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On April 27th, 2012, CNN published a misleading, inaccurate and damaging article entitled ‘LA May day observances split immigration’. While the various immigration groups who have traditionally marched on May Day have naturally been in various stages of ideological and sometimes political conflict, Occupy LA has never been part of these internal differences, and stands firmly in support of im/migrant rights. The General Strike Preparation Committee, as part of its planning for May Day 2012, actively put out the call for various immigration groups and organizations to join Occupy in building a coalition to participate in a May 1st General Strike. Despite numerous calls, these groups were not interested in participating in a coordinated effort on May Day, and preferred to stick to holding their own separate marches, rallies and events on the day. Occupy LA supports this decision, and as a mark of their respect for these groups’ work and the meaning of May Day in Los Angeles, the General Strike Preparation Committee made sure that they prioritized Im/migrant rights on their list of demands for the General Strike.
On 4pm May 1st, 2012, Occupy LA has committed to marching with the Southern Californian Immigration Coalition with their full support. The SCIC is a group which, back in October, voted NOT to participate or organize within Occupy. Occupy LA has urged all participants on their Four Winds Caravan to join this march, with SCIC’s cooperation. Occupy LA respects all groups working and organizing in Los Angeles, and recognizes and appreciates their autonomy and right not to participate in Occupy LA actions, without any ill-will or disrespect. Viva La Revolución! All Power to All People!
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It has come to our attention that Sam Resnik, a sexual predator that assaulted one of our sisters is planning on attending G.A Friday (April 27th).
Below is the email that the Radical Womyn’s Circle sent him.
It has come to our attention that you will be attempting to attend G.A (Friday April 27th) to issue an “apology” and to be perfectly blunt, this is unacceptable. This is completely disrespectful to —-anonymous—- and the Radical Womyn’s Circle. Especially since you did not show up to a set meeting to begin attempts at a reconcilation process. You have failed to comply with the simpliest of demands from the person you victimized and this attempted action does nothing more than prove your complete and utter failure to accept any form of accountablity. This is clearly a sneaky and under-handed attempt to divide our community which you have already made unsafe. You did not sexually assault the G.A.
You sexually assaulted —anonymous—.
If for some reason you forgot the demands that were originally listed they are below:
1. Your agreement to come to a meeting with a group of women speaking about the experiences they have had with sexual assault to give you the opportunity to understand the damage that these type of experiences cause to us.
2. For one month you agree not to attend any actions or events (G.A’s included) that —anonymous— will be attending with the understanding that you are giving her time to heal and feel comfortable within our community.
3. Within this time you take space you need to reflect on the situation and give —anonymous—- an apology that is genuine and is given with the understanding that you have hurt her and she deserves honest closure.
There is already a large organized group of people that are willing to call you out and let everyone know in detail the reason why we do not want you there. We have been in contact with the wimmin from PCC as well and have become well informed of what transpired there. Next time you try to think of a way to fix things- you should strongly consider the fact that regardless of what you think this IS NOT YOUR “OWN PERSONAL ISSUE.” This is not going to go away easily and we refuse to stay silent as you violate more of our sisters and make a mockery of our community by thinking we are so ignorant that an incident of this magnitude could be swept aside with an empty apology.
We are organized.
We are unafraid.
and we will not stop.
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Power To The People! Revolutionary Greetings!
The Black Riders considers itself to be the new generation Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. We are a Black Revolutionary organization based in South LA that stands against terrorism, racism, capitalism, and imperialism. Our organization was created in 1996. We started off by organizing numerous Bloods and Crips to stop gangbanging and committing Black on Black violence. We helped to transform the criminal gangsta mentality into a positive Revolutionary mentality. We also created a ‘watch a pig’ program to patrol our community and police the police. Since then our organization has been subjected to military style raids, harassment, and arrests of numerous members on trumped up charges. Our leader, General T.A.C.O has received the brunt of the repression. He has been set up and politically imprisoned many times in the past. The state has strapped a G.P.S. tracking device on his leg and has banned him from political activity and association. We will continue to fight back and exercise our 2nd amendment Constitutional right to bear arms and defend ourselves against any and all attacks. May day represents a day of resistance to capitalism, racism, and Imperialism across the planet. As we work together in solidarity with Occupy L.A and others, it will raise awareness amongst poor oppressed people that our fight against oppression should be based on a race and class struggle!
Power To The People!!!
Power To The People!!!
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WTF is M1GS? What are the caravans? 4 winds? There’s too much happening - how do I get involved? I don’t have a car. What’s the point? Yeah, I’m hearing this all day long. So here’s your handy 101 guide to getting involved, complete with links.
#M1GS stands for May 1st General Strike. Occupy LA called for a General Strike back in November. It was approved by the GA, and all the other Occupations took up the call, along with those unions in contract disputes, unions not in contract dispute who want to participate without going against Taft-Hartley, The Black Riders, The Brown Berets, and various other radical left organizations in and around LA.
