I need help and it’s never gonna come

•August 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been reading a few blog posts of mine, some notes I made during the Oscar Grant uprising here in Oakland. I was looking up a post on grief for a friend and rediscovered what was pouring out of me back then.

They throw an interesting light on the present internal sturm und drang at Occupy Oakland…and on radical, engaged living in general. 

 

 

I need help and its never gonna come .

 

 Fri, January 16, 2009 – 8:18 PM

.

Its been a tough two weeks. I live across from the Fruitvale BART station and I heard sirens that New Years but it was a party night so I thought nothing of it. Now I realize that they were for Oscar Grant.

 

Its been intense here. My roommates come and go, go to work as usual, and so do I except that I go to rallies and marches like I used to do and I’m quarreling all the time: Everybody has something to say. Everybody is full of shit. I’m moody, even more than my usual. I’m wordless then I got everything to say and it all comes out stupid and wrong. Nothing is good enough. I go to a rally. I don’t know anybody there anymore really, so I just wander around and talk to a couple folks here and there but the feeling there is so…. so …. so I don’t know what . – the avalanche of new faces and all ages and all kinds blows me away. Preachers, emcees, a bunch of high school cholas hangin out,…. cardigans, dashikis, hoodies… and me a white boy in his shop clothes covered in aluminum shavings feeling better than I have in a long time.

 

And then its back to normal. Everybody who just watches the lame news thinks they knows what went down, what its all about. Everybody who knows somebody or who went to a demo once thinks they are a goddam expert. Somebody just doesn’t get it at all but still says the stupidest, know-it-all and irrelevant shit. yeah whatever. I try to say something pertinent or maybe I just ignore it. But then some guy online of all things says some of the usual shit and I bust on him a little then fucking explode and want to know where the fucker lives if you know what I mean.

 

At the grocery store, I’m thinking about stuff, about this holiday weekend, about how its MLK day, and the inaugaration of Obama and about how Oakland is gonna be partying down. I’m not a really compassionate person or even a nice guy but as I’m walking across the parking lot with my stuff, I just start crying. Little tears until I make it to my truck with the tinted windows.

There’s no sound. I just lay my head on the wheel and lose it.

 

I’ve been peaceful in the street and that was all I wanted to tell you the truth. I realize I’m fucked up and a total mess, but

THEY JUST FUCKING TOOK IT! THEY TOOK IT ALL!

THEY SNUFFED HIM OUT FOREVER AND I WAS SITTING ON MY COUCH ACROSS THE FUCKING STREET.

 

It’s like I can see his face now and i want it all to burn.

 

 

‘Lovelle Mixon, Police, and the Politics of Race/Rape”

•April 16, 2009 • 2 Comments
This is a repost of an article written by an Oakland group, the raider nation collective, and was published on  indymedia as well as other places.
I thought it to be an impressive, well written and researched article on race, police violence, the media war currently being waged and on  the failures of the local “left” in present day Oakland. Whether it resonates with you or infuriates you, it’s asking  hard questions and speaking to issues that in all likelihood have been buried and ignored by nearly all the news coverage you have seen.
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Lovelle Mixon, Police, and the Politics of Race/Rape
bythe Raider Nation Collective ( raidernationcollective [at] gmail.com )
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 3:40 PM

In short, there are those who are automatically guilty and those who are automatically innocent,those who are automatically heroes and, to use a term frequently applied to Lovelle Mixon in recent days, those who are automatically “monsters.”

The Ambivalent Silences of the Left:
Lovelle Mixon, Police, and the Politics of Race/Rape

Oakland.

We began discussing this on a day dripping with hypocrisy. Local Fox affiliate KTVU is among many television channels broadcasting live and in its entirety the funeral for four Oakland Police officers who were killed in a pair of shooting incidents a week ago. News anchors speak at length, and with little regard to journalistic objectivity (a commodity which, dubious in general, disintegrates entirely in times such as these) about the lives of these “heroes,” these “angels,” and the families they leave behind. Trust funds for fatherless children are established, their existence trumpeted loudly at 6 and 11; one can only assume with such publicity that donations are rolling in. There is not a dry eye in the house, it would appear: the “community” has rallied around its fallen saviors.

