There once was a fetid swamp of white bourgeois, liberal bilge called Occupy Los Angeles... We found each other there and emerged from that muck and mire still believing that we can win. Ask us about it at the barricades sometime.

We are sometimes anti-social - always anti-fascist. We like to smash things but sometimes our smashing is purely figurative. Some of us don’t run as fast as we used to.

Chris Hedges, Kevin Zeese, and Tina Dupuy all suggested we were pigs. David Sirota said we should ‘go fuck ourselves.’ Having drawn the ire of such liberal luminaries, we think we must be doing something right.

We are a dynamic and evolving community who eschew authorship, believing it provokes ego and craving. We promote anonymity, collective decision-making, community and truth. We have modeled this tumblr and twitter feed on the Black Bloc tactic - erasing identity and promoting solidarity - as a symbol against the corruption inherent within our movement, representing that of the wider world.

All our content is open source to those who are our comrades. We refuse to allow our words to be reproduced by any organization that is using this content for the purposes of soliciting financial or other donations. If you would like to use our words to solicit resources, ask us.

6th February 2012

Post with 19 notes

COLONIZER: A Postcolonial reading of Chris Hedges

The sudden volte-face of famed Liberal destroyer Chris Hedges in his recent demonization of the Black Bloc, sinisterly entitled ‘The Cancer of Occupy’, is a wonderful introduction for North American activists to the field of Postcolonial Theory. Edward Said’s seminal text ‘Orientalism’ examines how Western study of ‘The Orient’ contributes to the functioning of colonial power. Representations of ‘The Orient’ in Western texts purporting to offer knowledge and insight into ‘other’ countries, actually perpetuate the dichotomy between the West and ‘Others’ - in so doing, reaffirming the colonial relationship, even long after postcolonialism has apparently been established following the decolonizing process. The role of former colonizer is adopted in the discourse by the white, educated Chris Hedges, who writes glowingly of Greece’s response to their economic crisis in an article from May 2010:

Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

The Greeks, here, take the liminal role of “other”. In Hedges’ terms, they mimic his intellectual, activist ideals, without ever becoming equal to him. They are the student: he the master, echoing Thomas Babington Macaulay’s ‘Minutes on Indian Education’ printed in 1835, which set out an agenda to train ‘natives’ who were ‘Indian in blood and colour’ to become ‘English in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect’. These mimics would constitute a class who could protect British interests and help them in exerting rule over the empire. They would emulate, but never initiate or fully embody the ruling class values, in so doing ensuring their subjection and reliance on the colonizer. Hedges exhorts his ideal Occupiers to do the same, to denounce Diversity of Tactics, and to hurl their anarchist and Black Bloc comrades beneath the bus, by handing them over to the police. Hedges quotes indignant former eco-terrorist Derrick Jensen struggling with the radical aversion to resorting to the representatives of militaristic rule, to deal with internal problems: “When I called the police after I received death threats, I became to Black Bloc anarchists ‘a pig lover.’”

This indignity alone, it seems, is enough to fuel Jensen and Hedge’s disturbing anti-anarchist rant.

Frantz Fanon writes in ‘Black Skin, White Masks’, that:

… it is not the colonialist self or the colonized other, but the disturbing difference in between that constitutes the figure of colonial otherness - the white man’s artifice inscribed on the black man’s body.

Fanon’s works examine the psychological affects of colonialism upon people of color in a predominantly white world. His work remains salient, particularly in the context of the Western desire to appropriate, claim and ‘orientalize’ the revolutionary activities in ‘other’ countries, in order to inscribe their name upon the successful results. Egypt under Mubharak is characterized as bad and anti-American, anti-democratic, inhumane…. Egypt revolting in order to embrace democracy is appropriated, through Western discourse, as a prodigal student of Western ideals. This can be seen clearly in Hedges’ ‘white man’s artifice’ - the approbation he gives to his students, the Greeks. “Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out”, Hedges’ exhorts Greece gloatingly. Compare this to his contradictory attitude to the “cancerous” anarchists of the Black Bloc, who, it seems, follow similar tactics to those Hedges admires in Greece - though the Black Bloc of Oakland have not yet come near to the violence and chaos of Greece. Despite this, Oakland’s Black Bloc has provoked the ire of a Master who finds himself discarded and bypassed - overtaken, unwanted, and left to struggle in their wake. Hedges does not recognize the autonomous discourse the Oakland Black Bloc utilize - or perhaps he feels slighted that they abandoned the “accepted” discourse, and appropriated another, before he, the patriarchal father, gave permission. The Oakland Black Bloc is not subject to Hedges, the colonizer, does not, therefore, have “the white man’s artifice inscribed on the black man’s body”, and so is rejected and penalized by Hedges:

