The Bay Area is Bracing for Urban Shield as SWAT Teams & Weapons Contractors Come to Oakland

Urban ShieldWith the tragic death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by Santa Rosa sheriff deputies, fresh on our minds, many in the Bay Area are upset and beyond anxious about this weekends Urban Shield gathering.. For those who are unaware, The Department of Homeland Security, SWAT teams from all over the state and country and other Law Enforcement outfits will be descending upon Oakland to host a weapons show and hold an urban war game competition..

The conference and events surrounding it are sponsored by weapons manufacturers with very little money going back to the community where some of these exercises will take place. In fact Oakland City Council members were unaware this was taking place, while officials in surrounding more affluent cities have been pushing this left and right..

Here’s a brief break down of Urban Shield as more than 30 different organizations have banded together to push back. There are local newspaper articles talking about how the police are bracing for protests. Organizers noted that the Bay Area was chosen because of its high level of aggressive protests and dense population.

This year’s Urban Shield  activities are kicking off on the second anniversary of Occupy Oakland when  Iraq War vet Scott Olson was shot by police a protest..Some law enforcement folks note that it was training received at Urban Sheild that prepared police for Occupy protests.  If that’s not enough in addition to all the SWAT teams and weapons manufacturers, former police Chief Bill Bratton and now consultant to OPD will be here as well. Here’s a brief rundown of whats happening courtesy of Facing Urban Shield

There will be huge protests throughout the day in front of Oakland Marriot which is blocks away from Occupy Oakland‘s old site.. We give you the full run down with local activist in our Hard Knock Radio interview which is linked below..

What is Urban Shield?

From October 25th-28th, 2013 in Oakland, California, Urban Shield — a trade show and training exercise for SWAT teams and police agencies — will bring local, national and international law enforcement agencies together with “defense industry contractors” to provide training and introduce new weapons to police and security companies.

We know what this really means: more police and state repression, more tragedy and more death – since these weapons are used primarily against our communities. Over 30 local Oakland groups have formed an action network to express our opposition to the militarization of police and corporate complicity in it.

It Doesn’t Work

Urban Shield arises out of the incorrect assumption that suppression methods, such as the Wars on Drugs and Terror, as well as profiling tactics such as gang injunctions reduce violence in our communities. In fact, the opposite is true. The militarization of police and increased use of suppression tactics in schools, prisons, at the border, in our streets and against our youth are counterproductive to community well-being. Spending billions of dollars to militarize police agencies is deeply misguided.

We Need Alternatives to Policing

Instead of pouring resources into the militarization of police, we need to promote a culture of peace and health, and not one of more violence, war, poverty and incarceration. That is why over 20 groups in the Bay Area oppose Urban Shield and seek to hold our local government accountable for the massive waste of resources on policies and practices that do nothing to sustain our dreams or wellbeing. We want to send a clear message to repression profiteers and police that they must be directly accountable to the communities they now patrol. Instead of militarization, invest in life.

Right click the link below to download or  stream the HKR Intv

Right click the link below to download or
stream the HKR Intv

HKR-Urban Shield Comes to Oakland _10-23-2013

Oakland Police Chief Confronted & Shut Down at Justice 4 Alan Blueford Townhall

Alan Blueford murdered by Oakland Police

Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, there have been closed to 30 Black or Brown people shot and killed by law enforcement or in the case of Trayvon, wannabe law enforcement. Many of these shootings have been highly questionable, meaning the person killed was unarmed or there are strong conflicting statements from either the police or witnesses.

Here in Oakland, California, the shooting death Alan Dwayne Blueford is one such killing.  Oakland police have been very shady with the stories they put forth to the public. It seems like a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters, cast seeds of doubt and cover up their own mistakes.. Initially police said they were in a shoot out and Blueford shot the officer in the stomach.. Later the police said Blueford shot the officer in the leg..Next the police said that it was possible the officer was shot in the leg by another officer in a case of friendly fire..Finally it came out that the officer shot himself. He shot himself in the foot..

Many believe the officer shot himself after he killed Blueford and saw the young man was unarmed.. The police then double back and said a gun was recovered, the community has yet to see any evidence of finger prints , gun residue etc.. Many have concluded it was the officer planting a gun near the scene.. This would not be unsual in a city that in the past 10 years has had to shell out over 58 million dollars in wrongful death shootings and police brutality incidents. This would not be far-fetched in a city that was home to a rogue group of cops known as the Riders who were found to routinely plant drugs and guns on suspects. One of the Oakland Riders is a still a fugitive at large..

Adding to all this was the fact that Blueford was left to on the ground for 4 hours to die while the officer who lied and then finally admitted to shooting himself was treated. The public still does not know the name of the officer thanks to California’s Policeman’s Bill of Rights which prevents the public from knowing the name of officers involved in these and other brutality incidents.. Community investigators have revealed the officer who murdered Blueford is Miguel Masso a former military man who lives in Los Banos which is more than 100 miles outside of Oakland..

Blueford’s parents were not aware of their son’s death for more than 6 hours. They went down to the police station were treated like crap and not told for more than 2 hours. Their mistreatment led to the unusual move by Chief Howard Jordan to meet and apologize to the family.

In an attempt to do more damage control, OPD held a town hall meeting at Acts Full Gospel Church. Folks showed up only to discover the police chief would only answer questions that were pre-written. This annoyed folks to no end.. Then he seemed ill prepared or unable to answer basic questions.. He also hawked what many saw as blatant lies.. This led to more than half the room turning their backs on the chief and throwing up fist..

The chief cut the meeting short and left the building with angry residents in tow.. They got at him and let him know that there needs to be accountability and the community would not stand for his lies..The chief was definitely embarrassed.. Later that night we learned Oakland police came after one of the community members shown in the video holding a bullhorn..Chris M They claimed he assaulted an officer at the church… If that was the case when and where did that happen and why not arrest him on the spot?

Here’s a video of last night’s Townhall Meeting and dispersal..Please note I’m trying to re-render this so the quality is better… * quick note.. here’s the better quality video.. of last nights confrontation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCQ9F5hypow

The Activism Entry Point: Critiquing The Cancer in Occupy Debate

Longtime Berkeley activist Joseph Anderson weighs in on the ongoing debate around Occupy Oakland on the issue of diversity of tactics and the use of BlackBloc style tactics. He weighs in on the recent debate between Chris Hedges and Occupy oakland organizer Kristof Lopaur

Well, by now everyone in the Occupy movement is hotly debating “nonviolence” vs. “diversity of tactics”, as recently so in, “Chris Hedges and Kristof Lopaur of Occupy Oakland debate black bloc, militancy and tactics,” February 8, 2012, on KPFA in Berkeley, California. 

