Thursday, November 10, 2016

Overcoming Chronic Liberal Amnesia



Overcoming Chronic Liberal Amnesia: 
A Brief History Lesson





Pathetically asking "How could Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lose?" isn't a good look for liberals and the radicals who backslide into liberalism.  "How could this have happened?" has some very obvious answers that are more complex than "The USA is racist and sexist because they voted for Trump!", especially when 47% of eligible voters didn't cast a ballot.

I'm going to list a series of American political events that happened in my adult lifetime that should explain how we got into this mess:

1.   2000: Gore, after running an uninspiring awful campaign, wins the election, but it gets stolen from him.  Progressives are angry, want to challenge the Electoral College and the way the vote was rigged, but the Liberal Elites have a different solution: "Let's blame Ralph Nader instead."  Americans eventually get over it, and resign themselves to four years of a doofus president.

2.   2003: After over 2 years of a total nightmare slumber plagued by bullshit like "Orange Alerts", the progressives and the Left form a powerful anti-war movement... for about a month.  The Liberal Elites quickly channel the movement into "In 2004, elect anybody but Bush!"

3.   2004: Kerry, after running an uninspiring awful campaign, probably would have won the election had it not been for massive voter suppression in Ohio.  Anti-war Progressives are angry, want to challenge the Electoral College and the way the vote was rigged, but the Liberal Elites dusts off this old gem: "Let's blame Ralph Nader again."  The Anti-War Left, having gone all-in on Centrist John Kerry, dissolves.

4.   2006:  Americans are sick and tired of the Cowboy President and wars that are still going on with no exit strategy.  They show up for mid-term elections and the Democrats win both the House and Senate.  "Hey, ‘member that time a President was impeached for lying about a blow job?  Well, now we have a blatant war criminal in office. You have a clear mandate: Stop the fucking wars and impeach this bastard!"  To which the newly elected Congress replies, "Where does it say anything in the Constitution about Congress authorizing war?  I'll have to double check that and get back to you.  Oh, and impeachment is off the table."

5.   2008: Obama, after running an inspiring campaign filled with empty platitudes, defeats Hillary Clinton in the primaries in large part due to the fact that Progressives loathed her pro-war voting record.  Barack "Yes We Can" Obama wins the general election; there is dancing in the streets.  "Hey, I guess that Electoral College thing is just fine after all."

6.   2009: Obama begins winding down the War in Iraq, aka Operation Have Our Troops Stand Around In A Belligerent Occupied Country And Wait To Get Randomly Blown Up By An IED.  Obama expands the War in Afghanistan aka Operation These Record Breaking Opium Crops Won't Guard Themselves.  Obama genially states he's going to start a drone strike program in 5 more countries, while keeping Gitmo open.  The Anti-War Progressives stir slightly at this, but are quickly shouted down by the Liberal Elites: "SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GIVE THIS MAN A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE ALREADY!!!"

7.   2009 - 2010:  With Democratic clear majorities in both the House and Senate, Obama uses all of his political capital to pass a Republican Health Care plan.  No other progressive legislation gets passed through, via some new never before seen rule wherein now a 67% majority is necessary to pass a bill.  Americans dust off their 7th grade Civics textbooks: "Huh, I was always taught you only needed 50% +1, but then I'm not a Constitutional Lawyer." and this rule goes unchallenged.

8.   2010: Obama; after running an uninspiring awful first two years as President, both the House and the Senate fall to the Republicans.  Some Progressives stir slightly, and begin to point out that the loss was because of such an uninspiring term in office so far filled with broken promises, that American voters just stayed home, and it was the Democrats to blame for selling out their base.  To which the Liberal Elites replied: "AMERICA JUST CAN'T HANDLE A BLACK PRESIDENT."

9.   2011-2012:  The Occupy Movement has over 19,000 protest camps across the USA, decrying big banks and corrupt politicians of all stripes.  Just as the movement was leaving Stage One: Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit marches and encampments, and begins successfully organizing Stage Two, General Strikes and Industry Shutdowns with winnable demands to bend and break the system... Obama coordinates with the Department of Homeland Security and Democratic Mayors across the country to deploy a militarized police force to brutally crush the Occupy Movement.  "Freedom to Assemble doesn't mean Freedom to Assemble" says the Constitutional Lawyer Commander-in-Chief.  The Liberal Elites yell "LALALALALA: NOTHING TO SEE HERE."

