Thursday, January 15, 2009

Something Fun! Legal Defense Benefit this Saturday

Station 40 is hosting a split benefit show to raise money for legal defense for folks arrested in the Jan. 7 Oscar Grant protest, and for the venue. Please spread the word! And come out this Saturday.


Flaming Acoustics Benefit Show
Saturday January 17
6:30 pm

Station 40
3030b 16th Street, SF
(at Mission St.)

$3-5 donation
split benefit for station 40
& legal defense for the jan 7
oscar grant uprising

homostamens &
the flaming pistils
electro acoustic gay from the east bay

acoustic electric looping
system and kitchen utensils

k. sugar hill
superfab folksy tunes

b rex & the riot bikes
anarchy angst and brutality blues

rae spoon
transgender country singer
traversing territories from art folk,
to indie-rock, to electronic/experimental

emcee extraordinaire: alex fisher

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Riot As Strategy?: A Critique on the Breakdown of Violence in the BART Police Protest

Let's talk for a moment about the use of violence as a form of reactionary protest. Since the Oakland riots last week, this has been largely on my mind. While some have reacted positively to the destruction (see account in my reportback), for many others, especially during this economic crisis, the riot created greater difficulties.

In my younger days, I was all about fucking shit up as a measure of my anger and dissent of state power. But last Wednesday, watching as rioters smashed store windows and cars on a street lined with Korean and Chinese-owned shops, I felt a pang of protectiveness and resentment towards those who were causing the destruction.

Don't fuck with my peoples' shit! I yelled sardonically. I was only half joking. No one paid attention.

Each time the police dispersed us, we mobbed through quieter neighborhoods, running sidestreet to the major intersections of the police standoffs. Mail boxes knocked down, trashcans dragged out, cars smashed up, small fires being lit. Predominantly black neighborhoods.

Why are we rioting through the streets of our own communities - the ones that we are supposedly demanding justice for? We should be setting police stations on fire, breaking bank windows, and bum-rushing BART stations. Not destroying the property of our struggling brothers and sisters.

Many articles, such as this one, have since reported comments from various storekeepers whose shops fell victim to the riots. By now, I think everyone's heard about Creative African Braids. The woman who owns the hair salon is pissed that the rioters targeted her shop, a black family-run business, and criticized the protest, calling the protesters "stupid", among other things.

The intentions behind the protest Wednesday night is a far cry from stupid. But these criticisms and this kind of tangible misguided destruction give the media more fodder to discredit the validity of the protest's demands. It creates obstacles against building bridges between communities and gaining allies within movements. For those sitting on the fence, this can make or break their political support of an issue.

It gets worse.

An account from a fellow comrade's blog: "Another friend said that an older Asian man -- on crutches no less-- pleaded with rioting youth not to smash his car up. But they did. Right in front of him. And i saw a middle aged Asian woman running, screaming because her bag had been snatched."

Many fires were lit, and stones thrown, by those in the black bloc. "Anarchists". Well, predominantly white youth, dressed in all black, wearing black bandanas, and waving a black flag. Many were not even from Oakland, and I wonder how many were familiar with the areas that they were rioting in. The way some of them escalated rioting scenes really pisses me off. As anarchists, I expect them to know better, and to recognize when it is their place and time to escalate a situation, and when to step back in solidarity as allies in a struggle. To march into a protest preoccupied with their own agenda above all others is selfish and entitled to me. To be able to walk away while other are left to pick up the pieces is to avoid accountability. For those who have been arrested, I stand in solidarity with them.

How can we demand accountability when those of us within the movement cannot even do it ourselves? We must lead by example if we are to gain the trust and faith of others and create stronger alliances against governmental terrorism.

"Revolutionaries"? "Anarchists"? As a self-identified anarchist activist (who also has a few black bandanas), this is embarrassing. It leads me to wonder, when the shit hits the fan, will we remember why we are fighting? Will we even know? Is it possible to reconcile such chaotic fury with collective solidarity when massive public direct actions escalate? For the brothers and sisters who helplessly feel the brunt of the destruction the next morning, how can we be mindful to include them in our actions of solidarity and protest?

I'd like to think that everything is possible. As responsible autonomous activists, one of the most radical positions we can take on is to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and ask ourselves how these actions will affect - not only those involved in the moment - but those who will be affected the next days, months, years afterwards. The systemic hierarchies of power imposed on race and class dynamics are elusive, and we must remember to check ourselves using an anti-oppression lense in order to disarm these oppressive structures, and avoid these destructive power dynamics from manifesting internally within our own movements and struggles.

