Monday, January 30, 2012

Must Read: "Notes from an Occupation 14: Shock and Awe! Or: How I learned to stop loving the motherfucking Police and start loving Oakland (part 1?)"

I think this is a pretty important post to read when thinking about what happened on Saturday...
File under: Things that made whatsername almost cry reading
First off, as I said on facebook, the only way I can really start this out is by saying “Fuck the Police!” And I well and truly mean it. I know many of you who have known me for years, and even a lot of my brothers and sisters in the Occupy movement, who have only known me for a few months, will probably be shocked that I’m at this point, and frankly, I am too. I’m torn up about it. I might laugh when I say it, but it’s that uncomfortable “Oh God.” laugh, because I’m really split about it. 
I’m very much in the nonviolence/no property destruction camp, and I was also one of those Occupiers who would argue “but the police are our friends!” and I was one of their first defenders, “oh they’ve got such a shitty job!” or “oh they’re caught between a rock and a hard place.” Hell, I’m sure I’ve tweeted and blogged about it in the past at some point. I still believe that right now, but at the same time, fuck that bullshit. Really. There comes a time when your orders are so wrong, so unjust, so ill conceived, poisonous and odious that you must refuse. You have to do it, for yourself, and for those people who you are about to cause harm to. That point has come and gone, more times in just the last few months during the police vs. occupy movement alone, setting aside, for a moment, all the decades of police brutality and oppression in certain neighborhoods and against certain races in our cities. Today, these Oakland cops were batshit insane, and were going buck wild all over town. Good people were hurt, good people were arrested, and many innocent people, both marchers and pedestrians, were put in harm’s way, for no justifiable reason. 
It’s not like I’m “new” to police brutality or I didn’t know it happens. I’ve read about it, written about it, and been an activist against it in the past. That said, there’s a distinct and jarring difference between seeing and knowing it on paper, and seeing people ridden down by motorcycle cops, or seeing people get their heads smashed into the pavement and all the other lovely, grisly things police like to do to assert the little power they’re given. I mean, sure, we can dress it all up nicely and call it “training” and “tactics” and whatnot, but really, Police are just a gang. A gang employed by the state, but a gang nonetheless. Enforcing laws, regardless of whether that law is right or not, and using their force of arms and the backing of the criminal justice system to keep us in line and make sure we follow our marching orders.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Detailed Schedule for #OccupyOakland Events This Weekend

Occupy Oakland Weekend of Action Detailed Schedule

Redistributed with permission, please forward an post widely.

Oakland Rise Up Festival!

Occupy Oakland will be holding a weekend long festival starting this Saturday, January 28 with the takeover of an empty building where it will host workshops, panels, a film festival, live music, assemblies and more. The Oakland Rise Up Festival runs through Sunday night and features over 50 speakers and performers including former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown, anarchist anthropologist and member of Occupy Wall Street David Graeber, feminist, revolutionary & historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and many more. Saturday has been designated the Move-In day and activities will focus around settling into the building and celebrating Occupy Oakland. Sunday is organized as the Conference Day and a wide range of panels, presentations and workshops are scheduled. Music and cultural events in the occupied building are planned throughout the weekend. Below is a detailed schedule of the Festival's planned events. The Festival also encourages self-organized discussions, workshops and events and will help to publicize additions to this schedule to the best of our abilities. 

Look for the festival table during the weekend & for the latest updates!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Letter to the Mayor, Oakland Police Department and City Council on Occupy Oakland's Move-in Day - Jan 28!"

Released recently at Occupy Oakland Move-In Day:

Dear Mayor Jean Quan, Oakland Police Department, and Oakland City Council,

As you probably know, Occupy Oakland is planning the occupation of a building on January 28th that will serve as a social center, convergence center, headquarters, free kitchen, and place of housing for Occupy Oakland. Like so many other people, Occupy Oakland is homeless while buildings remain vacant and unused. For Occupy this is in large part because of yourselves, having evicted us twice from public space that was rightfully ours. For others it is because of the housing bubble, predatory lending, the perpetual crises of capitalism, and far reaching histories of imperialism and systemic violence.

