo­ple who weren’t there are say­ing this on the inter­net today. But to me it seems total­ly implau­si­ble.

First of all, two police infor­mants were iden­ti­fied. I have no way of con­firm­ing whether they were under­cov­er. But they sure seemed like it. A wom­an point­ed at two rather burly men, one white and one black, with aggres­sive pos­tures and clothes that seemed exact­ly like what a police offi­cer would imag­ine a pro­test­er to wear. She said they had been pick­ing up items peo­ple dropped to use as evi­dence; they could come up with no bet­ter defense than to say, “I ain’t under­cov­er,” and accuse the wom­an of not being from Oak­land. (She was not in the black bloc.) If the­se two men were police – which, given pre­vi­ous Oak­land Police Depart­ment (OPD) poli­cies, is not far­fetched – they were lit­er­al­ly the only police I saw that after­noon.

A few min­utes after hear­ing this exchange I saw a gath­er­ing in the street. One of the­se men had been encir­cled by the black bloc, who were shout­ing and pound­ing the road with their sticks. He left rather quick­ly. I have tried a few thought exper­i­ments, but I can’t quite under­stand why the OPD would send infil­tra­tors of vary­ing qual­i­ty into the march, turn them again­st each oth­er, and then do noth­ing when the win­dows actu­al­ly got bro­ken.

The sec­ond impor­tant point is that the black bloc did extreme­ly orga­nized hits on speci­fic sites. It was not wan­ton destruc­tion. They attacked no local shops, no street lights; not even Star­bucks. They tar­get­ed banks and did so with effi­cien­cy and focus.

The only loca­tion they attacked which was not a bank was Whole Foods. They man­aged to splash paint on the win­dows; as far as I saw they had not actu­al­ly bro­ken the win­dow. It was when we passed by Whole Foods that I first began to hear the crowd chant, “peace­ful protest.” This was the main­stream of the crowd, the ones wear­ing union t-shirts or hold­ing signs about cam­paign finance reform, who had for what­ev­er rea­son decid­ed to join the anti-cap­i­tal­ist march. Some of them phys­i­cal­ly pro­tect­ed the Whole Foods and the black bloc had to move on.

“Peace­ful protest” is a mean­ing­less chant, inco­her­ent and poten­tial­ly reac­tionary. At best it is a call to present a media image that will please those who are already again­st you; at worst it is a defense of pri­vate prop­er­ty won by exploita­tion. The respon­se from the black bloc, how­ev­er, was some­what incred­i­ble: “union bust­ing is dis­gust­ing.”

Black-bloc anar­chism does not tend to align itself with union pol­i­tics. But the idea that the black bloc should use focused prop­er­ty destruc­tion to defend the right of work­ers to union­ize gives a total­ly dif­fer­ent pic­ture than the one we see in glib lib­er­al com­men­tary.

What we will have to accept is that the black bloc is our clos­est cur­rent mod­el of van­guardist orga­ni­za­tion­al prin­ci­ples, in a range of con­tra­dic­to­ry ways. They are a select coterie of indi­vid­u­als who attempt to enact the con­tents of their “advanced” con­scious­ness. What is miss­ing is the inter­change between the van­guard and the broad­er mass of work­ers – espe­cial­ly the ele­ments of the broad­er mass that are alien­at­ed by the­se tac­tics. Those who call uncrit­i­cal­ly for a par­ty today will have to ask them­selves if they are pre­pared to embrace a line that runs from Stal­in the bank rob­ber to the black bloc; I don’t mean to dis­cred­it lead­er­ship or under­ground activ­i­ty, but sim­ply to empha­size that his­to­ry does not fit neat­ly into our prej­u­dices. Those who reject orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures in gen­er­al will have to ask them­selves if they believe it is con­sis­tent with anar­chist prin­ci­ples to impose their tac­tics upon the work­ers for whom they claim to speak. Per­haps seri­ous strate­gic answers to the­se ques­tions will bring more peo­ple into anti-cap­i­tal­ist march­es.

Long­shore­men

The next event, at 5PM, was the march on the docks. The dock work­ers of the Bay Area were the ones who led the way in the 1934 gen­er­al strike in San Fran­cis­co, in the union that lat­er became the Inter­na­tion­al Long­shore and Ware­house Union (ILWU). Oak­land was the first major Amer­i­can port on the Paci­fic Coast, and is still the fifth busiest in the coun­try. This is not only the site of a his­to­ry of mil­i­tant labor strug­gle, it is also a nodal point of glob­al cap­i­tal­ism.

This was a far more diverse march than the one I had been in that after­noon. Not only was it extreme­ly inclu­sive, with fam­i­lies, union mem­bers, and a whole range of young and old par­tic­i­pat­ing, it was far larg­er. I believe the police esti­mate was 7,000; some have gone as far as to sug­gest 100,000 par­tic­i­pat­ing through­out the day.

The path we walked along was dot­ted with sev­er­al sta­tion­ary trucks that had come to pick up ship­ments. It is cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble, as some reports sug­gest, that there were truck dri­vers who were angry. But I didn’t see any of them, and I saw a lot of truck dri­vers. Most of the ones I saw were honk­ing their horns, smil­ing, tak­ing pic­tures, and rais­ing fists.

As we marched, we had to nav­i­gate the huge and com­plex geog­ra­phy of the port, and our num­bers were divid­ed as we went on. Peri­od­i­cal­ly we stopped and the peo­ple at the front called mic checks. Nobody could hear the human mic. Deci­sions had to be made, but it was hard to under­stand what they were, and who was going to make them. I got the impres­sion that the lead­er­ship was dis­cour­ag­ing us from going to the docks, and want­ed us to return to down­town Oak­land to build an ongo­ing strike there; oth­ers did not get the impres­sion that they were biased in either direc­tion. We also seemed to be debat­ing whether to go to the bridge to march to meet Occu­py San Fran­cis­co. Some­times oth­er peo­ple spoke, and one per­son said that the dock work­ers need­ed our sup­port. Peo­ple chant­ed, “shut down the ports,” and we head­ed that direc­tion.

