The Streets Shout! Riot for Oscar Grant!

By I Steve

If you’re picking up this issue in the near or distant future (from 2009 AD), let me refresh your memory. Late New Year’s Eve, BART police came to the Fruitvale station responding to a report of groups of youth fighting. While they detained many suspects, one BART policeman, Johannes Mehserle, pulled his revolver, waited, and then fatally shot Oscar Grant. Over the next week, people from many paths realized “Whoa! What the fuck!” and a protest happened, which turned into a march, which became an outburst of property destruction and disposal container abuse with over a hundred arrests. This awakened and actualized the natural human capacity to realize another world is possible. Hopefully anyway. Most rational observers acknowledge that the militant protests were the key factor in getting the system to take the killing seriously.

The media (and we assume the police) have noticed a substantial presence of perceived anarchists. This includes everyone who engaged in direct action and covered their faces, and many of those people probably were anarchists. The protest was demonized by the media. Many anarchists feel threatened because times like these are the only time that mainstream media notices anarchists.

People who read between the lines may wonder, who are these anarchists? Are they real? Such a one might consider looking at an anarchist publication from the East Bay to understand such a perspective; perhaps that’s you.

Elements of bullshit regarding the Oakland riot and anarchists:

A powerful, orderly protest was hijacked by anarchists, radicals and/or gangsta youth

The corporate media and the government have two preferred responses to protest; downplaying and ignoring, or demonizing. Only when these fail will they consider appeasement, negotiation, or concession. When, because of lack of opportunity or finesse, only the first two outcomes are available, condemnation is all too often better that irrelevance. Wasn’t it P.T. Barnum who said, “The only bad publicity is no publicity?”

There were no good protesters and bad protesters. A broad variety of views exist among both the community and the protesters, and even the rioters as well. Some thought the basic idea of riotous protest was good, but found the vast collateral damage regrettable. A hefty faction thought an in-your-face aggro march was good but would prefer no trashing or scuffling. Some thought there wasn’t enough destruction. Many wished we had never left Fruitvale BART. A lot of people thought everything turned out the best way possible, but I’m not sure how many of them always think that.

The anarchist and “Berkeley radicals” were outsiders and/or opportunists

Yeah yeah, fuck you too. Oakland probably has more anarchists per capita than any mid-sized American city. And outside of what? Oscar Grant lived in Hayward, Johannes Mehserle wasn’t from Oakland, and only a few of the kids on the BART platform probably were. Are we native to the BART system? We use public transit hella more than the assholes who call us outsiders.

They say that anarchists and “Berkeley radicals” were using the shooting to push another agenda. Why yes actually, we do believe events like the BART shooting illuminate the need for a better society. Despite our idealism, there is also a very practical concern that is the basis of solidarity with youth of color and other oppressed communities. Police don’t like anarchists (they especially don’t like anarchist youth of color). If police can kill people with impunity we’re in an awkward situation.

Those wacky anarchists don’t know what they want

We is me and a couple friends but…

We want people to look at the shooting as part of a social problem. The pigfucker media has been portraying this as “did the cop somehow accidentally shoot the guy, or did he blink and become a murderous zombie for a moment?” Every step of the way BART stalled for ways to find an alibi. The state exists to institutionalize incompetence, alienation and cruelty.

Reading the bathroom-wall comments on SFGate comment boards, we read overt racists saying “Why the big fuss about a police killing, but nothing about all the gang-banging shootings?” The covert-racists liberals avoid this question because the answer is so obvious: the police presence in marginalized communities is consistently oppressive, and petty police murder is too much icing on the cake, a sledge-hammer that breaks the camel’s back.

We want a massive overhaul of how our society deals with personal and social justice,

We want a broader appreciation of the powerful idea of a coherent strategy for reclaiming, seizing and transforming public space. This involves many elements; a cohesive plan for grass-roots community security, the procurement of free territory by many ways that create spaces of freedom from ambient atomizing paranoia, and the liberation of anyone connected to such land. This involves communicating a shift of tactical fantasy from random destruction to liberated utopia.

All you who dared to bust loose, what is thy vision?