How are we going to have a General Strike if folks can’t ‘officially’ strike? By calling in sick to work. By school walk outs. And by disrupting the flow of Capital on Mayday. This isn’t that hard to do. Mayday is a big day for immigrants rights in LA. Marches happen all day long. People are used to taking the day off to march. It’s what you do on Mayday. And this Mayday will be no different. Except we’re not just going to march from point A to point B, to protest against the injustices immigrants have to endure in this country. We’re going to converge on downtown LA from four distinct points: NORTH, SOUTH, EAST and WEST with the intent to shut this city down in order to clearly and forcefully articulate the voice that the establishment continues to ignore, our voice which proclaims: we have had enough. We have had enough of being treated like dirt because we are im/migrants, we are brown, we are black, we are poor, we are women, we are queer, we are workers, we are students, we are young, we are old. The 1%’s deliberate oppression and fostering of divisions in order to maintain their iron grip on the government and finances of this country must end.
So what happens on the day? You need to locate a Wind near you on OccupyMay1st.Org. Each wind will be comprised of caravans of moving vehicles - MAYDAY MOBILES. These will be decorated cars, vans, bicycles, skateboarders, rollerbladers - anything and everything. We need to reach CRITICAL MASS with a variety of vehicles, and we need folks to commit to bringing their transportation along to a chosen wind, and giving people rides on the day. Each wind will start in the late morning, from about 10am to 11am, park somewhere nearby, and converge on foot to 6th and Main Street in downtown LA at around 2.30 / 3pm, for food and a secret direct action.
It’s really important people commit to a wind, not just the convergence block party / action, and while we love folks who show up on the day, giving us a concrete commitment now would make us very happy activists. You can locate the East, South and West Wind Planning Teams on facebook, or look at the routes and times on OccupyMay1st.Org. While Occupy San Fernando Valley is coming from the North on May 1st, they will be using the Metro, and we still do not have caravan details for the North planned out, so we’re looking for a group who want to take this on.
After the convergence, our Mayday group will join the Southern Californian Immigration Coalition March at 4pm. This march should end at approximately 6pm, giving folks an hour to enjoy music, eat some food and cause financial disruption before having an Occupy LA hosted General Assembly at 7pm.
As we draw closer to M1GS, times and locations may change. Keep checking OccupyMay1st.Org. But whatever happens, we’ll need you and your Mayday Mobiles. If you’d like to be involved in legal support on the day, please email email@example.com
If you are unable to participate in M1GS, but would like to help with a financial or other contribution, our WePay donations page is here, and we are always grateful for loans / donations of food, water, phones, radios, PA systems, trucks, plain black t-shirts / hoodies, bullhorns, mobile hotspots, battery packs for livestreamers and whatever else you can think of!
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This week, the League of Women Voters announced an event featuring Mario Brito speaking as the ‘leader’ of Occupy:
Mario Brito, a leader of Occupy L.A., will discuss what’s next on the Occupy front at a forum and lunch sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Pasadena Area. 11:15a.m. Women’s City Club, 160 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. $20. 626-798-0965. Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_20305139/social-calendar-april-2#ixzz1qxHG21d
A group of OLA members immediately took autonomous action and wrote to the League of Women Voters correcting them and alerting them to the fact that Mario is not a member of our leaderless movement, much less a “leader”. Here are extracts from several of the emails sent:
Dear League of Women Voters,
First off, thank you for taking an interest in the future of our society. Your dedication to informing and involving individuals to be proactive within their communities, their local and national Government, and to one another is an inspiration to community activists, protesters, and revolutionaries everywhere. I would like to extend this gratitude with further information based upon my own experience. I am a community organizer from the rapidly growing grassroots movement Occupy Los Angeles. The history we have all shared together from the steps of city hall to the end of the police baton has been an eye opening experience for everyone deeply involved in this movement. That being said, it has come to my attention that there is an individual representing himself to be a leader of Occupy Los Angeles: Mario Brito. May I assure you that Mario Brito has not been involved with Occupy Los Angeles since November 30th, 2011. Here is a statement he made to NBC after not getting arrested for what he didn’t believe in.