Chris Hedges

Both Lopaur and Hedges made some critically weak, flawed, at times somewhat disingenuous or self-contradictory and, in Lopaur’s case, often specious arguments in their radio debate. This so, even though I politically agree with Hedges, and although Hedges’ recent commentary, “The Cancer in Occupy,” seemed poorly supported journalistically. But, Hedges is dead on about, ‘Go do violence under your own name, not the Occupy movement’s.’

Hedges would have been better off just writing his opinion, presented analytically, but he deserves great credit for using his stature to get an “Anarchist”-suppressed, but mortally important, debate firmly out in the open and over progressive airwaves. Let me say that both of them have respectively done very good progressive work.

This is my partial, but most important, analytical response to Kristof Lopaur’s (and those he represents) support for Black Bloc, or otherwise, “diversity of tactics” in the Occupy Movement. My main point: Occupy Oakland, and the Occupy movement, cannot have both a diversity of people and a “diversity of tactics” at this time – and the movement can’t shortcut the process of attaining, and retaining, the first by jumping to the second. 

Kristof Lopaur

As most Occupy activists know by now, “diversity of tactics” is primarily, so-called, “Anarchist”/Black Bloc code phrase euphemism for advocating autonomous vandalism and gratuitous property destruction (against even small businesses and movement-sympathetic owners or managers) and recently a program of regular, police confrontation marches (lately toned down). 

However, all these kinds of actions – either disconnected from, transiently tangential to, or occurring long after the main events – actually involve a very tiny percentage of marchers or limited instances; nevertheless, when especially played up by the media, the public are quite unsympathetic and even hostile to them. Among the  latest instances were the vandalism at, followed by the American flag-burning on the very steps of, City Hall. 

At the last large march, on January 28, corrugated metal or long wooden ‘battle shields’ were futilely deployed at the front line ostensibly to protect other marchers – dramatic but ineffective actions – but the TV news visuals made it appear from a distance as if their true purpose was aggressive. (On TV or in news photos, from a distance, you couldn’t necessarily see the peace signs on the shields, a mixed visual anyway.) 

When the public sees these visuals, they can easily be manipulated by the police, mayor and media into believing virtually any lies or distortions about Occupy Oakland events. This enables the media – portraying out-of-chronology or even geographically unrelated, exaggerated, TV news video repetitions of vandalism (including graffiti defacings) – to easily convince the public that there was “widespread violence,” thus providing a pretext to justify the indiscrminate police beatings and torturously drawn-out mass arrests (using bitingly cinched plastic wire handcuffs) that took place long before any vandalism occurred. On the January 28 march, *409* marchers were arrested – virtually all of them guilty of only being “kettled” by the cops!

But, there has always been opposition within Occupy Oakland to violence (as commonly understood). That opposition within understands, in addition to any possible violence (or “diversity of tactics”) from within an Occupy, the ability of the police, and ultimately the 1%, to exploit such violence by even inspiring or instigating it (especially, childish, indiscriminate or politically unintelligible acts). Thus, this also leaves an Occupy vulnerable and open to police agent provocateur actions that create alienation within the movement or a huge public opinion backlash against it – which is, after all, exactly what provocateur work is meant to accomplish!: discredit the movement, scare people from joining it, and thus divide the working public. 

Highly sectarian leftist militant ideologues constantly show that they don’t even know how to relate to, or verbally and, just as importantly, visually communicate with ordinary people (by comparison, right-wing organizers understand this far better). Very few people are ready to jump directly from political inactivity (except merely voting) straight to hardcore militant, ‘armed,’ so-called, ‘revolutionary’ action, as Lopaur apparently advocates – let alone to start The Worldwide Armed Revolution To Overthrow Global Capitalism and Western Imperialism – today! 

But, political movements not only open to, but enthusiastically calling on, the general public to join need to first build up mass numbers – a diversity of people – before they can (as economic and political times get much more dire, urgent and, otherwise, essentially futureless, as in Greece) then support various forms of growing militancy for fundamental, perhaps even radical, change. 

This could be militancy, like greater direct mass action, like general strikes, or tens of thousands of people shutting down a major port or other critical centers, nodes or points of capitalist commerce or production. This so, even then not necessarily engaging in violence, but rather engaging people power – mass action’s greatest resource – to pursue actions which are not only militant but hugely popular! The marchers acclaimed and the public didn’t scorn the huge banner, “DEATH TO CAPITALISM!!,” boldly strung across the intersection of Oakland City Center during the massive Oakland “General Strike” rally there. 

Actually, I never considered social, global and economic justice and human rights to be a morally “militant” or “radical” cause; to me, mass oppression, systematic injustice, violating people’s human rights, the patriarchal control of women, legalized state murder, or neo-/colonial theft of another people’s land, is what’s militant and radical.

But, those mass numbers for mass actions will only continue to build up – and be retained – if there is an entry point mass movement, even if nonviolently militant, that many political activism newcomers feel relatively safe in joining and participating with in mass direct actions – and where these newcomers feel they can reasonably trust the judgements of the organizers. 

I couldn’t risk the further judgement of those, especially organizers, in Occupy Oakland who have an absolute ideological stranglehold against ANY  “nonviolence” resolution. That stranglehold failed to realize that such a resolution was critical to Occupy Oakland’s actions, public perception and success: to define itself  based on nonviolence regardless of the actions of others. 

A generous but failed resolution, called a “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’,” that I and others presented, was critical, so that the mayor, the chief-of-police, the chamber of commerce, and the mainstream media couldn’t repeatedly blame and try to smear Occupy Oakland for increasing crime and for every act of violence that occured literally anywhere in Oakland, as though crime had never been happening in this big city before. Their #1 weapon is to directly associate Occupy Oakland with violence.

In fact, downtown Oakland felt a lot safer at the time, instead of steadily and ominously semi-deserted at night, while the police chief and the mayor hid  the following information: except for, then and afterwards, a huge spike in violence in downtown Oakland by the police, crime in Oakland actually dropped by 20% during the Occupy Oakland encampment.

The now national Occupy movement, acting as it began at this stage of great public disaffection with the economic and political state of affairs, even against the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’, duopolistic, corporatist and militaristic political parties, starts as just such an entry point – especially with highly visible, physical, citizen centers, the Occupy encampments themselves. There was a place people could go to politically talk to people 24 hours a day, create a community oriented to human needs, and even creatively organize direct mass actions. 

OWS began a mass, public, political, citizens’ civic engagement and organizing hub for many ordinary, but finally ‘had-it,’ people who realize that the current economic and political system is not serving “us” – not serving human needs (the 99%, especially of the world), but rather corporate greed (the 1%). A diversity of people were interacting and even living with a diversity of people !

Given this groundswell ferment, Occupy movement activists should be most concerned with building up that level of engagement and participation – gaining a diversity of people – rather than ideologically pushing autonomous “diversity of tactics,” an “Anarchist”/ Black Bloc agenda to jump-start and lead “The Revolution!” And “autonomous” means too few people, or individuals, too unaccountable, deciding too important decisions, with too critical consequences for us all: sounds like the system of government we have now! The consequences on the rest of us are not “autonomous.”

