Thursday, January 22, 2009

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To President Barack Obama


You are invited to sign the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights "Open Letter to President Barack Obama," which calls on his Administration to end immigration raids and suspend all detentions and deportations as the first step to restoring due process rights and implementing humanitarian policies, measures and practices in the treatment of all immigrants.

To read or sign the letter, please visit


Friday, January 16, 2009

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Three Poets, Four Poems for Gaza

Note from Arnoldo Garcia, EL FEO: These poems were sent to me by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, author of Sweatshop Warriors and co-author with Beth Ching and myself, Arnoldo Garcia, of XicKorea: poems rants words together.

These four poems denounce the Israeli war against Palestinians and Palestine in Gaza. There are two poems by Suheir Hammad, noted Palestinian poet; one by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie and Janine Mogannam.

Why must these poems be written, read, disseminated, memorized, exchanged, lived? Israel launched a military invasion of the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008, a seige that continues to this date and with no end in sight. Over 1,000 Palestinians have been killed (a third or more of the casualties are women and children) and thousands more wounded, maimed and traumatized. Israeli F-16 jets are bombing Gaza cities and towns into rubble, tanks and soldiers follow with shells, mortar fire and weapons firing against the people, whether they are in mosques, schools, homes, apartments, U.N. buildings and schools. Israel is carrying out a massacre, with the deliberate intention of a holocaust. The carnage must stop; Israel must be disarmed and driven back, driven out. Gaza must live.

Here are three poets aiming their words, their only weapons, for peace, justice, for those who have been buried and are dying in Gaza under the rubble of Israel. What will last longer? The Israeli siege and destruction of Gaza? Palestine? These poems? Who will remember forever, who try to forget today the Israeli killings? If Gaza is destroyed, I will rename Oakland, Gaza. I will name my home Gaza, my mourning, my happiness, my migrancies, my displacements, my love, my tenderness -- all Gaza.


Miriam Ching Yoon Louie


White phosphorous means
Napalm means VietGaza means
Child aflame run Korea

Survive Holocaust/ how
Collective hungerment/ can you
Smell charred flesh again?

Scorched root still grows
Bay night luminous with kaffiyah moms
Hoarse chanting babies

Eyelash boys beat buk thunder
Drum witness big bros rippling Leila
Wings from bus shelter roofs

Red black green white prayer
Cape catches my drumstick—kung!
End—the occupation

Now—a lil bit louder
Stop—the genocide
Free—free Palestine!

Hope pray hope
March hope please hope means
Stop burning children want peace.


Suheir Hammad


a great miracle happened here
a festival of lights
a casting of lead upon children
an army feasting on epiphany

i know nothing under the sun over the wall no one mentions
some must die wrapped in floral petroleum blanket
no coverage

i have come to every day armageddon
a ladder left unattended
six candles burn down a house
a horse tied to smoke
some must die to send a signal

flat line scream live stream river a memory longer than life spans
the living want to die in their country

no open doors no open seas no open
hands full of heart five daughters wrapped in white

each day jihad
each day faith over fear
each day a mirror of fire
the living want to die with their families

the girl loses limbs her brother gathers arms
some must die for not dying

children on hospital floor mother beside
them the father in shock this is my family
i have failed them this is my family i did
not raise their heads i have buried them
my family what will i do now my family is bread
one fish one people cut into pieces

there is a thirst thefts life
there is a hunger a winter within winter

some must die to bring salvation
i have come to end times always present

the woman lost parents her children and screams
my sister i have lost my sister i want to die
my sister’s eyes were honey her voice mine
i can’t face this only god only god my sister

medics killed schools hit convoys bombed
the injured are dying the dead are buried in three
hours the people pray together and curse the people
mourn loud and quiet always too loud not enough

some must die because they are the vicinity
some must die because it was written

no army does not apologize has never
apologized authority chases paper assembly
occupation settles deeper

a great miracle here
the living are dying and the dying living

a festival of lights
a strip a land a blaze
the sea a mirror of fire

a casting of lead upon children
their heads roll off their shoulders into streets
their tops spin in hands

an army feasting on epiphany
driving future into history
carrying torches into women