10.   2012: Obama, after running an uninspiring awful campaign, wins reelection, with many shell-shocked and Stockholm Syndromed Progressives and ex-Occupiers saying, in a daze: "The two-party system is corrupt, they both serve the same plutocratic oligarchy... But Romney really would be a bad president.  Better vote for Obama..."

11.   2008-2016:  The Liberal Elites employ a new piece of propaganda over and over again: “You must elect a Democratic President, because they select the new Supreme Court Justices.  If Republicans select new judges, they’ll take our liberal freedoms away, and clearly your specific identity politics is more important than any other issue, and check your privilege if you say otherwise.”

Meanwhile, the Republican majority SCOTUS passes gay marriage, and there is dancing in the streets. The Leftist allies of the LGBTQIA community tepidly go, “Cool, so maybe now ally back with us on the whole dismantling capitalism thing?  You know, that old chestnut?”  To which the reply from the Liberal Elites (aka totally down with the cause now, even after years of denouncing gay marriage) is: “Maybe!  After we elect Hillary!”

“It is critical that we elect Hillary so Trump doesn’t get to fill Scalia’s vacated seat!”  Americans dust off their 7th grade Civics textbook again: “…Is that how that works?  Is it just us, or is it weird that there’s only been 8 Supreme Court Justices for a while now?  Shouldn’t the Constitutional Lawyer President, maybe, I dunno, DO something about it…?”

12.   2016: Clinton, after running an uninspiring awful campaign, loses to Donald Trump.  The Liberal Elites are blaming Russia, the FBI, and yes, I shit you not, Ralph Nader.  Anything but their own shitty candidate.  Progressives are going through the motions of outrage: “It’s the Electoral College’s fault!  See, I’ve been saying this THE WHOLE TIME.”  People moan about Trump’s policies, like how awful it will be when he starts deporting undocumented immigrants, to which Leftists reply “Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president in history,” to which the Liberal Elites yell “NANANANANA NOT LISTENING!”

Etc.




Maybe the 47% of eligible voters who didn’t vote this election don’t have a firm grasp of points 1-12, but they got the gist of it: “Fuck this fucking system, these fucking awful candidates: voting doesn’t change fucking shit,”  and they stayed home.

Gee, maybe, just maybe, something inspiring for a change?

There is already some talk among the Rads and the Leftists about having a General Strike on Inauguration Day, months away.

A couple of things… 

‘Member when in November 2011 there was a General Strike where 100,000 people participated to shut down the Port of Oakland--- and that was organized in under seven days? I ‘member.

It’s not a bad idea-- it could be an excellent move: but my line of thinking is doing this on Inauguration Day is protesting Trump and validating the system that elected him, IE missing the fucking point entirely.

Let’s think this through and remember some shit for a change.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fuck You Michael Moore For Purposefully Ignoring The Occupy Movement In Your Recent Film "Where To Invade Next"



So I finally got around to watching Michael Moore’s 2016 film “Where to Invade Next”.  Its joking premise is that after so many failed US military interventions/invasions since WWII, culminating with war in Iraq, where the US didn’t even get to steal their oil, Moore was going to “invade” various European countries to steal their good ideas regarding democratic socialist policies.

First he invades Italy to “steal” their ideas of laws requiring five weeks paid vacation, 2 weeks off for newlyweds, and yearly bonus income to spend on holidays.  

Next, France where he steals their idea of gourmet school lunches versus the processed slop American students are expected to shovel down in under 20 minutes.

Then onto Finland, the best educated nation in the world, Moore speaks with high school teens who know 4-5 languages each, and learns their education rate is so high due to two primary philosophies: no standardized testing and no homework.

Etc.



