Sunday, January 11, 2009
"We do not silently watch as they disappear us..."
"We do not silently watch as they disappear us into their prison dungeons, their service industries, or when they feel free to wave guns at us and shoot us"
In the follow up to the rioting in Oakland after the murder of Oscar Grant there has been some hand wringing from those who wished to contain the protests for their own gain. Petaluma Cop Watch published this extremely disappointing letter.
Yesterday a letter was released which addresses these reactions to the rage that took place the night of the 7th:
The night of January 7th we were with you, you were with me, when we saw a glimpse of the future: we smiled and embraced as we lit fires, stomped in windows, destroying real estate, both big and small business as usual. We shared tips on makeshift face masks, we rested together on the sidewalk to catch a breath, we reminded ourselves to "stay calm! don't run!" when the cops gassed us or when they did their sorry shuffle: charging a little, pushing a little, running a little. We disbanded and came back together time and time again and realized we could make the city into anything we wanted.
We flew through the night, always outrunning the twin monstrosity of police and liberal politics-- both who call for passivity-- staying close to familiar faces, but always defending a stranger. Here we write this letter even while we know that where our words so often fail, only our fires emerge victorious. But let this letter be a word of encouragement. Let this letter be comfort in the courtroom when you stare up back at the judge, when they call you a criminal. We do not silently watch as they disappear us into their prison dungeons, their service industries, or when they feel free to wave guns at us and shoot us. Let this word be with you.
The early morning of January 1st was no accident, just as the fire lit night of January 7th was no accident. There are those who left early on the 7th who decry destruction and only want the specificity, the precision of a planned action with a planned target. They don't know that our plan was to rebuild our humanity and that the target was the city. They expose us to their legitimacy litmus. They are afraid of our wild ambitions, they have a smug disdain for our free humanity, they are torn between their boring critiques of capitalism and how they don't want to think we're mongrels-- but in their hearts, they do. We see them all the time: little conquistador Napoleons who want to mastermind a charge and lead a loud megaphone chant. Don't let them guilt or shame you-- if it helps, let this word be with you.
They do not know that our power does not have to look like neighborhoods of small businesses that cater to the middle road, businesses that employ us to work unending hours for them, all the while suspecting of us one perversion or another. Not now, or not ever, but especially not now when we live in a world where no one bats an eye when they kill us, imprison us, humiliate us each day. There is no human rights delegation to our daily lives-- there are only capitalist gate keeper service agencies and liberals who think they know what's good for everyone. No flashy car, no Obama/Biden bumper sticker, no "mom and pop" can prevent us or sell us the betrayal of our own experiences. We don't grieve for a car window, or a nail salon, or liquor store, just as we don't grieve for a McDonalds or a bank. We grieve that we are choked each day and we celebrate that just past the tear gas we finally caught a breath of reality. We finally found humanity, together.
It's cause to walk with a lighter step this week, to burn this memory into our histories, to remake our dreams for the future. We are reminded of what's possible: to be tender and patient with one another, and save our rage and distrust for those who destroy us. A heartfelt congratulations to you.
No business as usual, not ever, always towards humanity,
With a friendly nod to the day to day realities in Chiapas, the anarchist and the Arab in Greece, the civilian and the militant in Gaza, the suggestion of New School, the anarchist and the radio and the barricade in Oaxaca, the prisoner in Atenco, the legacy of Watts, the day laborer in Osaka, the uprising in St. Petersburg, the Burmese anti-fascist, the uprising in Cincinnati, the dignity of Benton Harbor, the dignity of suburban France, the farmer in Afghanistan, the Chinese in Milan, the young of Ungdomshuset, the militant's Chile, everywhere where our dignity overpowers our shame, where our strength proves itself collectively, where our emotions manifest publicly and collectively, where such basic humanity is born and breathes, where there are those who adhere to a human decency no culture can destroy-- which fortunately, is everywhere. Onwards!