Random acts of violence, looting and vandalism are justified, in the jargon of the movement, as components of “feral” or “spontaneous insurrection.” These acts, the movement argues, can never be organized. Organization, in the thinking of the movement, implies hierarchy, which must always be opposed. There can be no restraints on “feral” or “spontaneous” acts of insurrection. Whoever gets hurt gets hurt. Whatever gets destroyed gets destroyed.

There is a word for this—“criminal.”

Greece: the underdogs of Europe, the European ‘other’, are allowed - even encouraged - to riot. Violence, looting and vandalism are approved when it is to cast out the Colonizer’s enemy, which could, perhaps, result in the strengthening of a new colonialist discourse, the ‘other’s’ continuing subjection to a new colonizer - that which Hedges represents.  Fanon notes that “The effect consciously sought by colonialism was to drive into the natives’ heads the idea that if the settlers were to leave, they would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation and bestiality”.

We see this at play in Hedge’s dark fear-mongering of the consequences of diversity of tactics in Oakland and the “Black Bloc”:

…the Occupy movement, through its steadfast refusal to respond to police provocation, resonated across the country. Losing this moral authority, this ability to show through nonviolent protest the corruption and decadence of the corporate state, would be crippling to the movement. It would reduce us to the moral degradation of our oppressors. And that is what our oppressors want.

Yet these are the same tactics - less violent, less widespread - that Hedges applauded in Greece.

Hedges is not alone in reproducing paradoxical colonialist discourse when talking of ‘other’ countries. Frequently, self-proclaimed ‘nonviolent’ participants in the Occupy movement talk in adoring terms of those in Tahrir Square and Syria, invoking the misty-eyed myth that their struggles with state oppression and police brutality in America, are somehow comparable to their comrades’ battles in the Middle East. Again, Said’s ‘Orientalism’ is worth invoking with the central tenet that knowledge is never innocent. Knowledge is always profoundly connected with the operations of power. Holding up Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King as fuzzy and politically correct (because brown) proponents of nonviolence, Western nonviolent pacifists conveniently slide over the white lauding of both Gandhi and MLK precisely because both these figures failed to threaten the hegemony of the ruling classes by participating in the colonialist discourse in the language of the colonizer. Both Gandhi and MLK were, in a sense, “different” in blood and color, but “western” in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect, and in perpetuating the moral and ethical superiority of the nonviolence both individuals had appropriated from the western discourse itself. Gandhi’s notion of nonviolence was forged as a hybrid between Emerson, Thoreau, Tolstoy and ‘Ram Rajya’. King’s was formed predominantly by Gandhi’s influence, and a trip to postcolonial India in 1957.

The translation which occurs in Western colonial discourse mythologizes these Middle-Eastern struggles as somehow equal to North American struggles, and yet different to them. Such myths either promote the idea that the Egyptian revolution has been ‘nonviolent’ and ‘non-violent’, or that the violence on the side of the oppressed in, for example, Tahrir Square, is accepted and acceptable, without acknowledging or explaining the contradiction that it is never acceptable in North America. This promotes and sustains the idea that those in Western countries are, again, the same but different. They are different because they are better. North Americans and Europeans cannot expect revolutionaries in foreign lands to adhere to the same moral and ethical superiority as themselves, the true practitioners of nonviolence and pacifism. The Egyptian revolutionaries protesting in Tahrir Square get a free pass to throw stones because they are ‘less than’ North American protestors, and it sustains North American superiority to characterize our struggle in the West as a struggle which takes place on a higher moral and ethical plain. Despite the fact police brutality is a common and everyday occurrence for many Americans, particularly those living in poverty and homelessness, middle-class educated Occupiers such as Hedges decry the notion of violence as daily routine, because it occurs mainly to uneducated, socially, economically and racially ‘inferior’ sections of the American population. Revolutions on American soil must therefore adhere to a puritanical notion of nonviolence that brings the terminology under the Hegemonic control of those privileged few such as Hedges, who manipulate the discourse to give themselves the advantage, and discredit those who are ‘other’:

