Paul was with us behind the barricades, in front of the phalanx of pigs, those murderers. He was with us when spirits flowed too readily and the house was torn to pieces (literally). He was there in the ring punching his way to victory. He was there to give us a ride from jail. He was everywhere charming, and always delighting in the fires he stoked. His generosity brought us beats to dance to as we desecrated capital and smashed-in the windows of police cars. Paul’s music reflected his intentions, often filled with joy and rage, with no shame, nor any regret. When itinerant, he found a home in most of ours. He worked to create space for us, because he knew our need for shelter—our need to communize. He was, rightfully, completely perplexed by the laws that divided us, the norms that prevented caring, the willful disregard of authority; he was so bewildered that his considerate quality and his exquisite contumaciousness often made him the subject of retaliation, with the teeth of the state slowly grinding away at him. He was unwilling to submit to a life of alienation; unwilling to bide his time until they released him with burdens to hobble him; he leapt out as far as he could and took it from there, even if this resulted in a few broken bones, a few missing teeth, or an uncertain future. Indeed, the only one he seemed to care about was a unbound future for all of us, torn away from the strictures of capitalism. Along with dear memories of laughter and the enduring warmth of solidarity, he has left us with washes and glistening hues of a hopeful image of community and strokes of mutual aid made into practice. His name will be called out along with all our other missing comrades when we sing the dirge for capitalism and its’ ilk. We are heartbroken Paul. We miss you.
To those of you who knew Paul and share our loss, please remember how important self-care is in this moment. <3
Writer, theorist, and comrade Chris Chitty passed away today in his home in Santa Cruz. He was a valued friend and he will be missed. We here at occupyCA remember him for his tireless efforts during the university occupations of 2009, and the myriad projects, demonstrations, discussions, and struggles he brought his strength and beauty to during our time together. We love you Chris, and we will always be your friend.
from Evan Calder Williams:
In love and memory of you, Chris, who were a friend and a comrade, you who literally taught me the meaning of that word. How it came from the Spanish camarada, the French camarade. From roommate, yes, but also how this was literal, from the real sharing of a space together, bound to the bonds formed by men who didn’t have security or wealth or private homes and so bedded down in the same small and rented rooms, who were friends and strangers, who fucked or didn’t. And this was at the heart of your brilliant queer history, starting not with a clearly defined erotics or identity but with that messy terrain of friendship and intimacy and class, inseparable from the spaces of capital and the attempts to make them our own. We organized and danced and argued together, and this was all part of our friendship, its care and work of trying to survive in the world we want to see upended.
When I saw you last, I had moved across the country and was back in California too briefly, and you drove me to the airport. Before I flew, we talked for hours over Indian by a highway entrance in San Jose, and I was struck anew by your impossible warmth, how it energized me and still does, and when we seize the bank and turn it into a dancehall, we’ll give it your name, Chris, our utopian, who this world couldn’t allow.
The New Inquiry remembers Chris.
Writings by Chris:
- The New Inquiry – http://thenewinquiry.com/author/christopher-chitty/
- “Occupy California” (co-author) – https://occupyca.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/occupy-california/
- “Towards a Socialist Art of Government: Michel Foucault’s ‘The Mesh of Power'” – https://viewpointmag.com/2012/09/12/the-mesh-of-power/
- (translation) https://viewpointmag.com/2012/09/12/the-mesh-of-power/
- Dystopolitik (Blog) Archive – https://web.archive.org/web/20130512062209/http://dystopolitik.blogspot.com/
This past week has demonstrated that students and workers have tremendous power. We have shown that we have the capacity to pursue collective action and have our demands met. The threat of a five-day strike by AFSCME prompted the UC to concede to their demands, and on Tuesday, the UAW was likewise able to receive full concessions for their grievances in response to their own threatened strike.
Last night about fifty students occupied the Hahn Student Services building for eighteen hours, demanding the resignation of recently appointed UC president Janet Napolitano. The occupation was in response to a call for solidarity by the UC Berkeley Students of Color Solidarity Coalition, following their occupation of the Blum Center on the occasion of President Napolitano’s visit to the campus.
We stand in opposition to Janet Napolitano for many reasons. For one, she has no past experience as an educator, nor does she have knowledge of the issues that are specific to California. Additionally, as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, our new UC president was responsible for the deportation of 1.6 million people, causing immense suffering for countless families and loved ones.
At the University of California she is continuing this role, imposing the logic of crisis management, one that has been unfolding since the financial crisis several years ago when budget cuts and fee hikes were unilaterally passed without any student approval. Her record is an index of repressing the self-organization of students and workers combatting increasingly precarious working and living conditions – of using fear, force, and violence to further the exploitation of labor.
