In response to police activity in Oakland on January 28, and a request from the Oakland Commune, people around the country have taken action against the police. A Wells Fargo was attacked in Seattle and another in Santa Barbara, a Landlord’s office in Modesto, the Police Bureau’s office and probation office in Portland were also attacked. There was a march in Atlanta as well as the one here against recent police shootings and murders, as well as their very existence. Comrades in Oakland have called for an official day of action against the police and their repression on February 6.
Sadly, in response to the January 29 march, certain people in occupy have once again tried to stop such cathartic moments from happening.
On Tuesday January 31st around 40-50 people marched down south Grand Boulevard-a bar district hotspot- to protest recent actions by the police in Oakland and St. Louis.
As we assembled, unmarked cop cars hovered on the periphery. Others, marked and un-marked quickly arrived as we left Tower Grove Park behind banners that read “COPS OUT OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS-OUT OF OUR LIVES” and “(A)WAR ON PRISON SOCIETY(A)”. The march slowly proceeded down s. grand while the mobile sound system thumped amid cries to “turn it up!” A string of cars began to form behind us and hundreds of flyers were distributed to on lookers and motorists. As we went, the same flyer was wheat pasted along the route. Strangers joined the fray by stepping out of the bars and off the sidewalks. Happily bewildered faces greeted the march along with shouts, pumped fists, jumping up and down and excited honks.
The social facade slipped for a moment: no one likes the police. How wonderful it is to scream it!
Our rage over people murdered by the police in the streets of St. Louis, and our horror at the videos of friends and comrades shot with “less lethal” weaponry was still fresh. And we marched carrying those histories. There have been a string of demos these past months. When California prisoners rise up in unison, when Scott Perry was left to die while in custody at the downtown jail, when Anthony Smith and so many others were gunned down by trigger happy STLPD, or just when we felt the moment was right. Our confidence to hold the space we want on our own terms has been growing. These moments have helped us learn how to better move amongst one another, and how to keep each other safe. This progression has us move more slowly, but ever forward, working within the confines of the city around us.
Eventually, spurred by our refusal to acknowledge them or their orders the police aggression escalated. The march turned itself around with raucous cries of “fuck you!” and snaked its way past and through the line of police cars. Helicopters circled overhead, their whirring blades adding to the drama of the night. Time was found to hurl paint at the police substation along the route while “fuck the police” was tagged along the side of a city bus.
At the end a brief scuffle with the police ensued ending with one comrade pinned against the wall and arrested. A chant of “COPS, PIGS, and MURDERERS” grew louder as attempts to prevent the arrest failed.
We know how to start a rowdy demo, but how do we end one? Without the university or autonomous neighborhood to retreat into how do we creates spaces of asylum? Spaces where the police do not enter. Occupied Kiener Plaza partially filled that role for a time, but with what concessions? Our exits must be as graceful as our grand entrances if we are to have the energy to keep returning.
After our comrade was led away dozens of police lingered attempting to keep us from re-taking the streets. Which they proudly boasted as a victory on local media outlets. What they do not understand is that they cannot win these skirmishes if we continue to decide the battlegrounds and on what terms we fight. It was already over when they decided to attack; the street was theirs simply because we had no use for it anymore.
Exit strategies and march coordination can be our downfalls. So we constantly ask; what is our capacity? How do we recognize the things that expand it? And the things that diminish it? As long as we keep these questions on our lips and our collective rage boiling there is hope.
Love to comrades and people fighting back in Oakland, Riager 94 and the world over…
Fuck the OPD, STLPD and police everywhere!
Avenge Anthony Smith and all those murdered by the State!