Or so initial press coverage would have us believe. But while the press was on the streets pushing the message of unity in mourning, live shots from the scene found somber and serious reporters disrupted by words and gestures suggesting little sympathy for the police, and reports emerged (notably in the New York Times) that bystanders had been mocking and taunting police after the shooting. When the local Uhuru House hosted a vigil not for the fallen police, but for the other victims, Lovelle Mixon and his family, the press was forced to abandon its tune of unity, deploying instead outrage and shocked disbelief (especially by Bill O’Reilly), only to later realize that such sympathy was rather widespread and worthy of discussion.

Portrait of Oscar Grant, killed by police on New Year's Day

Portrait of Oscar Grant, 22 years old, face down on an Oakland train platform, shot and killed by police on New Year's Day

Liberal Hypocrisy

The hypocrisy should be clear, but for some reason, it has gone largely unmentioned, with those suggesting anything of the sort booed and hissed into anguished silence. Any and all mentioning, however quietly, the name “Oscar Grant,” with reference to the young black man murdered in cold blood by BART police in the first hours of the New Year, have been made to regret it, but it is Grant above all others whose case shows this hypocrisy in all its clarity. After all, Grant was not deemed a “hero” or an “angel” by the mainstream press when he was gunned down by BART officer Johannes Mehserle, and despite all of the outrage at the shooting, liberal or otherwise, we have seen how the press and local officials were bending over backwards to justify or at least understand Mehserle’s actions. Oscar Grant’s funeral was not carried live on local television, and what meager trust fund was established for Grant’s daughter exists thanks to a small group of sympathizers, most in the local black religious community, and not thanks to the state, the media, or BART.

This hypocrisy began with Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, whose rapid reaction to the deaths of the four police speaks volumes in and of itself, since Dellums’ own week-long silence following Oscar Grant’s killing played a role in sparking the January 7th rebellion. In this case, however, Dellums was on television within a few hours preaching the inherent equality of all human life. But this was a magnificent display of liberal doublespeak, as Dellums’ declaration was meant to silence, not encourage, comparisons to Oscar Grant. But even this would not be enough to earn Dellums the support of the police union or the families, and the mayor was even refused permission to speak at the police funeral that had become the year’s must-attend political event, featuring such state political powerhouses as Governor Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown, and Senators Feinstein and Boxer. The reason remains unclear, but it is possible that even Dellums’ tepid sympathy for the life of Oscar Grant was too much for the families of the police, and it has even been suggested that Dellums’ equally tepid opposition to Blackwater-style privatizing policing in East Oakland is to blame. However, since no other black elected official was allowed to speak either, it seems that race was the deciding factor.

Kristian Williams, author of Our Enemies in Blue and American Methods, who was recently invited to give a public talk on the subject at the historic Continental Club in West Oakland, insisted that police funerals “have less to do with the grieving process of individual families, and everything to do with legitimizing past and future police violence.” According to Williams, policing is the only occupation which regularly exaggerates its own dangerousness (which statistically comes in just below garbage collectors). But constant reference to the danger and heroism of policing has the effect of stifling any and all criticism: police funerals as a public spectacle, according to Williams, “tell the public to shut up.” And shut up they have.

Farewell To the Spineless Left

Historically speaking, there is always a point at which the liberal and white left loses its nerve. As Ward Churchill demonstrates in his Pacifism as Pathology, it was a moment such as this one at which the white left abandoned the Black Panthers,

“When [Black Panther] party cadres responded (as promised) by meeting the violence of repression with armed resistance, the bulk of their “principled” white support evaporated. This horrifying retreat… left its members nakedly exposed to “surgical termination” by special police units.”

