Category Archives: California

Victory Against Repression: Carlos Montes Court Case Ends in Victory!


The following statement below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

By Committee to Stop FBI Repression
June 5, 2012

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

Los Angeles, CA – On June 5, 2012 Carlos Montes’ criminal court prosecution ended in a victory for Carlos and the movement.

Carlos Montes’ home was raided on May 17, 2011, by the combined forces of the LA County Sheriff’s Swat Team and the FBI, by crashing his door down at 5:00 a.m., with automatic assault rifles drawn, almost killing him. He was charged with 6 serious felonies with a possible jail time of up to 18 years.

With local and national support, via solidarity protests, call-in campaigns to President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder, local rallies and protests, and an offensive legal strategy, two felonies were dropped – this was a first partial victory. However the District Attorney still stated that they wanted Montes to do at least 5 years in state prison for the 4 felony charges remaining.

The local and national Committees to Stop FBI Repression launched a petition drive and a “Call the D.A.” campaign, with phone banking and a robo call by Carlos to over 4 000 supporters, urging folks to call District Attorney Steve Cooley. The D.A.’s office was flooded with calls and letters.

Montes’ attorney made several motions to get charges dropped on various grounds, but the Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected them. Preparations were made for a trial, knowing well the state judicial system is not ‘fair and impartial.’ Montes and his attorney Jorge Gonzalez got widespread support and media coverage including in the Democracy Now TV show, La Opinion and the Guardian UK newspaper.

The local D.A. on the case then sought for a resolution and proposed to drop three additional felonies, if Carlos pled “no contest” to one count of perjury. This proposal included no jail time, three years of probation and community service. Under advice from supporters, friends and his attorney Montes moved forward with this proposal.

This is a victory for Carlos Montes and the movement against police political repression. A trial had the danger of him being convicted of four felonies with jail time and the additional old felony – a total of 5 felonies. At this point Carlos is out of jail, will continue to organize against repression, for public education, against U.S.-led wars and for immigrant rights. He is already planning to attend the protest at the Republican National Convention on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

Next steps: The local committee with supporters and rank-and-file members of SEIU 721 will hold a victory party to thank everyone who worked on this campaign and to help pay off legal expenses. It is set for Saturday, June 23, 7:00 p.m. Details will follow.

Carlos wants to thank all the people, organizations, unions and community people who worked and supported him in this struggle against police/political repression.

The struggle continues to defend the 23 other anti-war and international solidarity activists who are STILL under an FBI investigation for showing solidarity with the oppressed people of the world, especially the Palestinian and Colombian people. Stay updated via:!


Carlos Montes trial moved to June 20, due to new developments


The following statement below was originally published by the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Statement from the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression

May 15, 2012

Los Angeles, CA – Over 100 supporters rallied in front of the Los Angeles Superior Court today, May 15, to demand, “Drop the charges against Carlos Montes.” The supporters included MECHA students, union members, teachers, vendors and community members as well as activists from the anti-war movement.

“With your help we will win this case,” Montes told the crowd. “The repression against me is an attack on all of our movements. Thank you all for your solidarity! Together we will win!”

Following this strong showing of solidarity, supporters then moved in to the packed courtroom. Montes was set for trial. Due to a new development in the case, the trial was moved to Wednesday, June 20, 2012. The new development deals with obtaining information needed to clarify the legal record. The defense lawyer, Montes, and the district attorney agreed to the June 20 date, to give enough time to investigate this information that would help defeat this attack against Montes and our movement.

The struggle continues, we will continue to demand “drop the charges” and await the new findings that will clear the charges, if not we go to trial on June 20.

Carlos Montes is facing multiple felony charges because the FBI claims he is a felon in violation of firearm codes. The FBI claim stems from a 1969 student strike for Black, Chicano and Women’s studies at East L.A. College, where police beat and arrested demonstrators. Montes was arrested on his way home from the protest, accused of assaulting a sheriff’s deputy (with an empty soda can). This charge was sentenced as a misdemeanor according to a recently uncovered court document. District Attorney Steve Cooley, under the guidance of the FBI, is basing his case on this 42-year-old misdemeanor, disguising it as a bogus felony. Without a past felony, all of the charges Montes is facing, relating to his legally purchased firearms, would be dismissed. Both sides agree that no prison time whatsoever was served in the 1969 incident. The legal process is being driven by something other than the facts of the case. It is political repression.