“Mario Brito joined other supporters at an impromptu rally and noted, “the eviction was only of tents, not of our ideas and definitely not of our movement.” -
Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Ousted-Los-Angeles-Occupiers-Vow-to-Continue-Their-Movement-134797023.html
Mario Brito was a great asset to exploring the beginning stages of the Occupy Los Angeles. I will be the first to acknowledge his participation and willingness to aid and educate others, further committing and involving new individuals to the definition of community responsibility. His history of Union involvement and protesting had prepared him to be a leader. However, the Occupation was not looking for one. The Occupation operates on a different social structure, you see, whereas individuals are responsible for one another and are dependent to one another. A horizontal democracy attempts a difficult yet achievable end: to listen and respect a majority of individuals rather than funneling decision making to the voices of a few. The 99% was an action plan to involve and respect as many individuals as we possibly could, attempting on a daily basis to become stronger with and for one another. Mario Brito did not believe in this cause. For all accountable reasoning, his intention of creating leaders were originally the best of intentions. However, his execution was disgraceful. Because of his inability or unwillingness to wish to adapt to the needs of a horizontal movement, he took divisive measures to ensure his own personal goals would be achievable.
He abandoned the organizing committee (Facilitation Committee) to become a police liaison, never revealing the meeting minutes with even the most active organizers. His secret plans alongside SEIU organized, without discussing with the Occupation, operated the failed attempted November 17th action to take Wally Park, resulting in more than a dozen Occupy Los Angeles arrests, not once aided by SEIU for bail, court representation, or even offering traumatic recovery. The reason that we have become aware of SEIU’s actions was due to the Washington rally, where Occupiers met and discovered that all of their own actions, from Seattle to Chicago, were all organized by SEIU representatives without giving knowledge to the Occupiers beforehand. SEIU, alongside their lapdog Mario Brito, organized Occupiers to take the fall, and never helped them up. The night after the raid on November 30th, misplaced homeless individuals were offered to stay in the SEIU parking lot. SEIU gave them space, made them sign a contract declaring that Occupiers, not misplaced homeless individuals, were taken in by SEIU, had a quick photo shoot, and then after the actions of one homeless individual named Shadow getting into a physical altercation with Mario Brito, were all shoved out. They were there less than a week, which, by the way, were demanding the volunteer Medics of the Occupation to take care of the people within the parking lots. This after a majority of them were locked in jail or defending City Hall.
Here is the last nugget. Occupy Los Angeles could have taken the low road, organizing and elaborating on the horrible actions of Mario Brito among others who have acted selfishly for their own goals. However, Occupy Los Angeles has continued on. If you want complete evidence to how much of a fraud Mario Brito has been, allow him to loftily discuss the actions of May 1st, allow him to tell of his tales at the Camps at City Hall, and then when he is done promoting himself, ask him first if he believes in a Horizontal movement. Ask him if he knows the status of Blanca Cardenas, (http://newamericamedia.org/2012/03/protesters-hold-vigil-for-deported-la-mom.php) ask him if he went to the funeral of Alex Weinshenker, or donated to his wepay account, (tinyurl.com/occupyalex) or if he has ever even participated in a Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly ever since November 30th, 2011. Look in his eyes and ask him if he is an Occupier or an opportunist.
I personally believed in Mario Brito, and he had betrayed me. I defended him until I saw him outside looking in on November 30th. He spoke of Cesar Chavez and for the people. I shared my stories and beliefs with him, even learning that he has a son that his mother rarely wishes him to see. I don’t blame Mario Brito for wishing to take a paycheck to help out what family he has. I support his commitment to wanting to establish a more fair and balanced social guideline with which we could understand and aid one another. However, shortly after the homeless were shoved out from the SEIU parking lot, I ran into Mario Brito. I attempted to explain how his involvement is necessary and how the Occupation has brought a renewed faith into the minds and hearts of all of our generations, all wishing to belong to a better fiscal, social, eco, and moral world. I believed this existed within the Occupation. Believe me or do not, but the words from Mario Brito on December 11th, 2011 were, “I want nothing to do with Occupy Los Angeles”.
I’d like to reiterate our movement’s concerns, being careful to specify that I am not speaking on behalf of the movement, but as someone who has been with OLA since Day 1, is familiar with the various concerns surrounding Mario Brito, and has a sense of how his perpetual reappearance as a self-styled ‘leader’ has provoked a great deal of hostility from the horizontal members of OLA. Mario has not been a part of the Occupy movement since November. When he was a part of the Occupy movement, he came under a huge amount of criticism for his hierarchical, secretive behavior, which directly transgressed our principles of solidarity:
and the way in which we make decisions - through participatory democracy, through open, transparent, consensus. His liaisons with the LAPD and the City, which were carried out without the approval of the General Assembly and the people of OLA, actually resulted in him being organically ostracized from our movement. To add fuel to the fire, Mario courted publicity constantly, claiming to be a spokesperson, or a leader, on a continual basis. Even when directly confronted about these issues, Mario has continued to take the title of ‘leader’ or ‘spokesperson’. As a journalist and writer myself, and someone who has given many interviews to the mainstream media about OLA as an individual, I have never been called a ‘leader’ or ‘spokesperson’ - because I made clear we do not have a leader. This leads me, and others, to come to the natural conclusion that Mario has been calling himself this, over and over again, despite repeated requests to refrain. Given that he has accepted an invitation from yourselves to talk about a movement he was only involved in for approximately eight weeks, and was ostracized from five months ago, it is apparent Mr Brito has not yet understood that he has no grounds for communication about us, for us, or regarding us. Given that Mario does not represent the movement, has not been involved since early November, has never taken the time to understand our movement’s principles and the manner in which we make decisions, there is a considerable amount of anger and mistrust that once again he has resurfaced claiming to speak for our movement. I’d like to ask the Pasadena League of Women Voters to cancel Mario’s appearance, because we cannot, in good faith, allow someone to take the OLA name, talk about us, represent us and / or benefit from our movement, given the amount of heartache he has brought to Occupiers.