This is exactly what pacifists have done in phrasing the disagreement as violence vs. nonviolence. Critics of nonviolence typically use this dichotomy, with which most of us fundamentally disagree, and push to expand the boundaries of nonviolence so that tactics we support, such as property destruction, may be supported within a nonviolent framework, indicating how disempowered and delegitimized we are. - Peter Gelderloos

This emphasis on creating clear, defined dichotomies in order to “delegitimize” thinkers is another tool favored by the colonizer to oppress. The conflation between violence and diversity of tactics is thus another method of controlling and subjugating difference through language. The colonizer creates “the other” in order to define themselves by the perceived deficiency. Hedges’ draws the Black Bloc as the “other”, using colonizing language to create a fantastical, faceless bogeyman against which he can define himself and the “good” members of the Occupy movement, not these fakers, these hooligans, these “Black” bloc anarchists. The binary opposition of black/white bad/good is never explicitly stated, but played upon through Hedge’s powerful, derogatory language. Language is power. In deliberately misappropriating the tactical term ‘black bloc’ as an adjective, and in some cases even a noun, Hedges, perhaps intentionally, creates a mythical, frightening, all-powerful and wholly evil enemy… which does not actually exist:

The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clichés. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.

The struggle for the power to name oneself is enacted within words - to remove that power of naming is a specifically colonial, patriarchal act. No matter to Hedges that the diversity of tactics advocated by the anarchists he quotes and praises in the article on Greece, pushes not towards the replacement of hegemonic nonviolence with an “absolutist sect”, but rather towards a coalition of thought and action which represents the broadest spectrum of thinking and action by which to challenge the structures of oppression. To Hedges, preaching the exclusion of these faceless ‘black bloc’ individuals (which he later clarifies, somewhat disparagingly, given their impressive build up, as “a handful of hooligans”) there is no apparent contradiction. All who approve of violence in Egypt / Greece / Syria by the revolting masses, cannot ever hope to introduce it into their actions in North America. To do so is tantamount to a revolution - against the white, educated face of Hedges and his reformist sect. In a patriarchal twist of breathtaking hypocrisy, Hedges justifies his bigotry by claiming to be speaking “for” segments of the Oakland activist population who apparently cannot speak for themselves, presumably, in Hedges’ eyes, because of their race:

These anarchists represent no one but themselves. Those in Oakland, although most are white and many are not from the city, arrogantly dismiss Oakland’s African-American leaders, who, along with other local community organizers, should be determining the forms of resistance.

The contradictions of colonialism lie in its attempt to “civilize” its “other” - in this case, the Black Bloc anarchists - and simultaneously to fix them into perpetual otherness. We see this clearly in the apparent acceptable face of Diversity of Tactics in Syria, Greece and Egypt - but it’s abhorrence in North America and Europe.

In the process of decolonization, intellectuals and activists in the immediate political fall out of the deconstruction of empire, must still fight with its continuing legacy. In order to succeed in successfully destroying the dominant definitions of race, class, language and culture, they must offer an alternative to the old colonialist discourse, a new form which establishes itself as a formidable, powerful and distinct identity. This is what Oakland’s Black Bloc, the anarchists and the radicals of the Occupy movement are doing. The fact that they face resistance from the colonizer, represented by the white, educated face of Hedges, is only evidence that they are succeeding in challenging the old hegemonic ways of thinking. In the meantime, they leave Chris Hedges and his ilk struggling with the internal contradictions faced by their role as former colonizer, striving vainly to justify and sustain their old methods of control in the face of tumultuous revolution.