“In the weeks ahead we need to keep putting pressure on the District Attorney to drop the charges,” states Mick Kelly of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. “The prosecution of Carlos Montes is part of a broader attack by the FBI and local police on anti-war and international solidarity activists. We need to do everything in our power to push back.”

For more info about the case, go to and

Oakland police drop charges against Bakari Olatunji


The following article below was originally published by Uhuru News

The people are victorious! Oakland police drop charges! Bakari Olatunji freed! Forward to the Oakland Freedom Summer Project!

By Diop Olugbala
May 9, 2012

On Tue, May 8, 2012, members and supporters of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) and Oakland Freedom Summer Project emerged from the California State Court victorious after discovering that the Oakland Police Department had dropped its charges brought against our comrade Bakari Olatunji.

We went to the court to stand in unity and resistance as we faced the arraignment of comrade Bakari, who was facing felony charges stemming from the police attack on him and other members of the Uhuru Movement during an Oakland Police Dept (OPD) “open house” event.

It was at this event where InPDUM attempted to serve the People’s Subpoena to Police Chief Howard Jordan to appear at the Court for Black Justice and Reparations.

The date of arraignment was preceded by several days of relentless struggle waged by members and supporters of InPDUM from around the world.

Since Bakari’s arrest, the OPD, the jail and the DA’s office were bombarded with phone calls from comrades and supporters from as far as Paris, France and London, UK.

In addition, InPDUM Oakland was already mobilizing the African community here around the weekend of resistance on May 4 and 5.

This weekend of resistance included a candlelight vigil, a march for Black Justice and Court for Black Justice – all actions which served to expose the OPD’s colonial oppression of the African community.

This tremendous response from the people in support of Bakari was topped off by the show of support on the day of the arraignment by InPDUM forces as well as other organizations, including the Onyx Organizing Committee and Occupy Oakland.

Although a press conference was called to express our opposition to Bakari’s arrest and charges and to further expose the OPD as the real criminal organization in Oakland – no ruling class media showed.

This response from such media as the Oakland Tribune, ABC, CBS and NBC news is consistent with the historic stance these forces have taken in uniting with the state against the African community – whether through silence or manipulation of information.

Despite the media boycott of the Uhuru Movement, we moved forward with our resistance, standing as a united force in the courthouse, where our presence was amplified through the dozens, if not hundreds of calls to the State that called to free Bakari.

Bakari’s Case an Example of Counterinsurgency

InPDUM was clear that Bakari was targeted because of his involvement in the Uhuru Movement. He has lead countless struggles over the last 20-30 years in Oakland against the police repression of the African community.

The most recent and perhaps significant struggle that Bakari was a part of was the campaign to Defend Lovelle Mixon, a 26-year-old African who killed four cops who were part of a squad of police who assassinated him.

While every organization and individual in the Bay Area who claimed to be revolutionary and progressive ran for cover in the aftermath of the Lovelle Mixon struggle, it was Bakari and the Uhuru Movement who not only raised up the right of African people to resist, but also defended Lovelle Mixon and held him up as a hero for the African working class.

This stance taken by comrade Bakari put him directly in the crosshairs of the State, evident in the way he was targeted by police at the open house where he was arrested.

Further, Bakari’s arrest was evidence of the OPD’s inability to tolerate criticism, particularly from the African working class and is the latest manifestation of a rogue police force that disregards any form of law and order.

While comrade Bakari faced trumped up charges, the real criminals of the Oakland Police Department wielded, and continue to wield a license from the U.S. government to murder young African men, as they recently did 18-year-old high school senior Alan Dwayne Blueford on Sunday, May 6 – just two days after Bakari’s arrest.

More significantly, Bakari’s freedom is evident of the State’s inability to withstand the organized resistance of the African working class.

While he was locked up in Santa Rita County Jail, Bakari was approached by several jail employees and one sheriff who were recognizing his significance based on the amount of calls they were receiving, if they were not outright begging him to call off the dogs!

Surely, it was for fear of political consequences from the African community that the State decided it was not in its interests to keep Bakari in prison. Thus, they released him and retracted all charges against him.

We Won the Battle, but the War Continues! Revolutionary Organization Will Win!

When we struggle we win! When we stand up they fall down! Moreover, the highest, most effective form of African struggle is resistance under the leadership of organization.

This is the principle that has informed all the work done to free Bakari. This is the principle upon which the court for Black Justice was built. And this is the principle that will result in our ultimate liberation.