The ideological agenda, imposed on the movement, would contain the seeds of the movement’s own destruction. Or, at least the destruction of Occupy Oakland as a movement: it could otherwise survive paramilitarized police excesses and brazen brutality –  exposing that the city can come up with millions of dollars for that and, perhaps, a million more in the always almost inevitable legal costs negotiating lawsuits for committing egregious bodily injuries (or worse) and un-Constitutional mass arrests. 

In order to achieve a diversity of people, there has to be at least one general mass movement that is an entry point  for people to get involved in the original goals of OWS, including demanding an alternative to the political and even economic system. But, Kristof Lapaur and the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc want this entry point movement to be one that is not committed to nonviolence (as commonly understood, not ideologically hairsplit), but indeed advocates violence (or whatever Kristof and the parochial ideologues ideologically want to call it) from the start! 

The “Anarchists”/Black Bloc (and Kristof) really seem to want to turn the Occupy movement into some kind of ‘armed’ guerrilla (or, at least, Black Bloc) movement: “We have to learn how to move cohesively through the streets, to take offensive [it originally said "attack"] and defensive initiatives…” (Pgh. 7, Statement of the OO Move-In Cmte, reading like all sanguine PR releases, talking about everything but the critical problem: it never once mentioned continuing, headline-stealing, public-alienating vandalism or, lastly, flag burning).

Lately, at certain, especially, much smaller, weekly, nighttime, “F The Police!,” marches, organizers and leading participants would appear to engage in regular passive-aggressive confrontations (again, recently toned down) with the police. They played cat-&-mouse, with the march aimlessly winding over the entire downtown area and, often, surrounding neighborhoods, with no particular, practical goal. A weekly schedule of nighttime, traffic-snarling, merchants-angering exercise of directly confronting the cops – however much they do deserve it – in the streets of Oakland might make us – often brutalized by the police – feel good, but begins to lose its message, displaces that of the Occupy movement, and confuses the general public, turned off, after a while.

What the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc contingent within Occupy Oakland has really done is, too often, snatch movement dismay or public anger from the jaws of complete victory, or ‘would-be’ victory. (Like, the January 28, “Move-In” march, another relatively large, peaceful [except for the police], festive turnout, showing sustained interest, even if, with the planners’ methods, an ill-considered objective, Occupying the mammoth Kaiser Auditorium.) That contingent is actually ‘doing the work of the 1%‘ by subsequently generating: 

(a) negative TV news video headlines and great public disappointment (over indiscriminate downtown vandalism, naturally played up and generalized by the TV media), after an otherwise unimaginably successful day of the Oakland General Strike rally and, respectively, two massively huge nonviolent port shutdowns by up to 50,000 people, with the, otherwise, overwhelming support of a public that was awed, deeply moved, and morally with us; 

(b) later, even more negative TV news video headlines (distracting the public from even more OPD excesses and brutality that otherwise would have been the headlines) and a public backlash (after city hall vandalism and American flag-burning on its very steps), instead of the same overwhelming public sympathy that UC Berkeley and Davis students and academics – who sustained the moral high ground – when they suffered brazen police brutality (the only TV news headline videos available then, because the students didn’t ‘cooperate’ with the mainstream media’s penchant exaggerations of, hypothetically, any student violence);

Given the above, how is the ordinary person – who doesn’t want to directly provoke, goad or engage in weekly, nighttime, mock, let alone any real, streetfighting against the police, who doesn’t want to advocate, condone, or physically associate with vandalism and gratuitous property destruction in the streets of their city (let alone flag-burning and accusations of destroying children’s art at City Hall), who doesn’t want to be a part of that particular kind of group or movement, and who doesn’t know what possible escalation of violence to expect next from such a group – supposed to feel comfortable (or even physically or legally safe) participating in such a movement? 

How do self-indulgent Black Bloc advocates compare smashing a few local business windows, setting a couple of overturned dumpsters on fire, or burning the flag for a moment, back in downtown Oakland, to, instead, a major port shutdown by 50,000 peaceful marchers for miles!? And what do you think the TV news would lead with?: “Violence again from Occupy Oakland…!” But, the greatest successes of Occupy Oakland have always been nonviolently achieved.

Under “diversity of tactics,” would an ordinary person want their employer and workplace, their church, synagogue or mosque (especially given state surveillance or criminal entrapment against Muslims), or any other social institutions to which they belong, to find out – let alone their friends and neighbors find out – that that they are actually a participant in such a movement? That kind of movement is going to alienate most people – the very kind the organizers claim they want to attract. But, I have my doubts about that claim, to hear those parochial ideologues at Occupy Oakland, including Kristof, who smack more of insular, elite vanguardism.

Without any safe entry point mass movement for newcomers to join, the movement, especially the Occupy Oakland movement, will stagnate, dwindle down, and turn into just another politically irrelevant, small, narrow group of ideological true believers and such buzzflies, incapable of any unsuppressed, true, open self-examination and, thus, who, themselves, will never succeed in meaningfully changing anything in society. 

Or, as one veteran activist anguishedly said to me, “It’s sad to think that this could be just another promising [but illusory] burst of energy that’s just going to wither away with sharp dissension [and regularly alienatingly controversy that fatigues people's souls and steals the main goals and successes] and flagging interest.” Like, ‘Oh, no…, those people again…

written by Joseph Anderson

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FYI: for copy of “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’,” November 20, 2011; Ref. under OccupyOakland.org, Open Forum tab, Discussion, “Did DOT Pass GA?,” February 7, 2012; by Joseph Anderson, February 8, 2012: “Nonviolence” resolution proposal presented to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly…

Are Blac Block & Diversity of Tactics Hurting or Helping the Occupy Movement?

Are those who employ Blac Block tactics Hurting or Helping? Photo credit: Black Hour

Ever since the November 2 Oakland General Strike which brought out tens of thousands of people culminating in the shut down of the Port of Oakland, folks within the Occupy Movement have been talking about the usefulness of Blac Bloc style tactics.. In Oakland the debate was full steam and contentious around an issue called ‘diversity of tactics’ . This was the result of the disastrous outcome to a successful General Strike, when a group under the guise of diversity of tactics attempted to take over an abandoned building ran into police who pulled no punches. The end result was broken windows, fires in the streets, local businesses looted and graffiti all over downtown. The damage was courtesy of those who were initially and erroneously labeled ‘The Blac Block’.  Since then many of us have come to learn Blac Block is a tactic not a group or organization. We also know that its not the exclusive domain or tactic of folks who identify themselves as anarchists.