Like Sisyphus, we must imagine them happy.

Tagged: black blocchris hedgesanarchismDiversity of Tacticscolonialismprivilegewhite supremacy

19th January 2012

Post with 18 notes

We’re All Radicals Now

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.” - Raymond Williams 
 
It has become fashionable in some quarters within the Occupy movement, particularly in Los Angeles, to deride others as “radicals,” to decry them - quite publicly - as something “other” and outside of “us,” as it were. Sometimes, this nefarious practice even goes so far as to suggest that radicals are more than that - they are police infiltrators or “provocateurs.”

It has become commonplace within OLA to toss this word - radical - around as if applying that label to someone, in and of itself, may serve to mitigate their influence or even to dismiss their suggestions altogether. In light of this, it has become imperative that we come to an understanding of what, precisely, it means to be a radical in the United States in 2012.

  Let’s start with a working definition of the word itself. Angela Davis once noted, “radical simply means “grasping things at the root.” Davis wasn’t making some esoteric point about so-called “radicals,” she was actually paraphrasing the dictionary definition of the word itself:

rad·i·cal 

adj \ˈra-di-kəl\ 
1

: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root 

 
 
The word radical made its way into the English language, as so many words did, by way of Latin. In fact, to further demonstrate that point - consider the radish. The radish is an edible, root vegetable. It shares the common, Latin “root” of radical - “radix.” Radicals, then, almost by very definition - are inclined to focus on the primary causes of social and economic injustice - the roots. Not content to dither with half-measures and other reformist pablum - for instance, merely restoring Glass-Steagall or overturning the ruling in Citizens United via Constitutional Amendment - radicals seek a comprehensive approach to establishing equanimity in our global community.
 
In much the same way that so-called “radical surgery” or “radical medicine” addresses the root cause of disease or illness, radicals in our contemporary United States and throughout the world seek to address the root causes of our current maladies. While radicals may differ in what they define those roots to be or what particular arrows from a broad quiver of diversified tactics they choose to employ to address them, what they share in common is a desire to alter or effect the root itself.
  
It is only after we reach the third definition in Merriam-Webster that we find even a hint of radical as “other” or epithet.This usage seems to be the province of the establishment, the corporatist so-called “reformists” of both American “left” and “right.” To wit:
 
3 a : very different from the usual or traditional  
 
But what does it mean to be “different from the usual or traditional?” It could be argued that the usual American participates in their democracy in the prescribed way - namely, by diligently doing their duty only insofar as voting when required. But even that is a tenuous argument, considering that in 2010, participation of eligible voters was a mere 38% of the voting-aged population. And this is not an aberration, as many Democrats claim. Contrary to the Democratic Party forced meme - so-called “progressives” didn’t abandon the political process - in fact - mid-term election turnout in the United States has consistently been in the 37-39% range.

Even in 2008, an election many proclaimed to be a watershed moment in American, electoral politics and generally regarded as a fundamentally important “election” for this nation (ed. the are never “important”), voter turnout was a mere 56.8% of eligible voters. While that was the greatest turnout since 1968 - it still represents little more than simple majority of eligible voters.


It would seem, then, that any participation in political struggle outside of pulling a lever on Election Day is, itself - by this definition - a radical act. Activism and organizing is - in contrast to the participatory province of the vast majority of the population - indeed radically “different from the usual or traditional” form of political participation. Indeed, the occupation and the ongoing General Assemblies are radical in this sense, and our participation in them marks us all as radicals in the eyes of the state - and the status quo it serves.
 
Something happened to many of us when we saw a small, radical band of people Occupying Wall Street. We felt it. We heard the code words, “horizontal,” “transparent,” “participatory,” and so on. We were given the courage to embrace our own radicalism. We were inspired to participate in ways that the vast majority of people don’t consider. In short, we were radicalized.
 