“Where to Invade Next” was an improvement over his previous film “Capitalism: A Love Story” (2010) which was comparatively a long Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit film with no solutions.  In “Sicko” (2007), Moore showed how at ease European societies are when they don’t have to worry about paying for healthcare out of pocket: in “Where to Invade Next” this vision is now expanded to the other human comforts and dignities Democratic Socialist policies can provide, especially when compared to the American hellscape where these things are dismissed as distant dreams.  (“Paid vacation?! Keep rowing, maggot!” [whip crack])

Other highlights include: Iceland where women must make up at least 40% of government…

Portugal, where no one has been arrested for possession of illegal drugs for 15 years…

Norway, where prisoners are treated humanely…

…And Slovenia, where college education is free.  Moore talks to Slovenian college students who tell him that recently their government tried to rescind free higher education, so they fought back and took to the streets until that government was ousted: free college was kept.

Moore then utilizes a smash cut montage of what happens in other countries when the government tries to take away their free education, highlighting thousands of militant students in the streets from Canada, Germany, France, Finland and Norway.

[Moore narrating] “And here’s what happens each time there’s a tuition hike in the US…”
[cut to a three second long shot of an American Ivy League school, with a few students in the foreground placidly lounging on the lawn]

Fuck you, Michael Moore.  Fuck you for ignoring Occupy Cal and Occupy UC Davis.




Some context here: Michael Moore was once the head liberal cheerleader for the Occupy Movement.  Not only was he praising the virtues of the movement in near nightly TV news spots, but he personally visited hundreds of Occupy encampments across the country.  I saw him speak at Occupy Oakland just about 5 years ago today; days after the OPD turned downtown Oakland into a tear gas filled warzone, injuring 100s and nearly killing Marine veteran Scott Olsen.
 
After a long and shitty winter of daily police state terror across the country and thousands of brutal arrests later, Occupy tried to band together what resources and strength we had left, and re-emerge in the spring.  This was to culminate on March 17th 2012, the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, when activists would try and retake Zuccotti Park.   Moore himself led a march from a leftist forum where he was a keynote speaker to reinforce the Occupiers at the park.  

The NYPD did that night what all the police forces across the country were given the green light to do when it came to dealing with peaceful protesters: beat the shit out of them indiscriminately and arrest hundreds of them.  (An ironic highlight that evening:  After all of the liberal whining and pearl-clutching over the prior months about activists breaking a couple of windows during a march, the NYPD smashed a window that night… with a street medic’s skull, repeatedly.)

After this disaster of totalitarianism was unleashed upon OWS yet again, did Michael Moore rush to his lined up media spots on CNN, MSNBC, etc, to decry the police violence?  

No.  He went silent.  His social media accounts went dark for weeks, months.  And then, he never talked about Occupy again.



You see, citizens assembling peacefully to redress grievances to affect political and social change being met coordinated police state terror doesn’t fit Michael Moore’s narratives.  Police state terror that was coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security under Democratic President Obama and executed by Democratic mayors across the country doesn’t fit Moore’s narratives of “Vote for Barack Obama, or else we’ll get Mitt Romney and then things will get REALLY bad,” or now his current “Vote for Hillary Clinton or you’re a terrorist!” narratives.

This is because Michael Moore is a fucking fraud who genuflects to the Plutocracy and the police state that upholds them and in return he can make gatekeeping pseudo-“leftist” documentaries criticizing the oligarchs, while conveniently leaving out the police state terror aspect of it so he can keep alive the propagandistic myth of “Vote Democrat, click your heels together three times, and we’ll all go home”. (No shit, the actual conclusion of the film was that scene from The Wizard of Oz)

This is why Michael Moore smugly says there isn’t or wasn’t US student protests in his film “Where to Invade Next” while ignoring the lines of students at Occupy Cal with their arms linked getting beat with batons, or how he “forgot” to include the iconic imagery of Lt. Pike hosing down sitting students with copious amounts of pepper spray at Occupy UC Davis.



In “Where to Invade Next” when Moore was in Portugal, he attended a May Day workers’ demonstration/celebration, and lamented that Labor Unions in the USA didn’t have this holiday for working class solidarity.