Our families, friends, and communities built the buildings that sit empty in post-industrial Oakland. Now these buildings outnumber the homeless and represent the theft of our collective labor as the class of the unpropertied and dispossessed. Allowing this building to remain vacant while so many are in need is injurious theft, injustice; its extralegal occupancy is not.

When Occupy Oakland was first evicted on October 25, we organized a General Strike on November 2nd with only a week to plan. November 2nd proved our strength and relevancy. Conservative estimates said twenty thousand took the streets, but for those of us who marched on the ports it could have been a hundred thousand. November 2nd was an inspiration for the Occupy Movement and public condemnation of your violent repression.

Eventually we reoccupied Oscar Grant Plaza only to suffer a second violent eviction on November 14th. At this time there was a national crackdown on the Occupy movement as evictions were happening in Boston, New York City, Atlanta, Portland OR and elsewhere. It was revealed that you, Jean Quan, had been coordinating with federal agents how to best repress dissent. In response Occupy Oakland was the impetus for a West Coast Port Shut Down, in solidarity with Longview ILWU workers whose union is under attack by EGT. The action escalated to a national and then international action as more occupations signed on. In Oakland alone the shutdown cost some $8.7 million dollars in lost revenue and proved that when civic and economic institutions do not serve us, we can shut them down.

Since the beginning of the Occupy Movement when you have exacted violent repression on us we have proven that we are more powerful and diffuse than you. If you try to evict us again we will make your lives more miserable than you make ours.

This may be in one or more of the following forms:

-Blockading the airport indefinitely

-Occupying City Hall indefinitely

-Shutting down the Oakland ports

-Calling on anonymous for solidarity

It will be in our mutual interest if you respect our occupation by recognizing our residency and imminent domain. We are sure that we all look forward to the needs of Oakland’s people finally being met.

Don’t fuck with the Oakland Commune.


Occupy Oakland Move-In Assembly

While I personally wouldn't have gone with the "Don't fuck with the Oakland Commune" line (despite the fact that it made me smile) because I think it undermines the professional tone of the rest of the letter (and this seems like a good moment/medium to speak the language of professionalism to me) I am in agreement both with the content and sentiment of this letter and the upcoming action, so, here it is re-posted in my space!

The move-in begins Jan 28. Rally at noon in Oscar Grant Plaza (otherwise known as Frank Ogawa Plaza), march to the as-of-now undisclosed building at 1pm. Join us if you can!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tucson school district bans books by Chicano and Native authors

On Doctor King Day, how about another edition of "shit that makes whatsername's blood boil," care of the narcosphere:

The decision to ban books follows the 4 to 1 vote on Tuesday by the Tucson Unified School District board to succumb to the State of Arizona, and forbid Mexican American Studies, rather than fight the state decision.

Students said the banned books were seized from their classrooms and out of their hands, after Tucson schools banned Mexican American Studies, including a book of photos of Mexico. Crying, students said it was like Nazi Germany, and they were unable to sleep since it happened.


"the last time a book of mine was outlawed was during the state of emergency in apartheid South Africa in 1986, when the regime there banned the curriculum I’d written, Strangers in Their Own Country, likely because it included excerpts from a speech by then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Confronting massive opposition at home and abroad, the white minority government feared for its life in 1986. It’s worth asking what the school authorities in Arizona fear today."

Indeed [emphasis mine].

Banned books include:
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years
The Tempest
(yes, the Shakespeare play)
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
The House on Mango Street
Black Mesa Poems

The Devil’s Highway
Like Water for Chocolate
Ten Little Indians
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven
Ocean Power, Poems from the Desert

...And many more, apparently.

Instructors from the former Mexican American studies courses have also been told "to stay away from any class units where "race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes.""


Can't have the youth thinking about oppression, gods forbid, they might decide to work against it!