Dock work­ers sign up for jobs and get tick­ets indi­cat­ing the time of their shifts. There are some reports that many work­ers sim­ply did not take jobs yes­ter­day morn­ing. But oth­ers did. When we final­ly arrived at the port there were police at the very end of the path, but the impor­tant space was the park­ing lot where the work­ers were wait­ing. We gath­ered in that space and did sev­er­al mic checks. Some­one who seemed to know how the union worked remind­ed us that like most oth­er unions, ILWU work­ers could not sim­ply choose to join a gen­er­al strike; but they do have a con­tract which allows them to refuse to cross pick­et lines. He said we need­ed to form a pick­et, poten­tial­ly for a cou­ple hours, until the union sent an arbi­tra­tor to deter­mine whether the work­ers could go home.

We went to talk to the dock work­ers, who were all watch­ing the scene with inter­est and wait­ing to see the result. They were hap­py to talk to us. One told us that we had to stay until mid­night; bet­ter, until 3PM the next day; best, until the week­end. He explained their sched­ul­ing and sug­gest­ed that we need­ed to inter­rupt sev­er­al con­sec­u­tive shifts to seri­ous­ly inter­fere with the ship­ping sched­ule. The dock work­ers had already been engaged in a slow-down, for sev­er­al weeks – or months, I don’t remem­ber. Since they were being pushed to put a larg­er por­tion of their pay towards med­ical ben­e­fits, they were using every pos­si­ble tech­ni­cal­i­ty in their con­tracts to avoid doing tasks, and gen­er­al­ly just dri­ving too slow­ly.

He hadn’t heard about the Occu­py move­ment until he got a call about a poten­tial work stop­page. So he turned on the TV to learn more. “We’re in the same strug­gle,” he said. “We all work for them.”

We stayed on the pick­et until the arbi­tra­tor showed up. The night shift got can­celled, but work­ers on anoth­er berth whose 8PM shift was can­celled were being asked to report to work at 3AM. This didn’t mat­ter, our con­tact explained; since their tick­ets said 8PM, they could sim­ply refuse to come.

The pick­et line part­ed so the dock work­ers could dri­ve home, which they did to cheers and applause. They did not join the pick­et – this is a rea­son­able choice, since they have lives to live that were momen­tar­i­ly lib­er­at­ed from work. I was immense­ly proud to have par­tic­i­pat­ed in a pick­et that allowed two shifts to refuse to work, and to have shut down this cen­ter of the glob­al mar­ket for prob­a­bly 24 hours – to have actu­al­ly, in some small sense, inter­rupt­ed the dai­ly oper­a­tion of cap­i­tal­ism. But I did won­der how the mil­i­tan­cy of the dock work­ers could be incor­po­rat­ed into the gen­er­al move­ment beyond that day, and how we could have been bet­ter pre­pared to find them and work with them.

Tear Gas

First you hear the car­tridge crack­ing through the air. By that point you should already have your mask and gog­gles on. It’s not so much that the air changes, as the fun­ny feel­ing that your throat and eyes have sud­den­ly start­ed to mal­func­tion. The atmos­phere is filled with the chem­i­cal par­tic­u­late but also a spon­ta­neous cama­raderie, home­made reme­dies passed around and peo­ple lead­ing each oth­er to safe­ty. It is hard not to recall the words of Anto­nio Negri in Dom­i­na­tion and Sab­o­tage:

Noth­ing reveals the immense his­tor­i­cal pos­i­tiv­i­ty of the work­ers’ self-val­oriza­tion more com­plete­ly than sab­o­tage, this con­tin­u­al activ­i­ty of the sniper, the sabo­teur, the absen­tee, the deviant, the crim­i­nal that I find myself liv­ing. I imme­di­ate­ly feel the warmth of the work­ers’ and pro­le­tar­i­an com­mu­ni­ty every time I don the ski mask.

But this time it was not sab­o­tage that count­ed. Let’s all take a moment to remem­ber that the police launched the tear gas at mid­night. The black bloc did not set up tear gas can­is­ters at 3PM to explode lat­er in the day. If you blame the black bloc for police vio­lence that hap­pened nine hours lat­er, I don’t know what I can do to help you.

What mat­tered instead was this “self-val­oriza­tion,” a term close­ly tied to the estab­lish­ment of “occu­pied self-man­aged social cen­ters” in 1970s and 1980s Italy, when young rad­i­cals went beyond refus­ing work; they squat­ted in aban­doned build­ings and estab­lished cul­tur­al spaces, some of which still exist today. This was the autonomous pro­duc­tiv­i­ty that the police came last night to sup­press. A group of activists had occu­pied a build­ing that used to house the Trav­el­ers Aid Soci­ety, a non­prof­it that pro­vides shel­ter and ser­vices to the home­less. Due to fund­ing cuts the orga­ni­za­tion had lost its lease; the build­ing was aban­doned.

The occu­piers wrote:

In this aban­doned build­ing that once pro­vid­ed ser­vices to those in need, we open the Occu­pa­tion Cri­sis Cen­ter… We are reclaim­ing space that has been unused, used again­st us, left emp­ty while we sleep out­doors, while we cook and orga­nize and strug­gle out­doors.

This morn­ing, they wrote more about their plans:

We want this move­ment to be here next Spring, and claim­ing unused space is, in our view, the most plau­si­ble way for­ward for us at this point. We had plans to start using this space today as a library, a place for class­es and work­shops, as well as a dor­mi­to­ry for those with health con­di­tions. We had already begun to move in books from the library.

I did not enter the build­ing, but some com­rades did. The space was being recon­struct­ed; some­one brought speak­ers and a dance par­ty start­ed on the street in front of it. By the time I arrived, about 11:30PM, the mood was shift­ing; every­body knew the police were on their way. The Alameda Coun­ty Police came first and were lat­er joined by police from around the Bay Area (includ­ing, as far as I know, the OPD).

The pro­test­ers were not attacked for engag­ing in van­dal­ism. They were not attacked for prop­er­ty destruc­tion. They occu­pied a build­ing; they erect­ed bar­ri­cades to defend the build­ing; they lined up in front of police to defend the build­ing.