Don't get me wrong. A flaming dumpster shoved into a cop car as angry protesters jump on it and smash chairs into the windshield is goddamn satisfying sight.

Yet, in the particular context, this kind of reactionary violence may be cathartic, but in the long run, it is counterproductive. An angry mob is a volatile weapon - and though I would opt for a non-violent path if given the choice - sometimes fighting back becomes necessary for one's basic emotional and physical survival. So let's start talking about how we can wield this weapon more effectively, and arm ourselves with strategy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Support for Those Arrested in the Protest - Repost from Berkeley CopWatch

By the way, CAPE sponsored the rally at Fruitvale BART and is not responsible for events that took place later on. They have sent this message and Copwatch is encouraging everyone to show solidarity. See how quick the DA can arraign people when he wants to...

From the Coalition Against Police Execution:

Critical Resistance and the National Lawyers Guild are amassing lists of names of arrestees and trying to do visits to support folks getting released.

Please call the NLG hotline (415) 285-1011 if you know of someone who has been arrested and/or email me At this point, we are still creating a list of folks who were arrested, and folks are being charged with obstruction, rioting, failure to disperse, remaining at the scene of a riot and unlawful assembly. Most folks are either being held at Santa Rita jail or the Glenn Dyer County Jail.

Many folks are being cited and released and are awaiting a February court date, but many are being held at Glenn Dyer for their

court date Jan. 9th (Friday) at 2pm
Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
Room 107
661 Washington (near 7th)

Please come to support arrestees tomorrow, and if you have the means, try to raise bail money for folks being held. Again, if you know of someone who may have been arrested, please contact us, and if you can do legal support, please contact us as well.

By the way- Check out this Oscar Grant art!! Download print and distribute!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

IndyBay Reportback from Oakland Riots - Repost

Oakland: Riots In The Streets

"Walter Benjamin asked himself how in 1830 the Paris rioters shot at town clocks, in different parts of the city and without coordinating the action; for our part we cannot fail to reflect on why wild youths of today are burning cars. In fact, what does the car represent in contemporary society? We leave the question unanswered."

Stop protesting. Start fighting.

A protest was held January 7th at the Fruitvale BART station. Protesters gathered at 3pm and by 5pm the crowd had swelled to around one thousand people. At 6pm some of the protesters started marching down Broadway towards downtown Oakland. Around 6:35 there was a confrontation with a police car and a burning dumpster was shoved into it as people shook and jumped on the car. Hundred of police then moved in, shooting tear gas into the crowd. The protest continued into the night as dozens of protesters took over and blocked the intersection of 14th and Broadway for over an hour with several people lying on the ground to show how Oscar was lying when he was shot. A line of hundreds of riot police then moved in and pushed the crowd up 14th. The crowd pushed back and dozens of car windows were broken and a minivan was set one fire. The police then charged and as protesters dispersed windows were broken on a McDonalds and at least two more cars were set on fire.

8:30pm Two more cars near 14th and Madison are on fire and there have been more arrests.

8:10pm Crowd is dispersing. KPIX helicopter shows windows being smashed in on a McDonalds a block of so away.

8:07pm All cars on one side street have had their windows smashed and a minivan is on fire.

8:05pm Police are dividing crowd and charging at protesters. Several people are being put in police vans. An online feed from seems to show police have dragged one person behind a police van and at least 4 police are beating the person with batons .

8:00pm A line of police is moving in and pushing the protesters out of the intersection. Many protesters are pushing back and several car windows are being smashed.

7:45pm Police just ordered the crowd to disperse and have told the crowd that anyone who does not leave the area in 10 minutes will be arrested.

7:40pm Dozens of people are still at 14th and Broadway, surrounded by hundreds of police cars and police in riot gear. Several people are lying on the ground in the intersection re-enacting how Oscar Grant was lying when he was shot.

7:10pm People are blocking Broadway and 14th chanting “We are Oscar Grant”

7:05pm: 50 or so people now marching back up Broadway towards 13th

6:40pm: Police are using tear gas and rubber bullets on crowd. 12 cops on foot and an armored truck chased people on Broadway towards the freeway.

6:35pm: Reports of people jumping on cop car and dumpster on fire near 7th and Madison

4:00pm: The crowd has swelled to around 300 people. BART has issued an advisory announcing the closure of the Fruitvale station "due to civil protest." A bus bridge has been established at Coliseum station.

3pm: Protesters have begun to gather at Fruitvale BART.

Oakland Riot Reportback - We Are Oscar Grant

Last night, nearly a thousand people gathered in solidarity at the Fruitvale BART station to seek justice for the shooting murder of Oscar Grant by the BART police on New Years Day. The protest turned into a riot when we marched downtown, and the police used tear gas, rubber bullets, beat people with their nightsticks, and even started turning off street lights later in the evening to lessen visibility in the areas where we had stand-offs with the swat.