 After the long winter, and the disaster of March 17th, Occupiers around the country organized for one final push: for mass demonstrations on May Day 2012 in unity and solidarity with dozens of US Labor Unions.  Many Unions boisterously supported Occupy in the first couple of months of the movement… but slowly, quietly withdrew their support when they determined that we wouldn’t be useful idiot tools for electing Democrats and supporting Obama.

But the ideal for May Day 2012 was a public reunification of the Labor Unions and the Occupy Movement in a strong showing for workers’ solidarity… but at the 11th hour the Unions cancelled their support, leaving Occupy out in the streets alone for the cops to move in and beat the shit out of us. 
Again.  
Movement over.   
Death by betrayal.



While in Italy in the film, Moore spoke to union leaders there and asked how they achieved such rights for workers like a five week vacation.  To which the Italians responded: through years of previous workers’ struggles and suffering versus the ruling class; and these benefits are maintained by constant organizing and vigilance.

Michael Moore than gave this look of his oft repeated shtick: “Gee, if only we in America would elect better Democrats and strengthen our unions…” ignoring that US Labor Unions have been constantly and consistently betraying workers and Leftists for 70 years, selling out the working class over and over again to their Corporate Overlords.  (A fact that Moore actually brought up in his first film “Roger & Me” regarding the United Auto Workers… for about 90 seconds… and never again.)






What is the state of activism today?  Is it just a cardboard cutout of Michael Moore shrugging, as if to lamely ask: “Why can’t we have nice things?”

In the years since Occupy, I’ve seen radical students take over a building on campus, rallying a new wave of students to the cause, only to see a meeting originally about which doorways to barricade devolve into a 3 hour debate on proper pronoun usage.

I’ve seen militant Black Lives Matter marches, numbering in the thousands, climbing onto freeways by default, and veteran street activists say “So hey, if this march is going to turn into an impromptu, ad hoc freeway blockade, this particular section of the freeway isn’t strategically sound,” devolve into an on the spot lecture on “What It Means to be a White Ally: 101 New Ways To Check Your Privilege,” as riot cops surrounded on all sides.


What then, is to be done?


The current #NoDAPL encampments give me hope:  that Big Labor is pro-pipeline and is actively trying to ratfuck the Protectors should be more than duly noted.


My apologies that I don’t have any great rallying cries at the moment: just three main points.


  1.  The US Labor Unions are an enemy to the working class in America.  There is more than ample evidence.  In fact, the film “Where To Invade Next” is a perfect example of this: Northern and Western Europeans have free healthcare, 5 weeks paid vacation, free education etc etc, because their Unions fought for it while American Unions sold out.


  1. I’m not exactly thrilled to be “that guy”, but since Occupy, with increasing regularity, the state has been using paid undercover saboteurs to infiltrate activist meetings to weaponize Identity Politics, PC Culture and Social Justice Warrior language to create bitter divisions in movements where none had previously existed, with useful idiots parroting buzzwords and phrases that have since lost all meaning. 
This has demonstrably crushed budding movements in their infancy, before riot cops ever need to be deployed. 
This is mass manipulation. Now you may think that sounds paranoid, but I’ve lived through it.  Repeatedly.  I’ve seen untold dozens of individuals add up into hundreds, and yes thousands over the years, eagerly walk into activist spaces, see firsthand how much of a toxic shit-mire it is, say “Fuck this” and walk away from activism forever.  We must correct this course.


  1.  On September 17th of this year, on the 5 year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, I read the latest crop of Occupy retrospectives.  And what’s becoming more and more clear with each passing year is that there is a concerted attempt to erase the radical history of the movement.  A new minimizing narrative is becoming the dominate account: That Occupy lasted for a couple of months in New York (and not 19,000 encampments across the USA), there were a couple of marches, and then everyone went home.
Gone are the stories of Occupy Oakland coordinating two General Strikes and coordinated port shutdowns: the first of their kind in the USA in 70 years.  A tactic that was winning before it was ratfucked and crushed.

Gone are the stories of the constant police brutality against Occupy; the kind of stories where someone would get snatched and grabbed by cops, disappeared in a jail cell for days, and the report for the cause of arrest just says “Umbrella”.