I don’t know when the fires start­ed. We were hit with tear gas at least three times, start­ing a lit­tle after mid­night. We stood in Oscar Grant Plaza and took off our masks, and a wom­an came by and told us a fire had just been lit. This was the first I had heard about fire, but I had not actu­al­ly seen the front lines where the police were. What’s impor­tant to under­stand is that reports were com­ing in through Twit­ter and else­where that police from around the Bay were mass­ing, with full riot gear, with their badge num­bers blacked out. The occu­piers were on the defen­sive. The goal of light­ing fires was to use smoke to reduce the effects of the tear gas. Whether this was done after the tear gas was launched, or before, in antic­i­pa­tion of a bru­tal attack like the one last week, strikes me as com­plete­ly and rad­i­cal­ly irrel­e­vant.

I left at about 1:00AM, after which the vio­lence esca­lat­ed and the police swarmed upon the camp in Oscar Grant Plaza. My under­stand­ing is that they eject­ed the occu­piers by enter­ing the build­ing by the roof. Some pro­test­ers fought back, and at this point appar­ent­ly broke some win­dows and threw bot­tles at police. The police react­ed by shoot­ing bean­bag bul­lets, hit­ting an unarmed home­less man in the leg, and launch­ing flash­ing grenades and more tear gas.

I have no fur­ther details about the extent of the prop­er­ty destruc­tion that took place ear­ly this morn­ing. What I do know is that it was a respon­se to police vio­lence.

What mat­ters here is that police vio­lence was not a respon­se to any act of van­dal­ism. It was an attempt to repress the occu­pa­tion of an aban­doned build­ing, and its con­ver­sion into a social cen­ter for the occu­pa­tion.

We are at a moment when occu­pa­tions are seri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing an expan­sion of strate­gies. Every­thing in this move­ment points to the occu­pa­tion of spaces that are in a state of dis­use caused by fore­clo­sure and bud­get cuts. The state is attempt­ing to delude you into think­ing that it uses vio­lence to pre­vent destruc­tion. Do not let them mis­lead you. Last night it used vio­lence to pre­vent the pro­duc­tion of a new space. And if you let it put the blame on Oak­land, you will help it one day bring that vio­lence again­st you. You will help them defend capital’s destruc­tion, the fur­ther hol­low­ing of the urban land­scape and the expul­sion of human bod­ies onto des­o­late streets.

I sug­gest refus­ing to blame Oak­land, but simul­ta­ne­ous­ly shelv­ing prop­er­ty destruc­tion as a tac­tic. The police didn’t care about it. The banks have mon­ey to repair their win­dows. What threat­ened the state was the cre­ative restora­tion of the city. Imag­ine a strength that could force the state to retreat: a mass move­ment that walks out of work and occu­pies every­thing.


Asad Haider is a grad­u­ate stu­dent at UC-San­ta Cruz, a mem­ber of UAW 2865, and an edi­tor of View­point.

Author of the article

is an editor of Viewpoint.

34 Responses

  1. nathangreen
    nathangreen at |

    At Tear Gas is where your sto­ry picks up. The rest is most­ly point­less and bor­ing. You’re a good writer--if a lit­tle hung up on your Berke­ley grad­u­ate degree--and I don’t know how much you’ve skewed it, but please keep writ­ing. Keep telling the sto­ry.
    love
    nate

    1. axa
      axa at |

      @nathangreen

      what, are you his TA or some­thing? sil­ly and dis­tract­ing com­ment.

  2. Aaron
    Aaron at |

    Nate,

    Total­ly agree with you that it’s great Asad is telling his part of the sto­ry, but I’d cau­tion that just because you did not find any­thing sig­nif­i­cant in the begin­ning of the arti­cle, this does not mean that every­one will find it “point­less and bor­ing.” Per­son­al­ly, I found the sec­tion on the black bloc to be very help­ful for think­ing about what hap­pened yes­ter­day, why black bloc tac­tics are some­times used, what their con­se­quences are, and what that means for future strat­e­gy. Asad, thanks so much for shar­ing your account and analy­sis.

    -Aaron

  3. Adam Hefty
    Adam Hefty at |

    Very thought­ful reflec­tions, Asad! I appre­ci­ate your patient cat­a­loging of the events of the day and your analy­sis. I dis­agree slight­ly on the time­line ques­tion, though. I don’t think it’s that OPD didn’t care about van­dal­ism so much as they were pre­pared to manip­u­late the whole thing cyn­i­cal­ly. They did the exact same thing dur­ing the Oscar Grant protests - they sat back while van­dal­ism was occur­ring, doing noth­ing, and then blamed much lat­er oper­a­tions on the need to pro­tect the city from van­dal­ism. If the occu­pa­tion of the Trav­el­ers’ Aid build­ing hadn’t occurred, they might not have had a pre­text to tear­gas peo­ple last night, but city offi­cials and the main­stream media still would have used the van­dal­ism as a rea­son to bait anar­chists and press to evict the occu­pa­tion again. I’m not sure how that would effect your analy­sis one way or the oth­er. I agree that seri­ous, long-term build­ing occu­pa­tions are some­thing for this move­ment to con­sid­er. The pol­i­tics of prop­er­ty and polic­ing in the US have long been such that this kind of thing has been very dif­fi­cult to imag­ine - we’re nei­ther Lat­in Amer­i­ca nor Europe. Yet this move­ment has already remapped what’s pos­si­ble. Per­haps this is next. Last night shows that it would require a seri­ous effort involv­ing thou­sands of peo­ple at times and hun­dreds of peo­ple on a reg­u­lar basis, as well as a nar­ra­tive that builds sup­port for it in the broad­er com­mu­ni­ty.

    1. Asad Haider
      Asad Haider at |

      I want to point out to read­ers that I saw a ban­dana-clad Adam in the plaza that night, and he had been there all day. He is speak­ing from expe­ri­ence and what he says is very impor­tant. Van­dal­ism is a pre­text for the police; they don’t try to pre­vent it, they try to use it to jus­ti­fy their vio­lence and manip­u­late the media respon­se. What they’re afraid of is the pos­si­bil­i­ty that this move­ment will keep spread­ing.