Under the cover of pacifism, the spineless left paradoxically cleared the way for the violent extermination campaign that the Panthers would face. Certainly, the case of Lovelle Mixon and OPD is not the same as that of the Panthers, but the response on much of the left has been the same: silence. And this at a time when speaking and acting and questioning are more necessary than ever, when the police have been granted a political carte blanche to step-up attacks on the black and brown community in Oakland. Fearing association with a “cop killer” (a phrase which itself betrays the unequal value placed on different lives) or a “rapist” (an allegation the OPD’s PR machine was quick to deploy), fearing being inevitably painted as supporting Mixon’s actions, much of the local left has refused to even ask the most basic of questions. In what follows, we will address the most pressing of these.

A “Routine Stop”?

We recently had the opportunity to see some of OPD’s so-called “routine stops” alongside members of Oakland’s nascent Copwatch organization. We spoke with two young, black men on the 98 block of Macarthur Boulevard who had been cuffed and detained for “matching the description” of subjects suspected to be in possession of a firearm. That is to say, they were young and black, and wearing black hoodies and jeans, just like everyone else around that night. Five minutes after Copwatchers arrived to document the stop, they were released.

We also observed more “routine stops,” in the guise of illegal DUI checkpoints by California Highway Patrol running the full length of International Boulevard and targeting largely Latino men. Several tow trucks were lined up to line their pockets with another’s misfortune, as CHP officers would stop vehicles, run their licenses and registration, perform on-the-spot DUI tests, and impound vehicles. We spoke with a young woman who was abandoned on the street at 2am after officers arrested her sister-in-law, towed their car (with the keys to her apartment inside) and sped off after telling her they would get her a ride home.

Such are the status of “routine stops,” and in a country where racial profiling is all but accepted practice among police, we should be wary of any claim to “routine-ness.” The only thing “routine” about such stops is the harassment that the black and brown community suffer at the hands of the police every day.

cropped-lovelle

Lovelle Mixon, a "routine traffic stop" at 74th and MacArthur one Oakland afternoon leads to shootout that leaves him and four cops dead.

What Happened? Who Was Mixon?

What little we know is this: it was at a “routine stop” that Mixon allegedly shot officers Mark Dunakin and John Hege, before taking refuge in his sister’s nearby apartment. We also know that it was when the OPD SWAT team stormed into said apartment that Mixon, now allegedly armed with an AK-47, killed Daniel Sakai and Ervin Romans, wounding as well Patrick Gonzalez. We also know, thanks to interviews with Mixon’s family, the circumstances he was facing at the time: released from prison after serving time for a felony and previous parole violation, unemployed and unable to find work as a felon, and increasingly frustrated with his slim prospects for the future. According to his grandmother, equally frustrating was the shabby treatment Mixon received from his probation officer, who she claims had missed several appointments. Mixon, she says, had even volunteered to return briefly to prison if it would mean he could change probation officers.

In the face of such frustration, according to his grandmother, Mixon had himself missed a probation appointment, and so was facing a no-bail warrant and some jail time. Also, if it is true that he was carrying a gun, he would have been facing even more. These are the circumstances that Mixon faced when stopped, circumstances common to all too many under the regime of “Three Strikes” and the structure of policing in general. As Prisoners of Conscience Committee Minister of Information JR puts it: “To all the Three Strikes supporters, police sympathizers and prison industry businessmen, how does it feel when the rabbit has the gun? Welcome to East Oakland.”

Fast forward to his sister’s Enjoli’s apartment, where there is an additional question that needs to be asked: what was the SWAT team thinking when they stormed in, tossing stun grenades which injured 16 year old Reynete Mixon in the process? What seems to have clearly been a bad decision in retrospect brings us back to where we started: their fury at the news of dead police led them to risk the lives of many others rather than attempting to de-escalate. In all likelihood, the SWAT team expected to meet Mixon with the same handgun that had been used against Dunakin and Hege; in all likelihood, they expected to be at a tactical advantage in firepower terms, and to have an excuse to kill Mixon in response.

An Occupying Army?

Despite the efforts by the mainstream media, in close alliance with OPD, to paint a picture of a community unified in mourning four cops and equally unified in its hatred for Lovelle Mixon, this image of unity has been inevitably cracked, forcing a discussion of the very real divisions that exist in Oakland and the central position of the police as an instrument of that division. This position is best summarized in two words, drawn from the logic of colonialism: “occupying army.”