The Uhuru Movement has long worked to rebuild a strong movement for Black Power in Oakland.

It is Oakland where the Black Panther Party was founded in the 1960’s.

It was in Oakland in which the African People’s Socialist Party rebuilt the movement for Black Power after the Panthers were crushed militarily by the U.S. And it is in Oakland where we are working to re-establish a base of power from which we wage the African Liberation struggle from the West Coast region of North America.

Our strategy to liberate Oakland has already begun, and will be advanced through the successful completion of the Oakland Freedom Summer Project.

From July 9-29, 2012, we will deploy revolutionary forces from throughout the U.S. into Oakland to wage a month-long campaign to initiate the renovation of the Uhuru House and advance the struggle for African community control of police and education.

This struggle has already begun with the Court for Black Justice, and was aided by the victory of the Free Bakari campaign.

The extraordinary record of police repression in the schools and streets of Oakland provided the basis for mass participation in this campaign.

The OPD’s oppressive record served as the basis for the People’s Verdict of “GUILTY” at the Court for Black Justice.

Now, we are entering the phase in which we must build revolutionary organization to enforce the People’s Sentence.

This will all be tied together during the Oakland Freedom Summer Project.

InPDUM is calling on African students, workers and revolutionaries throughout the world to come to Oakland to join in what promises to be a historic project.

To watch the video of Bakari’s arrest, click here:

What Must be Done:

Register for the Oakland Freedom Summer Project. Click here to REGISTER NOW:

If you are in Oakland, attend the weekly mass meetings to build the Oakland Freedom Summer Project:

Every Sunday at 4PM, Uhuru House – 7911 MacArthur Blvd

At week’s meeting on Sunday, May 13, we will hold a special VICTORY RALLY as we forward the struggle to build the Committee for African Community Self-Defense!

One Party! One Movement!

Build the Revolutionary Mass Organization for African Liberation!

Great new video online: “Hands off Carlos Montes!”


May 5, 2012

Los Angeles, CA – The Committee to Stop FBI Repression has created a great new video on the life of Carlos Montes, and the fight to beat back the attempt to jail him.

Montes is a veteran Chicano activist known for his leadership of the 1968 East Los Angeles student walkouts, the historic Chicano Moratorium against the U.S. war in Vietnam, and the recent immigrants’ rights mega-marches of 2006. Montes was a co-founder of the Brown Berets. In recent years he has be active in the anti war, Chicano, labor and immigrant rights movements. He currently one of the 24 anti war and international solidarity activists who have been targeted by the FBI, and is scheduled to go on trial May 15.

The video urges people to call Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, at 213-974-3512 to demand that all charges against Montes be dropped.

“Everyone should see this video and share it with their friends. It‘s the inspiring story of a heroic activists, Carlos Montes, who facing an FBI frame up. We can’t let him go to prison,” says Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.


April 26th: Court Hearing and Call In Day


Thank you to the Committee to Stop FBI Repression for making this public:

Thu, 2012-04-26 (All day)

Stop the FBI Frame Up of Carlos Montes

Court Hearing and Call In Day Thursday, April 26, 2012


— President Obama at 202-456-1111 &

— Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001

Demand: “Drop the charges now!  Stop the FBI Frame Up of Carlos Montes!”

Contact us and let us know how your calls went:

The FBI and LA sheriffs want to frame Carlos Montes. At his next court hearing on Thursday, April 26 in Los Angeles, Carlos’ attorney will argue a legal motion to drop the charges on the grounds of “discriminatory enforcement of the law.” This means they are only prosecuting Carlos because of his solidarity and anti-war work. Also on Thursday, a trial date may be set!

At the last court hearing, one old document from the California Department of Justice showed that the old charges from 1969 against Carlos Montes were sentenced as a misdemeanor.

We will also continue to pursue via discovery how the FBI is driving the persecution of Carlos Montes, because of his decades of organizing against war and his solidarity work with the struggle of the Palestinian and Colombian people and his ongoing work in the Chicano/a community, promoting public education and fighting for immigrant rights.

The prosecution of Carlos Montes by the LA County District Attorney continues, despite evidence that should cause it to be thrown out of court.