With that in mind, the tactic of breaking windows and kicking up dust to make a point is one that is being fiercely debated within and outside the Occupy Movement.  Some are saying if it wasn’t for the aggressive tactics, people would remain docile.. The movement would be ignore. Others are are emphatically claiming that the aggressive tactics are hurting the movement..  Below are two articles that address this issue…

The first is from veteran journalist and former NY Times columnist Chris Hedges... Its a stinging rebuke of those he says are associated with the ‘Blac Block.. He called it a Cancer of the Occupy Movement. It initially appeared in Truth Dig…

The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.

Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.

Continue reading this article at:  Truth Dig

The next article is a slamming response to Chris Hedges article by Don Gato. Its a titled:  To Be Fair, He is A Journalist: A short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc …Among the things that stand out is the author correcting the blatant mislabeling Blac Block/ Anarchist etc…Its also noted that in Hedges critique he never once mentioned the over the top brutality delivered by OPD on unarmed peaceful demonstrators..

Here’s some of what Don Gato wrote…

First, we need to clear up some definitional problems. Now, as a journalist, I really don’t expect Hedges to be able to “research,”—it does seem to go against the prime directives of the profession, but let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as “The Black Bloc movement.” The black bloc is a tactic. It’s also not just a tactic used by anarchists, so “black bloc anarchists” is a bit of a misnomer—particularly because Hedges doesn’t know the identities of the people under those sexy, black masks. In fact, it was autonomists in the 80s who came up with the (often quite brilliant) idea in Germany. Protecting themselves against the repression of what Hedges calls “the security and surveillance state,” squatters, protesters, and other rabble rousers would dress in all black, covering up tattoos, their faces, and any other identifying features so they could act against this miserable world and, with some smarts and a sharp style, not get pinched by the pigs. This was true of resisters who were protecting marches (because the state never needs an excuse to incite violence and police are wont to riot and attack people), destroying property, or sometimes just marching en masse. That is, the black bloc has all kinds of uses. And in Oakland, where Hedges seems particularly upset by people actually having the gall to defend themselves against insane violent police thugs instead of just sit there idly by getting beaten, on Move-In Day the bloc looked mostly defensive—shielding themselves and other protesters from flash grenades and police mob violence with make-shift shields (and even one armchair). So, to be clear: The black bloc is a tactic used by lots of people, not just anarchists, and it has all kinds of uses. It’s not a “movement.”

We urge folks to read the article in its entirety as its very insightful at: Facing Reality

Another article of interests that responds to Chris Hedges is one written by Diane Gee its titled: Perspectives on Hedges Cancer in Occupy… She pens the following:

Other than ONE window and one Flag, which mind you, is property damage not violence per se; not one act of violence has been recorded by Occupy or the Black Bloc he wishes to malign that has not been the result of DEFENSIVE maneuvers.  When attacked?  They have thrown a few stones, have tossed back a few tear gas canisters; mostly what these young men and women have done is offer their bodies up as a defense line, and taken the hits so that the weaker are saved: the women, children, old people may run to safety while they defend them with meager trash can shields.

The injuries and unfair arrests, the abuses of law by the Police however, have been widespread, vast, recorded, and yet barely spoken to by the MSM.

Yet?  To Hedges?  These few acts of defiance by angry young men are enough to bring the movement itself to ruination.  Let us not forget that since the beginning of time it is always the elders who cool the heated blood of the youth and try and direct their tactics to a more effective use of their energies.  Old warriors know when to wait.  In some ways, though?  It is good for the powers that be to know, via a small warning shot of a broken window or burned flag, that we are deadly serious.  There has been no wide-scale violence except that done by the Police.  There have been no riots or burning cities.  No 1%er or defender of the 1% have been killed.

What Hedges has done here, presumably without intent, is work to divide Occupy.

Today many of us woke up to seeing a video posted by folks from Anonymous warning those who employ Blac Block to chill out..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LD8UohyYPWA

Let Us know your thoughts on all this??

Goldman Sach’s is a Main target on the December 12th West Coast Port Shutdown

Yesterday the city of Oakland was on fire as Occupy Oakland and other organizations went in on banks foreclosing on homes…It was a day of activity which including shutting down a foreclosed Housing auction at the Alameda County Courthouse and reclaiming a couple of houses the banks had foreclosed on and moving families back in..The day was pretty successful..

We caught up Boots Riley of the Coup to talk about the days activities and get updated about what we should expect on December 12th during the day of action when all West Coast Ports are to be shut down….In our intv Boots pointed out how one of the families in West Oakland had lived in their home for over 15 years.. The mother lost her job and fell two months behind on her mortage and instead of working with her the bank came in like gang busters to foreclose on the property.

With respect to the D12 Shut down.. Boots noted that momentum has been picking up and that Vancouver will be shutting down their port and that there will be an action in Houston, Tx to shut down their ports..

In this interview, Boots gives all the details as to why shutting down the ports are important.. He points out how Goldman Sach’s is a main target for these port shut downs and how they are deeply connected to the activities that occur there on the daily. He also noted the plight of many of the truckers who are paid below market wages and are denied to unionize and get health insurance..

Obviously the threat of a West Coast port shut down has caused enough concern that management at the Oakland Port paid over 10k for a full page ad asking the public not to support the strike. In the words of Chuck D of Public Enemy-Don’t Believe the Hype..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHzug9mwlYs

We included a a short snippet of an interview with some prominent union leaders about the D12 strike..

As pressure builds for the Dec. 12 West Coast port shutdown, the capitalist owners and their media began a battle of ideas to blunt this powerful threat to their profits and control — even for a day.

Two International Longshore and Warehouse Union members — Clarence Thomas, who is a third-generation longshoreman in Oakland, and Leo Robinson, who is now retired — spoke with Workers World reporter Cheryl LaBash. Both men have held elected office in ILWU Local 10 and have been key labor activists during their years of work in the ports.

WW: The Nov. 21 ILWU Longshore Coast Committee memorandum states, “Any public demonstration is not a ‘picketline’ under the PCL&CA [Pacific Coast Longshore & Clerk’s Agreement]. … Remember, public demonstrations are public demonstrations, not ‘picketlines.’ Only labor unions picket as referenced in the contract.” What is your reaction?

Clarence Thomas: A picket line is a public demonstration — whether called by organized labor or not. It is legitimate. There are established protocols in these situations. To suggest to longshoremen that they shouldn’t follow them demands clarification. It is one thing to state for the record that the union is not involved, but another thing to erase the historical memory of ILWU’s traditions and practices included in the Ten Guiding Principles of the ILWU adopted at the 1953 biennieal convention in San Francisco.

Leo Robinson: The international has taken the position somehow that the contract is more important than not only defending our interest in terms of this EGT [grain terminal jurisdictional dispute] but having a connection to the Occupy [Wall Street] movement in that when you go through the Ten Guiding Principles of the ILWU, we’re talk about labor unity. Does that include the teachers? Does that include state, county and municipal workers? Those questions need to be analyzed as to who supports whom. The Occupy movement is not separate and apart from the labor movement.