  4. Erren
    Erren at |

    Just want­ed to say that read­ing this was help­ful in under­stand­ing the more mil­i­tant-seem­ing pro­tes­tors, the ones with scarves over their faces, and so on. But I am one of those con­demn­ing the acts of van­dal­ism, and I, hav­ing wit­nessed it firsthand, dis­agree that the anar­chis­tic ele­ment isn’t seek­ing con­fronta­tion with the police. You’ve cre­at­ed a dichoto­my between “nor­mal” pro­tes­tors and the black bloc while attribut­ing all acts of van­dal­ism to the lat­ter. The anar­chis­tic ele­ment isn’t lim­it­ed to the black bloc; there are oth­ers here, self-pro­claimed anar­chists, who are van­dal­iz­ing and pro­vok­ing police with more aban­don. Don’t insult those who call out this ele­ment by say­ing this argu­ment has no basis in real­i­ty. I find your per­spec­tive inter­est­ing and enlight­en­ing, and you ade­quate­ly sub­stan­ti­ate your claim that if there are agents provo­ca­teurs, they aren’t in the ranks of the black bloc. But I won­der if you have wit­nessed firsthand all inci­dences of police con­fronta­tion. Were you there last week? If you were, I don’t think you were look­ing hard enough. If the black bloc is as orga­nized and com­prised of such an elite group as you say, then I would assume that it took some time and plan­ning to bring their ranks to Oak­land for the gen­er­al strike; the protest fol­low­ing the raid on the encamp­ment hap­pened spon­ta­neous­ly, and there was a pro­found­ly antag­o­nis­tic tone toward the police, as well as many acts of arbi­trary van­dal­ism. Again, it is help­ful to know that the actions of the black bloc are based in delib­er­ate and thought-out inten­tions, which I did not real­ize, but I think you are glo­ri­fy­ing them. Was the aban­doned build­ing locked? Did they break in? From the stand­point of the law, break­ing and enter­ing is gen­er­al­ly more sev­ere than van­dal­iz­ing.

  5. Lesa Key Frantz
    Lesa Key Frantz at |

    I hope more peo­ple are writ­ing first per­son accounts of the Occu­py Wall Street move­ment. The col­lec­tive writ­ten his­to­ries are what will shape how this is doc­u­ment­ed for gen­er­a­tions to come. My biggest hope is that the ‘offi­cial’ his­to­ries will be ‘bot­tom up’ accounts, rather than top-down.

    I am not here to cri­tique your writ­ing abil­i­ty but as some­one in the Mid­west look­ing for insight into what it was like from a par­tic­i­pants view. Videos are won­der­ful, but the con­text is lost with­out the writ­ten word beside it, I would like to say that your analy­sis seems through and balanced,with ref­er­ences (or links to them) pro­vid­ed. One per­spec­tive

    Oth­er per­spec­tives I am curi­ous to see is a writ­ten account by 2 OPD police officers:one aligned with the occu­pa­tion, and one again­st. I would like to know from a first per­son account how a sym­pa­thet­ic police offi­cer deals with that kind of con­flict. Oh, there will be so many books writ­ten…

    Well done, keep it up.

    Respect­ful­ly,

    Lesa (Occu­py Iowa City (IA).

  6. Jessica
    Jessica at |

    Sigh. I need to make some points:

    1. This is Amer­i­ca, right? The­o­ret­i­cal­ly, we should all be free to be polit­i­cal­ly anar­chist. And, I know a lot of polit­i­cal anar­chists that didn’t break any win­dow or spray paint any­thing oth­er than card­board signs. Some of them even make jam - so let’s chill out on the anar­chist-as-slur shit. That’s so 1999.

    2. Black bloc is a tac­tic, not a group of speci­fic peo­ple. And to say that they are “elite” is laugh­able. If only! My Euro bud­dies tell me that US black blocs are pret­ty inept. And yes, I was there late Wednes­day night and last week and some of the Oscar Grant stuff. Tear gas! It clears your pores.

    2b. Last Tues­day real­ly was quite peace­ful. I saw no more van­dal­ism in the streets than on a nor­mal Oak­land Tues­day and we all real­ly got beat up that day.

    3. The fire def­i­nite­ly hap­pened after the first tear gas can­is­ter. The big fire any­way, there very well could have been lit­tle trash can fires before that.

    4. I will total­ly admit that there are peo­ple at protests who want to pro­voke the police. Though, I don’t. Have you ever stared down 500 riot cops? That shit’s scary.

    5. I also met two peo­ple last night that think that all riot cops are holo­grams. Food for thought, yes?

    6. As for sym­pa­thet­ic OPD …I would also like to find one and talk to him/her. I won’t hold my breath, though. Let’s remem­ber, too, that the major­i­ty of the­se riot cops come from out­side Oak­land - San Mateo, Fre­mont, Hay­ward, Wal­nut Creek, CHP, BART, Alameda Sher­iff, etc.….so dif­fer­ent lev­els of expe­ri­ence.

    Final­ly, let’s all con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Occu­py Oak­land encamp­ment wouldn’t exist with­out anar­chists and oth­ers we might dis­agree with tac­ti­cal­ly. And that encamp­ment wouldn’t have been raid­ed, wouldn’t have got­ten on the news, wouldn’t have had 1600 peo­ple at a GA call a strike. Who do you think made those pho­to­copies? And passed them out? And liaised with orga­niz­ers with­in the ILWU? They even knew that the ILWU had a com­mu­ni­ty pick­et clause - that shit is RARE. Essen­tial­ly, like it or not, the peo­ple who got this shit off the ground to shut down the port and have hap­py-peace­ful-march-fun-time are going to be a lit­tle more extreme in their tac­tics. And in my mind, that’s a good thing because I don’t have the courage/dedication to do it but it’s about damn time some­one did.

    1. Lesa Key Frantz
      Lesa Key Frantz at |

      Excel­lent points Jes­si­ca! Thanks for shar­ing your views. Par­tic­u­lar­ly about Anar­chists. My son is of that per­sua­sion and I don’t see him smash­ing in win­dows and paint­ing… well, may­be a tag or 2 here and there, but def not in broad day­light. My old­er son lives in Oak­land, I always hope to catch a glimpse of him on a video.

