Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Is What The Revolution Looks Like

This is a portion of last night's events in Oakland, CA. Let it be understood that the uprising has never stopped in Oakland. It has been ongoing, sometimes quite dramatically, since October, and it shows no sign whatever of relenting.

The Oakland Police have been under Federal reform orders for years, not that they give a shit when it comes to that, and their recent violent crackdowns on Occupy Oakland have caused the federal judge involved to further order the OPD to clean up their act forthwith.

You will note, they were not quite as violent last night as they were on October 25, but they are still intentionally cruel and vicious.

This video -- and others that have been posted -- can only show a portion of the action of course, and much of it is boring and apparently inconsequential. That's the way these things go in real life. Dramatic action is occasional and brief. In the meantime, and in the background, all sorts of revolutionary activism is taking place, 24/7, throughout the city, and spreading from Oakland, all over the Bay Area and Northern California.

The Oakland uprising and Occupation is still the energy center for the movement as a whole, though the philosophical center may still be in New York. The People of Oakland take risks every single day. They confront Authority, defy Authority, and they figure out how to make a Better Future happen in the face of an Authority gone mad.

The People of Oakland will win in the end, though exactly what they will have won is still open to speculation and debate. The more suppressive Authority becomes, the more certain its failure. We're seeing how that works being played out on the streets of Oakland. As it is playing out, the energy released is spreading and spreading and spreading.

The idea that "Occupy is Dead" is ludicrous. But in a certain sense, it may be useful. I've hesitated to post much about what's going on in local Occupations around the country, in part because of the internal transformations going on, much like a metamorphosis. You can't have a successful metamorphosis if you keep opening the chrysalis for inspection. But we're getting close to the completion of the transformation.

We ain't seen nothin' yet.

Earlier in the day:

[These BTW are Spencer Mills' (OakFoSho) videos from yesterday.]


Rebel Communiqué from the Front Lines in the People's Commune of Oakland:


January 29, 2011 – Oakland, CA – Yesterday, the Oakland Police deployed hundreds of officers in riot gear so as to prevent Occupy Oakland from putting a vacant building to better use. This is a building which has sat vacant for 6 years, and the city has no current plans for it. The Occupy Oakland GA passed a proposal calling for the space to be turned into a social center, convergence center and headquarters of the Occupy Oakland movement.

The police actions tonight cost the city of Oakland hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they repeatedly violated their own crowd control guidelines and protester’s civil rights.

With all the problems in our city, should preventing activists from putting a vacant building to better use be their highest priority? Was it worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent?

The OPD is facing receivership based on actions by police in the past, and they have apparently learned nothing since October. On October 25, Occupiers rushed to the aid of Scott Olsen who was shot in the head by police, and the good Samaritans who rushed to his aid had a grenade thrown at them by police. At 3:30pm this afternoon, OO medics yet again ran to the aid of injured protesters lying on the ground. Other occupiers ran forward and used shields to protect the medic and injured man. The police then repeatedly fired less lethal rounds at these people trying to protect and help an injured man.

Around the same time, officers #419, #327, and others were swinging batons at protesters in a violation of OPD crowd control policy, which allows for pushing or jabbing with batons, but not the swinging of them.

In the evening, police illegally kettled and arrested hundreds of protesters. Police can give notices to disperse, if a group is engaged in illegal activity. However, if the group disperses and reassembles somewhere else, they are required to give another notice to disperse. Tonight, they kettled a march in progress, and arrested hundreds for refusing to disperse. Contrary to their own policy, the OPD gave no option of leaving or instruction on how to depart. These arrests are completely illegal, and this will probably result in another class action lawsuit against the OPD, who have already cost Oakland $58 million in lawsuits over the past 10 years.

OPD Crowd Control Policy: “If after a crowd disperses pursuant to a declaration of unlawful assembly and subsequently participants assemble at a different geographic location where the participants are engaged in non-violent and lawful First Amendment activity, such an assembly cannot be dispersed unless it has been determined that it is an unlawful assembly and the required official declaration has been adequately given.”