This certainly is the perception of many who were at the scene, telling police to “get the fuck out of East Oakland.” What is most striking is the fact that such spontaneous reactions by young black men in East Oakland are, in point of fact, quite true, because here is something else the press isn’t saying: not one of the officers killed lived in Oakland; all were residents of the suburbs. It’s difficult to find out exactly what percentage of OPD actually live in the city (the Uhuru House puts the number at only 18%), but with salaries beginning at $87,000 and often exceeding $200,000 with overtime, we could assume that the percentage is very low. It’s difficult to argue with the claim that OPD functions as an occupying army, since even the younger members of the black and brown community know full well that they are, as Fanon defined the colonizer, “from elsewhere.”

If this recognition of the role played by OPD was clear in the “taunting” at the scene, it has also played out in the more generalized racial breakdown of responses to the deaths of the four officers. A friend who works in the Eastmont area, but a block or two from the shootings, recently told us that:

“I have seen that white co-workers are speaking about it as if they were heroes, even ones who were pissed and annoyed by cops were suddenly sympathetic. Social workers of color, on the other hand, were talking about the 40-ish black youth killed in the last few years, and how suddenly, a few cops die (none of whom live here), and people act like their grandpa got shot.”

Rape and Race?

As the press discourse of community outrage began to disintegrate, it now appears as though OPD found it necessary to reinforce its waning sympathy. To do so, the police turned to the most traditional of means: accusing a black man of rape. These rape accusations have provided liberals and even so-called radicals a convenient excuse to distance themselves from the case of Lovelle Mixon, and the irony of the “discovery” of a “probable” (read: inconclusive) DNA link the day before the shootings provides a fulfilling belief that the shooting was tragically unnecessary as, supposedly, Mixon would have soon been arrested and taken off the streets. But it is here that we find the most disturbing of maneuvers by the police and the most infuriating silences on the left.

This is because few have felt the need to wonder aloud about this alleged “DNA evidence” which has miraculously circumvented indictments and jury trials. This begs a clear question: was Lovelle Mixon guilty until proven innocent? Even if there was “DNA evidence,” most in our society at least pretend to believe that the job of evaluating evidence belongs to the district attorney, judge, and jury, and not to the police and media. And it begs a further question: if OPD was so devoted to the safety of women in East Oakland, why were neighbors never notified that a serial rapist was possibly on the loose? Quite simply because OPD does not protect poor and marginalized women: the record speaks for itself.

One woman who attended the Uhuru vigil and rally last week describes her outrage and disgust at how white reporters treated the many women present at the march, essentially insinuating they were there in support of a rapist:

“The fact that many people were at the vigil to show support for Mixon’s family and community–who are largely women–did not cross any of the reporter’s minds… The serious issue of rape does not nullify the issue of a failed prison system. If we think historically, protection against sexual violence is a key reason often given to escalate the most racist and oppressive policing practices, yet violence against women continues unabated. We need to stand against violence against women and a racist police system equally, and not let one get used as an excuse to justify the other. The Mixon hysteria is going to be used to put East Oakland, women and men, on police lockdown and justice for the most vulnerable women who live there is NOT going to be a priority.”

As Angela Davis reminds us, “In the history of the United States, the fraudulent rape charge stands out as one of the most formidable artifices invented by racism. The myth of the Black rapist has been methodically conjured up whenever recurrent waves of violence and terror against the Black community have required convincing justifications…[Black women] have also understood that they could not adequately resist the sexual abuses they suffered without simultaneously attacking the fraudulent rape charge as a pretext for lynching… In a society where male supremacy was all pervasive, men who were motivated by their duty to defend their women could be excused of any excesses they might commit.” Painting black men as inevitable rapists represents a historical response to the sublimated guilt of white society, a society which for more than a century participated in the systematic rape of enslaved women. This much was recognized in a chant at the Uhuru rally:

Thomas Jefferson was a rapist!
George Washington was a rapist!
Let’s get that shit straight!