Some of us already were self-described radicals, while many of us seem to be having trouble coming to grips with that appellation. But the truth is - much like the writers of the Port Huron statement were keenly aware:
 

“We are a minority — the vast majority of our people regard the temporary equilibriums of our society and world as eternally-functional parts. In this is perhaps the outstanding paradox: we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet the message of our society is that there is no viable alternative to the present. Beneath the reassuring tones of the politicians, beneath the common opinion that America will “muddle through”, beneath the stagnation of those who have closed their minds to the future, is the pervading feeling that there simply are no alternatives, that our times have witnessed the exhaustion not only of Utopias, but of any new departures as well. Feeling the press of complexity upon the emptiness of life, people are fearful of the thought that at any moment things might thrust out of control. They fear change itself, since change might smash whatever invisible framework seems to hold back chaos for them now.”

 

The truth is: we’re all radicals now. We were radicals the second we closed our laptops and participated in something other than writing a blog. Even if we write reformist piffle when we log back on, we’re radicals because we don’t just write. We occupy. We engage. We resist. We strike. So embrace it. Love it. We’ll all be in the same jail cells and courtrooms (self-described “liberals” and “radicals” alike) - we might as well get to know each other better and understand that - relatively speaking -

OccupyLA is radical. To occupy is fucking radical.

Tagged: occupylaowsolaradicalanarchistdiversity of tacticsangela davisdemocratsprovocateurs

18th January 2012

Post with 3 notes

Joy and Misery in The Valley

"I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action.” — Fidel Castro
 
Occupy Los Angeles began with 50 people in Pershing Square. There are now nearly 50,000 “likes” on the Facebook page, yet it was Castro’s scenario that occupied Bertha Herrera’s backyard in Van Nuys in early January. Fifteen people with absolute faith that knew a part of changing the world was to be found in a two-bedroom house in the valley.
 
Bertha had been a resident of this cozy slice of home for over thirty-one years. She was blindsided by trouble when she was denied her workers’ compensation and found herself with no alternative except a second mortgage. The cold and indifferent bank floored Bertha with an illegal notice to evict after mishandling her payments.
 
There will be ten million more cases like Bertha’s this year. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, Latinos make up the majority of loans delinquent or in foreclosure in California. When examining completed foreclosures, African-American and Latino rates in Los Angeles County are double those of whites. The report, titled Lost Ground 2011, states, “Minority borrowers were disproportionately targeted for mortgage products that were inherently more difficult to sustain, which has resulted in higher foreclosure and serious delinquency rates in communities of color.”
 
It is clear that Bertha’s situation is far from unique. City, state, and federal government programs have failed to offer real relief, characteristically choosing giveaways to banks and empty rhetoric. The L.A. City Council extended protections for renters but ignored homeowners. Bertha paid an advocate $1,500 but was left unrepresented in court and handed a default judgment. The state legislature failed to pass SB 1137, which would have prevented this robbery. Had those in Sacramento truly cared about struggling Americans, they certainly would have passed this bill to require servicers to make contact with borrowers before initiating foreclosure action.
 
This brings us to D.C. and the shortcomings of federal foreclosure protections. A total of $29.9 billion has been set aside from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to go towards the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Of the 1.2 million California homes foreclosed upon in the last three years, only ten percent have seen that funding and help. What is abundantly obvious is that our elected officials care more about the banks’ bottom lines than homes for their “constituents”. It was with this realization that Bertha Herrera reached out to Occupy Los Angeles for help.
 
This writing was partially complete when the sheriffs cut the dead bolt and cleared Bertha’s house room by room. I was feeling a child-like euphoria over occupying a foreclosed home. The movement was transitioning from the symbolic to the real. We all agreed that housing was a human right as we sat cross-legged in our respective tents at Occupy LA, funky protest music thumping from the South Steps. Now we were doing something about it beyond raising awareness on the issue and “changing the national dialogue”. If occupying City Hall had been boot camp, this was our first mission.
 
The Joy was written before the police came with their guns, before the realtor measured for remodeling, and before the carpenters scurried in the darkness to board up the home.
 
