Monday, September 30, 2013

Reportback from the 9/28 Gathering at the Albany Bulb

 Taken from:

People trickled in slowly, on 'bulb time', to the potluck on the neck of the Albany Bulb. Food from East Bay Food Not Bombs, alongside contributions from others, were laid out on a table. On that table hung a banner that read "Defend the Bulb" with the "n" doubling as a squatter's symbol. The food was not only plentiful, it was delicious.

As folks ate, they swapped stories about the bulb. Some people talked about walking their dogs, others about the logistics of having to carry all potable water to their campsite. Some discussed the sculptures, others broke down the finer points of graffiti style present on the bulb. Those at the event were from all walks of life, people who might not have interacted otherwise. Everyone agreed about the importance of "sharing the bulb," of "keeping it how it is" and of the personal importance of the place to them. The bulb residents mingled with the supporters, joking and eating together. One resident had just found a gopher snake. It twisted around her arm as kids came up to pet it.

People announced a camp-out on October 2nd as a practice run before the eviction is imminent. It was requested that people bring water, both for themselves and for sharing, and camping gear. The evening of the October 2nd gathering will also be a time when people come together to clean trash from the bulb. That action was suggested both by the residents as a way of helping them with things they do everyday. It was also suggested by others as a way to demonstrate that the Bulb is self-regulating and in no way needs city or state intervention. From here, the discussion diverged in many directions. People clearly had many different ideas of what would be the best way to defend the space. Rather than let these differences become division, let's open up a wide space of resistance. Many of the suggestions are not mutually exclusive. While a good deal of respect for the residents and their wishes is warranted, a wide range of practices and perspectives can coexist in the struggle to defend autonomous space at the Bulb.

Around sunset, everyone walked back to the Bulb amphitheater to listen to acoustic music. Some bands were invited and others just showed up--the whole evening came together organically. A large campfire was started, fed with last year's Christmas trees. After a folk punk set by a Danny Discord (Modesto, CA), a string band played a song about the Bulb and the sense of freedom people feel there. Everybody sang along. Blackbird Raum played well after dark at the south end of the amphitheater. People danced, tripped over chunks of sidewalks and screamed along with the band. Enjoying the space, making friends around the campfire, listening to acoustic music together--sharing these experiences helped to connect people to that space.

Outside of the residents and their legal team, substantive resistance to the current efforts to evict the Bulb residents and manicure the space for "passive recreation" is still forming. The event on Saturday was an opportunity for people pissed off by the current plans to meet each other and hear updates about the situation. These conversation will continue at the October 2nd campout. Come to the campout, stayed tuned for future announcements and, most importantly, find your own methods in the defense of this wild autonomous space.

The sun lowered towards the Marin headlands as everyone gathered into the cove (the stepped concrete plaza at the neck of the bulb) to discuss the current situation at the bulb and what can be done. One man, there with his two daughters and their dog, spoke spontaneously to open the meeting. He talked about the importance of having wild space and of how his experiences at the bulb over the years have moved him deeply. The legal team came to the meeting with a very interesting announcement. An agreement was reached that will give residents a 7-day warning before they are evicted. Participants in the assembly thought that a week is enough time to plan and execute a response to the threat of an eviction.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Against Political Managers: A Reportback from the Uprising in LA after the Zimmerman Verdict

What follows is an original submission around the uprisings that occurred in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. While much as been written already about the riots and revolts that happened in Oakland for several nights, this piece touches on the drive by various elements to control and manage the events as they happened. The author makes connection between the push by some to manage the revolt and actions of others that has happened both in LA and in Oakland.  

Proponents of the popular narrative in Los Angeles after our displays of rage around the Zimmerman verdict made no effort to challenge the media and police agenda. The initial outrage of community members intent on taking streets (defying both the state and political managers) was an expression against racism and hegemonic power, but as usual, mainstream organizations were intent on urging people to continue enduring structural injustice. This led to controlled protests within days, poised to be easily recuperated by the policy making agenda of institutional power. They did this with constantly appeasing and pacifying rhetoric while demanding people stay in Leimert park or on the sidewalk. In other words: by not being disruptive.

The statewide mobilization at Corcoran Prison, July 13th, in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners, where political managers discouraged taking to the streets, serves as an interesting contrast. We were able to witness the limitations and powermongering of protest politics at its finest. Whereas the planned protest at Corcoran left no room for the questioning of tactics, the uprising after the Zimmerman verdict took a few days to get under the traditional control measures of planned protest. The outrage at the verdict (a legal example of the racism and apologist agenda of the state) led folks into the streets. It is in these ruptures that we are able to act, to carve out our intent. And hopefully, replicate and build this energy beyond the immediate spaces in which we act.

The moderates did not know what they wanted, but they were certain that we should be well behaved according to the propriety of our oppressors. They did this by dictating, megaphones in hand, what the ‘appropriate’ response to our oppression should be, colluding with police and media to manage the organic resistance of impacted youth and filtering our pain and rage into symbolism and vigils.

By the third day following the verdict, mainstream news articles were coming out misattributing the actions of the previous days to ‘outside agitators and anarchists'- a narrative very familiar to Oakland. By the fourth day, Tuesday, the Crenshaw district was under tactical alert (7 choppers, and crews of 6-8 squad cars each combing neighborhood streets). The message was clear- the protests are OVER.

One wonders how aware these organizations are of their role in apologizing and protecting the state from the threat of our collective rage or any real challenge to structural injustice.

Instead of recognizing the willful acts of defiance of the people who took freeways, defied police lines, and marched 11 miles through the streets of Los Angeles, these organizations turn their heads away from us. They are both, 1) entitled enough to believe they have the right to lead the struggle and ‘protect’ people (management usually comes under the mantra of safekeeping) and, 2) are threatened by something outside of their agenda-setting, and thus seek to neutralize and recuperate our energy. The channels for this are well established, the political process and the learned passivity they depend on.

We took to the streets to express our ongoing rage against exposure of the determinant worth that people of color have in this society comparatively to whiteness or assimilation into that whiteness. We were met with brutal retaliation from the protectors and beneficiaries of these systems of
oppression; namely by the Los Angeles Slave Patrol aka the LAPD, though we were also forced to confront homophobic/hetero-sexist bigots, infiltrators, and others of a likeminded fascist variety.

We hold that practice and implementation of resistance is not just against overt enemies, but their apologists (namely organizations that cater to institutional power and seek to manage our people) and believe that our practicing can inspire us beyond space and energy to be replicated and experimented from LA to the Bay.

To discredit the current [mis]narrative we must continue to wage war on white het/cis male capitalist supremacy with our bodies and spirit of unapologetic resistance, not just in the streets, but in every space we hold.

- From your friendly co-consipirators in LA