Who Were the Officers?

This question certainly feels taboo in a context in which the press refers openly to the “angels” that protect the community, who were in the words of a San Francisco Chronicle cover story (words cited verbatim from acting OPD Chief Howard Jordan) “Men of Peace.” But here again hypocrisy is palpable: we are told it is disrespectful to wonder aloud who the involved officers were, and yet racist slander directed at a dead man is somehow acceptable and expected. And while a couple of weeks ago, anyone would have told you that the OPD was a corrupt, inefficient force that routinely broke the law and brutalized city residents, such sentiment has faded into the background.

As (very limited) records from Oakland’s Citizen’s Police Review Board and the grassroots organization PUEBLO indicate, the officers involved are not the “angels” and “men of peace” that many have been suggesting. Officer Hege, for example, was listed in a 1995 CRPB complaint that involved breaking down a door less than 10 blocks from where Mixon was killed, and assaulting a resident who was kneeling on the ground, leaving him with a detached retina, broken ribs, a concussion, and missing teeth. Officer Romans is among those named in a pending lawsuit (docket #C 00-004197 MJJ) for assault and battery, civil rights violations, and conspiracy. Further, as JR puts it, Dunakin “long patrolled North Oakland, wreaking hell on young Black males,” and records indicate that he was implicated in a 1999 false arrest lawsuit which the city settled, and was more recently involved in the shady practice of towing cars under the city’s “sideshow ordinance.”

But perhaps even more interesting than the records of those officers who died is the record of the one who survived, and who has been only communicating with the press through his lawyer (with good reason): Patrick Gonzalez. Those paying attention will recognize the name instantly, since his rap sheet is far longer than was Lovelle Mixon’s: it was Gonzalez who murdered Gary King in 2007, shooting him in the back as he fled after being assaulted and repeatedly tased (King was suspected of being a “person of interest” in a case, nothing more, and his father suspects that the tasing would have killed him if the bullets didn’t). It was Gonzalez as well who shot another young black man dead, and left another paralyzed and in a wheelchair (all of these victims being under the age of 20).

But as a local community activist told me, “everyone focuses on the shootings, but he did some messed up shit with his gun holstered, too.” Specifically, Gonzalez has had a long list of complaints against him, and in one notable incident he was accused of assaulting 18 year old Andre Piazza in 2001. As the San Francisco Bay Guardian described the incident at the time:

“Piazza said that Officer Gonzales next turned to the front of Piazza’s body and “lifted and was looking under my sacks and stuff.” Piazza confirmed that what he meant was that the officer lifted and felt around under his testicles… During the search, Piazza asked the officer if he was “fruity.” Shortly thereafter, Gonzales reportedly smacked him in the face, dislocating his jaw. Docs in Highland Hospital had to put it back in place. The photos of Piazza taken in the ER aren’t pretty. Despite the photographic proof, charges against the cop were eventually dropped because of a lack of corroborating witnesses – it
was Piazza’s word versus that of the cops.”

These are the men paraded as “angels” in times such as these.

***

In short, there are those who are automatically guilty and those who are automatically innocent, those who are automatically heroes and, to use a term frequently applied to Lovelle Mixon in recent days, those who are automatically “monsters.” If the mainstream press was unwilling to make Oscar Grant a monster, it certainly did its part in digging up his police record and cultivating sympathy for Mehserle. The rest is left to the public, and as a recent commenter on the San Francisco Chronicle website puts it: “Mixon and Grant could interchange lives and there would be no difference. The only difference in their end is that Grant was taken out (however accidental) before he got a chance to murder someone.” And this comment, which has since been removed, was more than the ranting of an individual: by the time I saw it, it had received 250 votes from readers, more than any other response to the article.

As Crea Gomez has shown, even the Columbine shooters, who engaged in a premeditated massacre of fellow students, garnered more sympathy than has Lovelle Mixon, with a host of commentators struggling to grapple with what went wrong with these poor boys and to blame prescription drugs and bullying, while the very simple desire of someone like Lovelle Mixon to not spend one’s life in prison makes someone a “monster.” Interestingly, a similar effort to explain the inexplicable is currently being deployed to explain the massacre of immigrants in Binghamton, whose deaths have not led to their killer being labeled a “monster.”