The Joy
 
It was Day 97 of Occupy Los Angeles and Day 111 for Occupy Wall Street. For Bertha in Van Nuys, this was day one of her occupation. Her nephew watched us make signs, erect tents, and talk into the night as her patio became a microcosm of Solidarity Park. We were experts at occupying by now. Tents materialized out of thin air and were arranged in a community-oriented circle. A smoking zone was designated for a far corner of the yard as cell phones and cameras occupied the charging station. We were livestreaming the action, tweeting for pizza, and grinning.
 
Sitting on her back porch as crickets chirped, I noticed a marked absence of noise at this special occupation. In the silence, I was struck by the differences and similarities between occupying public space as a statement versus a foreclosed ninety-niner’s home as a measurable act. I knew I was part of a revolution when I was at Solidarity Park. The drums, the mic-checks, the sirens, and the honking horns told me so. But this quiet suburb, in all its normalcy, was also now a focal point to this movement.
 
The goals of a public occupation are attacked as oftentimes oblique. This critique has incessantly confused me. I simply want all the things dismantled. I want health care for all, an end to war, fair and just fiscal policy, free education, immigrant rights, and an end to foreclosures. By the way, I also want to abolish capitalism and radically redefine how we live and what our values are. How does one pragmatically go about this? The raw truth is that I want to take down every facet of the oppressive power structures… and that’s daunting. How does one raze the structures of subjugation?
 
As it turns out, we start at Bertha’s two bedroom house in Van Nuys. Among the multitude of issues, the foreclosure scam has risen to the top as a primary weapon of the one percent. Our marches and rallies are uplifting and empowering, but what do they do, really? If we’re lucky, a frightened security guard locks the doors as we wail and scream;
 
Bank of America!
Bad for America!
 
I sometimes question just what a march accomplishes, other than hindering business for a few dozen annoyed ninety-niners. It doesn’t stop the robo-signing on the twentieth floor, the derivative deals on the ninth floor, the slashing of thirty thousand jobs on the forty-second floor, or the decadent million-dollar bonuses in the board rooms.
 
Foreclosures, however, can deliver guerrilla victories and win the ‘hearts and minds’ of America. This fight offers that same inspiring message of defiance and People Power. It gives the same opportunity for pitching tents, communal living, and battle with the Vampire Squid. What foreclosures do so uniquely is cause real economic harm to the banks that manipulate capitalism to seize and control. They have spun a wonderfully clever web of public losses and private gains that is now, finally, being exposed.
 
Occupying a home in danger of foreclosure has a palpable goal, a digestible morsel of triumph. The protest encampment was filled with dreamers, drunkards, and die-hard policy wonks. So it is with Bertha’s home. But now there is a resolute tightening of the jaw on all these activists. Now we’re seeing a grandmother’s home in danger of being stolen from her and sold to the highest bidder. And we’re seeing this elusive idea of resistance spread to a woman who has instructed her two adorable dogs to treat these unwashed and penniless occupiers as family. We’re witnessing someone stand up and say, “NO!” I feel honored to shrug off my pack and call this house my home, too.
 
The Misery
 
“Wow. What the fuck happened today?” I asked to no one in particular as I finished a cigarette on the decrepit back stairwell of the “Occupartment”. It was midnight, and I was at a loss for words. Our collective has a painfully clear view of the skyscrapers and banks that make up the Los Angeles skyline. As I exhaled the smoke, I wondered just how much resistance it was going to take to have those behemoths rendered obsolete and seized by the people.
 
The day began with a conspicuous locksmith’s truck across the street. Bertha had just made me a cup of coffee and we were tip-toeing around the house as occupiers lay sprawled on the floor, the couch, and the yard in the back. I had just finished talking with public radio about foreclosures, general strikes, and the future of the occupy movement. Bertha and I were both nervous that the police would show up. This action had been hastily thrown together and we had not had a chance to discuss the diversity of tactics open to us.
 
Did she want us to chain ourselves to the fridge?! Blockade the doors?
 
Or did she want us to pack up and exit, providing court support and raising neighborhood awareness instead?
 