Despite knowing that book banning is NOT new to America, it still makes my blood boil (or at least it feels like it's boiling...).

I mean, really, when has banning books EVER led to or been a part of anything good? Isn't "our freedom" why we've been told "the terrorists hate us"? How can the same people who spout that line not see how fucking un-free actions like this are?

Oh, that's right, because they are hypocritical "Libertarian" assholes who think everything is ok as long as it's the US doing it... We're special fucking snow flakes that way.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Help Raise Funds for "Ajijaak" Ojibwe Storybook!

I got word about this project from the lovely Cecelia!  Check out her blog if you haven't already:  Anishinaabekwe.  From the project's Kickstarter page:
The making of the Storybook "Ajijaak!"
FOUR Colours Productions is an aboriginal and non aboriginal collaboration of artists, language teachers, designers, elders, storytellers and more who come together to create Ojibwe Language storybooks and Cd's for sale in the community. The thing we have in common is an inherent interest in preserving creativity, culture and the arts in community- especially for the little ones!

Our Goal!
The intent is to assist populating the libraries, book shops, children's homes and schools with more Ojibwe language materials- the more the merrier. We reach a diverse audience from families on the rez to urban kids with awesome parents who want their kids to learn about all kinds of cultures. There can never be enough books, Cd's, videos, immersion classes and more. We feel we are a very small part of a large community trying to help save the language.The main thing we like about our process is that it allows us to do that- ''DO'' being the key word.
Please help if you can!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Must Read: "The US schools with their own police"

File under "things that piss whatsername off"
From The Guardian

A few highlights:

The charge on the police docket was "disrupting class". But that's not how 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes saw her arrest for spraying two bursts of perfume on her neck in class because other children were bullying her with taunts of "you smell".

"I'm weird. Other kids don't like me," said Sarah, who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders and who is conscious of being overweight. "They were saying a lot of rude things to me. Just picking on me. So I sprayed myself with perfume. Then they said: 'Put that away, that's the most terrible smell I've ever smelled.' Then the teacher called the police."

In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 "Class C misdemeanour" tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may cost a young person a place in college or a job years later.

"Zero tolerance started out as a term that was used in combating drug trafficking and it became a term that is now used widely when you're referring to some very punitive school discipline measures. Those two policy worlds became conflated with each other," said Fowler.

Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of police in schools. Simpkins describes the case of a boy with attention deficit disorder who as a 12-year-old tipped a desk over in class in a rage. He was charged with threatening behaviour and sent to a juvenile prison where he was required to earn his release by meeting certain educational and behavioural standards.

"But he can't," she said. "Because of that he is turning 18 within the juvenile justice system for something that happened when he was 12. It's a real trap. A lot of these kids do have disabilities and that's how they end up there and can't get out. Instead of dealing with it within school system like we used to, we have these school police, they come in and it escalates from there."

According to the department's records, officers used force in schools more than 400 times in the five years to 2008, including incidents in which pepper spray was fired to break up a food fight in a canteen and guns were drawn on lippy students.

Chief Brian Allen, head of the school police department for the Aldine district and president of the Texas school police chiefs' association, is having none of it.

"There's quite a substantial number of students that break the law. In Texas and in the US, if you're issued a ticket, it's not automatically that you're found guilty. You have an opportunity to go before the judge and plead your case. If you're a teacher and a kid that's twice as big as you comes up and hits you right in the face, what are you going to do? Are you going to use your skills that they taught you or are you going to call a police officer?"

Read it all, there were too many priceless quotes to pull them all out.

Why can't we see that we're slowly but surely destroying ourselves with this ever-growing prison industrial complex??? Let's observe that these programs are particularly common in communities with high numbers of people of color, immigrants and poor working classes. In other words, groups of people who are already criminalized in mainstream USian discourse. Coincidence? I doubt it. Is it going to take this coming to white middle class suburbs before we take seriously how increased policing exacerbates and spreads the violence these police are supposed to be curtailing?? And if it does... by then will it be too late?