Starting at 2:30 PM yesterday, students gathered for a rally at which it was made clear that the AFSCME and UAW victories should not be accepted piecemeal but should be a part of a longer struggle. After a march to McHenry Library, more than a hundred-strong, students went to the Hahn Student Services building and subsequently occupied it. Speakers from a number of organizations such as MEChA, Students Informing Now (SIN), Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and Youth Immigrant Coalition spoke at the occupied space and discussion groups were spontaneously formed, allowing students to talk about their future, both inside and outside the university.
Hahn was transformed into a site for students to meet and have face-to-face conversations, talking about various issues that they are unable to have in the normal everyday activities of university life. For a temporary period of time, this building truly belonged to the students, as a place to gather forces. And this is only the beginning. We call on other campuses to take up the fight, to continue escalating this struggle, just as we call for others on our campus to join us in reflection and action.
– Autonomous Students
SANTA CRUZ, California – Students at UC Santa Cruz gathered around 2:30pm on Wednesday afternoon to continue demonstrations against the new UC President, Janet Napolitano. Napolitano, the former head of Homeland Security, has been the target of several demonstrations on multiple campuses, including the recent occupation of the Blum Center at UC Berkeley by the Students of Color Solidarity Coalition (SCSC). The demonstrators proceeded to the administrative Hahn building and entered the bottom floor to commence a sit-in. The demands include the UC concession to worker demands in two ongoing contract struggles for UAW’s Teaching Assistants and AFSCME’s Patient Care Technicians; the UCSC demonstrators have also endorsed the SCSC demands as posted here.
Recently, AFSCME’s negotiators settled on a contract for their service workers, and the UC conceded to some of the specific demands set forth by the UCSC chapter of UAW concerning unfair labor practices (ULP) on this campus. However, the remaining AFSCME members have yet to receive a fair contract offer and the same is true for the sum of UAW members. UC Berkeley’s chapter of UAW may also go on a ULP strike in April.
On Thursday morning, the demonstrators disbanded the sit-in.
The Blum Center Take-over group calls for:
1) UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks to publicly renounce Janet Napolitano.
2) For all those in solidarity to cancel classes tomorrow (Friday, Feb 13), and for people to build a strike in support of Napolitano’s resignation and for the democratization of the University.
3) Full amnesty for all those reclaiming campus space, including those who have taken the Blum Center.
Why we are taking the Blum Center:
Richard Blum, the primary funder and namesake of the Blum Center, represents and acts as a driving force of privatization and reorganization of the University of California system. As an investment banker, Blum profits from the fact that the UC is no longer funded primarily through the federal government. As a central figure in pushing away from federal subsidization of education, and therefore a completely affordable or free public education, Blum and other bankers and financiers on the board of regents–including Monica Lozano–have compelled the University to take out massive bonds from private banks to compensate for this lack of funding. Public funding is legally allowed to go to only educational resources bonds, and the tuition system that allow this process to happen can be used for whatever the regents want. In many cases, this money is tied to companies that these regents own. For example, Blum owns the equity management firm Blum Capital, which has massive investments in the companies that do all of the construction at the UC. To those who believe in a public and democratic education, this is seen as legalized fraud and corruption.
Blum and Janet Napolitano’s Special Relationship:
UC regent Richard Blum was central in proposing Janet Napolitano. Richard Blum’s record includes firing Robert Dynes in 2007, leading the search for Mark Yudof, and encouraging Yudof’s resignation before overseeing the “search” for a new UC president. Although the Regents state that this was done through a headhunting agency, Blum was instrumental in making the final decision. We conclude that central decisions for filling the highest-ranking positions in the UC system continue to be made by those who stand to profit from privatization. Blum’s interest in keeping a business-as-usual that allows for massive profits for companies to which he has ties indicates Napolitano’s appointment as a means to continue this process of implementing policies of social control during her time in DHS.
Blum’s 12 year term as a UC regent ended in January. His reappointment by Jerry Brown for a second 12 year term this past January shows that the regents, like him, will continue to retain power unless there is a social response to this injustice.
The appointment of Napolitano exposes the undemocratic process by which the UC system makes decisions. In order to address this structural problem, we demand a restructuring of this process which includes: a) a campuses-wide election for all future UC regents and presidents; this includes having the ability to nominate, endorse, and campaign for candidates b) the power to impeach both UC presidents and regents c) a general democratization of the regents to include actual participation of students, faculty, and UC workers in the central decision making processes of the University.
We call on all students, faculty, and staff to join us, to take action in the coming days and weeks, and to demand the restructuring of the decision making process in our university system, so that we can make the promise of a public education a reality.
Demonstrations against a potential war on Syria will be held on Saturday, August 31 in cities throughout the US and the world. President Obama threatened a military strike on Syria in response to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
Oakland: Noon at Oscar Grant Plaza
San Francisco: 1pm at the UN Plaza
The ANSWER coalition is also calling for demonstrations in a number of cities in Northern California. In Los Angeles, there has been a call for 2pm in Pershing Square. In San Diego, a rally will be held at noon in front of the Fleet Science Center.