CT: Labor is now officially part of the Occupy movement. That has happened. The recent [New York Times] article done by Steven Greenhouse on Nov. 9 is called ‘Standing arm in arm.”

The Teamsters have been supported by the OWS against Sotheby’s auction house. OWS has been supportive of Communication Workers in its struggle with Verizon. Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees, has called for expanding the Occupy movement by taking workers to Washington, D.C., to occupy Washington particularly Congress and congressional hearings demanding 15 million jobs by Jan. 1.

LR: There was the occupation in Madison, Wis. That was labor-led. People are trying to confuse the issue by saying we are somehow separated from the Occupy movement. More than anything else the Occupy movement is a direct challenge or raises the question of the the rights of capital as opposed to the rights of the worker. I don’t understand that the contract supersedes the just demands of the labor movement. It says so right here in the 10 guiding principles of the ILWU.

Article 4 is very clear. Very clear. “‘To help any worker in distress’ must be a daily guide in the life of every trade union and its individual members.” Labor solidarity means just that. Unions have to accept the fact that solidarity of labor stands above all else, including even the so-called sanctity of the contract. We cannot adopt for ourselves the policies of union leaders who insist that because they have a contract, their members are compelled to perform work, even behind a picket line. It says picket line. It doesn’t say union picket line. It says picket line.

Folks can get more information and see the rest of the interview by going to http://westcoastportshutdown.org/
We wanted to include another interview we did last night.. This is with a sister from Egypt named Al-Shimaa’ Haidar who has been involved with the revolution at Tahir Square.. She talks to us about whats going on in Egypt and how it connects with the Occupy Movement here.. check this out below..(please forgive the mispelling in the video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urk0CNG5fD8

Spray Paint & Broken Windows Black Bloc style Tactics… Are they Good or Bad for Oakland?

In the aftermath of Occupy Oakland’s Historic General Strike and shut down of the Port of Oakland, there’s been a lot of talk about ‘violence’ and its varied and nuance definitions and property damage and whether or not its an appropriate tactic at protests and demonstrations..

During the day of the November 2 General Strike there were a number of marches that were designed to fan out into neighboring communities, bring attention to the strike and ideally get big banks to close their doors. One of the those marches was deemed the March Against Capitalism. Here you see folks donning Black masks and scarfs spray painting and tearing up a Whole Foods Grocery Store as well as a few nearby banks..

Those in support of the march and this activity say we shouldn’t get upset over property damage. We should be more upset with the damage/ violence the banks and big businesses have done on the average everyday person..

Banks can easily get their windows repaired, but can we easily get our economy that they destroyed by them repaired. In short the banks and big financial institutions are violent with us everyday… They refer to the people attempting to stop the destruction of property as ‘Peace Police‘ as they note that sometimes a broken windows are needed to shake things up make larger points.

Its also been argued that there’s no difference between violating the law by breaking windows vs those who decide they wanna take direct actions in violations of the law like stopping traffic in the middle of rush hour, setting up tents in the front of city hall or hanging a banner in a spot where no permission was granted. It boils down to what type of tactic one wants to use to get their point across…

It’s also been noted that those who believe in using these types of tactics have been apart of the Occupy Movement from day one…

March Against Capitalism Photo credit: Reginald James/ Black Hour

With respect to the property damage done at Whole Foods.. It was said to be done because the management threatened to fire any of its employees who partook in the strike..That allegation was reported to have been denied.

Those in opposition say that these types of tactics take away from the overall message of a demonstration especially if you are trying to win public support to a particular cause..

In addition there is a concern that these types of tactics bring about unwarranted crack downs by the police where folks who have nothing to do with the destructive activity get swooped up.

The other nagging question is why destroy anything in a struggling city like Oakland? Why not bring this tactic on the doorsteps of the 1% in more affluent areas like a Walnut Creek? Aptos? or nearby Piedmont? Why attach this to a march where the majority of folks aren’t embracing or willing to participate in such activity?

Peep the video below and give us your thoughts…Is this type of activity ever appropriate? Is there a difference between what was done with Whole Foods and the banks at these protestors in Oakland vs when we saw banks burning in Greece during their economic crises and many of us cheered? Did we view the unrest differently in places like London or France over police shootings vs the confrontations we witnessed last week after the General Strike in Oakland? Where do we draw the line?

For additional perspective on this you can peep the following article;

http://www.wsm.ie/c/eyewitness-oakland-general-strike-controversy-occupy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz22OvY6FTY

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

A Great Day in Oakland-Thoughts on the General Strike & the Unrest That Followed

There’s so much to say about Wednesday’s historic General Strike (Nov 2, 2011) in Oakland. It was the nation’s first general strike in over 65 years. It was a day where everyone was upbeat and focused. It was a day of success. It was a day in which we saw Oakland step out to the tune of tens of thousands of people to make a bold statement and raise awareness about economic disparity. It was a solid shot in the arm that the Occupy Movement needed. It was a good look, something that Oakland needed.

The goals of the day were to shut down the businesses in downtown, in particular the banks and, later that afternoon, march to the Port of Oakland, the 5th largest in the country, and shut it down as well.

Many thought this was a far-fetched dream and an impossible task. After all, there have been several attempts to do this in the recent past without a whole lot of success, but when a crowd numbering by some estimates between 15-20 thousand showed up ready to put in work, that dream became a reality. The shut down of the port lasted until the next morning where you still had hundreds of 99%ers down there blocking the gates and not letting trucks pass through. Eventually folks left at around 9 am that morning.

That night, while leaving the port, I saw numerous veterans of past movements including former Black Panther Chair Elaine Brown who was beaming with pride. Brown expressed how proud she was to see today’s younger generation rise to the occassion, take the baton and move the proverbial envelope in a significant way. A general strike being organized and pulled off within a week’s time and the port being shut down was something she’d thought would never happen, at least in her lifetime. For her seeing such a huge crowd come out to support was moving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baqpserpX80&feature=email

A Great Day in Oakland

The General Strike started out with the first of several scheduled gatherings at 9am on the corner of 14th and Broadway. When I arrived, there was already a crowd numbering in the hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or so, with speakers already on the mic explaining the goals of the day, what the General Strike was about. Traffic for several blocks up and down Broadway had been stopped and the streets closed down. Liberating that corner was the first of the day’s many victories.

The stage and loud-speaker system on 14th & Broadway was one of several locations spawning activity. Inside Oscar Grant Plaza (city hall plaza) where the General Assemblies are held there were large crowds who were engaged by dozens of other speakers and performers. There was also a number of art displays. The vibe in the air was infectious, as many could sense this was the beginning of what many felt would be an historic day. The next gatherings scheduled to take place were 12 noon and 2pm, with the last one scheduled at 5pm, when folks would march to shut down the Port of Oakland.