      For­tu­nate­ly our city is being, if not enthu­si­as­tic, at least fair­ly accom­mo­dat­ing, as they said, “For Now”. They will be let­ting us set up a few 10 man Arc­tic tents and use a heat source the Fire Mar­shall approves of… so we will see how we fare in the hell­ish Iowa win­ter.

      Stay Strong.

    2. x
      x at |

      As I under­stand it, Boots Riley was one of the dri­ving forces behind tar­get­ing the port and research­ing the union details.

      1. wiseold snail (@wiseoldsnail)
        wiseold snail (@wiseoldsnail) at |

        as i under­stand it, hav­ing been there for the meet­ing of the gen­er­al assem­bly the night we vot­ed whole­heart­ed­ly in sup­port of a gen­er­al strike, with over a thou­sand peo­ple vot­ing, we all were the dri­ving force behind tar­get­ing the port and research­ing union details. meet­ings hap­pened every day and night after that vote to plan this event.

        each per­son has agreed repeat­ed­ly that we will not be fol­low­ers, and that, as lead­ers, we will take on respon­si­bil­i­ty for the bulk of the work load of this move­ment. yes, some peo­ple had those con­nec­tions to get answers and sup­port from the unions out there, and yes, boots had (and also refused to share) the mega­phone through­out most of the march. part­ly that is because he had the time to be involved in the tac­ti­cal com­mit­tee that designed the route.

        you tak­ing up space to give one per­son cred­it for what over a thou­sand peo­ple helped plan and prob­a­bly ten to twen­ty thou­sand peo­ple helped exe­cute is exact­ly one of the prob­lems we face.

        one of our deep­est strengths is our refusal to iden­ti­fy indi­vid­u­al lead­ers whom the pow­ers that be can then attempt to bribe or oth­er­wise influ­ence. boots riley is as com­mit­ted as am i to this move­ment, but does not speak for us all. the tac­ti­cal com­mit­tee did an enor­mous amount of work to help make this hap­pen, alongside many oth­er com­mit­tees. the word::: com­mit­tee, indi­cates com­mit­ment. and while i don’t come to judge and blame, i believe the tac­ti­cal com­mit­tee, as well as all of us, learned alot about how to plan and exe­cute the next major action! we all did a great job!!!

  7. Resonance
    Resonance at |

    Great arti­cle, inter­est­ing points and a sense of com­rade­ly engage­ment. Only just came across your pub­li­ca­tion and am glad I have.

    Keep it up

  8. Op-Ed: Transformational Experiences in Space | True Stories: Life in the Art World | ARTINFO.com

    […] was read­ing Asad Haider’s excel­lent “Notes on Oak­land” over at View­point mag­a­zine this morn­ing after a poet­ry friend of mine past­ed a link to it, and this […]

  9. Chanda
    Chanda at |

    It’s Frank Ogawa Plaza. No need to dis­re­spect the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty in the quest for jus­tice for all com­mu­ni­ties.

    1. Asad Haider
      Asad Haider at |

      I am actu­al­ly Asian-Amer­i­can. You raise an impor­tant ques­tion; here is a respon­se from Oak­land, 1969: http://blog.angryasianman.com/2009/07/yellow-peril-supports-black-power.html

  10. Nov 2nd Day of Action Links « zunguzungu

    […] Notes on Oak­land 2011 by Asad Haider […]

  11. J.D. Moyer
    J.D. Moyer at |

    Good arti­cle. Your point about what the police did and did not react to is thought-pro­vok­ing. I do won­der if there is also an ele­ment of ran­dom­ness and con­fu­sion in terms of police actions and reac­tions -- they are get­ting mixed sig­nals from the inept lead­er­ship of May­or Quan.

  12. Liz Derias
    Liz Derias at |

    Inter­est­ing analy­sis of the day. No men­tion of the com­mu­ni­ties of col­or that played a role in the demon­stra­tions. Also for Jes­si­ca, “Who do you think made those pho­to­copies? And passed them out? And liaised with orga­niz­ers with­in the ILWU? They even knew that the ILWU had a com­mu­ni­ty pick­et clause – that shit is RARE. Essen­tial­ly, like it or not, the peo­ple who got this shit off the ground to shut down the port and have hap­py-peace­ful-march-fun-time are going to be a lit­tle more extreme in their tac­tics. And in my mind, that’s a good thing because I don’t have the courage/dedication to do it but it’s about damn time some­one did” den­i­grates the orga­niz­ing day to day out­reach and com­mu­ni­ty build­ing work that orga­ni­za­tions in Oak­land, like Just Cause, like AYPAL like Youth Togeth­er, like the Oscar Grant Com­mit­tee have been doing way before Occu­py any­thing. Food for thought.

    1. Jessica
      Jessica at |

      Yeah, I real­ized in hind­sight that that was prob­lem­at­ic. I cer­tain­ly wasn’t try­ing to say that many, many groups (even groups I am affil­i­at­ed with!) didn’t also do a TON of orga­niz­ing - prob­a­bly most of the orga­niz­ing. So I apol­o­gize for not mak­ing that clear. The point was recent­ly made to me, though, that we often hear in the media that events are orga­nized by “peace­ful pro­test­ers” and then the “anar­chists” or “out­side agi­ta­tors” come in and ruin every­thing. In real­i­ty, the sit­u­a­tion is much more com­plex than that - using mil­i­tant tac­tics doesn’t mean a per­son isn’t orga­niz­ing in oth­er ways or a mem­ber of the com­mu­ni­ty. So, again, I apol­o­gize for exag­ger­at­ing for effect and leav­ing out the con­tri­bu­tions of many oth­er peo­ple.

  13. louisproyect
    louisproyect at |

    If you blame the black bloc for police vio­lence that hap­pened nine hours lat­er, I don’t know what I can do to help you.