From 430pm to 930pm, me and Cootie, a few comrades, and an entire mob, moved through the streets of downtown Oakland, from rally to march to riot. Crowds were dispersed by the police, would break off into smaller factions, and regroup for new stand-offs. The police were clearly struggling to keep up. The cops shoved me around a bit, but I later retaliated (after recovering from the gas) by calmly taunting them with a camera in their faces - knowing that they could not arrest me for what I was doing. Turns out, my dog doesn't like cops either, and we spent a good amount of time at the front during standstills, facing off with the line of cops while Cootiemonster barked at them and I videotaped them.

A few were arrested. Some were provoked, others seemed arbitrary. The line of cops would occasionally swarm out like a flash in a mob, grab someone - seemingly at random - and suck them back behind the police line. All those I saw arrested were men of color, the majority black. Some of them beaten within distant view after they were detained. The line of cops held back protesters from getting close enough to videotape, and often attempted to block our view from scuffles that would break out occassionally. Some of the cops would actually honor our rights once we asserted that WE HAVE A RIGHT TO OBSERVE, but most of the time, they would respond with threats of violence and arrest.

A police car was jumped on and smashed up after a dumpster on fire was pushed into it. Cars were smashed and trampled in the path of the protest, several cars were lit on fire, and I saw at least one explode. Windows were smashed, trashcans, kiosks, and dumpsters were dragged into the streets to create obstacles against the pursuing line of cops. The windows of the McDonald's were smashed, and I watched as the cops came out of nowhere and chased down the kid. We all cheered him on, but ultimately, he got caught. Those fuckers can run really fast, so be warned.

I was teargassed while helping put out a fire that had started on the side of someone's house. I was pissed, and it burned like hell. Cootie was fine, and stuck beside me calmly like a badass riot dog the whole time (except for the one time I dropped her leash and she ran to the front of the march.)

I saw two women walking back from their car which had been completely smashed up, and said, "Hey lady, we're sorry about that", gesturing to their car. The owner of the car smiled back at me, saying casually, "Oh don't worry about it. I have insurance. And if that means that there is the chance that that kid will see justice, then its worth it. The police shouldn't get away with this kind of violence."

Fucking awesome.

Oakland mayor Ron Dellums came out later on during the riots with two bodyguards, and were swarmed by protesters who pleaded, demanded, yelled at, and reasoned with him to take action against the perpetrators of the shooting and address the urgency of the situation. Nervous police officers monitored the crowd some 50 feet away as the mob encircled the mayor and they strolled down 14th St. surveying the event.

"He said the killing was a homicide and that he had ordered the City of Oakland to investigate the BART killing. The crowd interrupted much of his speech, expressing their displeasure with the situation."

I left around 930pm, right before "Round 2". You can read more about it at indymedia. By the end of the night, 105 people had been arrested.

It is also important to note that the organizers did NOT plan for this riot to happen. I can attest to the multiple times throughout the rally and march that the organizers were yelling for the crowd not to use violence or provoke the cops - to remain calm and keep it a peaceful protest. It was not the strategy, nor the intention of the organizers for this event to turn into a riot. But you can't control an angry, hurt mob in the face of riot police with a history of racist authoritarianism. Emotions were running high, and the tension between the cops and the crowd was at a palpable breaking point.

And things broke.

Sometimes you gotta stop protesting, and start fighting back. More strategy, more self-control, and more organizing if we are to gain allies and arm ourselves effectively against the state.

I caught a lot of footage on my camera-phone (they're really handy for that!), and once I figure out how to upload and increase the quality of the videos, I will upload them to the blog. If anyone has any suggestions for video editing programs I can use to lighten and sharpen dark cameraphone footage, that would be great!

Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Justice for Oscar Grant! Protest His Untimely Death - Wed, Jan. 7, 3-7pm

Repost. I don't know who is organizing this protest, but the event was posted on my Facebook.

Justice for Oscar Grant
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
3:00pm - 7:00pm
3401 East 12th Street
Oakland, CA

Please spread the word - we need numbers tomorrow to show our outrage and demand accountability!


1) All officers involved be taken off duty without pay, and fully prosecuted;

2) That the U.S. Justice Department investigate the incident as a violation of civil rights;

3) That BART establish an independent citizens’ review board for its officers; and

4) That the BART police officers be disarmed!

STOP THE U.S./ISRAELI WAR IN GAZA! National Day of Protest: San Francisco, Washington, Los Angeles...

