Curfews, Undercovers, and Chest Cams, OH MY!

1.Originally Posted in We Copwatch

Written by Jabar

On June 5, 2015, Mayor Libby Schaaf’s ” protest curfew” on night time demonstrations was tested again as 100 people marched through First Friday celebrations yelling “Fuck The Curfew”.

Oakland Police cut the march off on the north and south side of the First Friday corridor, but police remained fairly hands off. The general sentiment around town is that OPD took a hands off approach because the protesters and the First Friday revelers were indistinguishable from each other and any crackdown would have made for bad press and a possible backlash from Oakland’s new coveted affluent class: the gentry.

The treatment of “Say Her Name” protesters a couple weeks back was very different. Police responded to a predominately black, woman led march by blasting “LRAD” (Long Range Acoustic Device) and throwing flash bang grenades at marchers, eventually detaining and arresting many from the demonstration.

Video Produced by WeCopwatch

Both events had heavy police presence with a zero tolerance approach to people being in the streets, but there is no question that there was a discrepancy of treatment to the different groups– largely because of who they were comprised of, and who was there to witness. Continue reading

West Oakland Mural Bulldozed

Original mural. Photo by Oaktown Art

Original mural on Mandela Parkway. Photo by Oaktown Art

A familiar West Oakland mural (formerly on Mandela Parkway and 12th Street) commemorating the 1968 Olympics “power salute” was razed last week. In 1968, Olympic medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200m run, stood during the national anthem with their heads down and black-gloved fists raised.

At a press conference after the event Tommie Smith, who holds seven world records, said: “If I win I am an American, not a black American. But if I did something bad then they would say ‘a Negro’. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.” Smith said he had raised his right fist to represent black power in America, while Carlos raised his left fist to represent black unity. Together they formed an arch of unity and power. He said the black scarf represented black pride and the black socks with no shoes stood for black poverty in racist America.- BBC

1968 Olympics Power Salute

1968 Olympics Power Salute

The West Oakland mural, sitting on a private lot, paid respects to this historical moment. It served a double purpose for the owner who commissioned the piece to prevent tagging. It seemed to have worked. No one who has graph-writing ethics would dishonor it. The city’s priorities don’t match graffiti artists’…but that’s common knowledge. Oakland Councilmember Lynnette McElheney tried to get constituent points on her Facebook when she heard the news:

Speaking with the contractors, this was removing State water testing tanks that were installed to monitor WO groundwater contamination levels at this site which was once a gas station. They told me that the water is now testing within normal ranges so the state ordered the removal of the tanks and testing equipment and the demolition of the shed. The mural was commissioned by the owner to keep the shed from being tagged.

She continued that she wasn’t notified and didn’t get there quickly enough to stop the demolition.

Facebook screenshot

Facebook screenshot

Nice try, McElheney. You hold the pen in drafting the demolition of West Oakland, aka the West Oakland Specific Plan [Read about WOSP here]. (And yes, they actually named that shit “wosp.”) Do you think you’re gonna convince us that the preservation of anything that is part of this historical neighborhood or a tribute to the struggle is suddenly your top priority? We already know what your priority is. It is not preservation of history or community. It is development.

McElhaney also says that people are unrealistic about development prospects. Developers want to build in San Francisco, but they do not want to build in Oakland, she said. The only one willing to build in the city are Oakland-based developers…“Oakland can’t beg a developer to come to the city right now. But the reality is that you can’t get (developers) to come here without incentivizing the development.” – The Post News Group, 17 July 2014

Development, by overlapping institutions of state, capitalism and white supremacy, destroys community. And the successful destruction of a community requires a short memory of the resistance that went before us. Whether every moving part of the gentrification process is deliberate or not, these small events are certainly part of the nature of the beast. A politician is a politician is a businesswoman. This is the mural after the message was changed a few years back. The image stayed the same:

West Oakland kids before the mural was torn down

West Oakland kids before the mural was torn down

This more recent wording came from Rage Against the Machine’s “Know Your Enemy:”