Even before the city street fully absorbs the resonant sounding of shattering glass, the press—mainstream media or citizen journos, it doesn’t matter which—introduces us to a stock figure whose words are nonetheless accorded a special status. You’ve met him or her before. We’re now all old friends with The Worker Who Doesn’t Like Property Damage. The prolie who picks up the shards after the anarchists have had their smashy-smashy fun. The employee who tells us he is sympathetic to the anger, but there must be another way. Days after Trayvon Martin suffered his second death—the juridico-political death that retroactively strips him of property in himself, the juridico-political death that came after but always came before, the juridico-political death that laid down the path that Zimmerman would follow—media outlets have dusted off the Good Worker and set her to work to chastise those whose outrage at Martin’s second death has taken the form of smashed windows, burning dumpsters, courthouse graffiti admonishing us to kill all the pigs.
The Good Worker knows that property damage is no way to protest the fact that Martin had no property in himself. The Good Worker knows that violence dishonors Martin’s memory. Of course, everyone already knows that; this is the USA, after all. But the Good Worker knows something special, something more. She possesses a particular knowledge derived from a quotidian detail of her life. She is the one who has to sweep up the glass. He is the one who has to wash off the paint. After the party of anarchy, the Good Worker appears on the scene and, with a sigh, dispenses his special knowledge: the infantile leftism of the anarchists and the outraged hurts no one but those whom they claim to defend.
Through the Good Worker’s resigned affect—“I’m the one who has to clean up”—liberals convert dependence on capital into an alibi for capitalism, transform the worker’s binding to the propertied as property’s normative basis. Relations between capital and labor never seem so free from compulsion as when the Good Worker laments the extra work imposed upon her by…other workers, maybe, but more likely dropouts and nogoodniks. The discordant symphony of shattering glass resolves itself in Careyite harmonies. One is encouraged to imagine that the Good Worker’s Good Boss never demands a little overtime, never subjects her to work that go beyond the parameters of the job. But that is precisely what is happening, and not just because he is sweeping up a window: the very articulation of the lament is itself a form of surplus extraction. After all, the political geography of smashy-smashy and political economy of U.S. cities ensures that the Good Worker’s skills will tend toward the communicative, the affective. He doesn’t work in a factory, but in a shoe shop, a restaurant, a boutique cheese store. And she possesses the corresponding skills: she can read inchoate desires and conduct them toward an object, respond to pressing demands, defuse awkward situations. After the windows come smashing down, the general capital exploits these affective competencies. It shoves a microphone, recorder, or someone with a Twitter account in his face and asks him to work a little bit longer, to piece the shattered norms of capitalist society back together with his words. And she does, bearing tidings that an assault on property is an assault on workers, because workers have nothing but the property of others. To harm property is to harm ourselves. The Good Worker’s stoic acceptance of her lot is converted into a quasi-proprietorial care that simulates a property in something that could never be hers.
This equation has been literalized in the case of the Oakland protests over the juridical fact that Martin had no property in himself. In an article entitled “Waiter attacked, freeway blocked in 3rd Oakland protest,” the reader is informed, “As the night wore on, violence grew. About 11 p.m., a masked protester hit a waiter at Flora Restaurant and Bar on Telegraph Avenue in the face with a hammer as he tried to protect the restaurant, whose windows were broken two nights ago.” That this happened is undeniable, terrible, and has been condemned by pretty much everyone (minus some with what I think are fantasies of an agent provocateur). I can’t think of any anarchist who would approve non-defensive violence, particularly against a worker, during a demo; we’d gladly leave a window untouched so as to not harm a human. As the masked protestor’s action strikes us all as aberrant and abhorrent, what intrigues me is the description and naturalization of the waiter’s (named Drew Cribley) act. The causal determination of the worker’s intention is established—windows had been broken before. The deeper emplotting of the event comes at the end of the sentence, and retroactively accords his action—tensed with “as he tried…”—a drawn out, durational quality where one might only read temporal simultaneity or, indeed, spontaneity.
Yet, as another article reveals, the waiter’s defense of the restaurant was indeed spontaneous:
Cribley said his black-masked attacker passed him on the sidewalk, then started pounding on windows with a hammer when Cribley turned and told him to stop. “I kind of instinctively pushed him away,” Cribley said. “That’s when he turned back at me and cracked me in the cheekbone.”[…] “Looking back on it, it was a really stupid thing if you thought I was going to interfere,” he said.
Strikingly, Cribley didn’t think he was going to interfere, he didn’t intend to, not consciously, but a “kind of instinct” drove him to “turn…and [tell] him to stop.” It is as if the thump of the hammer on the window sounded out like Althusser’s policeman’s hail: Cribley can’t not turn, even if he doesn’t know what he’s turning toward, turning for. With its direct access to the habits of head and heart of liberal capitalism, the newspaper reveals why. Cribley turned to “protect the restaurant”—not himself, not a window, but the corporate/fictive entity of the restaurant. According to the paper, he wasn’t protecting an object so much as the idea of property itself.