If you are in the Los Angeles area…

Join us at the Court!
Thursday, April 26, 2012 
8:00 AM

Criminal Courts Bldg.
211 West Temple St, Los Angeles
Dept. 123 on the 13th floor

For more info go to

More info:

Chicano leader and long-time anti-war activist Carlos Montes is the target of a FBI frame up. The FBI and Los Angeles Sheriffs broke down Carlos’ door, ransacked his home, and took his notes and papers, May 17, 2011. Carlos Montes refused to answer the FBI agent’s questions. The raid on Carlos is linked to the FBI repression of 23 anti-war activists who organized the mass protests outside the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Along with many others, Carlos Montes name appeared on the FBI search warrant for the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis on September 24, 2010.

Now Carlos Montes is facing multiple felony charges, because the FBI claims he is a felon in violation of firearm codes. The FBI claim stems from a 1969 student strike for Black, Chicano, and Women’s studies at East L.A. College, where police beat and arrested demonstrators. Carlos was arrested on his way home from the protest; accused of assaulting a sheriff’s deputy (with an empty soda can). This charge was sentenced as a misdemeanor according to a recent court document. The prosecution is basing their case on this 42-year-old misdemeanor, disguising it as a bogus felony. Without a past felony, all of the charges Montes is now facing relating to his legally purchased firearms would be dismissed. Both sides agree that no prison time whatsoever was served in the 1969 incident. The legal process is being driven by something other than the facts of the case. It is political repression.

Facing up to 18 years of prison time, Carlos Montes is preparing to go on trial. Here is what you can do:

1. Pass a resolution in solidarity with Carlos Montes or write a letter.

2. Sign the petition at

3. Sign the Pledge at

4. Donate to the Legal Defense

5. Prepare to attend the trial in solidarity with Carlos Montes, coming soon.

Where are the protests against the killing of Shaima Al Awadi?


By Nina Burleigh
March 28, 2012

An undated photo of Shaima Alawadi.

Forty thousand Iraqis live in El Cajon, California, where this week, Shaima Al Awadi, a devout Muslim mother of five, died after being beaten inside her home with a tire iron and left next to note reading “Go back to your country, you terrorist.” Coming on the heels of the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida, there would seem to be many parallels between the two crimes—the hate speech, the prejudice, the innocence of the victims. A One Million Hijabs for Shaima Al Awadi page has even been launched on Facebook, but it’s doubtful that the movement will really catch on because Iraqis still considered dangerous infiltrators in the eyes of Americans.

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has led to a massive displacement of Iraqis—some five million fled their country between 2003 and 2007, filtering into Syria and Jordan, many reduced to tatters, living on the streets of Amman and Damascus. Our country was one of the least receptive to the plight of Iraqi refugees during the war, allowing in just a few thousand every year. After 2007, the US eased its restrictions and between 2007 and 2011, out of 166,084 Iraqis referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, 58, 811 have been resettled in the U.S., many of them living in pocket communities like El Cajon.

It is true that Iraqis, and especially Muslim Iraqis (many of the new arrivals are Christians seeking asylum), have not been assimilating easily into America. They have a hard time finding jobs in the down economy, they actively resist having their daughters fall into western teen lifestyles, and unfortunately, covered women are the very public face of a religion that many Americans still associate with terrorism. But Iraqis are not “terrorists.” They were among the most educated and secular people in the Middle East for decades before being mercilessly abused by a vicious dictator, then economically sanctioned by the West, followed by Shock and Awe bombing, and ten years of invasion and civil war.

Moreover, Iraqis living in the United States are by no means a homogenous group. A few years ago, I wrote a story about the Iraqi community in Lincoln, Nebraska, a corn-and-beef plains city where it is now common to encounter women in head scarves and long dresses. After only a few days there, it became clear that even small Iraqi expat communities are a mosaic of very different religions and ethnicities, including Shi’a, Sunni (the minority that ran the hated Saddam Hussein’s political regime,) Chaldean, Assyrian, Yazidi.

The police in El Cajon are still looking for Al Awadi’s killer, whose family reported that they had found a similarly menacing note tacked to their door a week before the attack, which they had dismissed as a joke. The hijab is not the hoodie—yet. Police do not profile muslim women as they most certainly do black men. But only when we see people for their humanity and not their clothes or religious beliefs are we living up to the principles on which this country was founded and should now be evoking.


Iraqi woman, Shaima Alawadi, beaten to death in California


March 25, 2012

A woman from Iraq who was found beaten, lying in a pool of blood in her in El Cajon, Calif., home next to a note saying “go back to your country,” has died and police are investigating her death as a possible a hate crime.