Born with insight and a raised fist A witness to the slit wrist, that’s with As we move into ’92 Still in a room without a view Ya got to know Ya got to know That when I say go, go, go Amp up and amplify Defy I’m a brother with a furious mind Action must be taken We don’t need the key We’ll break in Something must be done About vengeance, a badge and a gun…  

People Remove City Fence Posted Around Triangle Park

Collaboration by We Copwatch and Bay Area Intifada,

We Copwatch triangle park

On Saturday morning, community members, with the blessings of Triangle Park residents, removed a fence put up by the the city just days before. The park is a community space where people mingle, snooze, break bread, play chess and–for some homeless people–can finally rest their feet. The city put up the fence to push park residents and visitors out of the community gathering space, angering park residents, nearby neighbors and other Oaklanders. People are drawing a clear connection between the fence and the city’s ongoing efforts to gentrify Oakland through the displacement, murder and harassment of black, brown and homeless communities.

On the way to the park, a couple of community members talked to Bay Area Intifada about the significance of the fence:

Another community member talked about why we should support the people at the park: Continue reading

SFPD Kill Student and Security Guard After Gentrifiers Get Suspicious

Alejandro Nieto

Alejandro Nieto

By Needa Bee via Davey D, Hip Hop Politics

I am upset this evening because today I learned about Alejandro Nieto, who was killed by a barrage of San Francisco Police Department bullets last Friday evening near the service road leading up Bernal Hill.

I attended the vigil in Alex’s (as he was known to friends) honor that took place at the site where he died, on the service road leading up Bernal Hill. At the vigil, I learned that he was a scholarship student at City College of San Francisco, studying Criminal Justice. He wanted to be a parole officer to help guide young men’s lives into good directions. He was a devout Buddhist who believed in creating the peace in his community that he wanted to see spread across the Earth. He was a loving, caring individual. I found out through a poem that his birthday was March 4th.

I also learned that the SFPD shot him last Friday as he ate a burrito just before heading to work as a security guard. He was wearing his work-authorized tazer on his belt, but the police did not ask him about that. They did not consider the source of racist fear that motivated the (mostly) white dog-walking residents to frantically call police because of Alejandro’s presence. The cruel irony is that his job was to provide a sense of security for patrons at a restaurant/bar — so they could eat in peace. But Ale’s presence — his simple presence IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HE GREW UP IN — was enough to create a sense of IN-security for his recently arrived neighbors… and that not only could he not eat in peace, but because of it Alejandro is now Resting in Peace.

Read the entire article here.

Google Protests: Saving Our Funky Shops and Flamboyant Political Theaters

hyphyGoogleFrom Hyphenated Republic

A recent New York Times piece on Google Bus and Anti-Google actions in the SF Bay Area holds some unlikely insights for those seeking to fight gentrification in San Francisco and Oakland.

“Demonstrators regularly block the shuttles. Last week, a group of activists stalked a Google engineer at his East Bay house, urging the masses to “Fight evil. Join the revolution. One neighbor speculated that the protesters were associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“It felt like regular old Berkeley behavior, to tell you the truth,” another said.

In many ways, it was. Mr. Levandowski’s house used to be a part of a small informal commune in the late 1960s. Tom Hayden, a founding member of the radical group Students for a Democratic Society, lived there.

Conditions are ripe for another large-scale protest movement, Mr. Hayden said in an interview.”

The author continues along this line for a bit, wondering if there will be an “Occupy Silicon Valley” and even takes a moment to separate the idea of “protesters” from “community”. Someone unfamiliar with discussions in activist circles about the protests, would be pardoned for being surprised that the protests were ostensibly anti-gentrification actions.

Nevertheless, one can’t fault the New York Times reporter for coming to such conclusions. Both in San Francisco, and especially in Oakland, the character of the actions left little doubt about the demographic behind them. They were indeed, what one of the interviewed experts describes as…

“… a very large, frustrated younger population watching the middle class disappear before their eyes just as they prepare to go into it [with a] a rising, serious hostility against Google…part of a class struggle around the means of producing information.”