    ---

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/03/18697018.php?show_comments=1#18697297

    Here’s what I saw and heard that instan­ta­neous­ly made it crys­tal clear that police would HAVE to show up at the scene en masse: (1) While at the 16th Street dance par­ty, I kept hear­ing loud bangs from the direc­tion of Telegraph/Broadway. After jerk­ing my head around each time and not see­ing any signs of movement/destruction/police, and after hang­ing around long enough to hear three of the­se bangs, each sep­a­rat­ed by min­utes of qui­et, I picked my way through the still-cool crowd out to the cor­ner of Telegraph. This is where (2) I saw a bunch of fuck­ing bull­shit so-called “anar­chists” in their trade­mark black skin­ny jeans/hoodies/face ban­dan­nas -- where not in full on nin­ja-wear -- who were in the process of drag­ging in and tip­ping over dump­sters to form the back­bone of a bar­ri­cade along Telegraph/blocking off 16th. The bar­ri­cade was rough­ly waist-high to me and pre­dom­i­nant­ly com­posed of tipped over shop­ping carts and wood­en crates and pal­lets (“lib­er­at­ed” from Wal­greens or RiteAid on Broad­way? I didn’t think it par­tic­u­lar­ly intel­li­gent to stick around to inspect more close­ly). I then heard one of the­se douche­fuck provo­ca­teurs, stand­ing to my left as I paused to take a pho­to, say to a col­league: “We need to set this shit on fire.” Think­ing that being any­where near any fire would be a ter­ri­ble idea, lest I get burned or tram­pled or god for­bid any of the sur­round­ing build­ings acci­den­tal­ly go up in flames, I imme­di­ate­ly left, head­ing north on Telegraph. Of course, I know now from media pho­tos that mul­ti­ple fires *were* set short­ly there­after, so that the­se fuck­wads could ele­vate the utter­ly point­less and aggres­sive­ly con­fronta­tion­al -- sor­ry, for the­se faux-anar­chist riot groupies who lack high­er-rea­son­ing abil­i­ties, aggres­sive­ly elic­it­ing con­fronta­tion IS the point -- bar­ri­cade bull­shit into a full-on sup­pli­ca­tion to riot gear-clad police and sher­iffs to hur­ry up and beat down the total­ly PEACEABLE Occu­py pro­test­ers. Con­grat­u­la­tions, moth­er­fuck­ers: it worked.

    The beyond-disin­gen­u­ous, self-fel­lat­ing pro­pa­gan­da of the faux-anar­chist horde is that any oppo­si­tion to their destruc­tion and endan­ger­ment of oth­ers -- whether in the form of unlaw­ful use of force by a per­pet­u­al­ly inept and cor­rupt law enforce­ment agen­cy like the OPD, or even as pleas for non­vi­o­lence by “fel­low” pro­tes­tors at Occu­py Oak­land and all the oth­er count­less protests the­se shit­birds ineluctably invite them­selves to and strive to coopt -- can be dis­missed with a wave of the hand as some kind of pro-cap­i­tal­ist fix­a­tion with pro­tect­ing pri­vate prop­er­ty above all else. Read a FUCKING news­pa­per. The 99% includes and works on behalf of the unem­ployed, the under­em­ployed, and the work­ing poor; the indebt­ed, the under­wa­ter, and the fore­closed-on; the eco­nom­i­cal­ly mar­gin­al­ized and the finan­cial­ly exploit­ed. We GET why occu­py­ing and repur­pos­ing an emp­ty build­ing, whose very empti­ness is symp­to­matic and sym­bol­ic of our bought-and-paid for gov­ern­ment sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly fail­ing the 99%, would be a sen­si­ble and pret­ty awe­some goal to pur­sue. We do NOT get what you are try­ing to accom­plish by con­tin­u­al­ly incit­ing OPD to engage US with the kind of tac­tics that are going to get their ass­es tossed into fed­er­al receiver­ship come Jan­u­ary 2012. Are you try­ing to edu­cate us on the fin­er points of the incred­i­bly com­plex and sophis­ti­cat­ed philo­soph­i­cal tenet that “cops = pigs”? This is OAKLAND. We KNOW. And we know you don’t actu­al­ly believe that “The city spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to pro­tect one landlord’s right to earn a few thou­sand every month.…Whereas the block­ade of the port – an action which caused mil­lions of dol­lars of loss­es – met with no resis­tance” because OPD (may­be you mean the may­or? Barack Oba­ma? Ben Bernanke? David Koch?) knows and gives two shits about your retard­ed third-grade under­stand­ing of cap­i­tal­ism (much less your reduc­tion­ist-to-the-point-of-cul­tur­al illit­er­a­cy char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the role and respon­si­bil­i­ties of police in our soci­ety).

    As every­one with two brain cells has sur­mised, the port shut-down met with no police resis­tance because the 10,000-strong par­tic­i­pants were entire­ly peace­ful; your firestarter stunt got every­body tear gassed and shot up with “non-lethal” pro­jec­tiles because you lit­er­al­ly set shit on fuck­ing fire. That is not an acci­dent: 10,000 peo­ple can hold it togeth­er and get through the day, but as soon as 50 of you muster some skull crack­ing always mys­te­ri­ous­ly seems to com­mence? You *planned* for OPD to wild out, you made it hap­pen, and you fucked us all over in the process -- repeat­ed­ly and delib­er­ate­ly. So do us all a favor and go fuck your­selves. You’re not want­ed at Occu­py Oak­land, and I can’t imag­ine any­one else who’d have you either. May­be start up your own, “anarchist”-only protests about what­ev­er it is that real­ly piss­es you guys off (we can’t real­ly tell since you pathet­i­cal­ly and exhaust­ing­ly show up to EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME), and goad the police to blow­ing their loads tear-gassing just YOU five times in an hour.

    1. RyannSierra
      RyannSierra at |

      Thank you, Louis­Proyect. Glad you said that. The­se ass­holes came in from God-knows-where and fucked shit up for those of us who’d been march­ing all damn day, AND for those of us who live and work in down­town Oak­land and have to deal with the reper­cus­sions of their actions. Thanks to those ass­hats, I’m now liv­ing in a police state. To the fuck­ers who smashed up the ATM I use (and they smashed the cred­it union ATM, while leav­ing the US Bank ATM right next to it unscathed), and who van­dal­ized and broke the win­dows of my neigh­bor­hood gro­cery store, I say this: STAY THE FUCK OUT OF OAKLAND.