Gone is any sense of perspective of the staggering toll these constant acts of brutality and kidnapping and ransoming (the terms ‘jail’ and ‘bail’ don’t apply when someone is held in prison for having a yoga mat) did to the psyches of us in the movement.

Michael Moore’s film “Where To Invade Next” is the latest in this type of propaganda.  It is insidiously Orwellian in nature; its purpose is to make Occupy “un-history” as if it never happened, so new activists won’t learn from the mistakes (and god damn were there so many fucking mistakes) from that movement and apply the lessons we learned from our literal blood, sweat, and tears to future struggles.


We must not let this happen.


#o25



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why Rejecting the Pitifully Small Police Brutality Settlement of #J28 Helps #BlackLivesMatter



Why Rejecting the Pitifully Small Police Brutality Settlement of #J28 Helps #BlackLivesMatter


Here I am, defiantly saying "Fuck you!" to the Berkeley Police Department, after being tear gassed and shot with a rubber bullet at a #BlackLivesMatter protest on Dec 6th 2014.  Since this image went out internationally on the AP wire under the headline "Berkeley Protests Turn Violent", and apparently I was the SnapChat Hero of the Day at Berkeley High School, yeah, 50+ days later I'll fucking own it.


            January 28th 2012 (#J28) over 2000 people gathered in downtown Oakland to support #OccupyOakland’s “Move-In Day”: an explicitly radical action designed to take over a dormant, vacant building and transform it into a community activist/houseless-outreach center.  To prevent this from happening, the Oakland Police Department and many agencies from all around the Bay Area showed up like Roman Legionnaires to violently suppress us, breaking every Federally-mandated court order regarding crowd-control policy to eventually mass arrest over 400 hundred of us.  Although there is hundreds of hours of video footage from the dozens of reporters and independent livestreamers documenting the police agencies breaking their own laws hundreds of times throughout the day, it took our “Civil Rights” lawyers three years to  reach a terrible pittance of a settlement with the City of Oakland: A $1.3 million dollar settlement in which the lawyers keep the lion’s share; we the plaintiffs are to receive ~$2.6k each (before taxes), and no official from the City of Oakland, Alameda County, or the OPD receives any charges levied against them from their brutal illegalities of that day and the following days when we were tortured and abused inside the notorious Santa Rita jail.
 I believe it is extremely important to reject this insultingly low monetary settlement, the secretive lawyering practices that led up to it, and reject and replace our “radical” movements’ laissez-faire attitude towards those volunteer protesters afflicted by police brutality and/or arrest: “Don’t worry!  Let the ACLU/NLG/the ‘Civil Rights’ lawyers take care of it,” since it should be shockingly obvious that these lawyers have failed to do their job at even creating the meanest modicum of justice, over and over again in the modern Bay Area populist/radical movements, stemming from at least the Oscar Grant uprisings to present day.
This is an exceedingly imperative conversation to have RIGHT NOW, as we are several months into the #BlackLivesMatter movement against police-brutality in the Bay Area.  Police have been the most violent they’ve been since #J28 2012, with more illegal baton strikes; tear gas, concussion grenades, less lethal munitions fired into crowds of peaceful protesters, and more mass-arrests without giving people a chance to disperse.  Yet, astonishingly, we the protesters of late-2014 to today have learned little to zero of the stark lessons about movement sustainability since the days of Occupy.  We paid for those lessons in our literal blood, and they shouldn’t be abandoned because of some unexamined kneejerk squeamishness in confronting our Sacred Cow “allies” of the “left” like the civil rights lawyers’ guilds. This is something that needs to be rectified IMMEDIATELY if we are to continue our cause to en masse challenge and overcome the police state.

            Since the events of #J28 have been rather well document by others, I’m going to recount my memories of what went down around the time of this iconic photo, and the resulting aftermath:




I remember us marching rather blindly into the kettle trap at 19th & Telegraph, and the police firing tear gas without warning ten feet away from me, rather ironically in front of the statue commemorating Gandhi, MLK and others.

