From Anti-Capital Projects: Reflections on the I-980/I-880 Takeover


Like any number of urban freeways, the I-980 and I-880 are lines of containment. They mark out the zones and boundaries of economic apartheid, making West Oakland into an island of poverty, a police zone, boxed in on all sides. A freeway, in this sense, is merely one of the most visible forms of the lines of force that cut up our cities and, in turn, our lives, that butcher them according to the logics of race and class, money and property. How can we see these arteries as anything less than instruments for the formation of a controlled population, instruments in the successive waves of urban centralization, white flight, gentrification? They are checkpoints and blockages – massive pours of concrete, of labor, erected to determine who gets to go where and how. And they have no meaning beyond the insinuation of the automobile into every facet of our lives, the automobile which is hallmark of US economic power in the 20th century, token of class mobility, passageway to pseudo-freedom, emitter of poison gases, turning our lives into a cut-and-paste of frantic alienation and isolation, responsible for more deaths than the M-16. Who could love a freeway?

Those of us who chose to take our march onto the I-980 have been accused of turning our backs on the tactic that made the student movement so powerful and inspiring, the tactic which inscribed our actions in a lucid, anticapitalist language – occupation. Don’t worry. We haven’t abandoned anything, only expanded our repertoire. The last six months have been a process of experimentation, one in which it becomes difficult to distinguish the failures from the successes, since the two fold into each other, since each action, regardless of the outcome, is a process of learning, of adaptation, part of a living conversation, one in which there is as much disagreement as there is agreement. On a day dedicated to the convergence of political actors from multiple spaces across the Bay Area it would have made little sense to barricade ourselves inside a building on this or that campus. If there were a suitably central, common and defensible target, perhaps we would have occupied that. Perhaps we will next time. We still look forward to the emancipation of foreclosed homes and apartment buildings, shuttered workplaces, to the permanent occupation of university buildings. None of that is behind us. We are not yet powerful enough for these things. We are still trying to build a force capable of taking and holding a space, and then another, and another.

Read the rest at Anti-Capital Projects.

4 Responses to “From Anti-Capital Projects: Reflections on the I-980/I-880 Takeover”

  1. anon Says:

    that’s a cute little story at the end, but i have to say the march 4 “action” struck me less as a dry run for such, nor the “joyride of white insurrectionists”, but yet another boring and martyristic, “custeristic” activist tactic. this was a planned action, but there was no planned getaway, and even though there weren’t enough people to shut down the freeway and overwhelm the police, it was undertaken anyway. it’s not to say that occupations are “better” than blockades but there really weren’t enough people (or adequate plans/materials) to make this worthwhile. it should surprise no one that half those present dispersed rather than go up the onramp, i haven’t seen much input from other like myself who were in this part, only pieces like this that seem like self-congratulatory, after the fact justifications of what at base seems to have been shaped by a combination of typical activist attitudes and perhaps some folks getting intoxicated with their own delusions about what was going on to the point that it overwhelmed any rational view of what such a group of people were going to be able to accomplish.

  2. Dr. Smash Says:

    Yo Anon,

    How do you know there was no planned getaway? Could it be the case that the group didn’t make it to the getaway point? What about the claim that it was the fact that they were being followed by a squad of riot police that ensured they got popped?

    The piece makes it pretty clear that they could have gotten away, if other things had been the case. And yet, again and again, people choose to paint this action as meaning certain arrest.

    If you look at the history of occupations outside of Santa Cruz (where the police are a bit different), arrest in this case seems no more certain than a lockdown occupation of a building.


  3. st Says:

    easy for you to say in retrospect anon… I dont read this piece as self congratulatory at all and I read your response as more of a projection of your own issues then what is actually being said here. Seems to me the author is admitting how problematic the action was and how painful it has been to see so many comrades beaten and hurt and sent to jail. but we are still proud of those who risked so much to make this happen. the rupture it created continues to ripple across our communities and propel us forward. yes, it was in some ways a suicide march but everyone who i know that made the brave decision to go forward (unlike you) is emerging from it empowered and more determined and militant as ever. What is wrong with a memory from March 4 that in both Oakland and Davis students and radicals found themselves in melees with police as they attempted to storm major interstates? That is beautiful. I hope the next time there is a state or nation wide day of action we see this happen even more. until then, we can occupy some shit and have benefit parties and heal our wounds and write responses to communiques…

  4. anon Says:

    MY issues? now we’re comparing dick sizes or something, if the decision to get beat up and arrested is automatically ranked as “brave”.

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