This matter will be brought to the General Assembly tomorrow evening. Given the amount of bad feeling Mario’s past behavior has generated, should he insist on talking at this event, I’m pretty sure there will be members of OLA present to loudly ensure that he cannot lie or misrepresent our movement, as he has done in the past.
For the future, please refer to this document to understand how to communicate directly with the movement:
Mario Brito cannot speak for Occupy LA since he is not part of Occupy LA. Would you allow any institution to invite a person who is not part of the League of Women Voters to speak on behalf of the League of Women Voters? We at OLA cannot allow this to happen. Mario knows he cannot represent nor speak on behalf of a movement from which he has been ostracized. He (and LWV) ignore this glaring ethical contradiction. For Mario ethics has never been an issue, but the fact that your well-respected organization chooses a person who is not part of OLA to speak as a “participant” in OLA is a travesty that we cannot accept. We cannot allow a “fifth column” like Mario to speak for our movement in a public event. It simply is not right. There are tens of occupiers who are active participants in the movement, good speakers, and most important, have the support of everybody in OLA. I write to you to I appeal to your ethical honesty. Mario cannot speak for OLA. He is not one of us. Every occupier know this. Talk to us. Find out who Mario Brito is to us, occupiers. If Mario will try to spread his lies on your audience - he will be interrupted.
Strangely, the LWV responded in a particularly aggressive way:
The League of Women Voters believes in civil discourse. We think people should be able to discuss controversial issues without being subjected to abusive or disruptive behavior. That is why your assertion that representatives of OLA will be present to “loudly” disrupt our meeting seems very antithetical to your stated values of individual privilege and participatory democracy. How can you square those beliefs with the intention to interrupt and interfere with an individual’s right to describe his own impressions, and our right to hear those impressions?
We have asked Mr. Brito to speak about his personal experiences with OLA, not as a spokesperson or representative for the movement. We intend to make that perfectly clear. He was recommended to us by the Rector of All Saints Church here in Pasadena as well as by several members of their Peace and Justice committee. The word “leader” probably should not have appeared in our press release and we regret that. The word “participant” would have been a better choice, because we know that OLA is a leaderless, horizontal organization.
The purpose of the League of Women Voters is to encourage informed and active participation in government. The Occupy movement is a recognized player in the current political scene and we want to be informed about it, at least from one participant’s point of view. It is my sincere hope that your General Assembly will decide, based on your stated values, that it is inappropriate to disrupt our meeting. We also hope that Noemi will be able to recommend an additional individual to speak about his/her impressions of OLA so that we may hear another point of view (without personal attacks).
Robbie Davis, President
LWV Pasadena Area
After approximately 30/40 occupiers called / emailed and made their feelings known, they seemed to have a (begrudging) change of heart:
After consulting with our Executive Committee the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area has decided to accept Mario Brito’s offer to withdraw from our meeting tomorrow. This decision in no way indicates that we are siding with either you or with Mario as we have no way of verifying information on either side. It has to do with the fact that, unfortunately, the meeting has threatened to devolve from what we hoped would be an educational experience into a “he said, she said” situation. We have no interest in acting as a referee in this dispute.
We hope you will convey this message to your General Assembly and to all the OLA participants who have been calling, emailing, and threatening to disrupt the meeting. We are sad that it has come to this because we really wanted to be part of a civil discourse that would better inform us about your movement. You no longer need to worry about providing a speaker.
Robbie Davis, President LWV Pasadena Area
In true Occupier fashion, this rudeness did not go unremarked:
Thank you letting us know. However, certain elements of your hostile communications continue to disturb me. Firstly, if someone who was not from the League of Women Voters spoke publicly about your movement claiming both leadership and intimate knowledge, I hope that your committee and membership would have the initiative to speak out and correct falsities immediately. This situation is no different. I see no reason to lament the loss of any knowledge regarding Occupy. All you have lost is a speaker who is not a member of our movement, who does not participate in this movement and who possesses no knowledge of our movement post November 2011, from misrepresenting himself to your membership. It seems strange to me that you seem intent on trying to make all the Occupiers who spoke out feel guilty for disrupting an event which was, in essence, charging your members $20 to receive false information from an imposter. Stating clearly that we, as a movement, will not allow ourselves to be misrepresented and intend to counter false information in person is not a threat. It’s a statement of fact. And in a hierarchical society which is built upon mainstream media lies and misrepresentation, I think anyone who chastises our movement for having the ovaries to stand up and speak out fearlessly against such misrepresentation, is severely misguided. I’m sorry you feel so confined by false and oppressive social conventions.