To the inevitable accusation of disrespecting the dead, we must respond with a simple question: Where were you when Oscar Grant was murdered? There are some who are automatically respected in their death; there are others who are automatically disrespected and, in the case of Lovelle Mixon, demonized by a racist police department and press complicity. While some see moral equivalence, there was a difference between Grant and Mixon: the latter was able to foresee his impending death and fight back, so as to not meet Grant’s fate of catching a bullet in the back.

***

Raider Nation is a collective located in Oakland, California and the Bay Area more generally. We can be reached at raidernationcollective [at] gmail.com.

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Links to more ground level coverage and debate to be posted on my next page in this series: an Oakland Resource Guide and Current History

So there I was…

•March 5, 2009 • 2 Comments

…. finishing my western omelette, early at an Alameda coffee shop. I had taken a seat at the counter as had the usual coterie of retired guys and old timers.

There’s always that one dumb bastard who runs his mouth constantly at every counter full of old timers. This morning it was some loudmouth fuck who eventually got onto ‘gays in the military’ after pontificating on every other wayward topic that HE KNEW ALL ABOUT.

Between trolling for some shaming eye contact with this fuck, leafing through Frantz Fanon, and whittling away at my huge omelette, I found myself slipping into the groove i’ve been finding more and more often these days:   Perhaps it could be called, err, something like, “Ice smooth, total ass kick mode.” I don’t normally suffer fools gladly but now I’m taking “the suffer ” to them more and more.

After flaunting his scared and retarded views on showering with fags and how in the Navy, gay sailors would find themselves thrown overboard… I square up just behind them on my way out . > > >

“I’m gay.

Gay as fuck.

and ex-spec4 Sergeant 101st Airborne too.

My unit knew, didn’t give a fuck cuz I could handle my shit.The only problem cases were officers and morons.”

-silence…..I mean whole_room_silence…. –

“The time for you ignint chickenshit assholes is over. If you still wanna try and throw me overboard, we can step outside and you can find out just how I won the battalion-wide bare knuckle championship.”

I took his wide eyes as a “no.”

then I slung my messenger bag and stepped out into the sunshine.

bORGtard Communique no. 2 – the foolishnesses of Burningman

•March 1, 2009 • 6 Comments

From the rant archives of bORGtard Infinity:: February 26, 2005::

Regarding a tempest in a teapot circa 2005 ala Burningman: we saw the fait accompli of  cultural recuperation, commodification, and its momentum borne perpetual death long ago ….. above all we smelled up close ‘The Emperor That Wears No Clothes’ throughout all that is formally Burningman ::  the  dirty authoritarian guts that parade about skinned in the thin  mucilage of a measly funded, cliquish ‘art0ligarchy’.

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A collage missive from the depths of the bORGtard

an explosive collage missive, hot from the depths of the bORGtard ~ artist::Anonymous

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Continue reading ‘bORGtard Communique no. 2 – the foolishnesses of Burningman’

Cop shoots restrained man dead – Oakland Erupts!

•January 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

Oscar Grant, a 22 year old black man, was shot in the back while face down on a train platform.  After handcuffing him then letting him lay there for 30 minutes without medical attention, he died 7 hours later.  Summary execution of a black man by the cops isn’t new in this country but just what the hell happened here?   This time the the undeniable horror of a wanton shooting under color of authority was caught on video by every witness who cared to raise their cellphone.   (I could search for you but you can find plenty yourself:  just search out “Oscar Grant” or “BART shooting”  for all the different footage or search   “Oakland riots” for footage of the aftermath on Youtube.)

The transit authority, the police chief, the mayor, the DA….everybody above this cop drags their feet, offers the community nothing and takes no real steps to investigate or charge him with a damn thing, but the cop gets legal counsel AT THE SCENE as the yellow tape goes up!

Boom.

