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  • illuminating the unseen faces & unheard voices of oakland:

    Well, to revolt for a life worth living, like the first banner that Occupy Oakland ever created for the first march in the week and a half that the camp was there, before the first raid, that's kind of why I'm here. Revolt for a life worth living. And, you know, we gotta spring forward, take back every park that we ever had, 'cause it's ours anyway. This is all the common space. And any time any of our comrades in other places or other cities get fucked up, we're going to be there to support them. It comes down to that. And, you know, no matter what, solidarity. I may not agree with every tactic, they may not agree with every tactic. It doesn't matter. Solidarity.

    Yeah, I've been here the whole time, so it's, like, (laugh) - Well, you know, like, let me put it this way, like: Planning for the general strike, like, trying to set up a nice day of events and all this other shit and then a hundred thousand people showing up? And I'm like, that's pretty crazy, 'cause nobody will tell you that, honestly, that they were expecting those numbers. But, between that and, like - I mean, January 28th I was out with my parents, you know, when they started tear gassing in broad daylight and everything and I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?'

    I always blame it on the police, that's the ultimate thing. And, also, it's like, what's funny is that the rest of the world seems really surprised by what they did to us in Oakland, yet all of us in the camps were like, 'Oh shit, the cops are gonna kick our asses soon, we gotta get ready.' 'Cause OPD sucks and we all know that, unlike in many other cities where they may be privileged enough to have a police department, we don't. And most of the police department isn't even from Oakland. Seven percent of OPD are actually Oakland residents, apparently. Some statistic I heard.

    The day of the first raid - I got arrested at the first raid on the camp of Occupy Oakland, and I remember uh, the LRAD weapon that they used for, like, two - twice, right? It's, like, Pow! Big sound cannon. I was, like, holy shit! This just got real, you know? And then I look down and there's laser sights on me, I'm, like, what the crap? And I turn around and I start running and rubber bullets start flying over me and, like, shit starts exploding. And that's when I was like, OK. Whether I like it or not, the cops have just made this a war zone. Better get used to it. (laugh) Like, and that's actually held through pretty much.

    OPD manages to create any magical scenery that we manage to retake into a fucking warzone. And NYPD, I mean fucking A! Yeah, no. NYPD, there are fifty thousand of mother fuckers and they've got their own, like, FBI spy net, whatever thing, like, 'We gotta protect New York from any more Muslim terrorists!' Crap, like, NYPD is crazy. I mean, like, we - For us it's like, 'Oh, let's go take the streets, why the fuck not?' They weren't even allowed to march in the streets most of the time until they finally took the Brooklyn Bridge and got fucked up again, like, fucking A. I mean, again, it's, like, par for the course. I'm not going to say that I'm surprised at police brutality 'cause cops are pigs, but it's also - It's also, like, nobody should have to go through that. Especially- Nobody should have to be in a seizure for fifteen minutes while handcuffed and receive no aid or support. Like As a basic human being, like, that's what happened yesterday. A woman was either beaten too badly - I'm not really sure of all the stats on it, but she was not given aid and was left on the ground in a seizure for fifteen minutes. Somebody - Somebody's head was smacked so hard against a department store window that all the glass is still cracked. Like, there's no reason for any of that. There's no reason for any of that. I mean, you're trying to, like, what? Subdue people so they don't actually come out and protest something that actually, like, fights for their interests too? These guys are absolute pigs and monsters, and anybody who's part of the police-industrial complex, whatever the hell you want to call it, it's systems of domination that are eating away at them and breaking us in the interim. (laugh) We're gonna have to keep fighting back.

    How do you think the movement has changed since it started?

    Well, it finally goat a little bit less white and middle class, that's what I like about Occupy Oakland, like (laugh) - My favorite thing is that we've actually tied together, like, stances against police brutality as well as many other causes. Occupy's become the umbrella for foreclosure defense, for food justice, for what have you. But police brutality, recognizing that no matter what society you're in, the police exist as an organized body to sup - Like, basically maintain a monopoly on organized violence, shit ain't gonna be good. When you have absolute power, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We see it in jail all the time, the way they arbitrarily throw people in solitary for giggling when they're getting patted down because they're like, 'This is an absolute violation of my rights, but all I can do - My defense mechanism is laughing at how absurdly wrong this is.' You know? And, like, fuck this rights discourse. The only rights we have are the ones that we can actually assert and fight for. Everything else is just something on paper that they'll, you know, make up a new law to tomorrow to take away. Like - (laugh)

    Did you grow up here your whole life?

    No. I'm actually from Los Angeles, um... I went to Santa Cruz for the past two years. I was part of the student occupations there. I came up during the Oscar Grant movement a lot up to Oakland and then I moved here because for one thing it's the most radical city in America and for another thing it made sense. Like, Oakland's beautiful and I'm in love with Oakland and I'm proud to be a resident now here.

    I guess - I guess to use the old Hegelian adage, like, don't knock it 'till you've tried it. In a way, like, if you you're gonna actually trust in experimentation, you have to experiment yourself. So never trust what any news outlet is telling you about what's really going on. Go and experience it yourself. If you think you don't have power within GAs [General Assemblies], assert yourself. All that is lacking is people's feeling like they have a space to step up, and so often what we've seen with these plazas is that we made the space to step up. And in order to knock down the old patriarchal dynamics of, like, especially white male supremacy among other things, like, we're gonna have to continue stepping out and asserting ourselves. And as a white male I am very - White straight male, on top of that - I am very heartened to hear the kind of anti-racist, anti-sexist, race-class-gender analysis, ableist analysis, that comes out of Occupy Oakland that you kind of hear on the periphery from academics who have nothing to do with the organizing but like writing about Occupy. But ultimately it's like, it's the praxis, it's the practice, it's the work that we do to make that real at Occupy Oakland. It seems like there's a chance. (laugh) There's a chance at a society that's worth living [in].

    I'm here for liberation, on all levels. To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable is the best way to put it. (laugh)

    Was this planned?

    This was not planned. This is the beauty of Occupy Oakland! We don't have anything necessarily planned, but people of Oakland show up and everything's popping.

    And have a dance party in front of the police department!

    And everybody's boogying in front of the police station! Because they can't stop the party. I'm sorry. No matter how much they try. I mean when I was arrested, the first jail car we were in, we were all smoking a joint and we all slipped out of our cuffs. We were, like, kickin' it, calling down to LG. Like, they have - They all like to think they have control. They don't have control over shit.

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