    2. Erren
      Erren at |

      Hey, this Erren from an above com­ment. Thank you, I’m glad there are peo­ple like you who see what’s going on down there and refuse to apol­o­gize or make disin­gen­u­ous ratio­nales for the behav­ior of the­se chil­dren. Big ups.

    3. Steph
      Steph at |

      First off, if the police had wait­ed to show up and break up the group of per­sons gath­ered to uphold the occu­pa­tion of the Traveller’s Aid Soci­ety until after the fire was lit, then why were they lined up imme­di­ate­ly after­ward (in full riot gear) if not before? Also pass­ing judge­ment about the type of per­son some­one is or their polit­i­cal beliefs/goals based off of their cloth­ing choice seems a lit­tle mis­guid­ed. May­be you just perused the above writ­ing and misinterpreted/disregarded sev­er­al of the impor­tant points brought up by Asad. The point is that police vio­lence was brought down at a piv­otal moment to make it seem like the “anarchist”/“black bloc”/some oth­er dark-force-that’s-against-americans is spear-head­ing the move­ment and demor­al­izes the entire­ty of the days events. The peo­ple who occu­pied the build­ing, and those who lit the fire did noth­ing to demor­al­ize the move­ment. I can­not say that I entire­ly agree with the actions tak­en that night (light­ing the fire, the throw­ing of bot­tles and bricks), but what I can say is that they were done in defense of police action, not offense.

      Next, it seems rather unlike­ly that the con­crete and brick build­ings and pave­ment road on which the fire was set would some­how explode into an out­ra­geous hell­storm of fire and endan­ger the lives of peo­ple, as any intel­li­gent, rea­son­ing human being should be able to come to the con­clu­sion of. And for those con­cerned about the peace­ful pro­test­ers caught in the mid­st of the tear gas fire: they were warned it would hap­pen. Just as you had the choice, they could also choose to leave, as many did. So in my opin­ion, even if the­se as you put it “faux-anar­chists” DID incite and illic­it the rage of the riot police (which as I’ve stat­ed is not my belief of the sit­u­a­tion), they did not put any ful­ly inno­cent and peace­ful pro­tes­tors into a line of fire.

      Last­ly, I just would like to say that get­ting your point across is much more effec­tive when done in an intel­li­gent man­ner. Four­teen cuss-words (not includ­ing my per­son­al favorite: “self-fel­lat­ing”) and a gra­tu­itous por­tion of slan­der­ing does noth­ing more than con­vince me that you are angry and not very good at over­com­ing your anger.

    4. Tatiana Makovkin
      Tatiana Makovkin at |

      Nice respon­se Louis. I wrote a let­ter on Thurs­day which was more of a per­son­al state­ment from my heart. A more fem­i­nine approach, LOL. I was real­ly hop­ing that some of the par­tic­i­pants in this mess would real­ize that they had hurt good peo­ple with their actions. I want­ed some­one to come for­ward to make a state­ment that would be an olive branch to the larg­er move­ment and help repair the dam­age to our pub­lic image. I can see now that this hope was naive. The­se peo­ple are used to being crit­i­cized. They thrive on con­fronta­tion, so there is very lit­tle chance of get­ting through to them. They have a lot of the­o­ries and fan­cy talk and a spe­cial lan­guage. Black bloc is a tac­tic not a group, diver­si­ty of tac­tics, argue about the def­i­n­i­tion of “vio­lence” bla bla bla. Seman­tics is not the point. Their brains are full of catch-phras­es and ide­ol­o­gy and appar­ent­ly their hearts are full of rage. I remem­ber being young and angry, so I do under­stand. I’m glad I nev­er got swept into this scene, because I was very close to it. But I also have always val­ued cre­ativ­i­ty, so I’m not good at wear­ing uni­forms and par­rot­ing. I would think that the phrase “diver­si­ty of tac­tics” would be an invi­ta­tion to think cre­ative­ly. Let’s come up with imag­i­na­tive ways to send a mes­sage using civil dis­obe­di­ence. Let’s make dar­ing state­ments using bold tac­tics. This con­fronta­tion BS is just the same old same old. And the debate about it, I can now see, will just go round and round in cir­cles, because the­se folks thrive on it. They love being the bad ones, the black sheep. One of them told me in a recent online con­ver­sa­tion that this was not a moral bat­tle, it was all about pow­er and said “I’m not try­ing to be a bet­ter per­son”. Per­son­al­ly that feels to me like a chilly breeze from the dark side and makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Yikes. I just had to leave the con­ver­sa­tion. Where can you go when some­one does not even val­ue good­ness? I feel we have to have prin­ci­ples of ser­vice and com­pas­sion at the heart of our move­ment. I am find­ing oth­er peo­ple who want to be brave, bold, cre­ative, intel­li­gent, and gen­er­ous so we can join our ener­gy and do our part to build this beau­ti­ful move­ment with direct action, sup­port to the camps, show­ing up at march­es, and per­son­al con­tri­bu­tions depend­ing upon our indi­vid­u­al skills and resources. I know there’s a cer­tain amount of vent­ing that is nec­es­sary after an event like this, but I want to move on to make this move­ment stronger and to ele­vate it above the snarky snake pit of black bloc debates. Louis, you clear­ly have a lot of ener­gy and pas­sion and care about this move­ment on a per­son­al lev­el. I feel the same way. Find your peo­ple and plan some­thing great.

      Here is the link to my let­ter:
      https://www.facebook.com/notes/tatiana-makovkin/my-letter-to-the-people-in-black-masks-who-like-to-fsu/10150344744046232

      1. Tatiana Makovkin
        Tatiana Makovkin at |

        Sor­ry about the lack of para­graph breaks.