Janine Mogannam

for gaza

ya allah what
is there is anything


scream cold into cobalt darkness
frigid breath cannot temper
the fury of earth betrayed
ablaze her children only human
orphaned to her now

land of ghosts hollow
cost of growing up cactus
fruit people knew
what the war
saw replanted advantage over
wheat and olive
people always without

i know that cool midnight
sky navy royal
purple alight by
stars struck the gash
of rockets mortar fire
and brimstone paradise
lost children and limbs
reaching for home phantom
fragment gory spilling
insides endless vultures
circling for the kill

the city
in shambles city
of the dead gaza
a graveyard tumbled
walls are tombstones
marking graves anonymous
babies mothers scream
into the sunlight i
can't believe
in the sky anymore

but the light
persists waiting to be
found the sun
still rises in gaza nablus jenin
haifa ramallah bethlehem points
in between stars
still twinkle unknown
signs in three
languages point nowhere
into the trees or into
the sea the river rebirth
its children false witness
history rewritten
so that every town bears
a different name
a different scar slashed
swift and sweet into
the skin of this land

bring me to her break
my heart in two
bury it half
here half within me
so i always feel
her pain always
remember fortune born
on the right end
of the flat earth
as i return
in my mind faces
at qalandia expressions
cannot be translated
into words eyes
wide as the moon or
fallen trees lips parched
feet cracked and
aching to return
to remain
still and i am speechless
with sorrow with guilt pushing
away the sesame jerusalem loaves
warming my lap there is
no bread enough
to feed those eyes
those feet these memories
these horrors push
bodies push away my hand my chair
away from the table the television terror
i remember i cannot DO anything
push away palestine push

make use
my arrow at the stars
make light rain onto her
take the pebbles splinters
shrapnel (once home)
mix with water
mix with blood mix
until hands are crimson
and raw as hearts as insides
laid bare and open flesh
wounded against rocks feeding
the soil
the rage feeding
another day


Suheir Hammad


a woman wears a bell carries a light calls searches
through madness of deir yessin calls for rafah for bread
orange peel under nails blue glass under feet gathers
children in zeitoun sitting with dead mothers she unearths
tunnels and buries sun onto trauma a score and a day rings
a bell she is dizzy more than yesterday less than
tomorrow a zig zag back dawaiyma back humming suba

back shatilla back ramleh back jenin back il khalil back il quds
all of it all underground in ancestral chests she rings
a bell promising something she can’t see faith is that
faith is this all over the land under the belly
of wind she perfumed the love of a burning sea

concentrating refugee camp
crescent targeted red

a girl’s charred cold face dog eaten body
angels rounded into lock down shelled injured shock

weapons for advancing armies clearing forests sprayed onto a city
o sage tree human skin contact explosion these are our children

she chimes through nablus back yaffa backs shot under
spotlight phosphorous murdered libeled public relations



a bell fired in jericho rings through blasted windows a woman
carries bones in bags under eyes disbelieving becoming
numb dumbed by numbers front and back gaza onto gaza
for gaza am sorry gaza am sorry she sings for the whole
powerless world her notes pitch perfect the bell a death toll


Thursday, January 08, 2009

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We are all Oscar Grant! ……………&, BTW, can we please not vilify the vandals?

My thoughts on today’s protest, while they are fresh…

11pm, January 7

By Rise Up [continues below]

Here are a couple of posts written on the evening of the January 7 gathering at Oakland's Fruitvale BART Station to protest the BART police shooting and killing of Oscar Grant, which turned into a confrontation with the Oakland police. Oscar Grant was killed on New Year's Day at the Fruitvale station and was videotaped by various passengers who were on the stopped train as the BART police were handcuffing several young men involved in a fracas. Oscar Grant was on the ground face-down with three police officers on top of him, when one of them stood up, unholstered his gun and shot him in the back.

See the video documenting the police shooting Oscar Grant at:

Read a report by Davey D:


We are all Oscar Grant! ……………&, BTW, can we please not vilify the vandals?
My thoughts on today’s protest, while they are fresh…

11pm, January 7

By Rise Up

So, wow. I’m listening to the ghetto birds still outside my Oakland apartment while I listen to them on the live news at the same time. I’m nursing the blister I got marching and running around 5 or so miles. I’m charging my phone ‘cause I over texted with people coming to or worrying about the protest or trying to decide what to do next at the protest.

At 11pm, they started to make mass arrests. Before that, there were 14 adults and 1 juvenile arrested. Supposedly, someone is being charged with “assaulting an officer” tho the news reports no officers were hurt. Half of us stayed at the BART station and half of us marched, putting 500 or so people in each place at some point in the evening by my estimation and the estimations of my friends.