It seems perfectly natural, even laudable, that a worker’s body would absorb the blow intended for a capitalist’s window. Indeed, the article establishes a striking fungibility between (capitalists’) objects and (workers’) bodies. Both are, in effect, absorbed into the fictive person of the firm and, indeed, are little more than the business’ precipitates, the accidental bearers of capital’s personhood. (The assault on Cribley doesn’t even make it into the lede; it is only reported after destruction of other property is detailed.) After the windows come smashing down, the press impresses the Good Worker to restore the commensurability of bodies and objects, people and things.
It was this form of commensuration that killed Trayvon Martin, and killed him twice. The trial of Zimmerman briefly extended to Martin something that could never be his—a proper claim to himself, a juridico-political identity that did not position him as some bizarre thing midway between object and person. If the court’s decision confirmed Martin’s status as a being that could be killed but not murdered, the discourse surrounding property destruction in Oakland confirms neoliberal capitalism’s commitment to reproducing and repairing that order. Through the Good Worker, it first indicts those who actively refuse this commensuration with the charge of exposing its ugliness, for directing conversation from Trayvon Martin to smashed windows (as if anarchists are to blame that the media cannot control its vulgarity, as if anarchists are to blame that the media can’t not stop a conversation about Martin because a violated property hails). It then tells us that Martin would not approve of this violence, that violence against property is no way to honor Martin. Indeed, it posthumously transforms Martin into the Good Worker, someone who knows that to harm property is to harm ourselves. Someone who knows that because we have no property, because the property of others has subsumed any claim to property in ourselves, we have to identify ourselves with it. Someone who knows that our being can be exchanged with objects and things and that, indeed, we should be prepared to “protect” windows—even if we risk extreme bodily harm in so doing.
Feigning outrage, the media is hard at work restoring the logic of racial, neoliberal capitalism that killed Trayvon Martin twice. But there’s grumbling in the ranks: the Good Worker isn’t complying. The follow up article on Cribley concludes with the paper asking him to play his appointed role.
Cribley said he sympathized with protesters and their right to voice outrage, yet feared the violence would overshadow their goals. “It sucks for the people who are really trying to be heard because it starts to take away from their message,” he said. “People around the country look at Oakland and feel like there’s a bunch of vandalism and violence rather than intelligent people with an actual cause they believe in. Instead of talking about that, you’re talking about the guy who got hit in the face with a hammer.”
Note the striking disparity between the paper’s gloss and Cribley’s words. Cribley’s final quote is introduced as if what follows is pure Good-Workerism. He’s sympathetic to the protestors, sure, but, like, he wonders: this couldn’t be the right way. But, as his words actually reveal—his words, what he thinks when his personality is not subsumed into the indirect discourse of capital’s mouthpiece—he does not disavow property destruction. He does not oppose “vandalism and violence” to “an actual cause.” Rather, “people” do, people who “feel” a certain way about Oakland because the reporter, instead of talking about the cause of the demonstrators, is busy “talking about the guy who got hit in the face with a hammer.” Cribley is basically asking the reporter, the you of his address, to write about something else, to write about the actual cause of the violence, the actual meanings it conveys. Cribley refuses to be the Good Worker, to simulate investment in an order of property, of proper being, that left him with a hammer to the head, that left a black boy twice dead in Florida.
But the propertied order has the last word: “Cribley said he’ll return to work Thursday.” And the windows will be repaired by then, too.
CALIFORNIA — In the wake of George Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict demonstrations quickly followed throughout the US. Zimmerman, the man who killed 17-yr-old Trayvon Martin was charged with 2nd-degree Murder, but was set free Saturday evening by a jury of six women, five White and one Asian juror. Hundreds flowed out into the streets that evening in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles among cities throughout the US—the largest in NYC. Although some windows were broken and flags set alight in Oakland, the media-hyped riots failed to materialize. Further demonstrations occurred Sunday evening throughout California and in other major cities in the US. In Los Angeles, hundreds blocked freeway 10 for some 30 minutes Sunday afternoon. Police fired non-lethal rounds into the crowd of demonstrators in LA.
In Oakland, perhaps at its zenith, as many as a thousand marched through downtown. The Oakland march culminated in blocking the intersection of 14th and Broadway for several hours.
More demonstrations are planned.
