The Empire Strikes Back

[Note: while the details of this article are Oakland-centric, the same (or worse) repression is perpetrated against marginalized communities daily. Wherever you are, please stand up and fight back].

During Fall of 2011 the people came out en mass to support Occupy Oakland. The numbers that were mobilized empowered us to directly and effectively confront the oppressive systems that are attacking our communities and ecosystems. Our unity, numbers and mutual solidarity created an environment of relative safety from police repression. Beautiful and creative actions I never thought possible were the norm, where we sought consent from our community, and never asked permission from our would-be masters.

While our organizing and networks are continuing to grow into the Winter, our visual presence has diminished, especially in Oscar Grant Plaza. The city and OPD have capitalized on this fact by instituting a crackdown and repression on Occupy organizers. Nearly 50 arrests and an unknown number of incidences of police violence have occurred during late January – early December The victims of this violence are by and large individuals that were not committing any crime. What the victims have in common is a high level of involvement in the movement. Media, Food, Medics and especially the Tactical Action Committee have been targeted and singled out for police violence and repression.

To help illustrate these facts, I will relate a few first hand accounts.

Member of TAC: “On January 4th, about 60 cops flooded the plaza, pointed people out then started grabbing them. I was across the street when an officer pointed in my direction. I started walking away, and when I turned around there were 3 officers walking toward me. They ran up and grabbed me. They called me by my first name and said things like “we got you again, aren’t you out on bail?”. I was booked for obstructing a ‘peace keeper’ and I now have a stay away order for the plaza. I was singled out because I have been a consistent and vocal presence in the plaza and active with various other projects.”

Leila: “I have been working within the Occupy Oakland community two months working and coordinating with the kitchen and gardening committees and in others ways such as coordinating communications for community planning, and helping to organize and advise others in their projects.

On the night of January 7th, during the march against police repression, I was assaulted by multiple Oakland police officers. I was shoved by an officer when I stopped to observe a medic get tackled and arrested. Then a second officer hit me strong enough to send me flying back. I fell and my partner ran to catch my head before it hit the pavement. Immediately the officer who hit me started to swing his baton at both of us. We attempted to pull away as multiple officers continued to aggressively pursue us, swinging batons and throwing a bike at us. No verbal communication by the officers had been made during this entire incident. I was hit on the hand; there was immediate swelling and bruising. My partner was hit on his arm; he later went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a hematoma.”

Josh: “I have been participating with Occupy Oakland since October and I have now been battered and arrested twice and beaten once by the police. Never was I acting violently or aggressively. On December 30th I was serving food in the plaza when the police moved in on the tree sit. My partner and a friend sat down near the base of the tree; within seconds and without warning the police grabbed and dragged them away. Seconds later a sergeant pointed at me and said, “Take ’em”. Three cops grabbed me, put me in a pain compliance hold, slammed me against the cruiser and arrested me. I was charged with obstructing a “peace officer”, and moved from one holding cell to another for 22 hours before getting bonded out. Others arrested that day were held for 5 days and finally released without charges.”

LA Joe: “I came to Oakland from Occupy LA. During my 2½ months here I have been arrested twice and OPD addresses me by my first name. After my second arrest, Officer Nguyen approached me at the plaza. He essentially told me that he had looked in my file (he knew my mom’s name, where I grew up in LA, and where I went to college) and that because I was intelligent and educated, I had little in common with most occupiers and that he could “help me”. It should be obvious to us all that we are in an age of counter-intelligence.”

So yes, we are going through a period of heightened repression and counter-intelligence. This is nothing new and it should not be surprising. Repression and violence is the de facto response to any threat against the current prevailing power structure, and it’s effective. So the question is: How can we resist repression?

One response has been the weekly Fuck the Police (FTP) / Anti-repression marches. Assembling every Saturday evening (usually in the plaza), the marches zigzag around downtown and by the police station, drawing attention to the repression and directly confronting police brutality. The FTP marches are also a great laboratory to experiment with a variety of tactics. Lining up against the police went bad last time; let’s try maneuvering around them. How about an FTP parade to celebrate the coming insurrection and present ourselves in a less menacing way, or an FTP kittens march where we spread out over an area in small groups so the cops don’t have an organized mass to target?

Or just call it off last minute and kick it in the plaza; which is another thing we can do to help resist repression. Having a physical presence in a central public place was the hallmark of Occupy. Taking space in an open and public manor must be a part of what we do. But it can be risky when it’s only a small group out there. It makes it very easy for the police to pick out and arrest the girl bringing food to the occupiers, or the guy with the camera. So spend some time at the plaza, eat some food, join a committee, go to GA, whatever you like, just show up. Being there adds strength and security to the movement, and maybe you will make a new friend.

Filling the courts when our allies are on trial is another good way to support the people that are putting their necks on the line so we can all live in a better world. If you don’t have the time for that, call the mayor, the DA, the police chief, everyone, and demand the release of political prisoners.

In conclusion, the world is controlled by psychopathic fascists who control armies of soulless mercenaries. Do something about it before it’s too late.

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Jan 14:Two people were arrested Saturday night during a relatively peaceful antipolice demonstration, FTP march

Jan 7: FTP march. Police charge crowd, batoning, shooting beanbags, and arresting medics, media, and observers. Six arrested and at least two hospitalized.

Jan 5: Protest at city hall to demonstrate against the repressive police action. Two were snatched and arrested.

Jan 4: About sixty police in riot gear storm the plaza, picked out and arrested twelve people, many of whom are members of the media team. The police abruptly left after “destroying everything” at the peaceful vigil. Occupiers immediately marched to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in solidarity with those in custody.

Dec 30: Cops swarm the plaza immediately snatching and arresting folks. 11 occupiers in total were arrested, many of who faced bogus charges. It became apparent on this day that the cops were deliberately targeting and harassing specific people whom they consider to be key members of Occupy Oakland.

Dec 29: OPD raided the occupa
tion of a foreclosed house on 10th and Mandela, arresting 12 people most of whom are part of the Tactical Action Committee.

Dec 28: Arrests were made during a raid of an occupation by Tactical Action Committee at an unused lot in West Oakland.