“The announcements shall also specify adequate egress or escape routes. Whenever possible, a minimum of two escape/egress routes shall be identified and announced.”

“When the only violation present is unlawful assembly, the crowd should be given an opportunity to disperse rather than face arrest.”

At least 4 journalists were arrested in this kettling. They include Susie Cagle, Kristen Hanes, Vivian Ho who were arrested and then released, and Gavin Aronsen who was taken to jail.

One woman was in terrible pain from the cuffs. Dozens of fellow arrestees shouted at the OPD to check her cuffs. But, contrary to their own policy, the OPD refused and simply threw her in a paddy wagon.

OPD Crowd Control Policy: “Officers should be cognizant that flex-cuffs may tighten when arrestees’ hands swell or move … When arrestees complain of pain from overly tight flex cuffs, members shall examine the cuffs to ensure proper fit”

Numerous protesters were injured: some shot with “less lethal” rounds, some affected by tear gas, and some beaten by police batons. There are no totals yet for the numbers of protesters injured. One 19 year old woman was taken to the hospital with internal bleeding after she was beaten by Officer #119.

Cathy Jones, an attorney with the NLG gave the following statement to Occupy Oakland’s media team: “Through everything that has happened since September, from Occupy to the acceleration of “Bills” — NDAA, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA — never have I felt so helpless and enraged as I do tonight. These kids are heroes, and the rest of the country needs to open its collective eyes and grab what remains of its civil rights, because they are evaporating, quickly. Do you want to know what a police state looks like? Well, you sure as hell still do not know unless you were watching our citizen journalists.”

Today, Occupy Oakland events continue all day with a festival in Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa) Plaza:

Occupy Oakland is an emerging social movement without leaders or spokespersons. It is in solidarity with occupations currently occurring around the world in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Oakland Media is a committee of Occupy Oakland, established by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly.


Occupy Oakland Media Committee
(510) 473-6250



  1. Watched the second video of the confrontation -- thanks for posting all of them. It's too surreal. Taking it all in, you think this can't be happening here. Though, of course, it's "normal", right? The face of fascism. The face of terrorism against American citizens.

    Obviously, there is no confrontation at all without the police. The police -- and their masters -- create the confrontation, the violence, the danger.

    The whole thing makes me want to explode. And I think Oakland's spirit in the face of this shit is incredible. Their courage. Their righteous outrage. They will not go silently into that good night.

    . . .

    You've done an excellent job recently on breaking down the revolution, along with tax policy, WWII, the New Deal, etc. etc.

    But I think you're real insight is that it's kinda too late. Corporations and the Corporate State have won. Best to resist outside the system and run parallel campaigns within it, knowing the latter will probably fail.

    That "probably" increases by the month, but I still think it's worth trying . . . though if there is any hope in the remote chance of effecting real change, strong resistance from the outside is essential. OWS and every egalitarian movement like it, etc. Staying solely within electoral politics will result in moving the bar a bit here, or a bit there, but not enough to make a real difference -- unless it's markedly for the worse.

    Your "intentional communities" outside the system are just flat out crucial. Build them big enough and that eventually puts direct pressure on the core to change. A million Paris Communes and the Aristocracy eventually has to change. Or flee.

  2. Watching it also makes me think of the Intifada. It's as if Oakland were occupied by the Israeli army, and Palestinians, who make up the vast majority of the population, are fighting back.

    How far are we from seeing actual fighting like on the West Bank?

    P.S. How can any human being watch these videos and side with the police and the State? Tragically, we know that all too many do.

    Of course, Oakland's citizens aren't being treated, on a day to day basis, as horrifically as the Palestinians. Though when the police gather and shoot at protesters, bomb them with teargas, beat them, drag them across the street by their hair, etc. etc. . . . in that moment, it's getting closer.

    Of course, most OWS protesters get to go back to actual homes, instead of refugee camps. That is, unless they've lost their homes to mortgage fraud, etc.