This situation has arisen because one individual persistently seeks publicity, and grandiose declarations of leadership. We alerted your organization to the fact he is not a member of our movement. I do not see any need for your blatant rudeness to me or to our movement. Rather, you owe us thanks. I think you should be sending emails expressing your organization’s disappointment not to me, nor the members of Occupy, but to the man who ignorantly accepted an offer to speak on behalf of our movement. I think you should be sending out emails to your membership, apologizing for charging them to hear this charlatan speak. I think you should be apologizing to your organization for the poor job you have done in finding a speaker to talk to them about our wonderful movement and all the houses we have defended from foreclosure, the work we do with Skid Row and the homeless, our plans for the General Strike.
Given that you’re the League of Women Voters, an organization which is intended to help newly enfranchised women exercise their responsibilities as voters, it seems a remarkably short sighted, patriarchal and irresponsible decision to choose a middle-aged male as a speaker, over and above the strong, powerful and enlightened women of all ages and backgrounds, who are strong voices and participants in our movement here in LA.
However, I would like to thank you for reminding me of why I am an anarchist, and why voting is an ineffective tool for the idle middle classes who want the illusion of participatory democracy, without the effort of taking direct action that will effect real social change. It’s small encounters such as this which merely strengthen my personal resolve.
The moral of the story is: don’t fuck with Occupiers. Don’t use the movement as your pay check. Don’t join the LWV, a bunch of passive-aggressive liberal morons. If you want to hear us speak and find out about our movement - follow the link and turn up to a GA. And don’t be fucking rude when we politely correct you, and prevent you from misrepresenting us.
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General Assemblies are famously plagued by losers. Let’s be honest - every great GA has, in equal amounts, been accompanied by a GA which descended into a shitfest because of someone with an obvious mental problem or personality disorder. From Juan (“You are all fucking idiots!) to Donald (“This is fascism! Facilitation is run by Fascists!” as he plows a small Latina girl over in his wheelchair) Occupy LA has been no different. Despite running an impressive GA - OLA is one of the few assemblies in Occupy which runs on a 100% pure-consensus model, with a beautifully orchestrated and clear website which effortlessly debunks the Liberal myth that anarchists hate organization - OLA GA has yet to come up with an effective way to deal with provocateurs. Had OLA been run by Communists or Panthers, doubtless Juan, Donald and their ilk would have been swiftly disposed of with a bullet in the head, or their penis rammed down their throat. Unfortunately, radical inclusion, coupled with bleeding-heart liberals, means little more than a kerfuffle of dis-ease every time idiots descend on the GA with the intent to garner an audience with a tantrum, a meltdown, and a stream of abuse.
But when does simply being an obnoxious moron become something more insidious? Paranoia abounds in the Occupy movement, from the Phantom Occupier Sue Basko’s (chemically-induced?) rants about Psy-Ops, to Occupy Oakland’s (now disbanded) Media Team’s dangerous episode of snitch-jacketing. What we’re about to say then, is that our most recent provocateur - Billy Yllanes - is probably just an obnoxious moron, like Donald, and like Juan. But unlike Donald and Juan, his attempts to incite OLA into foolish actions have larger consequences than simply disrupting a GA.
The first time we saw Billy Yllanes was when he came to GA to make a proposal to Re-Occupy South Central Farms. His reasons for doing so? He had the support of LAPD and Jan Perry. Yep - that’s right. Billy Yllanes stood in front of Occupy LA and told them he had the support of LAPD and Jan Perry. Not only that - Billy didn’t have the support of the South Central Farmers themselves. In fact, they couldn’t stand the guy, and sent along this letter to GA, which a member of the assembly read out to Billy:
Given the whole assembly tabled the proposal, you might have thought that would have been enough to stop Billy Yllanes, who videotaped everyone at that GA who hardblocked him. But no! The dude came back to GA with exactly the same proposal less than a week later, and defended his decision by saying the Farmer who wrote the above letter was biased and racist, and Billy knew what was best for the community - even if they did not.
Unsurprisingly, the proposal was tabled again and the assembly made its feelings about the return of this BS very clear.