Shaima Alawadi’s  17-year-old daughter found her unconscious on the dining room floor of her home Wednesday. She was taken to the hospital and put on life support, but she was taken off life around 3 p.m. Saturday.

“Our understanding is that she was beaten and she was hit with some kind of a tool about 8 times in the head. She was knocked on the floor and was found in a pool of blood,” said Hanif Mohebi, the director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Alawadi was a 32-year-old mother of five children, ranging in age from eight to 17.

“A week ago they left a letter saying this is our country not yours you terrorist, and so my mom ignored that thinking it was just kids playing a prank,” Alawadi’s daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, told ABC News affiliate KGTV. “But the day they hit her, they left another note again, and it said the same thing.”

Al Himidi told KGTV the intruders did not steal anything from their home, and the only motive must have been hate.

“A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that,” Lt. Mark Coit said, according to The Associated Press. “We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.”

Al Awadi immigrated to the United States from Iraq in the mid-1990s.

There is a large Iraqi population in El Cajon, Mohebi said, and its members often face “discriminatory hate incidents.”

“Our ultimate goal is that whoever did this is brought to justice,” Mohebi said.


Oakland police shoot Oscar Grant’s cousin


By Jorge Rivas
February 23, 2012

Oakland Police shot and seriously injured Tony Jones, 24, late Sunday. Jones’ mother says he is a cousin of Oscar Grant, whose murder by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year’s Day, 2009, sparked a movement for justice that presaged the Occupy movement.

“I talked to my son. My son said ‘Mama, the officers [are] lying. They watched me get out of the car. They watched me walk. They started speeding up and I took off running across the street and when I took off running and I heard the gun go pow, pow, pow,’” Jones’ mother, Betrina Works-Grant, told KGO. “He said he was running with his hands like this [at his sides]. The police shot at him and shot him in his back. They never said they [were] the police.”

Jones “knows what happened to his cousin, Oscar Grant, and he is a young guy. He’s 24 years old. Maybe he wasn’t thinking properly by running, but that does not give them the right to use unreasonable force to shoot him in the back,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported, quoting Jones’ attorney, Waukeen McCoy, who said the shooting occurred at 11:45 p.m. in the 2000 block of 62nd Avenue.

According to Reuters: “McCoy characterized the Jones case police brutality, saying an unidentified woman was giving Jones a ride from his mother’s house to his girlfriend’s house when police stopped the vehicle because they suspected it of being used in another crime.

“Jones, an unemployed Oakland resident, got out of the vehicle, and police allowed the vehicle to leave the scene but followed Jones in a patrol car, McCoy said.

“‘He started running because it got to close to him,’ said McCoy. When Jones ran, a police officer shot him, said McCoy.”

KGO reports: “While police have not identified Jones by name, they say a passenger with a gun ran from the vehicle and was shot by an officer. Jones’s mother and attorney deny he had a gun. …

“For several hours, attorney Waukeen McCoy says he was denied the right to meet with his client at the hospital, going so far as to take a picture of the Oakland officer he says refused entry after Jones requested to see his attorney.

“‘We believe what happened is that the Oakland Police Department is hiding the fact that they shot him in his back while he was retreating from them,’ said McCoy.”

The news comes on the heels of the San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, formerly the police chief, announcing BART police officer “acted lawfully” when he shot and killed a knife-wielding homeless man on a train platform.

“Officer (James) Crowell only fired at (Charles) Hill after recognizing an imminent threat of serious bodily injury and commanding Hill to drop the knife,” the report said, according to the Bay Citizen. “Officer Crowell fired at Hill in self-defense.”

In August 2011, published a two-year long investigation that identified 16 Oakland police officers still on duty who were responsible for more than half of the department’s officer-involved shooting incidents in the past decade. These repeat shooters operate behind a wall of secrecy, built over decades and sealed with a 2006 California Supreme Court decision blocking public access to personnel records.

Reuters concluded its story on Tony Jones with a statement by John Burris, attorney for Oscar Grant’s family, who confirmed the relationship between Jones and Grant and added, “The only parallel is that he was shot by a police officer, and the use of deadly force by a police officer is of great concern in the African American community.”