Before we could form any kind of plan, sheriffs began banging on the door, threatening arrests to anyone inside. Having no instructions from the distraught homeowner, I decided to just sit and put the onus to act on the police officers. They cracked the door and came in with guns drawn. We met them with defiance and our cameras. Once they saw the tents and the camera-phones, they holstered their weapons with an awkward acknowledgment that made clear they knew about the occupy movement. The sheriffs still cuffed all three of the men in the house, prodding and pushing the women out the door as well as they struggled to regain their alpha status in the home.
 
I was cuffed and as the deputy walked me into the driveway, I could feel his whole body shaking with adrenaline. We were all oddly calm though, resolved to spend more time in jail for… whatever they felt like smearing us with. As only a protester can, I was absentmindedly comparing the weight and feel of these metal cuffs to the cutting plastic zip-ties I’d previously been detained in. This occupation was over before it really began, and I was talking with another cuffed comrade about the lost opportunity.
 
I had plans to turn the palm tree in front into a totem pole devoted to social justice!
 
I couldn’t wait to meet the neighbors and hold block party teach-ins as we radicalized the street!
 
I was ready to set up Occupy Lemonade Stands and neighborhood day care and, and, and…!
 
But then I saw Bertha. She was being forcibly removed from her home. A bank with zero claim to the house was ordering the police to evict this grandmother of five. They gamed the system to seize yet another property. Disgustingly, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent was on hand to take measurements for remodeling. This was really happening. Our bold new front in the Class War was being squashed. Bertha was now without a home.
 
The sheriffs eventually calmed themselves down and released us, allowing us to get our occupy gear as we gathered, groggy and tense on the front lawn. We comforted Bertha and held an impromptu assembly to decide what to do. The nearest Coldwell Banker branch was just a short ride away, so it was settled that picketing the real estate company’s role in selling stolen homes would be a solid action in response to the eviction.
 
The action was a success, with a police presence symbolically guarding the bank, drivers honking and waving, and occupiers marching with a tent and signage. We got some of our spirit back, shouting chants at the employees and the police. It was a kind of therapy for the failure at Bertha’s, a medicine to restore our indignation. The valley hadn’t seen much occupy action so far, and it was a welcome boost to see the bank manager flustered and worried by our presence.
 
We reconvened at Bertha’s home, where occupiers had helped her draft a letter that they were now distributing throughout the neighborhood. The letter was a cry for help that acknowledged the occupy movement had answered her plea. Behind each door was a friendly face, supportive of Bertha and of the foreclosure work occupiers were doing. It turned out I would not have to wait long to find other foreclosed homes to occupy. Six – SIX – in the neighborhood were facing foreclosure in the near future.
 
As the sun set, we vowed that the day was not yet over. A political debate was going on, so about half of us went to fill out comment cards to demand what each candidate was going to do about the foreclosure crisis. I stayed behind and witnessed one of the saddest moments to date of this movement. Under the cover of darkness, eight LAPD officers showed up to “keep the peace” as a construction crew came in to board up the house. Bertha’s nephew pleaded in Spanish to the workers, asking them in their native tongue if they had a grandmother, if they had a heart. We stared in disbelief as the front door’s Christmas wreath and “Jesus Loves You” sign were covered by plywood.
 
Thankfully, Bertha had not stayed around to witness the travesty. But as I stood there, I was granted a healthy dose of perspective. Here I was, traumatized and enraged that we had been evicted from Solidarity Park after a mere sixty days. The Fascist Fence continues to separate me from the public space I used to live in and love. It makes me cringe in anger that the thugs dared to lock up our home. I tear up every so often when I look beyond the fence at that hollow expanse.
 
This movement is so much bigger than a park. We must desperately defend Bertha and the millions of families that see that same thing happen to their homes! We all knew Occupy LA was a fleeting and temporary beauty, sure to be shut down by the elites and the pigs they order around. However, this is a home of thirty-one years. It isn’t a provocative display of the First Amendment, its a place to be warm, to hang pictures on the fridge, and place inspirational quotes by the coat rack.
 