A cop car got jumped on and its windows broke and some folks tried to flip it. Some dumpsters and garbage cans caught on fire. Later, some restaurant windows were broken and a few people’s cars were smashed up and burned. Here’s some video: KTVU Video of cop car getting tore up

After the window of the MacDonald’s on 14th & Jackson got broken, Mayor Ron Dellums, Black man and old school activist turned politician, came to that spot to try to talk to the protesters and calm them down. That was actually a pretty smooth move for a mayor I must say. Alas, after a few handfuls of folks listened to him and followed him like the Pied Piper back to City Hall, they decided that his words were not so consoling, booed him, and went on to tear up Oakland some more…

But, back to the beginning……
I loved the people who showed up! We were so diverse and beautiful, and all of us there, UNITED against that police murder, all of us, regardless of background, really angry and fed up with the mistreatment of black (and brown) people by the police from our different perspectives on that.

I loved the connections drawn between Gaza and Oakland. I loved that we were reminded that the Black Panthers started as a self-defense group against the police. I loved the young people and I loved all the heart and heat from the stage. I loved the sign that said “fuck the police, no army in the streets!” I loved the defiance of people lying in the streets on their bellies as if hog tied in front of the cops and telling them to shoot. I loved the fearless emotions cutting loose, and I loved it when we all chanted, “We are all Oscar Grant!” every time the police tried to face us down in the street. “Whose Streets? Our Streets! No Justice, No Peace!”

The news from 9pm or so kept saying that the protest was so dispersed and disorganized that the cops were struggling to contain it. For hours, in fact, the police really could NOT contain it. I have to admit how much I love that. I mean, it’s not really an end point or anything, but it’s so empowering for us to see some of the possibilities! “Ain’t no power like the power of the people and the power of the people don’t stop!” Here’s to a lack of organizing or whatever you call that!

There was a little internal conflict over whether we should have marched. That’s too bad since we really need all kinds of protest. I was personally not sure which group to hang out with. In the end, I marched.

Already on the news they found someone to say that it was “the anarchists” who weren’t part of organizing the protest who were responsible for both the march and for the bulk of the “violence”. But by now we expect this, no? I assure you, both groups were diverse in the end.

So we did this beautiful thing today and the unity was deep and it really had a feeling, like someone said from the stage earlier in the day, that we were at the beginning of something new, or something renewed, like the next round of a serious civil rights movement. And really, to me, this is what will “fix” it more than anything very immediate, like $25mil, or jail time for that cop. Those things should happen too, of course, but we need some very serious and deep ass change and that’s gonna start with movements of people, if you ask me, not with electing Black poster boys for president or putting bandaids on things. I have to say again, tho, how we were really diverse. I think that this will be a marker of the difference between the 60’s & 70’s and “the next movement”, whenever it is we feel able to claim that title.

But I left when folks started messin’ with people’s personal property. Well, actually, my cell battery ran out and I lost my folks so there was no one I knew havin’ my back, plus that blister on my heel was starting to get to me and I was starving and I really had to use the bathroom… but I still, I left because I didn’t really wanna be a part of attacking other peoples personal stuff or even messing with small businesses.

OK. So, someone might assume that I wanna call those people crazy, and certainly the media is going to tear into them a lot; someone will press charges, and someone will discredit the whole action due to the fact that some people expressed their rage more carelessly than others. Even parts of the left are gonna be really mad at those folks, I know.

But does anyone remember Reginald Denny? Wikipedia on Reginald Denny [ ] Well one of the people whose car got burned has already said on the news – an elderly white man – while he is upset about his car, he is really upset about Oscar Grant being murdered and understands.

It’s controversial among the people who were at the march and sparked discussions about what kinds of property destruction is ok and what kinds are not.

I want to call on people to think out this issue of “violence” and keep in mind that this was PROPERTY destruction, and not PEOPLE destruction like shooting Oscar was. And I want to call on people to keep the high spirit of ALL THE FORMS OF PROTEST AND RESISTANCE we were a part of today and tonight, and not to feed those who chose to destroy property of individuals to the wolves. We should seize the opportunity to talk among ourselves about the difference between someone breaking the windows of a City Hall or BART headquarters or a cop car, and someone breaking the windows of small restaurants and stores. We should use this as an opportunity to teach that breaking the windows of the cars of individuals doesn’t really send the message we want to send. But lets not feed those people to the wolves. OK? We have youngsters and noobs in our midst. I don’t wanna treat them like “agent provocateurs” [ ] unless they actually are and in the meantime, we need to embrace them and teach them.

Yeah, I’m kind of responding there to some specific things I heard out of some particular mouths tonight, but it’s important.

The news was also showing things I saw myself but didn’t have the camera to record – a young black man lifts his shirt to bare his chest to the police and yells to shoot him now. And that young woman who said, “We live our lives in fear and tonight we want them to be afraid!” How many did she speak for?

there will be more.....