I remember two members of Occupy Cal, young UC Berkeley students, who fearlessly stood in front of said statue in a cloud of tear gas, facing down the riot cops with peace signs held high. I went back for them, as they were the last ones left there, and suggested now was a good time to go.  (Later, the very-nonviolent female student who was all of 5-foot nothing was clubbed on the back of the head: concussed & bleeding, she was arrested and soon cited-and-released by OPD and left to wander aimlessly in a daze through the streets of Oakland in the middle of the night [only to be randomly rescued by another member of Occupy Cal who was doing jail support].)  (Tear gas is banned in war = Torture/War Crime)
I remember the adrenaline rush of the fence being torn down and us escaping the kettle, only to realize we were still marked pilgrims in an unholy land; surrounded by riot cops in white vans on every street with no clear place to march.

I remember us unstrategically marching back south down Broadway into another kettle trap of phalanx of riot cops. I had all of one second to decide: I saw some of the crowd trying to run into the YMCA on the left; others I saw climbing a fence to the right.  The one second I spend on deciding was one second too long as WHACK--- a baton struck me from behind.  (Illegal crowd control)
I remember the ~400 of us being herded into the alcove at the Y, trying frantically to calm the riot cops down who had a crazed look in their eyes like they wanted nothing more than an excuse to charge into us and start cracking skulls.  To that end, they “randomly” selected a black man out of the front lines who was doing nothing wrong, threw him to the pavement and put the boots and batons to him Rodney King style.  (Illegal crowd control)

I remember the mass arrest for “failure to disperse” after illegally never saying it on a loudspeaker, and illegally, not letting us disperse after kittling us at the YMCA.  (Illegal crowd control)

I remember being put in ziptie handcuffs at around 7pm.  Those zipties didn’t come off until 5AM at Santa Rita.

I remember being loaded on a full prison bus with no ventilation: meaning all of us who had been tear gassed all day in the open air were now boxed in with each other, making a poisonous box full of people coughing, choking and vomiting. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember an older black man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was arrested with the rest of us: he had kidney problems and begged the officers for use of a bathroom.  The officers laughed at him while he pissed in his pants.

I remember the officers saying we were going to all be collectively punished for people urinating and vomiting on the bus, even though we hadn’t had access to a bathroom in over 10 hours.  We were forced to wait an extra 30 minutes outside the bus with our faces against the concrete wall for our “crimes” before being led into Santa Rita. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember being aggressively patted down: I remember those males identifying as queer or trans being extra-aggressively being patted down, groped, molested, assaulted and taunted by the prison guards.
I remember 24 of us being crowded into a holding cell that wasn’t mean for more than five.  We’d be there for the next ~20 hours. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember that although 80%+ of us were vegetarian, we were denied vegetarian food out of spite and given slimy baloney sandwiches instead.

I remember 2-3 times that night/morning after we managed to all more or less fall asleep in the extremely overcrowded cell, some sort of chemical agent was pumped/vented in causing us all to wake up, choking and coughing. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember over the next 38 hours or so, the prison guards would strategically wait until most of us were asleep in our cells, and call a cell check for some random name that belonged to none of us: they did this for deliberate sleep deprivation. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember everyone involved being denied their necessary medication, including HIV/AIDS meds and others. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember being moved to a bigger cell that was slightly less overcrowded, but the drinking water was scalding hot IE not potable. (Torture/War Crime)

I remember in the 48 hours I was arrested and then finally released, I was never given access to a phone or a lawyer. (Constitutional Violation)

I remember the sickening feeling that if I resisted this torture in any way, I’d be beaten, thrown into a hole and forgotten about.  This may have been the worst psychological torture: to let the pigs have their way and feel that there was nothing I could do about it…


            It’s hard/impossible to put a dollar amount to the tortures I, we, endured.  But surely $2600 does seem ridiculously, insultingly fucking low, doesn’t it?




Well, this whole recounting has been rather fucking draining.  But I must continue with the aftermath.




I remember being arrested Saturday night and being released on a Monday night.  Immediately upon my release I contacted every media outlet because I wanted to give testimony/bear witness/go on record about the tortures I witnesses and endured.

I remember Tuesday morning calling up the Thom Hartmann Show and detailing my experience (with my voice raspy as I was still affected by tear gas and lack of water), and getting Thom to on the air, live, apologizing for criticizing Occupy Oakland and offering a call for solidarity. 

