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The Oakland Dock Protest
I was one of the hundreds of people who met Monday, April 7 at the Oakland Docks to peacefully picket in front of the APL shipping lines—which transports munitions that were used to kill men, women, and children in Iraq. Many Longshoremen watched and many showed support for what we were doing.
The police gave dispersal warnings to our picket of women and men, old and young, holding signs and chanting peaceful slogans. But then we heard huge blasts from guns and I saw some people fall. Many of us ran, some left the scene altogther. Some of us did not want to give up that quickly, feeling it was our democratic right to picket on Oakland property. We re- grouped and joined a smaller picket circle in front of another driveway at the docks.
Once again, we had little time to communicate about what we wanted to do. We joined the last remaining circle and then people started running as police on motorcycles charged the protestors, actually hitting one woman, leaving tire prints on her arm, leg, and back. The police fired on people at alarmingly close range. I saw many being carried away who were bloody and wearing stunned looks on their faces. These were young people, elderly men and women, people of many colors and economic backgrounds, teachers and union workers. The police were indiscriminate. They rounded up 31 of us and we were handcuffed and put into a bus. The guy next to me had gravel in the side of his face and his back was aching from the force of five police officers on top of him, one with a knee in his back.
We were arrested at around 8:30 AM and held in Santa Rita county jail until 4:00 AM the next day. We were separated by gender and shoved into small cells. There were 16 men in our cell. We were taunted by the guards. One of them shoved a picture of George Bush and a trapped-looking Saddam Hussein in my face and asked what I thought of it. I said, believe it or not, we are not in here in support of Saddam Hussein, but for the Iraqi people who are being slaughtered by our government. We were in there because we have the right to peacefully protest in our democratic nation. He snickered, “You people are so stupid.”
During our time in jail, we went around the room and told jokes, played theater games, and talked about everything from the overthrow of Chile’s President Allende in the 1970s to the tragedy in Iraq. One man had just returned from Palestine where he was working with the International Solidarity Movement. He recounted a recent horrific story when the Internationalists were walking peacefully with some Palestinians and they noticed an Israeli militant watching them from a tower through the scope of his rifle. Suddenly they heard a shot and a 14-year-old Palestian boy, who was walking with them, was suddenly dead from a gunshot wound in his head.
I remember reading about this in the paper. The man recounted his horror at witnessing this incident so closely, and also his sadness, as the story was presented in the media the next day as the boy throwing a molotav cocktail and the Israeli army reacting in self-defense. An outright lie, stripping this boy of the dignity of the truth of his life and death.
Similarly, I was distraught to see the media coverage of our protest for peace at the Oakland docks. The police claimed that their actions were justified because they were responding to our throwing of rocks and cement. No one in my jail cell witnessed any such violence on the part of the peace protesters. None of us participated in any aggressive actions.
We will not stop protesting. We will fight for the truth non-violently. If what happened at a protest in Oakland can’t be reported in the media, how can we know what happened to people in Iraq?
will never forget my fellow protesters from the Oakland dock picket.
These are the same people who must read these lies about our experience,
but know our fight is not in vain.
Paul Ginocchio is an activist living in California.
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/.