Downtown Oakland explodes 6 days later as a spontaneous march splits off  from a rally being  held at the train station where he was killed.    … A smashed cop car and a dumpster set alight in the street and it’s on.  ….  Confrontations and passionate chants of  “I am Oscar Grant!”… Lines of  people dropping to the pavement assuming Oscar’s last position:  face down, hands behind their backs , screaming “Shoot me! Gonna shoot me now?!”… Smashed storefront windows … smashed windshields and 2 local residents’ cars are torched … Many folks bail when private property and little businesses get hit… Tear gas is in the air:  some canisters are fired straight at people -smoking  hot projectiles into bodies …  No one can keep up with the running street melees between riot cops and the wildly mixed crowd in the street: all kinds of kids from the neighborhoods and all kinds of politicals…  masked radicals/anarchists getting taught a thing or two by street kids about staying mobile and fighting arrest … instances of anarchists giving bandanas out to kids from the corner, clueing them into not getting ID’d and busted by cop  surveillance …  News and police choppers churn overhead constantly…  People are using cellphones to keep in touch with their friends or document what is going down … Later I hear that there were even live Twitter feeds complete with images streaming onto the net … Neither the cops,  the protestors, the pitifully few news reporters still out on the street, nor anyone really can keep up with the  different bunches that have split off and gone mobile all over downtown …. It’s intense and it keeps going for hours.  …. When they finally get the edge,  the cops  make a mass arrest –  appproximately 80 people are face down  in an intersection to  the west  of Broadway as the cops  lock down the whole area.

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[FYI: Oscar was shot two blocks from my house.  I was at the rally that first Wednesday and at the following  second rally, march and late night confrontations a week later.]

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flickr image by Thomas Hawk

The day after the “riots”:  the usual media vultures offering the lamest of explanations and ready-made vilification.  Everyone, no matter what proclaimed political stripe it seems, takes the media’s presumptions as their own, repeats  simple-minded characterizations and takes complete misstatements of fact as their own point of view.

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This is a response I posted elsewhere trying to counter some of this blatant misinformation and bullshit:

“1-12-09

Let’s try to be clear. This seems to be the task at hand this last week, at least for those who are involved, organizing or just interested in the matter. Btw, I was at the demo Wednesday and have been involved in a ton of street action as well as other various types of organizing since I’d say, about 1984.

:: First: property destruction and “violence” aren’t synonymous. Parroting this lazy, pejorative thinking is testimony to the power of the media and a lack of critical thinking and direct experience street action and political organizing in general.

:: To say “rioter” distinct from “protester” is to say that there is a clear dividing line and that line is a justification for vilification and schism. It’s never that simple. I’ve been on both sides of that drawn line and the line has always been bullshit and besides the point.

:: 105-120 people were arrested and each is a story unto themselves. Don’t overspeak and pretend to know what went down in each case.

:: “Riot” is a loaded term and is used precisely for that reason. There’s a lot at play here and moronic simplifications especially the ones instigated by the state, the cops and the corporate infotainment media are a trap.

:: Beware of indulging in vicarious retribution, thrilling on or getting satisfaction out of the punishment of others by authority. This comes to mind when I heard stuff like “I hope they get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” The abdication of public life, justice and and right and wrong to Authority is at the heart of this issue and of damn near every political issue at far as this anarchist is concerned.

:: Beware of easy characterizations in general: speak within what you know or have seen, or feel and think and treat it as such. Seems like I have been trying to cut through assumptive bullshit and taking heat (from all sides) non-stop for days.

::If you want to talk about the mechanics of direct action and how an organized, experienced and radical mass can take the streets, police itself and still keep its spontaneity, we can get into that…

If you want to dig into the demands and nature of movements in general….

or talk about “What we want” or long term visions….

or talk about opportunities and methods to organize effectively right here and now, we can do that and I’d be glad to.

It’s what we really should be doing.”