Monday, demonstrations continued throughout the state. In Oakland, hundreds if not closer to a thousand demonstrators briefly took over a freeway near downtown, rechristening it the Travyon Martin Freeway. Oakland demonstrators continued to march, returning to Oscar Grant Plaza, then headed toward the Fruitvale BART Station. Poignantly, the recent Sundance award winning film, “Fruitvale Station” premiered in Oakland over the weekend coinciding with the verdict of George Zimmerman. The film centers around the last 48 hours of Oscar Grant, a black youth killed while cuffed and laying on the ground by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle. Subsequently, demonstrators swept around Lake Merritt, forced to find new routes due to a heavier police presence than the past two days of marches. Demonstrators circled around Lake Merritt, then moved towards the highway 580 on-ramp. Police blocked demonstrators from entering 580, so demonstrators turned around and continued towards the Fruitvale BART Station with locked arms. However, demonstrators later turned back, paused in front of the county courthouse for a few moments, then returned to Oscar Grant Plaza around 10:30pm. The march promptly resumed leaving a trail of smashed windows, including a Comerica bank and a Men’s Warehouse. Police (with mutual aid) confronted demonstrators following the property destruction, leading to a tense stand off. Police shot tear gas at demonstrators, receiving a response of firecrackers. Police then delivered a dispersal order. Demonstrators left the police line and marched North and reportedly continued smashing corporate businesses. One live streamer was confronted and assaulted by an individual, purportedly for filming the property destruction; the streamer’s footage doesn’t appear to have captured anything illicit. Several arrests occurred throughout the night, but the march continued past 11pm, although it was largely dispersed by 11:25pm.
In Los Angeles, a rally began Monday evening at Leimert Park, then descended into Crenshaw Blvd. Reportedly, demonstrators marching through Crenshaw participated in property destruction, including vandalizing shops, cars, and police cruisers. Shortly before 10pm, police kettled and dispersed the crowd at the corner of Leimert and MLK. Some time after the 10pm dispersal, LAPD arrested a small crowd of demonstrators.
List of Demonstrations for July 15
HyphyRepublic – Racist and Deracinated: Towards a More Inclusive White Supremacy
Oakland—Family members, advocates, and lawyers will announce their support for the peaceful hunger strike and job actions beginning today throughout the California prisons starting on Monday July 8. Prisoners have been clear since January that they are willing to starve themselves unless the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agrees to negotiate honestly about their demands.
On June 20, prisoners being held in solitary confinement at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit describe their actions:
“The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement do hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume today, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms).
Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we’ve patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR’s failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they’ve acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.
On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8th to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs of CDCR.
Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what’s right.
We are certain that we will prevail…. the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?
The world is watching!”
While the CDCR has claimed to have made reforms to its SHU system—how a prisoner ends up in the solitary units, for how long, and how they can go about getting released into the general population—prisoners’ rights advocates and family members point out that the CDCR has potentially broadened the use of solitary confinement, and that conditions in the SHUs continue to constitute grave human rights violations. The California prison system currently holds over 10,000 prisoners in solitary confinement units, with dozens having spent more than 20 years each in isolation. Conditions in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU sparked massive waves of hunger strikes in 2011 that saw the participation of 12,000 prisoners in at least a third of California’s 33 prisons.
Today, Sunday, June 9th Liberate the Land marched from Gezi Gardens to Civic Center Plaza to join the people of San Francisco standing in solidarity with the people of Istanbul and Turkey at a rally there. Over a hundred people rallied to express support for people in Turkey facing police repression. Chants sang out over the livestream between SF and Istanbul as rallies happened simultaneously all over the world. The below statement of solidarity was read at the rally before everyone marched back to Gezi Gardens together changing, “from Turkey to the Bay, green space is here to stay!”
Statement of Solidarity of Gezi Gardens, San Francisco, CA
We at Gezi Gardens in San Francisco, CA stand in solidarity with all people world wide liberating land from private control and corporate interests and for the common good of all people. We liberated the piece of land on Laguna Street between Oak and Fell Streets in San Francisco on June 1st, 2013, and renamed it Gezi Gardens to express our solidarity with all those in Istanbul and throughout Turkey standing up to the privatization and development of Gezi Park. We recognize that the struggle in Turkey goes far beyond the fight to retain an open green space. However, we find common ground in this, as well as our wider aspirations for a more free and just world.
Like Gezi Park, the space we are in is a rare green space in a city being gentrified and developed without the consensus, input, and participation of the people in decision making processes that affect all. Rather than a luxury apartment complex, we wish to see this space continue to grow food, host wildlife habitat, be a home to trees and natural ecology, and be a place where people can interact with, learn from, and live in greater balance with the earth and our environment. In Istanbul, a tree falls and a nation rises. Here we wish to rise before the first tree has to fall.
Similarly, we stand in solidarity with the indigenous people of Brazil resisting the construction of the Belo Monte River Dam, a hydroelectric project that would dam the last free flowing tributary of the Amazon River, cutting off a lifeline and displacing thousands of indigenous people from the land they have lived on for generations. We stand in solidarity with the people of La ZAD in Nantes, France who have banded together to stop the construction of an airport planned to clearcut vast forests and displace local farmers from their land historically used for growing food. We stand in solidarity with the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico, who pushed the Mexican state out of their territory in 1994 and reclaimed land from first world corporations in order to grow food, open clinics, build schools, and foster community in their newly declared centers of autonomous governance. We stand in solidarity and alongside all indigenous people around the world struggling to maintain common access to their ancestral lands.