I remember 90% of the independent media journalists, if they got back to me at all, say a version of “Oh yeah, I already filed my #J28 story on Sunday/Monday: no new news here.” As if the largest mass arrest in Oakland in 30 years warranted no follow-ups.  INDY MEDIA FAILED US.

I remember “indy-journalists” who used Occupy Oakland social media channels to solicit donations for their personal careers, refusing to do any follow-ups RE #J28--- it’s worth reiterating: INDY MEDIA FAILED US.

I remember still coughing tear gas out of my lungs when Chris Hedges published his infamous “The Cancer of Occupy” article RE #J28 that was republished on countless “left” “progressive” independent media news sites.  More words were written about how we were “violent counterrevolutionaries” for wearing helmets and carrying shields than were written about the violent, torturous police and prison guards of Alameda County.  CommonDreams dot Org has me banned to this day for commenting “Fuck Chris Hedges”. AGAIN: INDY MEDIA FAILED US. (#OpChrisHedges)

I remember the Leaders-Not-Leaders of Occupy Oakland/#J28 calling a special GA to talk about Move-In Day.  Hundreds of people showed up voicing many direct, to the point questions about the egregious tactics that failed us over and over again that day that left many of us fucked up by police brutality (yet the Leaders-Not-Leaders [mostly] got away unarrested and unscathed).  One after another these people were dismissed with variations of “Oh, we can’t talk about it since there is now an ongoing court case going on RE #J28” IE, variations of the bullshit sophist “Loose Lips Sink Ships” propaganda to silence extreme pertinent criticism.  I cannot stress enough it was because of this there has been no major sustained radical movement in Oakland to this day (with just wisps of ad hoc #BlackLivesMatter rallies now, three years later--- more on this later).   Unaccountable leadership.  The buck stops nowhere.

I remember the NLG (National Lawyers Guild) calling us to two mass meetings of those arrested on #J28, that was meant to placate us.  The meeting boiled down to “Don’t worry, we have everything under control: don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

I remember the NLG never calling us back RE our initial court hearings, having us rely on varying degrees of accuracy social media reports to see if charges were filed against us or not.
I remember NLG making a social media announcement/email “Whoops, we don’t have everything under control- we are going to fob you all off to independent civil rights lawyers Yolanda Huang and Dan Siegel (the latter of whom is totally going to put his best foot forward fighting this case and not at all be distracted by running an ill-conceived Mayoral campaign).” 

I remember trying to call the Law Offices of Ms. Huang sporadically over the next ~3 years and very rarely even getting this response/callback: “Don’t worry, everything is under control; Stop calling me: I’ll call you.”

I remember being extremely concerned circa summer of 2013 when the ACLU announced a pitiful $1 million dollar settlement regarding the most infamous case of obscene police brutality in all of Occupy: the pepper-spraying of Occupy UC Davis by Lt. Pike.  A case that was so ridiculously clear cut, the ACLU could have hit multiple grand slams charging the University of California, the UCPD, and made fundamental systemic changes to how colleges handle student protests from now on: this ACLU chose to bunt instead, holding no one accountable, and those student activists chemicallytortured receiving less than Lt Pike did with his paid suspension and workerscomp by a factor of ~6X.  I tried to write about this, but I was censored.

I remember being extremely concerned when the NLG announced their settlement with the city of Oakland regarding the Oscar Grant protest mass-arrests of 2010 (of which I barely escaped the net).  The NLG got the lion’s share and for their 24 hrs of being thrust into overcrowded jail cells after being illegally arrested (24-48 hours less than most #J28 arrestees) got around $3k each.  This seemed insulting low to me (little did I know…) at the time, and I did my best to try and rally people around the idea that if this is acceptable, we are going to get fucked over when our #J28 settlement comes to fruition.  How fun it is to have the Cassandra Complex!

I remember being somewhat optimistic after hearing about the first few rounds of settlements coming out of Occupy Oakland in the past year, and #J28 cases that had individual counsel (and not a class action suit like the one I was involved in).  One woman got a $40k settlement for being pushed to the pavement by OPD on #J28 and not even arrested.  This set the bar at a reasonable place for the rest of us who endured so much more brutality.