    But the one-two punch of corporate power and state power does have the potential to be an every-day atrocity. Right now, corporations and the private sector in general treat workers here like shit -- and workers overseas far, far worse (Foxconn and Apple, etc.) . . . .

    How much longer will Americans continue to support an economic system that exploits them so profoundly and treats workers overseas literally like slaves? How much longer will they support a system that beats citizens for being on public land?

  3. Oakland has been under a kind of quasi-martial law for many years. I experienced tear gas there -- the only time I have -- in 1967. I've been in many, many demonstrations since then(!) and that was the only one where tear gas was used. It was during a week of End the Draft/End the War protests.

    That's Oakland; the way it is. The police there are notorious abusers of authority, so people know how to respond. But the key is that more and more Oaklanders don't regard the Oakland police as legitimate authority. Nor do they have any respect for their civic bodies. They know they have to figure out something better outside the systems in place, and they're doing it. At least as far as I can tell.

    The Oakland Commune is actually pretty astonishing. They've done a lot of social-civic service that the City is too "poor" to do, and they've highlighted all the misplaced priorities of the Oakland civic aristos -- those who know so very much better. Their confrontations with the police have evolved, but the brutality and cruelty the OPD has long shown is still very apparent, as you can see in the videos.

    The tipping point hasn't come yet; I'm predicting "by June". What happens then, I don't know. But the pressure is building exponentially. Oakland has been in the vanguard (oh, that word).

    The only course left open for our rulers, it seems to me, is either some version of Tienanmen or yielding to the pressure. The irony of Tienanmen, of course, is that it convinced the Politburo to go full steam ahead with their capitalist "reforms". Not the demands for political reforms.

    The Palestinian analogy isn't entirely off base wrt to Oakland. A minority of Oaklanders lives high in the Oakland Hills, rolling in money and power, and they run the city. The flatlanders are by far the majority, and they are the ones suffering from abuse by authority and resisting now.

  4. I bumped into this I don't know where. But the police rioted. Not the protesters. That's the key here.

    And this, from Chris Hedges:

    Hedges on the NDAA

    Hedges said:

    "And I think, without question, the corporate elites understand that things, certainly economically, are about to get much worse. I think they’re worried about the Occupy movement expanding. And I think that, in the end—and this is a supposition—they don’t trust the police to protect them, and they want to be able to call in the Army."

    I suspect the same thing. Indefinite detention for people who really threaten the Establishment. No Islamic terrorist scares them the way a fully mobilized, determined, egalitarian movement can. They know full well that people are at the end of their rope, and they're just hoping they never focus on the men behind the curtain. They know full well if they can get the tea party folks and the Ron Pauls of this world to divert attention away from the economic system itself and its owners, they won't lose their heads.

    OWS, or some such incarnation scares the shit out of them. The NDAA may well be the answer they seek.

    This aint gonna end well, and I fear for the citizens of this nation and the entire earth at this point . . .

  5. I tend to agree about NDAA; it's sort of the capstone on the revival of domestic military authority -- should the need arise. The clue is the inability of anyone in a position of power to clearly state what it really means.

    I trace this all back to Oklahoma City which was (in part) a response to Waco. It's hard to express just how terrifying the OKC bombing was to the Federal government, I think in some ways it was psychologically worse than 9/11 -- because it was a domestic act of violent and unrepentant revenge more than anything else.

    From that point onward, the barricades against the People went up. They fear a widespread domestic uprising perhaps more than anything else.

    Every time I hear or read something like "the government should fear the People," I want to say: "They do, and that's why the government bends over backward for the plutocracy. They're terrified of the People."

    I keep wondering whether the disappearances have already begun, and I'm not sure how we'd actually know. The Occupy Movement population is very fluid, people come and go all the time, and a lot of the people involved don't have close connections with anyone inside or outside the Movement.