Let’s look at the consequences of Re-Occupying South Central Farms. Given the once-public land is now privately owned, anyone setting foot on that plot will last maybe 15 minutes before LAPD swoop down and beat the crap out of them. Maybe a public display at 41st and Alameda would bring public awareness back to this once-widely known campaign - but only if supported by the Farmers and the local community. Fifty lone Occupiers with cardboard signs bringing police presence into a predominantly Latino low-income area who frequently suffer from racist policing and do not support the Occupiers, would do nothing but say: Hello. We’re Occupy White Privilege. We don’t give a fuck about you and your community. The fact you lost that battle against City Council to get back the land Jan Perry illegally sold to Ralph Horowitz, despite overwhelming local and celebrity support and awareness, is because you’re not Occupy. We’re going to take that land back for fifteen minutes, get everyone in jail on felony charges, bring massive police presence to the neighborhood, and look like White Savior Kony-ass dipshits who don’t have a clue about organizing in the local community. Oh wait! People think we’re that already!
I leave it to you, oh OLAASM fans. Billy Yllanes: total fucking idiot, or tool of Jan Perry? Does it fucking matter? No. The guy’s a tool of the Tim Trepanier Occupicnic calibre. That’s all we need to know. Next!
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This system has got to die
So you stood and Occupied
Shirts in tow, describing the violence,
Supporting the overthrow
Our arms were linked
By struggle and descent
You denounced the bullshit about non-violence
While others chanted to peacefully resist
You saw the police, masked, and did not just sit
You did not just sit
When they told you no
You were down to break shit and keep it on the down low
But you kept it too low
Much too low
Cuz they took you out quietly and slow
Gave you the gun to extinguish your glow
The way of Billie Holiday
With a voice to shout for masses
Slowly overwhelming, dripping brown molasses
The strange fruit harvested for working classes
Masking the sorrows too big see
With a genuine smile
And pointy goatee
Like the GIs in the 60s tossing grenades at officers
Cuz they knew the war was to fatten the aristocrats coffers
Those privates would shoot down their own officers
Heroin subdued their justified anger
Encouraged the forget to rebel for sons and daughters
You know the CIA didn’t just do it with crack
Jazz and heroin, smacked the fight out of attack
They did it with Charlie Parker, Bradley and they tried with Ray C
kept the tracks bloody
bc the music industry said it improved their
… to make them money
from worries and misery
Saturated in oppression
they gave you drugs readily
the system knows you saw with clarity
their prosperity off our poverty
but when you sat in that room, solitary
it shut out that exploitative reality
concealed the pain from loved ones and family
Silence and stigma quiet weapons of treachery
Alex, they put you in a system so HUGE in the fight back
They used demoralization and un-employment another monkey on the backs
Of the working class
To eliminate the righteous drastic
Epithets to call the realistic- fanatic
1400 cops to destroy the fantastic
telling us equality belongs in straight jackets
City liasons keeping the movement plastic
And even though you saw through all that whack shit
The weight of oppression couldn’t keep you from
But we see you more than what took you down
We continue to resist amidst tears and frowns
Laughing, clowning, calling out the fake shit
It was more than us calling for political independence
From the capitalists
I can’t speak for you, Alex
Only what I saw
Glistening eyes, telling truth raw
We won’t be ashamed to speak the entire truth
They killed him with silent violence that comes with oppression and drug abuse
And we will tell it all
Those of us who know
The real about your fight
And the way they stole your glow
Rivers will run ‘round rocks
Learning about the father who cheerfully fought “the man”
And maybe he will stand with us someday
With a fist in the air
Ready to fight and play
Because your story is not over Alex
It’s only just begun
You were one of the voices who reminded me
It’s not over until we’ve won.
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Two weeks ago Occupy LA held its first Black Power GA, organized by antiracism campaigner and OLA comrade, Brother Michael Novick, staunch Occupier Nigerian-American Brother Dele, Brother Bilal Ali of LA-CAN, and Occupy the Hood / Foreclosures powerhouse, Brother Kwazi Nkrumah.
Unfortunately, OLA Media didn’t think it important to cover the Black Power GA, nor the Skid Row GA, so no livestream exists of these historic events. However, Occupy the Hood’s Shadow Media will soon be releasing reports about both.
A commentator had this to say about the event and its impact on OLA:
I think it was a successful event as far as it went, focusing the attention of the Occupy LA General Assembly on the history and currency of Black resistance in the US and internationally and its impact on the possibility of liberation and transformation in society as a whole. Most of the speakers in fact objected to the concept of “Black History Month” (and the theme of the GA was Black History, not Black History Month). But this exposed the unspoken assumption that the rest of history is “White History.” As a person of fairly immediate European descent (my father came to the US from Poland as a teen in the 1930s), I have come to realize that “White History” is in fact “false history,” the propaganda inculcated by the 1%, the ruling class, the power elite, the bourgeoisie, whatever name you want to give them.
I remember the moment in college when I was talking with one of the few Puerto Rican students in the college, who told me that in Puerto Rico, they had tried to teach him to identify with George Washington as the “father of his country.” Thinking about the absurdity of that, it suddenly came to me how absurd it was that I had been taught to do the same thing.