To see the home boarded up meant the property values of every house on the street instantly fell by the thousands. To see those plywood sheets nailed across her windows was proof that the corporations and the puppets they control do not give a shit about us. Another American was joining the ranks of the wretched refuse and capitalism marched on. I was miserable. We were all miserable over the blatant pillaging the morally bankrupt oligarchy is doing to the 99%.
 
Everything For Everyone, And Nothing For Ourselves
 
The spirited occupiers in Solidarity Park roundly rejected a facade of city support in late 2011. In a series of closed-door ‘negotiations’, City Hall and the Mayor awkwardly offered a small building space, too few beds for the houseless, and an undetermined corner of farming land somewhere (eventually). Instead, we audaciously crafted a response that we felt best supported the ninety-niners in Los Angeles. We didn’t need to be placated with 100 beds when Angelenos need 18,000. It is in this vein that the occupy movement will take the power from the oligarchs.
 
The above Zapatista slogan, “Para todos todo, para nosotros nada,” has been emblazoned across each of our hearts. However, there is a fascinating muddling between us and the “everyone” we’re helping. In the radio interview that morning, I was questioned about the existence and role of the homeless within Occupy Los Angeles. I answered simply, “You’re talking to a homeless person.”
 
This is the dichotomy inherent to the movement. I am fighting for a person who was denied health care coverage, drained of her life savings, and kicked out of her home. The fact is, I have no health insurance, am penniless, and houseless. Under most assumptions, a Latina grandmother living in the suburbs would have nothing in common with a young white man floating around the urban sprawl of downtown Los Angeles. This is what class war is, though. The erosion of the middle class and the oppression we’re all facing is blurring the line between occupiers as activists and victims.
 
So is the Occupy Movement the megaphone or are we the ones needing amplification? Under the umbrella of Money in Politics, we are oftentimes both. An individual’s struggle may be over foreclosures, but it could just as easily be over skyrocketing tuition, a relative lost to the Drug War, a friend killed in wars for profit, or a vaporized retirement plan. Omar Barghouti, a human and Palestinian rights advocate, said connecting the issues “is not a nicety, it is a necessity”. The absurdity of profits over people as standard operating procedure is deplorable. If we are going to stop any one injustice, we must come together to stop them all.
 
I’m reminded of a few quotes from the inspiring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said:
 
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
 
And, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
 
The point is that we the ninety-niners are facing an existential threat and if we hope to not just survive but thrive, it means occupying every home, boycotting every exploitative corporation, and re-learning to lean on our communities. Like occupiers across the globe, we must take charge of our lives and be incessantly indignant at the oppressions we each face.
 
Despite being unable to prevent the erection of some fences and boards, the fight is just beginning. One day soon these foreclosures are going to stop and we’ll finally acknowledge housing as a human right. This is because there is no stopping Bertha, my fellow occupiers, or this global movement. We’ve taken the Wall Street bull by the horns and there’s no going back. If anyone falters in their resolve for breaking these heinous chains, they can just look to someone like Bertha Herrera. She thanked us, saying, “I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without you (all). I know I’m not alone in the fight, and that gives me the strength to fight for others who are going through the same troubles.” Let’s give her what she and the rest of the ninety-niners deserve. Each day will continue to be filled with both joy and misery. Yet each day is worth it as we continue to see victories where before there were none.

Tagged: occupy laforeclosuresoccupy foreclosuresradical actionsdiversity of tactics

Source: occupymyass.com

15th January 2012

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Oakland leads the way in Diversity of Tactics →

"If you identify as peaceful and are likely to interfere with the actions of your fellow protestors in any way (including telling them to stop performing a particular action, grappling, assaulting or holding them for arrest), you may not want to attend this march. It is a militant action. It attracts anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and other comrades of a revolutionary bent. It is not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics.”

I say OCCUPY You say OAKLAND! Occupy OAKLAND! Occupy OAKLAND!

Tagged: oaklanddiversity of tacticsoccupy oaklandblack bloc media

Source: facebook.com