Throughout the day all sorts of speakers blessed the mic, speaking to pressing issues, especially how the economy was impacting them and their communities. There were heartfelt perspectives shared by various members of Black, Brown, Asian and Native communities along with students, labor and working class folks.

The list of those addressing the crowd is too long to accurately recount, but everyone from Angela Davis to former Black Panther Melvin Dixon, to labor leaders, like Clarence Thomas, Topaz DuBois and Jack Heyman, to artists like Boots Riley and Mistah Fab, were up in the mix speaking truth to power.

In addition to the economy, other topics addressed included how banks facilitated the massive numbers of foreclosures in Black, Brown and now working class communities. We learned how banks like Wells Fargo invest in immigrant detention centers and private prisons. We also heard folks speak about the current California prison hunger strike and how mass incarceration is economically benefiting stakeholders within the prison industrial complex.

We heard Iraq War vets speak to the exorbitant amounts of money used by the military to further meaningless wars and how those funds should be reinvested in our communities to improve schools. The city of Oakland closed 5 schools last week with more to come. That was a main point echoed throughout the day. Police violence that brought about the last General Strike 1934 (Bloody Thursday) . Police protected the 1% back in those days as well.

We heard folks speak passionately about the plight of farmers and how big agribusiness has been impacting the 99%. There was a lot of talk about the environment, food justice and how Monsanto has been a tyrannical business crippling small farmers and entire countries by obtaining patents for seeds and forcing everyone to buy from them.

photo: Reginald James/ Black Hour

There was lots of conversation about electoral politics, with many of the speakers making it very clear time and time again that the Occupy Movement is not a springboard for either the Republican or Democratic Party. Many of the speakers, as well as many we’ve interviewed in the crowd, had concluded that much of the leadership in both parties have been brought off and are in the pockets of Wall Street lobbyists. Elected officials were not allowed to speak via the stage yesterday and that was fine by many in attendance. No one wanted to hear a stomp speech or apologies for the way their respective parties have been complicit in propping up big banks and carrying out their agendas.

In response to Wall Street corrupting politicians, over the past couple of weeks we’ve met and heard from a number of young people here in Oakland who are quietly networking, planting seeds and gearing up to run for a number of local offices come 2012 and 2013. That has been a bright spot.

Boots Riley & Mistah Fab Address the Crowd

Throughout the day we heard local singers and rappers take the stage and speak or do remakes of popular songs where the theme was economic disparity. For, example we heard one sister redo Gloria Gaynor’s classic ‘I Will Survive‘ where she sung about the banks.. It was a beautiful thing.

Artists like Richie Rich, D-Sharp, Dwayne Wiggins, Flo, Jennifer Johns, Sellasie, Walt 427, Picaso of Living legends, Ashe, Brwn Bflo, Mistah Fab and of course Boots Riley and Cat who held down one of the stages were among the scores of artists on hand supporting the General Strike. Music played throughout the afternoon and could be heard throughout the plaza, up and down Broadway. Songs by Dead Prez and James Brown helped them became familiar voices during yesterday’s rally.

Folks sat in front of Citibank & Shut it Down

With each scheduled gathering folks would march off by the hundreds to different parts of the downtown. One group went before the Office of University California to protest fee hikes which have doubled in the past two years. Some went to the library to protest budget cuts resulting in it being shut down.

Others went to stand before the banks and demand they shut down. There was a large group that went and sat in front of Citibank. Still others went to Chase Bank while others went to Bank of America. In all those instances we heard or saw that the banks closed their doors. This was a beautiful thing.

Throughout the plaza were numerous tables with folks passing out information from a variety of organizations. If you needed help with foreclosures, legal aid, There were places set up where posters of the Occupy were being made… There was also lots of food.. Big shout out to the unions and Everett and Jones BBQ for feeding over 5 thousand people that day…The mood throughout the day was upbeat as many were happy to see so many had come together and a General strike which once seemed like an impossibility was actually taking place. Police presence in and around downtown was minimal.

What I witnessed yesterday was the ultimate town square where everyone came together and through this exercise of having an open mic on 14th and Broadway all of us were able to bear witness to each others concerns and stories..This is important to note for a couple of reasons. First, for years we’ve had folks from various communities addressing economic disparity only to be ignored or have their voices minimize and marginalized. I spoke at length about this in yesterday’s blog.. You can access it HERE

Second, this was important because it clearly showed how lazy many in the corporate media had been in terms of explaining what the Occupy Movement has been about.. Claims of it being unfocused and having no agenda was the convenient 30 second sound bite hawked vs simply explaining that financial institutions have hit large segments of the population in different ways resulting in folks coming together, comparing notes, raising awareness and trying to and figuring out the best ways to smash back on a common enemy (Wall Street Banks). This is what Nov 2 2011 spelled out and reaffirmed for many.

The Importance of the Labor and Shutting Down the Port

Long time labor leader Jack Heyman spoke to us on KPFA

Throughout the day we heard from all sorts of union folks. We got important history lessons on the labor movement from long time activists and union members like Jack Heyman of the longshoremen and Clarence Thomas of ILWU Local 10. We also got to understand why so many unions are currently under attack by 1% interests and how that would ultimately impact the folks in the crowd.

Many union members spoke to the history of the General Strikes. They talked about some of the parallels back in 1934 and today in terms of 1% interests trying to crap on the average worker.

We were given a firm understanding about the Port of Oakland and what it meant when you shut it down. We learned that for each day it’s shut down it delays goods being delivered up to a week. Three days of shut down equals 3 weeks of delay. With each day the port is shut down they lose up to $8 million dollars. With that information at hand folks got the picture. Shutting down the Port of Oakland would be directly messing with the money of some very powerful people, thus lines in the sand were being clearly drawn.

This picture was further cemented when it was explained who actually gets that $8 million and where that money is used. It was clear that the folks in economically depressed West Oakland where the port sits, or the 99% gathered yesterday at 14th and Broadway, were not main beneficiaries. Oakland rap artist Boots Riley and labor leader Clarence Thomas gave an important overview of what the day was supposed to be like on Democracy Now.

For many, the Port of Oakland was a major battle ground with long-lasting scars. Very few forgot what took place 8 years ago, April 7th 2003, when police shot rubber bullets at anti-war protestors who attempted to shut down the port. Several protesters were seriously injured. Hence, going back to the port, with all the key issues the Occupy Movement had brought up, was paramount. You can peep the video of that HERE:

By 4 pm that afternoon all sides of the plaza were packed with thousands in the streets around 14th and Broadway as folks geared up for the march to shut down the Port of Oakland. The first wave of people left and headed down to the Port of Oakland. That’s the image that many of local news stations showed. They said this was about 7 thousand, but most protesters feel this was a deliberate and gross under counting.