            And then… the announcement of a settlement of $2.6k each for #J28 happened.


Look:  I’m not going to lie to you.  I’m fucking poor, and I’ve been fucking poor my entire life.  $2600 would help me a lot.  But that’s not a settlement: you might as well offer me 30 pieces of silver, because that’s fucking Judas money.  I haven’t been an activist in the Bay Area these past 6+ years for the money, but this scene has taken from me so much fucking more from me than I’ve put into it, and I’m not just talking about fiduciary concerns.  So if I’m ever going to cash in my chips, I’m not fucking doing it for $2600.
But let’s be really fucking clear: this isn’t about haggling over a fairer price for me.  If we accept this we are dooming the #BlackLivesMatter movement.


Here is me, in the middle of No Man’s Land, in a cloud of tear gas, during a #BlackLivesMatter protest in Berkeley on December 6th 2014. 




Out of the hundreds of protesters gathered, I alone didn’t retreat back a block but advanced towards the line of riot cops to rescue a stranger who had fallen because a concussion grenade exploded inches from his face and he collapsed to the street.  Risking my health and safety I helped him up and got him back to the protesters.  For this, even though I never through a thing at the police (except my middle finger), I was shot at and hit by rubber bullets.  I did this because I have fucking courage, and I believe in the movement #BlackLivesMatter against police brutality and the police state: even to the point of risking my life.

But I won’t be a sucker.  Never again.  I won’t be used by people who exploit the movement(s) for their personal gains.  Never again.  I won’t sit silently while this movement goes on unstrategically, while more people get brutalized, burned-out and then gladhanded by the lawyers who are supposed to protect our rights, but sell us out, over and over and over again.  How many more examples do you need before you too shout “NEVER AGAIN!”?



What then, is to be done?


The fuck if I know.  I’m just one person, sometimes bolstered by allies and friends; other times not so much.  I’m in a movement that pretends to be all about community, but will jettison your ass to the curb the SECOND you become an inconvenience and do something like ask the wrong question about the Sacred Cows of the “Radical” “Left” (the knife in the back: no extra charge).

But here are my “Calls to Action” all the same:


1st:  I think we need a public meeting regarding the #J28 settlement and I think we need to pressure the lawyers involved to show up and publicly state why they mishandled the case (Let’s not mince words).  And then we need to public reject this settlement and go back to the negotiating table.


2nd: I think we need a larger conversation locally and nationally about the goals and demands of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the construction of a sustainable movement.  While I have been inspired by the series of ad hoc protests around the country these past months, shutting down a freeway or mass transit for a few hours, and then being brutalized and arrested by police only to have a shitty settlement three years later isn’t sustainable, therefore it won’t win as currently structured.  I want to win.  I believe we can win.  We MUST adjust our tactics accordingly.


3rd: To that end, I’ve been remarkably consistent in what would be the biggest revolutionary demand to end the police state: #EndTheDrugWar.  I’ve been saying this since the Oscar Grant movement at public and private organizational assemblies.  Usually to crickets and tumbleweeds.




Yet the logic is simple: We are outraged at police brutality, and how it disproportionately affects black and brown and poor communities.  We are outraged at the mass incarceration of these communities.  What is the lead cause of this brutality?  The Drug War.  #Every45Seconds someone in this country (overwhelmingly black, brown and/or poor) someone is put in chains and a cage for possessing cannabis.  More than ever before, a vast majority of people in this country support ending the drug war: tying #EndTheDrugWar to #BlackLivesMatter would make an overwhelming populist movement with a clear goal, the likes of which haven’t been seen in the USA since the anti-Vietnam War protests over 40 years ago.  (And no, the endgame here isn’t “Yippie! I can buy weed at WalMart now!” but #DrugWarReparations--- but that is a another conversation for now.)


...

That’s the best I could come up with on short notice, on this, the 3rd anniversary of #J28 2012.  Here’s to many more justices and victories for us, the good guys and gals, before the next anniversary.

Lemme know what you think = @Ergoat