Frantz Fanon, the Algerian psychologist who theorized about African liberation and mental decolonization from European colonialism and domination, wrote a book called “Black Skin, White Masks,” about the identification of oppressed and colonized people with their oppressor and colonizer, the internalization of their oppression. While many have come to understand that, fewer realize that “white skin” also comes in “white masks.” The very concept of “whiteness,” and the attempt to amalgamate a “white nation” in the US in particular, is rooted in colonialism racism, false consciousness and oppression, out of which “white skin privilege” grows, and the identification of working class people of European descent with our alleged “race-mates” in the 1%. This is a false consciousness, inculcated in part by a false history, the “lies my teacher (and parents) taught me,” the history of kings, emperors and presidents. White history is a false history, not only for Black people or indigenous people, but for all people, including “white” people.
At the GA, I spoke briefly at the invitation of Bilal Ali about the impact of Black/African revolutionary struggle on the consciousness and practice of people of European descent, and how my generation was radicalized by the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and the world wide upsurge of anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but how, in the face of repression, many retreated back into acquiescence and compromise with the empire, into making their separate peace. This was not restricted to so-called “white” leftists by any means, but the operation of privilege, particularly white-skin privilege, was definitely a factor. But I also emphasized that people need to understand that “privilege” is a mechanism of social control, just as much as oppression or repression. When I, as a teacher or parent, extend privileges to my students or my kids, it is in order to control their behavior (in a more sophisticated and effective way) than I could simply by the threat of punishment. Prison guards and wardens extend privileges to certain prisoners. In a hierarchical, exploitative economy and society, privilege operates as a social control mechanism at and throughout all levels. What is crucial to understand is that anything you have by privilege, you possess by virtue of having surrendered your rights — what you have by privilege is your conditionally, conditioned on “good” behavior as defined by the power extending the privilege, and can be taken away at any point that power determines you have stepped out of line. Privilege is a trap, not only because it divides those who have it from those who don’t (think about the “teacher’s pet”) but because it inculcates a form of madness and illusion.
If you believe that what have by virtue of your privilege is in fact a manifestation of your earned superiority or entitlement, you are not functioning on the basis of a clear-eyed perception of reality. You may claim to oppose oppression, but if you deny the existence of the privileges that are the flip side of oppression, you cannot functionally do so.
This is not an argument for “white guilt.” That’s just another manifestation of privilege and self-pity. It’s an argument for taking responsibility for studying true history and actual reality. Privilege is not something to feel guilty about any more than oppression is. They are both social manifestations of economic and political realities that must be challenged, overturned and uprooted.
Otherwise, the Occupy movement will become one more in the long list of social movements in the US that failed to overcome its own weaknesses or effectively build on its own strengths and breakthroughs. And that is something that we cannot afford to allow to happen. the stakes are too high, the consequences too grave. The damage the empire has done and is doing to the environment, to the lives of too many people, not just in the US but globally, the destruction of elemental human rights, is too extreme.
The “We Are the 99%” slogan is a good beginning at breaking a white supremacist and white-privilege identification with the 1%, with our own oppressors and exploiters (and granters of privilege). But it is only a beginning — we must strengthen the identification with the rest of the 99%, particularly the communities of resistance that have been fighting the Empire for decades or even centuries. This involves humility and self-criticism. It means that when we get caught out acting like Occupy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and disparaging the efforts of people who have been struggling against the rule of the 1% far longer and perhaps more effectively — as seems to have happened with the OccuPicnic in MacArthur Park — we need to check ourselves. Otherwise, as has become the case, it leads to even worse contradictions and consequences, such as calling the cops on people who are doing revolutionary transformative work.
If we don’t like the history that has shaped us and the current reality, the solution is not denial — it is to go out and make some new history of our own — a history based on solidarity and a respect for self-determination. One way to make that history (as we did with the Occupations) is by building for the May 1 General Strike. But to do so requires uniting with other radical, grassroots forces beyond the ranks of Occupy itself — which will be a tremendous learning experience. In doing so, we will inevitably make errors, but the key is to have an open-hearted, open-minded commitment to self-criticism.
Following the GA, affinity groups dealing with white privilege, racism, decolonization and immigrant rights have formed, demonstrating the power of this movement to grow, adapt and change.
The GA featured a great variety of powerful, inspiring speakers, among them:
Dedon Kamathi of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, founded by Kwame Toure (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and briefly, the BPP). Dedon was a member of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in San Diego and is to this day an avid surfer and a member of the Black Surfers Association. The AAPRP sponsors African Liberation Day events every year, mostly with African Student Unions and Black Student Unions from campuses around southern CA. He hosts a radio show on KPFK, “Freedom Now” on Saturdays at 2:00 PM.