By 5pm another huge crowd had gathered, even larger then the first, being that it had been announced for the past week that the Port March would start at that time. By the time you got down to the Port, there were folks for as far as the eye could see. From my own estimation the crowd was easily over 15k and maybe more. It was by far one of the largest gatherings I had seen in Oakland and one of the largest we’ve seen in the Bay Area in a long time.

It was a sea of people that took up both sides of the bridge/overpass leading to the port that would not stop. For many seeing this huge turnout was the crowning jewel to what had been a great day and an eventful week that saw the Occupy Movement rebound from a night of chaos and police repression just a week earlier. When word got out that the Port had been shut down, everyone was excited. Cars honked, trucks honked… Many truckers came and used their vehicles to help block port entrances so no one could enter

The Violence and the Lessons behind It

Moments before masked man w/ Hammer Breaks Bank window photo: Reginald James/Black Hour

As mentioned earlier, throughout the day there were numerous marches with the intention of shutting down banks and other businesses that were part of the 1% and bringing awareness to troubled social programs and services hard hit by the economy. It was during one of these marches (the March Against Capitalism) that we got word of the first acts of vandalism.

We heard and later saw video of a group of masked men dressed in black, spray painting the word “Strike” across the front of Whole Foods grocery store. Later on these same masked men broke the windows to Wells Fargo and Chase and tagged the walls. This enraged many on were on the scene, not because they felt sorry for the banks who would and did quickly repair the damage, but because they felt that what took place was a deliberate attempt to undermine what the General Strike was about. They also felt acts of vandalism were also gonna further soil the city’s reputation and give light to the stereotype of us being a crime ridden city.

Bank window broken photo: Reginald James/ Black Hour

In addition, for the past week the police had kept their distance, thus many felt comfortable in attending activities around the General Strike. You had families with kids. You had many who were undocumented who were out and about, who suddenly had their safety and well-being put into jeopardy by a handful of folks who apparently had no regard for what the Occupy Oakland General Assembly had called for, which was demonstrations free of vandalism.

Many stepped to the vandals, urging them to stop. A couple even had physical confrontations. Here’s a video of the confrontation at Whole Foods:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=86XhCwHhwn8

Some have attempted to explain this away by saying Whole Foods was vandalized because the management had threatened to fire workers if they took off to attend the General Strike. Others were saying that the violence and vandalism is small potatoes compared to the economic violence done by the big banks, big corporations and their cronies.

As one gentleman remarked upon hearing the news: “Yes, windows got broke, but Wells Fargo and Bank of America broke hearts, broke the economy and on top of that stole people’s homes… A window breaker will go to jail while a CEO who swindles us out of our homes and billions of dollars is free and might even be sitting at the highest levels of government”.

In short F$%K a Bank..

There’s not too many who would argue with that sentiment and many didn’t as the day continued on and we saw a successful shut down of the port. But at the same time many weren’t buying the line that violence was necessary.

After the march to the port, many went home and retired for the night only to wake up the next morning to discover that Occupy Oakland made national news. Sadly, it was not for the success of the General Strike or the shut down of the port, but for vandalism and violence.

Many waking up to the news of overnight violence were stunned, angry, and dismayed. Damn near every corporate news outlet was on the scene, including the NY based Today Show, who had pretty much ignored Occupy Oakland in the past, but this morning they had a reporter on the scene doing live coverage. Blaring across everyone’s screens wasn’t 20k people closing down the 5th largest port in the country, it was masked men wearing all Black setting fires in the middle of the street and destroying local businesses.

Tully's is right next to occupy oakland and was a supporter of the movement.. Many protesters were extremely upset when her shop was vandalized.

Many of shops hit were ones friendly and supportive of Occupy Oakland, including Tully’s Coffee on 14th and Broadway who had her windows smashed. Spray paint marred damn near every building around the plaza and up

and down Broadway. Oakland police who had had kept their distance from Occupy Oakland for the past few days showed up in full riot gear, shooting tear gas and flash grenades. Much of the violence took place around 2 am, and by 4 am, when over 100 people were arrested, the overwhelming majority of those sent to jail (75% ) were from out-of-town.

In the aftermath of the violence, many were left with a very clear lesson as to what Occupy Oakland and the Occupy Movement in general is up against. Folks know beyond a shadow of a doubt that any and all attempts will be made to marginalize, discredit and ultimately erase any success stories this movement has.

When this movement does well or accomplishes a goal, one should expect there will be some sort of incident to sabotage things. On the heels of that incident will be gaggle of corporate reporters on hand complete with satellite trucks ready to convey any and all dirty details they can dig up. The end game is to spark fear and plant seeds of doubt.

Huge crowds coming out to shut down the Port of Oakland was lost to the deliberate destruction of local businesses

As I noted in the past, this is a war being fought on many fronts. Information, News Narratives and PR are 3 of them.Occupy Oakland’s shutting down the Port and having a large turnout for a General Strike was major. It was a huge smack in the face to the 1% who have been doing everything they could to dismiss the Occupy Movement. Unfortunately for the 1%, what took place on November 2nd was something you could not ignore.

If that wasn’t enough, on the same day we shut down the port of Oakland, Occupy Wall Street held a People’s Tribunal in Zuccotti Park where they found Goldman Sachs guilty. Folks from OWS directly confronted executives from Goldman Sachs where they handed them the guilty verdict.

Occupy Oakland helped clean up and stood by broken windows to help deter further damage by those bent on destroying the Occupy Movement

These activities were supposed to be the main conversation. Victories on both coasts for the Occupy Movement with everyone gearing up for Bank Transfer Day on Saturday Nov 5th. I guess from the stand point of the 1% Financial Bankers, the momentum had to be slowed down.

That slowdown was gonna come in the form of broken windows and all out vandalism. This was something Occupy Oakland had avoided for 3 weeks since they first set up shop. Even during the police melee from the other week with all the flash bombs and tear gas, no one ran around busting windows. To see this happening on the night of big success is more than obvious.

So as frustrating and dismaying as it was, we all know what this was about — an attempt to crush the spirit. We’ve all seen this film before…most recently in Cairo, Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Egyptians from the Arab Spring Standing Guard protecting their Museum from Police masquerading as looters

If folks recall, days after the protest began, out of the blue ‘some people’ decided to go loot the national Egyptian Museum. Initially our corporate media tried to blame the protesters in Tahir Square. They were quick to sour on them and attach demeaning labels to them. The protesters in Egypt realized what was happening, quickly regrouped, stood side by side locking arms to guard the museum. Later it was discovered that it was agents working for Mubark’s secret police thugs, who were attempting to sway world wide opinion by posing as looters.