In liberating land around the world, for the commons, with love and strength,
Gezi Gardens, San Francisco
“At whatever level we study it… decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men. Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and absolute substitution.” -Frantz Fanon
“Indeed our words will remain lifeless, barren, devoid of any passion, until we die as a result of these words, whereupon our words will suddenly spring to life and live amongst the hearts that are dead, bringing them to life as well.” -Sayyid Qutb
We, the anti-Zionists and radicals (of color), organized to take over Dutton Hall at the University of California, Davis on May 15, 2013, the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. The administration, Zionists on and off campus, and local media have tried to misrepresent what took place that day, and this is why it is necessary that we send a clear and direct message.
Our action had absolutely nothing to do with the recently failed UC Davis Divestment resolution. The fact that the divestment resolution did not even pass the initial stages of Zionist bureaucracy provides us with another example of the failures of dialoguing and negotiating with racists. The resolution’s failure only made visible the pre-existing antagonisms of Zionism (colonialism) and anti-Zionism (anti-colonialism). We did not organize our action out of frustration from the failure of the divestment process. We were already frustrated! For us, dialogue with the colonizers, with the enemies of the Palestinians, is already a form of defeat. It is already a weak, counter-revolutionary position to sit down at the same table as the colonizer. We have no desire to melt the heart of Zionists. We want to remove the colonizer out of the political equation, so that there is a final end to colonial-relations. We shut down Dutton Hall – an action we recognize to be minimal compared to the worldwide anti-colonial/anti-imperialist struggles – not because of the failure of the divestment resolution passing, but because it was the day of the Nakba, the day of catastrophe for all Palestinians, and we consider it to be our historical responsibility to take a strong oppositional position against colonialism in general, and Zionism in particular.
We want to make sure everyone knows that these were autonomous actions by anti-Zionists and radicals of color. No campus student organizations were involved in the organizing and mobilizing process. The question of organization is not only a theoretical problem but also an important tactical question for us. We know full well that organizational structures that were useful in an earlier stage of history are now obsolete and impotent on the ground – outside of (Zionist) classrooms, and administration-controlled centers. These centers function within the mystifying logic of multiculturalism, in order to not only reproduce the disciplining and policing of dark bodies, but also to create internalized technologies of self-surveillance. The student organizations generally work very closely with these centers, and share with them vital information and documents about events, workshops, training programs, and the students themselves, thereby enabling the (re)creation of both structures of surveillance with a wide pool of data, as well as subjects that monitor themselves in an effective way. It is precisely in this juncture that we witness the slow disappearance of the difference between administrators and students. We encounter students that act in favor of administrators, and administrators that act as soft cops, and the entire structure of surveillance work with its various institutional coordinates in a methodical and coordinated manner in order to identify, target, order and pacify (student) protests that may have resonance in the larger communities of struggle.
The UC Davis Police Department graduated its first student cadets a few days ago. ASUCD President Carly Sandstrom commented: “This program is something every UC campus should take on — training homegrown officers who understand students.” This is an example of how the administration works through a structured cooperation between administrators, cops, and students. The various student centers on campus, like the Cross Cultural Center (CCC), have demonstrated themselves to be spaces complicit with Zionist ideology. Students and staff members affiliated with these centers always mediate rightfully enraged pro-Palestinian students into submission through inter/intra-community snitching which has become central for the smooth functioning of administrative logic. There is no point anymore to talk about reclaiming the CCC by evoking the history of the hunger strike. We have to realize that these centers are fundamentally anti-Black, anti-Muslim, and anti-indigenous. To promote policing is to promote the ideology and political practice of settler-colonialism. It is concretely the continuation of the systematic obliteration and assimilation of indigenous communities, geographies, and economies, and the disciplining of black bodies that reduces them into flesh, into the economic units of slave labor. To promote policing is to promote the ideology of the War on Terror that not only evacuates Muslim bodies out of their material social self-representation and location, but also destroys their societies and modes of life for the purposes of creating new markets. The plundering and re-appropriating of resources requires strategic cooperation with the native Muslim bourgeoisie, and it is in this juncture that we witness the use of soft-power that through various reformist programs encourages the formation of moderate subjects that are complicit with U.S imperialism. Within the United States, the emergence of the “American-Muslim” identity signifies the shift from an articulation of an anti-plantation/anti-racist political-religion, towards an internally re-arranged and re-articulated ideology that is at peace with hyphenated Americanism. The CCC nurtures such counter-revolutionary identities. It will not become less racist with time. It will keep reforming and renewing itself to be better at policing dark bodies, and to train students of color to become cops and informants themselves.