Repost. Spread the word.

National Day of Protest Against the Israeli Bombings in Gaza
Saturday, January 10, 2009
11:00am - 6:00pm
Civic Center
San Francisco, CA

The Israeli government has escalated its constant attacks on Gaza into a ground invasion. Hundreds of Palestinians have been murdered and thousands wounded. The bombs are being dropped on schools, homes, ambulances, tunnels, places of worship and more.

Millions of people around the world are demonstrating to stop the attacks on Gaza and in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The ANSWER Coalition, Free Palestine Alliance, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, National Council of Arab Americans, and Al-Awda-International Palestine Right to Return Coalition call on people across the country and around the world to take to the streets to show solidarity with the Palestinian People in Gaza and demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the U.S.-backed Israeli military.

Copwatch Meeting - Strategic Responses to the Shooting of Oscar Grant - Jan. 12, 8pm

Repost. Spread the word.

Dear friends of Copwatch,

By now you have seen the video-

It is New Year's Eve at the Fruitvale Bart station and the Bart cops have taken
several young men of color off the train. The cops seem to escalate the
situation at every turn. They make the young men sit on the floor. Then they
make them kneel. Then they make them lie down on their stomachs. Then an
officer takes out his gun and clear as day, shoots the prone, unarmed man.


We are talking about spontaneous, public execution. If this incident is not met
with widespread, militant response, we can surely EXPECT MORE OF THE SAME! If
you have been watching from the sidelines, this might be a good time to unleash

This is a time when we need to unite to win some victories for the people. We
can not bring Oscar back or end the suffering of his grieving family. But we
can take action to bring about some justice.

Let's talk about our response. Ban Bart police? Disarm them? A public art
campaign that keeps this atrocity in the public eye?

Let's strategize:

What: Copwatch meeting

When January 12 8pm

Where: Grassroots House 2022 Blake Street in Berkeley (near Shattuck)

Contact: 510.548.0425

Another Article About the Murder of Oscar Grant

You can read another article about the shooting in the San Jose Mercury News here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oscar Grant Murdered on New Years Day by Oakland BART Police!

Around 2 a.m. on New Year's Day, 22 year old Oscar Grant was shot and killed by BART police in the Fruitvale, Oakland BART station. Grant was on the floor with his hands up, and witnesses have stated that he was not resisting when the officer fired the single shot that killed him.

A home video taken by another passenger caught the scene on tape, and is being circulated to TV stations and on the internet. Below is some information about the shooting I received from a MySpace bulletin, and a clip of the video aired on ABC7 (this was one of the clearest edits of the video made from the raw footage that I've found so far).

The police need to be held accountable for this murder and injustice! There is no excuse for shooting an unarmed person laying on the ground - a finger on the trigger is not an accident! This is bullshit.

Karina Vargas told CBS 5 that she was making the tape available so the public would know what transpired shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday at BART's Fruitvale station when Oscar Grant was shot.

The video, that Vargas said she shot on a brand new camera she received for Christmas, would seem to support previous witnesses accounts that Grant was laying on his stomach with his hands behind him on the train platform when a single shot was fired by a BART officer.

According to Vargas, Grant was not resisting when the gunshot was fired. Vargas said she was standing only about 5 feet away from the shooting scene. She also said she resisted an officer's attempt to confiscate her camera.

Vargas, who said she was on her way home from a New Year's celebration along the Embarcadero in San Francisco when she witnessed the shooting, contended that Grant's "rights were definitely violated" by police.

BART officials have said Grant was unarmed and implied the shooting was an accident, saying the officer's gun discharged while he and four other officers responded to reports that two groups of young men were fighting on a train that had come from San Francisco and was en route to the Dublin/Pleasanton station.

Grant's family in Hayward has formally hired attorney John Burris to look into the circumstances surrounding his death.

The Oakland attorney, who has filed numerous lawsuits against police departments on behalf of family members of people who have been shot and killed by officers, scheduled a Sunday morning news conference to discuss developments in the case.

"It's an outrageous set of facts. My sense is clear that this was an unjustifiable shooting," Burris said based on witness statements, but prior to the videotape being made public. "There were no movements and he was not trying to overrun the police officer. A gun cannot discharge accidentally, you have to have your finger on the trigger.

"When conduct like this occurs, there is a price to pay," he added. "Police have to be held accountable when they engage in this kind of unlawful conduct.

BART officials have not released the name of the officer who shot Grant. They said the officer has worked for BART for nearly two years and was placed on administrative leave following the shooting.

The Alameda County District Attorney's office is handling the official investigation into the shooting. The D.A.'s office has not commented on the case.