No Justice From an Unjust System!Posted: November 8, 2010
I haven’t had any new posts in awhile and was planning to fix that this weekend, but that plan got put on hold when I joined a tradition that many women warriors have have experienced before me: getting arrested for political action.
Myself, many of my AS comrades and extended family, as well as the rest of the bay area left got trapped and held hostage by the police friday night, and then arrested in an unlawful mass arrest friday evening. The sentencing of two years that was given to the killer cop Mehserle was a slap in the face to people around the world, and clearly exposed the contradictions of a system that relies on such racist murders to protect the profit of the rich, enforce a system of private property that produces a racist, sexist division of labor, and to ultimately keep resistance to such a system in check and the people pacified. The illusion that the police are here to serve and protect the people is a fallacy, and the pathetic two year sentencing, which Mehserle only has to serve 7 months of until he is eligible for release, exposes this illusion. People of color are serving 10-20 year sentences just for drug use and dealing. When a cop intentionally kills an unarmed, hand-cuffed black man, whom he calls a ‘bitch ass nigger’ right before, and gets 2 years, which he will not serve all of, then there is something clearly wrong with this system, and what is wrong will not be made right by working within such a system.
Fighting for justice for Oscar Grant and justice for the working class at large will not be won through asking the police to be accountable and to stop killing our people. This would be like asking a slave master to be accountable to the slave, or the KKK (which would later become the police force) to be accountable to Black people. We live in a horribly oppressive, exploitative system that relies on a system of private property, where the minority capitalist class own everything, and the majority, the working-class, are forced to work for this class and pay them for everything, such as food, shelter, clothing, ect., This is an unequal, exploitative relationship. This unequal division of labor is also racist and sexist, where we see people of color and women being incorporated into this division of labor in gendered and racialized ways. It also means that this capitalist class understands that this system is unequal and oppressive; they understand that as they live in mansions accumulating more and more wealth off the backs of our labor while we struggle to make rent, pay the bills, and have our lives stolen from us through wage-labor that maybe we will start to get angry at such grotesque inequalities. They created these ‘special bodies of armed men’ (the pigs) to supposedly serve and protect ‘the people’, but what they are really doing is protecting the rich and its private property from the people, whose labor produces such wealth that they do not own. They function to preserve such divisions of labor and to keep the people in fear of rising up.
This true nature of the system was in full effect friday from the sentencing to the actions of the pigs when they trapped us on 6th ave. The rally was good for people, who just wanted to come out and express their feelings and bring their children and go home. However, very little truth of the racist nature of this capitalist system was discussed on the stage. Some of the organizers of the rally as well as the MC continued to talk about the ‘community’ without really giving this ‘community’ any outlet to express its anger and feel a sense of power that went beyond ‘riots’ and permitted rallies. The truth is we need more than chaotic rebellions, and feel-good rallies. We need to build a sustainable movement that’s reaching out to this community, the Black and Brown working-class, to build people power and shut this system down. That is the only way we can start to strike fear in the eyes of the ruling class by getting organized as a fighting class against it much in the same way they are incredibly organized against us. When we begin to start speaking these home truths to the people then we can start preparing for more sustainable, generalized, revolutionary struggle, and we will be organizationally ready for when the people do decide to rebel, which will happen more and more as the objective conditions get worse and worse.
The people wanted more friday night and rightfully so. A breakaway march took off down 14th towards Fruitvale bart the site where Mehserle murdered Oscar Grant almost two years ago. It was a very powerful experience. 100’s of people of all races, genders, and political backgrounds took over the streets demanding justice for Oscar Grant. The media will spin it in a negative way and only show the few incidences of property destruction that happened and make us look like a bunch of hoodlums, but that wasn’t the case. It was an example of people flexing their power as people. And it started off in a disciplined manner with a direction that was political: lets take back our streets and go into our neighborhoods, where the police terrorize us every day. It was different this time than the 8th because it wasn’t just chaotic property destruction downtown, and it wasn’t just a whole bunch of people sitting around at a rally talking about police accountability; it was a political action that brought people into the streets together to force the police and the city of Oakland to respond to our demands for justice. It started off feeling very empowering and militant. Things changed once we got to international and the march took a wrong turn off of International on to the small dark street, 6th ave. The march got cut in half by the police line and their forces massively outnumbered ours. They were able to immediately block off the perimeter of the streets and they refused to let us go even though we were peaceful and demanded to be freed. They held us hostage on 6th ave between E 17th and E 18th for almost two hours as we chanted to be let go. We were not doing anything illegal; it is not illegal to be on a public street. There was no dispersal warning. Finally they made an announcement that we were all under arrest and they allowed the media to leave, and we were all forced to stay, and when I say force I mean they had barrels of shotguns with large bean bag pellets pointed a foot away from my face preventing me and everyone else from even trying to escape. They arrested over 150 of us and charged us with refusal to disperse, which, like the Mehserle sentencing, is a bunch of bullshit, because in order to charge us with that they would have needed to give us a dispersal warning. We would have loved to leave; nobody wanted to be trapped on a little dark street at the mercy of the killer cops. It was a demoralizing experience and it was designed to be one. The pigs don’t like it when any pig serves jail time, even if it is only for 7 months. And they certainly don’t like it when the oppressed rise up to protest that, especially after almost two years of similar rebellions. They were sending a message to the city of Oakland and to our movement that we have no right to express our discontent with the case and the system and that was why they were able to illegally keep us hostage and then illegally arrest us.
Being in jail was no joke. The tank was disgusting and covered in germs; there was no ventilation and the jail air was hot and thick; there was no garbage so we were forced to be on the concrete ground with our own piss, garbage, and used menstrual pads; and their was baloney everywhere in the form of sandwiches and cops. I don’t see the need to glorify jail experiences, but I stand by the righteous uprisings of myself, my comrades and the people. Even though it was upsetting to be cornered and arrested in such a way it exposed that we cannot reform this system. They can murder people and get off, and they can lie and arrest us and charge us with lies and get away with it..until we file a class action suit against the City Of Oakland of course. And I think what is important for us to remember is that we must keep building off of these struggles so they become deeper and more militant, and more in touch with the oppressed working class. So far there has been chaotic rebellions, but without them Mehserle would never have quit and got arrested; without them the Chief of police in Oakland would never have quit; without them the other two cops never would have gotten fired. It is easy to feel demoralized when 100s of radicals get thrown in jail, but we must remember that gains have been made and they have been made not through pressure by politicians. They have been made through the hearts and determination by the people, who still go out into the streets and express their anger despite the fear of the violence of the Bourgeois state, which seeks to silence us and kill us if they have to.
Justice will be brought to the people by the people!