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Roundup: Oakland General Strike and Beyond

November 8, 2011

So many people have been writing and sharing wonderful views on Oakland’s General Strike — I thought I’d collect a few for my digital memory chest.

Where We Been

Grew up listening to him on KSFM 102.5 — now appreciating Davey D’s take on the day.

Mushim Ikeda-Nash, writer and one of the many dope teachers at East Bay Meditation Center, offers a perspective as a spiritual leader and involved Oakland parent.

Dope commenter, organizer, and now blogger in her own right, Huli breaks it down and offers a delightful new phrase: “peace bullies.”

A 10-year street medic, present for the attempted re-opening of the former Traveler’s Aid Society, supports liberating empty buildings and standing up to cops, but urges us to prioritize inclusive solidarity and sustainability, not spectacle.

Where We Goin

Ryan and I made this flyer a few weeks ago for East Bay Solidarity Network, to pass out at the Occupy/Decolonize Oakland encampment. (Click image to download & read)

And sure enough, what headline is the Chronicle running now?  “Occupy Oakland’s new target – foreclosed buildings.

Some parts of Occupy Wall Street seem to be heading in a similar direction, as with this beautiful recent action, when #OWS folks occupied a boiler room to win tenants heat and water.

Official, institutionalized groups like Causa Justa / Just Cause and ACCE have been doing some anti-foreclosure work since before #OWS.  But I think that the movement now lends two vital long-term ingredients: (1) a crucial boost of irreverence for the law, and (2) more people power to defend this wave of “political disobedience.”

Despite some people’s insistence that occupiers are exercising “the right to assembly,” when it comes down to it, Oakland occupiers are maintaining an unpermitted encampment.  We are disobeying laws not for the sake of flauting unwanted codes, but for the sake of building new wanted realities. And we have enough support —thousands and thousands of people — to keep on making moves.

The strain of positive lawlessness underlying the movement is, in my opinion, a good thing: especially if it means that we, the 99%, are asserting that the law institutionally favors the 1%, and thus is not a reliable mechanism for real change.  And since nonprofits in this country, like big unions, are so bound up with legalism (in order to get grants/contracts, avoid lawsuits, and continue to exist as orgs), it’s important to have strong unofficial wings of mass movement, willing to take that extra step into illegal (but positive, life-affirming) territory.

At the same time, whenever we talk about positive lawlessness, the question arises: arrest risk.  Real talk, hella people simply cannot afford to be arrested, cuz they’re already overcriminalized because of racism, transphobia, anti-migrant terrorism, family responsibilities, etc.!  So it’s also important to continue having lower-arrest-risk actions, ideally led by people who aren’t trying to get arrested themselves.  For instance, this march led by POOR magazine (Prensa Pobre), scheduled for this Thursday.  From their web site:

We are asking the powerful Decolonize (Occupy) movements in the Bay Area to decolonize and march with us in solidarity with those of us in severe poverty who struggle to survive, raise our babies and face ongoing racist, classist laws legislations and false borders everyday on both sides of the bay as we present demands to the government offices that continue to racialize, criminalize, harass, evict and abuse us.

We will march and decolonize four govt spaces on both sides of the Bay – ICE, Welfare (DHS), HUD (Housing n Urban Development) & The Po’Lice in one day  at the front of each of these buildings – we ARE not trying to endanger ANY poor peoples/migrante peoples with arrests as none of us can risk arrest.

POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE/PoorNewsNetwork(PNN) is a poor people-led.indigenous peoples led grassroots, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, education, art and advocacy to youth, adults and elders in poverty across Turtle Island.


It’s so encouraging to see issues like free education and housing coexisting with labor demands and greater organization of the working class across sectors.  In the long-long-term view, as Advance the Struggle reminds us, we — not the politicians and policymakers — will occupy the means of production and begin to build the world we desire.

See y’all out there. :)

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