For these obvious reasons we did not work through the given student organizations, nor did we try to prepare for our action at a student center, and as we took over Dutton Hall we made it clear that we did not want administrators in our space. Initially, three administrators came to the occupied building and tried to negotiate with us. But we were successful in having them leave the building as it closed around evening time on May 15. The next morning, we were able to blockade the building. We saw from the inside that cops, a fireman, administrators, and reactionary students tried to enter our space. But they were unsuccessful. We were supported by many students on campus who were sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. They came to look at the banners and signs, and engaged in discussions about colonialism, political-economic and social suffering in Palestine, police violence on and off campus, and student debt with supporting comrades who acted as observers right outside of the building. We thank our comrades for their support.
Islamophobia is actively present at UC Davis. But we do not want to think about the hatred against Islam at the level of psychological disposition or cultural misperception. But rather, we want to think about the objective conditions that structure certain kinds of social behavior that target and demonize “non-secular” bodies. When Islam is made flesh through various movements of the body of the mu’min, whether they are religious rituals or political acts in the public sphere, it provokes the racialist order to think about its own foundational sins. In order to maintain its own metanarrative, white supremacy constantly refounds and reproduces itself in a new historical plane. Islam is seen as a deliberate transgression, an embodiment of infidelity towards America. While there is a general hatred against Islam, patriarchy enmeshed with whiteness targets Muslim women in a particular manner. The precision of this kind of peculiar targeting of veiled Muslimas gets its substance from the specificity of colonial social relations. In order to examine the substance of this specific hatred against Muslim women, we need to look at the dream content of the colonialist. The colonialist dreams about unveiling and penetrating the colonized woman, and this is structurally linked to political-economic penetration and domination. But the veil marks and makes visible the political separation between the colonizer and the colonized. If it is used in a non-assimilationist way, against multiculturalism in accordance with the embodied practice of the sharia, the veil creates a sense of terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. It signifies resistance. It signifies separation. But most importantly it signifies unknowability. This is precisely why for the colonialist there is a need to understand the veil. The understanding of the use of the veil is central to taming of the body that uses the veil. Fanon examines the relation between visibility, colonial gaze and dream of unveiling. He writes: “This woman who sees without being seen frustrates the colonizer. There is no reciprocity. She does not yield herself, does not give herself, does not offer herself […] Thus the rape of the Algerian woman in the dream of a European is always preceded by a rending of the veil.” Beyond the veil-fetishism, colonialism has a direct interest in targeting bodies of dark women. Women are specifically targeted in Gaza because it is through their bodies that the struggle reproduces itself. Palestinian women and children are seen as a threat to the future of Israel. Their deaths are not accidental. Israel even sterilizes its own immigrant African women, demonstrating a fundamental anxiety over the reproduction of darker bodies. These genocidal acts of the Israeli State against the bodies of darker women make it structurally similar to the United States[i]. During our occupation of Dutton Hall, as we positioned ourselves against the regulative principles of the administration, practicing Muslims – particularly our sisters – observed their religious duties. There was a salaat (prayer) schedule, and the Muslims prayed in congregation. The practitioners agreed that making salaat together inside an occupied building, in the midst of political encounters, is consistent with the spirit of Islam that aims to bring order out of disorder, without making the forceful distinction between religious practices and political action. Jahiliyyah[ii] is a condition of non-Islam, a condition in which we experience the world in an inverted manner. Our bodies feel disoriented, and the world as a totality seems disrupted. Under these extreme conditions, when we take it upon ourselves to critically engage with the disrupted/disruptive world of colonialism and capitalism, and force ourselves to struggle against the causality of this disruption, we fundamentally work against the material causes of Islamophobia, and take the first step towards disalienation[iii].
Palestine is central to decolonization proper. It is not a side issue. We are at the beginning stage of the formation of an uncompromising anti-Zionism on campus that does not take soft positions for the sake of political, legal, social expediency. Anti-Zionism helps us determine our friends and enemies in a historical manner[iv]. Post-Zionism is just another name for the justification of the occupation of Palestinian life and social consciousness through a reified genealogy that aims to evoke the settler-socialist fantasy of civil integration. Far leftists will have to call for a decisive break with Zionism if they are to be credible in the Islamic world, in the third world. Post-Zionism may have the appearance of a political pragmatism, but it is fundamentally a counter-revolutionary, reactionary position. Zionism cannot be improved. It has to be dismantled. But this task of dismantling requires that we understand Zionism as more than a mere political ideology. It plays a central role in structuring, specifying and organizing neoliberal economic programs[v] in the Middle East within the totalizing logic of capitalism. The economic domination of Palestine foundationally relies upon the Zionist occupation that emerges out of a racialized social-political, historical-ontological difference between settlers and natives.
