Occupy & Police Violence

November 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm (Thoughts) (, , , , , )

The video above is of the University of California police spraying pepper spray on students at UC Davis this week. I can’t even watch the video all the way through. This follows last week’s clubbing of UC Berkeley students, not to mention the scenes of police violence from Oakland, New York, Portland and other cities. There have been thousands more photos and videos of police brutalizing protesters who are just standing or sitting there, who aren’t threatening police in any way. After the UC Berkeley incident, the Chancellor’s letter basically said that the police were “forced” to use their batons and that linking arms is “not non-violent civil disobedience.” Huh?

If you think those are isolated, check out Joshua Holland’s “Caught on Camera: 10 Shockingly Violent Police Assaults on Occupy Protesters” in Alternet yesterday. I couldn’t watch them.

I can’t believe that anyone thinks that raiding camps in the middle of the night, or using batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets is acceptable. I literally just can’t believe that someone somewhere gave the go ahead to any of it. And the rest of us can’t pretend it’s not happening. Regardless of how you feel about the Occupy movement, this is not OK.

Here are some links to other police-related stories that I’ve been following

The caveats being, of course, that there are communities that are brutalized by police every day and no one pays attention. Plus, similar tactics were used to suppress the civil rights movement, except then it was water cannons and attack dogs.

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On Oscar Grant, Violence, and Outsiders

July 21, 2010 at 9:17 pm (Actions, Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Oscar Grant Mural

Photo by Brooke Anderson

OK. Here is what I have to say about Oscar Grant.*

There are lots of really important discussions to happen here about police violence, racism, etc. I don’t want to talk about that right now. What I want to talk about is coverage of the “riot.”

The day after the verdict and mini “riot” of July 8 2010,  The SF Appeal — and, subsequently, many other outlets and blogs — reported that only 19 of the 78 who had been arrested were from Oakland.  These figures were widely repeated and discussed, with many people using them to support the idea that troublemakers and instigators from outside of Oakland came to town to cause problems. Many of these same people blamed the violence on white anarchists wearing black hoodies and bandannas.

Let’s unpack this a little bit.

It was “outsiders” causing the problem.

A local establishment** wrote a post on Facebook saying, “What turned an upset-but-mostly-peaceful crowd into a smash-and-grab mob? At least partly: lots of folks who don’t even live here. People, we have enough problems of our own – next time, stay home and break stuff up in *your* hometown. for real.” This sentiment was echoed countless times and in countless ways.

This is what that sentence (and the others like it) tells me: Next time a cop kills someone in Oakland, I should put on my blinders and think it’s not my problem because I don’t live in Oakland. And ditto for any other kind of injustice going on not in my backyard. That Chevron refinery in Richmond? Who cares if they expand it! War in Iraq? Whatever! Not my problem!

This sentiment is antithetical to how I live my life, and how I want the world to function. It took me a long time to boil down why those statements hurt me so much, and now that I figured it out I don’t know how to emphasize it enough.

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