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A link to some thoughtful streetlevel reporting and video footage by radio journalist DaveyD

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And guess what…. The massive coalition that runs deeper and wider than anything I’ve ever seen  in addition to the undeniable  pressure in the street put this on  front pages nationwide, got the mayor to do a 180 and start a  parallel OaklandPD  investigation,  got the State Attorney General to appoint a “supervisory prosecutor” to watch our local bullshit DA, and got the (now ‘former’) Officer charged with murder – at midnight the night before the second rally no less!

But more importantly….

Shit is moving in Oakland.  Real work is getting done in the community and boundaries are coming down.  This just might be the start of something.

Raise A Glass to Dave

•December 3, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Dave back in the day

I just got back from the weirdest (and most poignant) date.

(1) She is totally queer so it wasn’t that kind of date.
I was taking a leap and met Mammoth, a triber, at the Starry Plough in Berkeley. A first ‘online to real world’ dealio for both of us. We busted each other’s cherries. w00t!!

But, in the last few weeks she had been beaten up a bit by a breakup with her girlfriend and got canned by some bullshit non-profit. Jobless, her broke ass was in dire need of a beer or three, so I volunteered to be her buzz buddy. Anyways, after meeting her outside with that nervous little dissonance in both our heads, putting the body with the face for the first time, I noticed the place was packed to the gills; a loud band playing on a Sunday afternoon? Folks in their forties and above all over the place?

(2) We crash a wake.
Yes, it was a wake for a musician who had played the Plough many times. I wonder”How the hell are we gonna chat and get comfy in the middle of all this?’ We steal a couple of stools from the slow and drunk and proceed to make small talk. After we both settle in a little bit (Thank you, Guinness mothership!) we both realize the wake is the sweetest thing in the world. All his buddies were taking turns on stage playing, ‘doing it up’ to his memory. There were tamales and catered food a plenty.

During it all, one whole wall was taken up by a slide show of the man’s life, from the cradle to every band and friend he ever had: pictures of him in the fifties in a little cowboy hat with his big brother; pictures of him pretending to be the Kinks in high school. Pictures of him in spandex and a mullet; pictures of him just grinning from ear to ear with damn near everybody there in the room.

And there was a rack with shirts: they were giving away all the man’s shirts, a little piece of him and all the memories that went with them to whoever wanted one, to whoever wanted a piece of the man.

I look around the room when Mammoth hits the head…

I take in all the memories on the wall,
his favorite bagged out t-shirts on the rack,
every raised glass and smiling face,
all the overflowing love in the room…

It just kicks me in the heart.

My queer date comes back to a guy in a biker jacket with tears rolling down his face.

Here’s to Dave Carpender.
Raise a glass.

Note: I find out later that Dave was a member of the Greg Kihn Band from 1976-83.  Here is a page from Greg’s site on the man and his life.

Save Our Hobos!

•November 22, 2007 • 4 Comments

Maaaaaaaaannnnnnn….

The meme crap on the internet is voracious.
…jumping the shark, tiki fashion, drinking the kool-aid, pirates, LOLcats, fire spinner chicks named “AbsYnthe,”
ninjas, disemvowelment, robots, LOLcatNinjaRobots, …

Most memes are just the dumb Ur-language of an illiterate digi-goggled future. In-jokes for lazy assholes.

The present full-on travesty underway is the attack on the once strong and well niched fasination with zombies. WE, notYOU, were secure in being pitied outcasts and reprobates for having a spontaneous 2CB Zomibiethon movie night in 2003. (Tip: if tripling up on the dosage, avoid mirrors.) Now undead jokes are made at the watercooler. THIS IS NOT “PROGRESS”!

Johnny Cash givin’ the high hard one

Johnny sez “Fuck off, Boing Boing!

Next percolating crapulent epidemic is an attack on hobos.
Who doesn’t love “the hobo”? Hence the seduction, the rumble of a welling tide of “recuperation” à la Situationism.
Next thing you know, your fucktard boss monster will institute a “Bring-your-bindle-and-sterno” casual Friday at your soulless job. Fuck.

It’s too late.

just tears in the falling rain.
*sniff*

Hardest old school hobo you will never meet

Hobo on the move

Hobo with requisite doggies on the highway in the thirties… sign on the back says “See America First.”

 
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