We had to write this note from the point of view of revolutionaries of color because we find ourselves in colonial relations, in antagonism with white supremacy. And, we are sure that true (white) abolitionists will understand this position. Colonial-relations are reproduced in capitalism. Capitalism has to persistently racialize and colonize. The Nakba is a historically specific event. And, we cannot lose sight of this specificity and the details of our social experience and the differentiating grammar of struggle as we make general propositions about the structure of capitalism, and by extension, imperialism. We have to understand that while capitalism absolutely totalizes and homogenizes, it also necessarily differentiates. It necessarily makes distinctions between the first world and the third world. It necessarily reproduces bodies of slaves and servants in a new historical plane. As always, we are against identity politics[vi], but that in no way seduces us into carelessly upholding empty universals. Fanon writes: “Challenging the colonial world is not a rational confrontation of viewpoints. It is not a discourse on the universal, but the impassioned claim by the colonized that their world is fundamentally different.” We cannot forget the historical specificity of the dynamic between determinations and struggle.
Death to Jahiliyyah.
Death to reified conceptions of struggle.
Long live the Intifada!
[i] We know about the sterilization of indigenous and black women in the United States in the past.
[ii] This concept is discussed by Qutb in the modern context. We have discussed it differently here.
[iii] This notion of disalienation comes from Steve Biko’s work.
[iv] The friend-enemy distinction is inspired by Malcolm X’s speeches and his theorization of the “collective white man”. A comrade/sister from Palestine reminded us as we were preparing this note that we should be careful about the friend-enemy distinction because there are too many so called “allies” for the Palestinian cause who are interested in dominating the way we talk about resistance to Israel. This is precisely why Malcolm X’s focus on white-supremacy in relation to slavery and servitude is the correct political move.
[v] Adam Hanieh talks about neoliberal programs in Palestine in more detail.
[vi] For our critique of identity politics see our first note: http://bicyclebarricade.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/note-from-the-revolutionaries-of-color/
SAN FRANCISCO, California – On Thursday evening, a number of organizers from the recently evicted squat, SF Commune, were beaten and arrested by city police at San Francisco State University. The organizers were visiting friends living in the dormitories at the university when they were later arrested and charged with a number of offenses including, trespassing, battery, lynching, and conspiracy. Following the arrests, the arrestees required medical treatment at a hospital. Although local news reported that an officer was injured during the incident, friends of the arrestees stated, “[from] the information we [sic] gathered after speaking to the police, the officer suffered from heart palpitations and didn’t receive any direct physical injuries from the individuals involved.” Reportedly, the police officers involved in arresting the organizers also participated in the eviction of the squat earlier that week.
A rally is being organized to respond to the police beating: it’s scheduled for Tuesday at 2pm in the Malcolm X Plaza on the SFSU campus. For more information about the event, visit indybay.
- Copwatch – SF Commune is Catching Hell: Interview with Folks on the Ground
- Indybay – SF Commune Activists Attacked
- Videos: 1, 2.
Students at SF State are holding a march and demonstration against SF State police brutality, today at 2pm at Malcolm X plaza in response to violent actions by campus police there, Thursday evening.
Seven San Francisco activists were brutally attacked by police and arrested Thursday evening after being invited into the SF State University dorms by students there. Several police officers were harassing a few of the individuals outside of the dorms when they chose to practice their constitutional rights by walking away. The officers followed them into the building and continued to harass them until an altercation occurred when an officer tried to grab and push one of the people involved. The police used unnecessary force in restraining the individuals and several of those involved were sent to the hospital after having sustained injuries. One individual was tazed and another was reportedly shoved into a paddy wagon where police continued to viciously beat him. There is video of the incident circulating on the internet, but much of the brutality wasn’t captured on tape.
The mainstream media is spreading misinformation about the incident. They are claiming that the individuals were “unauthorized” in the dorms, even though they were invited to [sic] there by students and SFSU housing guidelines clearly permit guests. The media also highlights the fact that an officer was injured. From the information we gathered after speaking to the police, the officer suffered from heart palpitations and didn’t receive any direct physical injuries from the individuals involved.
The activists were residents of the SF Commune, an abandoned building that protesters occupied and transformed into a social center and housing for the neighborhood since April of last year. The activists, who cleaned the dilapidated building, made it habitable for the first time in years and planted a blooming garden in the backyard, were welcomed by much of the community for their efforts. The building, on 200 Broad St in the Ocean View neighborhood, was raided by dozens of riot-clad SFPD Wednesday morning, about 36 hours before the incident at SF State; 28 residents were forcibly removed and briefly detained, while three were arrested.
Students and activists are holding the demonstration to call for an end to campus police brutality and harassment of students and visitors. Meet on SF State campus at Malcolm X plaza at 2pm today, Friday May 17.
UPDATE: Demonstrators gathered for a rally on Friday afternoon, transitioning into a march to an administrative building. The demonstrators spoke with the Vice-President and the Dean of Students.