  14. benbrucato77
    benbrucato77 at |

    I enjoyed read­ing the details of the events, but it was your polit­i­cal analy­sis that was espe­cial­ly provoca­tive and insight­ful. I’m not quite as dis­mis­sive of black bloc tac­tics, as I do not think that every­thing we do needs to pre­fig­ure the new world. I do find that prop­er­ty dam­age can be suc­cess­ful at “break­ing the spell,” and pre­vail­ing as an effec­tive sym­bol­ic action. That cer­tain­ly has lim­it­ed util­i­ty, but it’s not dis­pos­able either. Oth­er than that, I think you’ve real­ly nailed the pol­i­tics here. I agree that the next stage of this move­ment should be the occu­pa­tion of build­ings. I think after we suc­cess­ful­ly move to that lev­el, build­ing for a renter’s and mort­gage strike would real­ly seal the deal. Stay safe, stay strong, and nev­er give ‘em an inch.

  15. Tatiana Makovkin
    Tatiana Makovkin at |

    If they real­ly want­ed to use the build­ing, they would not have made a spec­ta­cle of them­selves. They would have moved with qui­et dis­ci­pline to put the build­ing to use in ser­vice of the com­mu­ni­ty. Many of the­se peo­ple have iden­ti­ties based on a self-image that fetishizes prop­er­ty destruc­tion and con­fronta­tion. It’s not smart tac­tics and it doesn’t blend well with this mass move­ment.

  16. wiseold snail (@wiseoldsnail)
    wiseold snail (@wiseoldsnail) at |

    i am so thank­ful for this. thanks for your effort. i will be doing my own rec­ol­lec­tions over time.

    hav­ing been present on tues­day from ear­ly morn­ing through­out the day until just before the final return to the plaza (which i watched online in hor­ror), and also hav­ing walked the shield line to the port, i have plen­ty to say. for now, i only want to con­grat­u­late you, and sug­gest you revis­it your com­ment regard­ing whether under­cov­er offi­cers would abrupt­ly depart when chal­lenged. i don’t believe the bulk of anar­chists are destruc­tive, nor do i believe the bulk of the few who are destruc­tive are nec­es­sar­i­ly under­cov­er cops. it seems per­fect­ly like­ly that a cou­ple of cops were present to incite and encour­age and wit­ness destruc­tive tac­tics. as sin­gle offi­cers or in very tiny groups, it would be sui­cide for them to attempt an arrest on those break­ing win­dows. of course they could call for back­up, but that would still out them, while also kin­da miss­ing the point, which is to encour­age and allow sev­er­al instances of destruc­tion or deface­ment to occur in an effort to divide the move­ment, and as excuse for sub­se­quent police bru­tal­i­ty.

    we all have to try to walk in each other’s shoes. i have alot of opin­ions on the­se issues, and am in con­stant dis­cus­sion in my effort to be respon­si­ble, will­ing to adjust my opin­ion to new infor­ma­tion.

    many of the die hard campers and those present at and teach­ing the process­es of mod­i­fied con­cen­sus are, indeed, self described anar­chists. but anar­chists have no more claim to this move­ment than any of us. we are in this togeth­er, and absolute­ly need all of the 99% of this coun­try to step up in sup­port this move­ment. we aren’t going to accom­plish that by destruc­tive action (break­ing win­dows) in the face of suc­cess­ful action (clos­ing the port of oak­land!)

    i agree with who­ev­er already said that we could’ve tak­en this build­ing by stealth, and no one would’ve even noticed ’til they were informed that the library is now indoors.

    some of us are work­ing dili­gent­ly, divid­ing our time between the camp and online and on the phone efforts to take back what is ours::: to reclaim homes and build­ings for their pre­vi­ous own­ers and uses. the­se efforts should not be under­mined by those oper­at­ing out of sim­plis­tic rage. my rage is as real as anyone’s, but i oper­ate with respect­ful acqui­es­cence to the larg­er move­ment. that doesn’t make me a paci­fist. it defines me as an adult.

  17. Debating our tactics in Oakland | Demand a referendum on the EU-IMF deal

    […] As Asad Haider wrote in View­point Mag­a­zine [1], by late evening, “the New York Times web­site had this as its lead­ing head­line: ‘Oakland’s Port Shut Down as Pro­test­ers March on Water­front.’” Just hours lat­er, Haider report­ed, “the head­line had shift­ed to ‘Protest in Oak­land Turns Vio­lent,’ with essen­tial­ly the same text…accompanied by a pho­to of a man wav­ing a flag in front of a fire, with no expla­na­tion of the nature of the fire.” […]

  18. Letter from Oakland: Part 2 - Occupy Oakland

    […] report­ed on the “vio­lent” win­dow break­ing and graf­fi­ti from Wednes­day, the real vio­lence thet­hou­sands on the ground saw was, as usu­al, con­cen­trat­ed in the hands of the […]

  19. Debating our Tactics in Oakland « International Socialists

    […] As Asad Haider wrote in View­point Mag­a­zine, by late evening, “the New York Timesweb­site had this as its lead­ing head­line: ‘Oakland’s Port Shut Down as Pro­test­ers March on Water­front.’” Just hours lat­er, Haider report­ed, “the head­line had shift­ed to ‘Protest in Oak­land Turns Vio­lent,’ with essen­tial­ly the same text…accompanied by a pho­to of a man wav­ing a flag in front of a fire, with no expla­na­tion of the nature of the fire.” […]

  20. Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune « Viewpoint Magazine

    […] pro­le­tar­i­an con­trol, and to dri­ve out an attempt­ed build­ing occu­pa­tion on a day declared to be a “gen­er­al strike.” And if yes­ter­day the OPD was forced to call upon the Alameda Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office and […]

  21. The Death & Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune « Kasama

    […] pro­le­tar­i­an con­trol, and to dri­ve out an attempt­ed build­ing occu­pa­tion on a day declared to be a “gen­er­al strike.” And if yes­ter­day the OPD was forced to call upon the Alameda Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office and city […]

  22. The Death & Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune | Revolt Lab

    […] pro­le­tar­i­an con­trol, and to dri­ve out an attempt­ed build­ing occu­pa­tion on a day declared to be a “gen­er­al strike.” And if yes­ter­day the OPD was forced to call upon the Alameda Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office and city […]

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