Certainly projecting this image has not been the intention of anyone I’ve spoken to who was involved in, or supported, the actions. The opposite is true, in fact, that most protesters honestly believed they were also representing the powerless, those mostly people of color being priced out of their homes and forced out of their social and economic public space. But just as certainly it should not come as a real surprise to anyone that this is exactly how the actions are not being interpreted.

In San Francisco, the actions have at least been portrayed as being anti-eviction and there have been some instances of mentioning gentrification—though without any historical reference and scarce race or class component. It’s not surprising that in almost every report, journalists could not find a person of color to speak to at the demonstrations who could talk about gentrification and how it has already changed the low-income neighborhoods targeted before the tech boom.

And, of course, they would obviously not look very hard away from the crowd—the labor organizer who created a minor sensation by posing as a Google employee got more time at the mic than any person of color in danger of being displaced in the Mission district.

But even the minor contextualization and mention of displacement from the San Francisco conversation is missing in stories that focused on Oakland’s google flavored actions. The Guardian’s report on the action at the house of Google Engineer Anthony Levandowski focused on the group’s anti-surveillance message, citing the complaints in their literature about Levandowski’s work on “surveillance, control and automation” but not gentrification.

The issue of gentrification in the Bay Area is now obscured with a decidedly middle-class centered media focus–in San Francisco, the middle class is being “priced out” while in Oakland it is a middle class anarchist versus tech class battle. Natasha Lennard, in Salon, also wrote an entire ode to aggressive tactics against Google, but barely mentioned the idea of gentrification in the context of them.

Read the entire article on Hyphenated-Republic.

Oakland’s Declining Diversity Makes National Headlines


Photo by satanslaundromat

San Francisco’s diversity (or lack thereof) isn’t the only Bay Area population to make headlines. Yesterday NPR’s Morning Edition touched on the growing tension between “Old Oakland” and the newer, younger, whiter residents who are remaking its landscape.

The Morning Edition piece reminds us of Oakland’s rich history as a hub of West Coast black culture and the birthplace of the Black Panther Movement. By the 1980s, Oakland’s population was more than 50 percent black.

“Today, Oakland is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the U.S. – it’s now 34 percent white, 28 percent black, 25 percent Latino and 17 percent Asian.”

But these days, it isn’t uncommon for Lake Merritt to resemble Golden Gate Park, with mustachioed hipsters cruising on their fixies or young hip couples toting their goods from the farmers’ market and holding a $5 cup of Bicycle Coffee. Forbes even recently named Uptown the ninth most hipster hood in the nation.  Continue reading

Oakland after acquittal in Trayvon Martin killing

More coming soon.

Eric Louie

It wasn’t exactly how I thought I’d spend my Saturday night, but here’s video of downtown Oakland hours after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and other charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

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(VIDEO) Machete Attack on Police Station – Uyghur Autonomous Region

Video and Excerpts from Sina July 8

Autnomous Uyghur Region, Turkestan

“Surveillance video showing rioters with machetes attacking a local police station on June 26 in Shanshan county of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was released Saturday.

Reports stated that 24 people, of which 16 were ethnic Uyghurs and eight were Han, were killed. The attacks also left 21 others injured.”

June 26th, Uyghur Autonomous region

June 26th, Uyghur Autonomous region

watch video here

[BAI Note] The clashes in “Turkestan” have been going on for decades as the Muslim Uyghur population has been in a decolonial struggle against the Chinese state and the Han Chinese. The Hans have been flooding and settling the region which is often called “Xinjiang,” which means “New Frontier” or “New Colony,” by the Chinese state and global mainstream media. The security forces in the region are Han Chinese as well and any act against the settlers is considered an act against the state. Since 9/11, the Chinese government has taken to calling the Uyghur rebels “insurgents” and the uprisings acts of “terror.”  The Muslim Uyghur community, now an ethnic minority group in the region, has also been banned by the Chinese state from observing Ramadan. Other Muslim activities such as visits to the masjid (mosques) have also been curbed. Continue reading