Αναφορά συντρόφου από το Όκλαντ για τις αντιρατσιστικές διαδηλώσεις/ταραχές

zimmerman-riot-oakland

Αναφορά συντρόφου από το Όκλαντ:

Since the verdict came in Saturday (July 13th), there has been a wave of protests and small riots in several cities. Demonstrations occurred in LA, Oakland, San Francisco,  Philadelphia,  New York, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Seattle, Portland, North Carolina and other places. Most of these demos remained more or less passive events but several become more confrontational and violent. In Los Angeles, protesters blocked the interstate highway near Crenshaw Boulevard (historically black area of LA) and confronted the police. Last night, marchers there attempted to loot a Walmart store and smashed windows at other business.

I live in Oakland, so I can only really report on the composition and activity of events here. On Saturday night, a small crowd trashed the gentrified “Uptown” neighborhood (yuppie restaurants and hipster shops) and attacked police vehicles in a march lasting a couple of hours. Sunday night, some small leftist groups (mostly the Revolutionary Communist Party, a cultish Maoist group with little real influence) organized two different rallies, which were, however, substantially bigger than the night before. The biggest, and most confrontational, protest took place last night (Monday). ONYX, a black nationalist group (who actually have a bit more influence in Oakland and generally have good relations with anarchists and other anti-capitalists), organized a “speak-out” at Oscar Grant Plaza (the site of the Occupy Oakland encampment). Following the speak-out, around 750 to a 1,000 people marched on the county jail and then onto the highway, blocking traffic at the height of rush hour. Interestingly, this action has a precedent even before the LA highway shutdown the day before. This same stretch of highway was the site of another blockade during the California student movement in 2010, when a crowd of 150 blocked traffic and were arrested. This time however, there was only one arrest, displaying a tactical improvement on the part of the protesters. Another highway blockade also occurred Monday night in Houston, Texas. In Oakland, after the crowd dispersed from the highway, marchers snaked around town for a few hours, ultimately ending up back downtown. At this point, the most intense confrontations yet occurred between marchers and police, as well as significant property destruction. Several people were arrested.

The composition of the protests in Oakland has been a mix of black youth, assorted anti-capitalists, and an unfortunately strong presence of leftist sects (Maoists, Trots, etc…). But I should be careful not to impose too much of a division here as there are many young black and brown anarchists and radicals in Oakland. This is why the left sects have been unable to control the events thus far. No one in these marches wants to be told what to do. As far as rhetoric goes, “justice” and “vengeance” are often the keywords used. All of the protests have been organized through social media.

All of this is occurring at a moment of renewed tension in California. Tens of thousands of prisoners are currently on a hunger and work strike which is now in its second week. Two weeks ago the BART commuter train system was shut down by strike action before the union returned to negotiations after 5 days. The union has now threatened to go on strike again next month. Bus drivers have also threatened to strike.

It remains to be seen what will come out of these protests. Historically in the US, anti-police (and Zimmerman is nothing if not a wanna-be cop) struggles have been brutally suppressed or fizzle out from their own energy. On the other hand, these kinds of struggles are typically harbingers of things to come. Oakland has been the best test-case for this as the Oscar Grant riots in 2009 began the sequence of struggles which culminated two years ago with Occupy Oakland and the November 2nd general strike and port blockade.

July 16, 2013

 

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