Could that have been the case here in Oakland? After all, it’s an an age-old tactic that even Stevie Wonder could see from a distance. It happens all over within various movements by those desperate to hold onto power. From the days of Cointel-Pro to now in the age of increased surveillance and the Patriot Act, how could one NOT draw such conclusions when the actions taken are destructive?

Allies or Functionaries for the 1%?? photo Reginald James/ Black Hour

It’s good that folks from Occupy Oakland responded immediately to the carnage by helping clean up the damage and guarding shops that had broken windows, to prevent looting. Such gestures have been uplifting and underscore the resilience that people in this city have…

Nov 2 2011 we saw tens of thousands of people from all walks of life shut down the Port of Oakland costing those in power, millions of dollars and we have folks breaking the windows of local businesses in Oakland of all places.. Think on that for a minute..Why not bring that ruckus to the doorsteps of the bankers who’ve wrecked havoc on us? Aptos? Hillsdale? Menlo Park?

The day is coming where it’s not gonna be so easy to find folks to be agents for the 1%. Until then lets recognize things for what they are.. Call a spade a spade or in this case, call a guy busting out windows of local businesses wearing all black- A provocateur- perhaps a hired goon to be an ally to the 1%. He’s the Oakland style version of the white shirted police we see on Wall Street..

by Davey D

Let’s Not Forget What Has Caused Oakland’s General Strike

Today is Nov 2 2011… It’s the day of a General Strike here in Oakland, California. Hopefully it’s a day that we’ll look back on years from now and see as a watershed moment in history. Hopefully it’ll be a day that we look back upon and see as a crucial turning point in our quest for social and economic justice.

As folks are gearing up to head on down to Oscar Grant Plaza on 14th and Broadway (City Hall)in downtown Oakland, I hope we don’t lose sight of some of the key reasons why a General Strike and the Occupy Movement in general is happening. After all, in the age of Mass Distractions, it’s easy to get caught up in personalities, criticizing pundits and the antics of others who are eager to serve as functionaries and lap dogs for the 1%.

It’s easy to get caught up in debates fostered by corporate media and whatever vicious spin in their hawking. Three weeks ago they were saying Occupy Oakland was out-of-town Anarchists. Next they were saying Occupy Oakland was a health hazard. This week they are claiming small businesses are being hurt by Occupy Oakland. Tomorrow they’ll have something else for us to jabber about.. It’s not about corporate media spin. It’s about the 1% and the policies that spin seeks to serve.

It’s not about Oakland Police and their recent bizarre open letter from police union members where they claim to be confused and insist they are part of the 99%. Yes, we can not overlook the years of violence the police department has unleashed on Black and Brown communities pushing for change. That needs to stop and folks held accountable. With that in mind, lets not forget that Occupy like any other movement doesn’t start and stop with the police. Like their corporate media brethren, their heinous actions are rooted in policy reflective of an agenda and desires of the 1%. Police at the end of the day are pawns-modern day overseers who have no extended their reign of terror outside the hood and into other communities where economic hardship is present.

It’s not about Mayor Jean Quan or the city council and their off kilter decisions. It’s about the people behind them who bankrolled them.

It’s not even about the space that Occupy Oakland reclaimed. Its symbolic, like putting flag in the sand. It’s a space where we can start to discuss what needs to be done and how. It’s a place where we might debate but at the end of the day we can’t forget that this is about the nation’s most powerful banks, financial institutions and corporations and their greed, viciousness and dehumanizing behavior.

There’d be no tents on Wall Street or in the plaza had it not been for banks getting bailed out after tanking the economy and causing undue hardship for millions of people all over the world.

There’d be no tents in front of city hall if we didn’t have bailed out banks turning around in the middle of a deep recession and handing out obscene bonuses to a handful of gleeful, uncaring employees while many of us were harshly penalized for the smallest of infractions like being a day late in paying our car notes, mortgage or credit card bills..

How many of us got hit with outrageous $30-40 late fees for being a couple of days late on a credit card bill? How many saw interest rates skyrocket on car notes or mortgages when being a month behind late on payments?

Many of us through no fault of our own saw our work hours shrink, 401ks disappear, our jobs shipped overseas and our pay checks cut-some by as much as 20%. At the same time we saw prices rise dramatically from food to rent to bridge tolls.. and while all this was going down and people struggled, we were assaulted by arrogant media pundits and politicos in the pockets of big banks, telling us we ‘should blame ourselves’ for whatever economic hardships we were experiencing. It was this type of callousness that eventually enraged people enough to finally take it to the streets to demand change.

Lastly, there’d be no tents in the plaza if more of us paid attention and took seriously the plight of the millions of poor people already trying to survive in this country as opposed to marginalizing, ignoring and demonizing them when the so called ‘good times’ were rolling. We have to own up to a few things..We can’t forget that once upon a time not too long ago, many of us responded with indifference and cheered along when cutbacks to the social safety nets were downsized under the guise of Welfare Reform and other policies that left folks out in the cold. We believed the stereotype and hype of the ‘Welfare Queen’ living off the dole’ while ignoring the very real scenario of corporate welfare kings.

Many of us cheered along when we saw the labor movement get pummeled. We thought that their insistence on getting paid was standing in the way of us getting at cheap goods and services. Many of us didn’t seem to mind when companies started shipping factory jobs overseas to take advantage of child labor and draconian sweat shops where folks got a a dollar a day. For us, the bottom line was as long as we got new basketball shoes and flat screen TVs at a cheap price. The least of our concerns was the economic exploitation in Third World countries being done in our name.

Many of us ignored the plight of students who saw college and university fees skyrocket as they were strongly directed to take out bank loans that in many cases exceeded what they would pay for houses. Today students owe more than a trillion dollars in loan debt with no real relief in sight. This amounts for many to a bill of $400-500 a month for the next 15-20 years.. Too many of us who escaped huge student loan debt, looked at the college degrees on our walls and kept it moving, not once looking back or being concerned even when tens of thousands of students started doing nation wide walkouts to bring attention to the loan scam and demand change. If anything many of us got haughty, laughed out loud and called college students lazy. We told them to get over it..

As we embark upon today’s General Strike let’s not forget the shoulders we’re standing on..Economic hardship may be new for many of us, but it’s generations deep for millions more, meaning we can’t easily explain it away as this simply being a few folks unwilling to get off their asses and put in work.

What we’re dealing with is systemic and we should never lose sight of that..We should always remember, the that change we seek comes only when those at the bottom of the economic totem pole get economic parity. Anything less is a band-aid that’ll will eventually unravel and put us back on square one. It’s important as we seek change that we not become as heartless and unforgiving in our outlook and approach as the people and institutions we are protesting. Let our actions at today’s General Strike reflect a desire for long-lasting systemic change rooted in the love we have for our community and people. Also lets not forget this Saturday November 5th is Bank Transfer Day.. We taking our money out of these big banks and reinvesting it elsewhere..

By Davey D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxv9kIFJh5Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfNmhbB59g4