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.....

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