Food for Thought
Lessons from Wisconsin
Port Huron Turns 50
Outraged Over Atrocities
Edward S. Herman
The Arab Spring
Libya, Africa, and AFRICOM
May Day 2012
Taking on Methyl Iodide
EDUCATING WITH MUSIC
Books, Rhymes, Life
The Obama Syndrome
Do No Harm
Ten Economic Crises
Victory for Colombian Students
A Drone World
Advertisements You'll Never See Again
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May Day 2012 in Oakland
On May Day 2012, occupiers were gathering at the
“We are not afraid,” we chanted, “We are not afraid” (I was very much afraid). We pushed and kept pushing. With people jammed in all around, I could only see what was happening right in front of me. The police pushed back against us with their batons, while those in front stood toe to toe with them and we were soon pushing the police back up Broadway. A huge number of cameras were recording this and we chanted, “The whole world is watching.” Then a cop started jabbing the people in front of me with his baton. “Officer Niven,” someone shouted, “You’re famous.”
Shouts and chants continued. “Police go home, Police go home.” The police retreated 100 feet or more to
“Mic check. We’re done here,” the speaker with the bullhorn was saying, calling for us to return to the Plaza. The police did not pursue us. The confrontation had lasted nine minutes.
What we’d just experienced was a “snatch squad” in action. “Surgical arrests,” the police called such operations, part of a new crowd control policy which the Oakland Police Department (OPD) announced a week before. Police told newspapers that they would use specialized squads to isolate and arrest “troublemakers” before they could “ignite” others around them.
The OPD’s new policy sounded ominous. The ACLU had written the police a letter warning them that they were bound by the existing 2005 federally court ordered Crowd Control Policy and, therefore, not free to change policies whenever it suited them.
Meanwhile, there was a real possibility that the OPD could be placed in federal receivership for failing to comply with court mandated reforms. Such a prospect could also affect the nature of police actions this afternoon, hopefully inducing them to relax.
But we didn’t really know what the police would do. Earlier this year, the police had arrested 409 Occupiers. As a result, people might be too intimidated to attend today’s events. Soon, however, there were several hundred Occupiers and more arriving at the Plaza.
The rally continued. Speakers, then music, more speakers, more music. People were dancing. Others were in groups, conversing. I ran into someone from the Sunday Lake Merritt peace walk. He’d just come from a picket line at Alta Bates hospital where nurses were on strike. It was one of the numerous actions people had been doing since early that morning. A couple hundred had been picketing at the hospital. Another couple hundred had gone to Child Protective Services and others had formed a detachment of flying pickets, visiting various banks. There was also a contingent at Larkspur to support Golden Gate Ferry workers.
The crowd had grown to about 2,000. A lot of actions had taken place that morning and more were on the agenda for the afternoon. However, we seemed to be boxed in. The streets leading from the Plaza were blocked off by police in Darth Vader-like helmets, creating a war-zone ambiance in order to keep the downtown area open for business as usual. Ironically, the police, by their numbers, were unwittingly doing exactly what they were trying to prevent us from doing—shutting down the center of downtown
“A tank?” another person asked in disbelief. “Did you say a tank?”
People all around were chuckling. Riot police are not a laughing matter, but the concept of armored vehicles for use against protesters seemed bizarre—like hunting ducks with howitzers.
As we approached City Hall, a number of police were guarding the entrances, some carrying automatic rifles. Meanwhile, the big event of the afternoon was to be the immigrant march, “Dignidad y Resistencia.” We were hoping to meet the immigrant march, but a line of riot police blocked off
Just then, a blast seemed to come from the other side of City Hall near the
Reaching the street, it was packed with people, probably 1,000 or more. I was pretty far back and couldn’t see what was going on up ahead. Someone had brought a mobile sound system and loud music boomed out on either side of us. People were dancing, cheering, chanting. From time to time I heard what sounded like a police bullhorn. I couldn’t make out the words. The music and dancing continued. Then people started moving back toward the intersection of Broadway.
We headed north on Broadway, then back south. There were “mic check” announcements over a bullhorn, but I couldn’t really hear very well. Then I saw Frank, wearing his brown bicycle helmet, for which reason we called him “Brown Hat.” I asked him if he’d seen what was happening. The police had ordered us off the streets, he told me. “They said they’ll use chemical agents.”
The gathering filled the entire width of Broadway and the sidewalks were already packed. Nearby was a BART entrance and I really wanted to go home. I was very scared. But I’d been through a lot with these people during the past half year—two police raids on our camp, two port shutdowns, and a lot more.
People were cheering and chanting. “Let’s go,
As we passed the library, the librarians came out and waved to us, cheering. We crossed the new bridge which connects
Minutes later we were crossing 4th, 5th, and 6th. Most of the people around me were young. Some carried signs, some carried shields with peace signs painted on them
The significant thing about this march in
Daniel Borgström is an antiwar activist. Photos for Mayday in
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.