    But the whole point of "disappearing" people is to put the fear into everyone else. And kidnapping people -- snatch and grab -- right out in the open, preferably with a lot of people watching, is the way it's usually done. You saw a version of the tactic in the daytime video from Oakland when the police charged the crowd and grabbed individuals for arrest several times (they do it in New York, too). In the "kidnap" version, they use plainclothes officers who grab people out of crowd and throw them into the backseat of an SUV and speed off. It's meant to be terrifying, and it is. We'll probably see it in Chicago during the G8.

    National Security Events like that bring out the whole panoply of repression, and we've only seen a tiny portion of what they can and are more than willing to do.

    Rights? Ha!

    It didn't seem like the OPD got quite to the stage of "police riot" yesterday, not like Chicago '68; but I wouldn't be surprised if Chicago gets real intense this May what with both NATO and G8 confabbing there.

  6. The government fearing the people thing has some layers to it. I'm just guessing here, but I imagine the higher ups in the government fear both the left and the right, but the right far more. I'm pretty sure the forces on the ground fear the right more and know they're better armed. The police and army, etc. I don't think they believe "hippies" are a real physical threat to them, but they wouldn't want to tangle with right wing militias, white nationalists, etc. etc. If they can help it.

    It's also likely that those "authorities" on the ground probably share more affinity with right wing groups than the left, so that adds in another layer.

    The higher ups are mostly center-right folks, who probably have contempt for both the lefties and the hard core righties.

    As you say, this may all explode in the late spring or early summer. We will get a pretty good preview with the joint (military/police) maneuvers planned. We may be headed back to the 1960s, but with far different results. Overall economic conditions -- except for minorities and women -- were far better back then. There's a new factor to deal with and it's going to add to the tension, to say the least.

    P.S. You got mail.

  7. I'd put it this way: everyone is surveilled constantly, monitoring is intermittent, and there is way too much information to process.

    Political ideology doesn't matter so much as willingness and ability to act against imposition of authority.

    It's not what one says or believes, in other words, it is what one might do, and to a lesser extent, what one might incite. If that is to directly interfere with the imposition of authority -- regardless of political persuasion -- or it puts the power or property of the government or its sponsors and owners at risk, then one should expect a knock on the door, at the very least, sooner or later. You are being watched and your communications are recorded. That's just the way it is. I'm not sure that civil liberties and anti-government types understand that most of this is being done by private companies, not by the government, though the government has its own capabilities and databases. With the near seamless union of the government and select high powered corporations, aligned against the People, it really doesn't make sense to keep hammering away at government intrusions into privacy and civil liberties while ignoring the private sector's much larger and more pervasive intrusions.

    Prevention and control is the mandate.

    Personally, I think fear of action by the genuine left (what little there is of it) is much greater, partly due to the anti-communist traditions still being observed, but mostly due to the fact that a genuine leftist revolt would overthrow the entire system; that's not true of the rightists. They would simply substitute their people for the current ones, keeping the system intact.

    This is why Occupy is under such intense and open suppression: it is seen as a genuine leftist/anarchist (eek!) populist movement intent on overthrowing the system. Can't have that.

    Rightists on the other hand mostly get a free pass because they don't want to overthrow the system, they want to work it for their own fun and profit. And that's in the Constitution somewhere, isn't it?

  8. Makes sense. I totally agree with you that a leftist uprising is far more threatening to them overall. It does mean the whole system changes -- and the private sector will fight that to the death, with the help of their lackeys. A right-wing movement, OTOH, would result in some desks changing at the top, but the capitalist system would remain in place -- which is why no tea party member has been arrested. Righties basically want to join the 1%. They don't want to get rid of inequality and hierarchy. They just want to be on top.

    . . . . BTW, I wasn't talking about overall systemic threat, but actual physical threat, due to weaponry. I think weaponry favors the right.

    . . . .

    We will see where this goes. I just hope OWS and movements like it can survive the state/private power onslaught and change the paradigm.

    P.S. This is all going to be a very long slog, and I doubt I'll still be around to see the results. It's my dream that future generations will see a world without capitalism, profit, inequality, etc. No more Foxconns. No more slave labor. No more state or private sector ruling classes . . . anywhere.