Abdul of the Black Panther Party, accompanied by Justice and Dino of The Black Riders Liberation Party all gave moving speeches talking about self-defense, police oppression, the politics of class and race, and urging Occupiers to build coalitions, and provide mutual support between the BRLP and Occupy. Their contact info is in most issues of Michael’s zine “Turning the Tide,” which people can see on-line at www.antiracist.org. They can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 323 289 4457; their internet access and sometimes even phone is spotty because they are so impoverished. You can check out videos at www.youtube.com/blackridersliberationparty. The Black Riders Liberation Party is actively seeking allies to help with their community work, including food programs and afterschool programs. Get involved!
Jericho Amnesty Movement national website is www.thejerichomovement.com and the NY Jericho folks maintain an email distribution list of political prisoner news. The local chapter meets the third Saturday of each month at 5:00 PM at the Southern CA Library for Social Studies and Research, 6120 S. Vermont Ave., between Slauson and Gage.
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Background: Reformist members of OLA have been holding a picnic, without GA approval, and with the overt opposition of Radical OLA, in Macarthur Park. After Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC) politely told picnickers to be more cognizant and respectful of the local community, the picnickers were asked by Radical members of OLA to find an alternative location. They refused. On Sunday, February 26th, this happened:
It was a sure sign that ‘God’ loves RAC-LA and “don’t like ugly”.
RAC-LA which has for 4 years and 4 months operated a free Food Program by, with, and for the poor, homeless, migrant and unemployed residents of the MacArthur Park area found the police called upon us because we were blocking off a space so that trucks bringing food and carrying away compostables (the bins of which weigh can easily weigh above a hundred ponds.)
Lately the park has seen an opportunistic invasion on Sundays as some people who call themselves ‘The Occupicnic’ seeking shelter for their ‘picnic’ in a working-class area, i.e. where cops are less likely to bother them.
A woman named Debbie’ (SEE PHOTO ATTACHED) pulled up and demanded this spot because she had a handicap sticker. Being handicapped she had no more ‘right’ to the space than any other of the many cars that had passed by looking for a space Sunday—or the 10s of thousands that have passed by us since we’ve been here—saw what we were doing and got on. There was a handicap space right across Wilshire and two more around the corner on Wilshire. Pitiful piece of shit playing the victim so as to dictate her will.
This woman strikes me as a professional victim whose been playing ‘cards’ all her life. She had no greater ‘right’ to the space than the over 100 vehicles that had passed by today or the thousands since we’ve been there and respected what was being done. Or the at least 3 cop cars that had passed todau and the hundreds if not thousands of time they had passed us us ‘breaking the law’ for 4 and a third years.
4 and a half years the cops have passed us by and said nothing about our cones blocking off parking after some initial confrontations that ceased with our workers having acquired the support that the local residents give us. Now, she done put it in the cops faces that they ain’t ‘doing their jobs’ and we expect to be under pressure with this for a while now making it difficult to take food off the trucks and putting compost bins on the truck.
This is where the problems with these people has been all along: they assume that their ‘work’—if you can call it that—has to be more important than anything the locals (whose territory they are invading (not occupying)) could possibly be doing. Saw that about a month ago when one of them came and started to get some of our cardboard (that a member recycles) without asking. Another did the same prior to that with fruit. Its rankest privilege. Its the assumption that what they’re doing is certainly more important than anything that the mere working class might have organized itself to do. Its the assumption that these neophytes and wanna-bes are entitled because they think they are what they think they are. There is also member of OLA whom I have witnessed communicating with the police, inviting them to food. RAC-LA does not cooperate with the police. We survived their harassment of us at the beginnings and periodically since by the strength of our membership and those we give food to in staring down and, occasionally, standing them off. This situation presents complexities seemingly not understood by members of OLA.
When I went down and called them out one silly m’f’er said “I’ll tell ya what to do…Get your people to stand with you.” What the fuck did this young jerk know about anything? He hadn’t a clue to the years of hard work that RAC-LA had put in and faced down with the cops.
It ain’t just a sign off a lack of class consciousness its signs of plain old self-important rudeness.
Here’s where I blame that group as a whole in the park: They apparently gave no time to brief their members on the neighborhood. This itself might indicate that they themselves took no time to find out about it. And, in spite of this woman calling the same m’f’ers who beat up and kicked out Occupy LA, they took no action to kick her out which is the only way that they might have salvaged some of the motivations that caused the group to be formed in the first place. Salvaged some credibility.
If she’s is yapping to the cops about us over a goddamn parking space what else might she be yapping about. This fucking snitch ought not be welcome anywhere anybody is trying to do anything about the state of our class.
Below is a picture of the OLA snitch. Apparently the woman is called Debbie and has been attending OLA GA’s for only a few short weeks.
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