OccupyMN rallies in solidarity with Oakland, against repression of Occupy movement


Protesters denounce new Hennepin County threats to end OccupyMN

By Brad Sigal
November 3, 2011

OccupyMN, Vets for Peace, Iraq Vets Against War and others rally in Mpls in solidarity with Scott Olsen, Occupy Oakland and against growing repression of Occupy movements around the country. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN – More than 200 people gathered at People’s Plaza in Minneapolis, Nov. 2, to stand up for the right of assembly and to protest government repression of the Occupy movement around the country, particularly in Oakland, California. Speakers at the rally also denounced a new statement by Hennepin County threatening to end the OccupyMN occupation here in Minneapolis when the temperature hits 25 degrees or at the first snowfall.

Several speakers at the rally expressed solidarity with Occupy Oakland, which called for a citywide general strike Nov 2. Oakland’s action is in response to severe repression last week, when the police forcibly evicted the Occupy Oakland protesters from a park. The Oakland police carried out mass arrests, used tear gas, concussion grenades and other projectiles against them, in the process hitting protester and Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen in the head, fracturing his skull. As he lay bleeding on the street and other protesters came to help him, police fired a concussion grenade to prevent them from helping evacuate him. In the aftermath, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly decided to call for a citywide General Strike.

Ray Camper of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Gerald of Veterans for Peace spoke at the rally, expressing solidarity with Scott Olsen as fellow veterans. Tracy Molm of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke about the repression against the Occupy movement in the context of the broader repression faced by many people who try to exercise their rights to expression and protest.

Nick Espinosa of OccupyMN talked about the new threat from Hennepin County today against OccupyMN. He said, “We need to be clear – this is an eviction notice.” On Nov. 2, Hennepin County officials released a two-page statement ostensibly about winterizing the plaza, but in fact, it was about placing severe restrictions on the OccupyMN space starting Nov. 4., and ending the occupation when it snows or when the temperature hits 25 degrees. Hennepin County’s statement reads:

“As the temperatures fall and/or it begins to snow, it will become necessary that OccupyMN make further modifications to their occupation of Government Center plaza in order to ensure personal safety and allow for snow shoveling, snow plowing, snow removal and snow storage. Once the first significant snowfall or severe temperatures are predicted and the temperature falls below twenty-five degrees, no sleeping will be allowed on the Government Center plazas between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. At that time, all portable toilets will need to be removed and the canopy will come down.”

In response Mel Reeves, an emcee of the protest, said, “The right of assembly doesn’t end when the temperature hits 25 degrees or at 10:00 at night.” Speakers at the rally decried the announcement from Hennepin County as an attempt to end the Minneapolis occupation. Occupations on the East Coast have continued this week despite a large snowstorm there, including the flagship occupation of Zuccotti Park at Occupy Wall Street.

After the Minneapolis rally at People’s Plaza, there was a spirited march through downtown Minneapolis in solidarity with Occupy Oakland.

The Occupy movement is focused against economic inequality, as the big banks and super-rich get richer while 99% of the people continue to suffer the effects of the capitalist economic crisis: unemployment, foreclosures, budget cuts and stifling amounts of debt.


Can police raids stop Occupy Oakland or SF?


By Carol Harvey
November 1, 2011

Occupy SF joined residents and activists at the October 22nd police brutality protest to hear Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding, murdered by SFPD on July 16, call passionately for justice not only for her son but for Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) and other Bayview Hunters Point activists jailed for publicly condemning the murder. Kimberly Swan of Poor Magazine and Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff stand beside Denika. – Photo: Mesha Monge-Irizarry

On Oct. 16-17, SFPD conducted a brutal raid on the Occupy San Francisco encampment. Videographers recorded police stepping on backs, dragging protestors and striking them with batons. Before police dispersed, tents reappeared.

Undaunted, Occupy SF spawned more demonstrations and protests.

San Francisco occupiers joined the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality in a short Bayview march protesting unrelenting police assaults on residents, most notably the SFPD murder of Kenneth Harding on July 16.

On Monday, Oct. 24, a 200-strong Bay Area clergy tour wound through San Francisco’s Financial District.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Oakland and Atlanta police tried – and failed – to take down Oakland and Atlanta Occupy encampments. Riot police sat in buses waiting for Oakland protesters to join Occupy San Francisco from across the Bay.

While San Francisco occupiers practiced tactical passive resistance, five city supervisors and one state senator visited the Embarcadero in support. SFPD did not repeat the Oct. 16 assault that night.

During the Occupy Oakland raid, a police projectile fractured 24-year-old U.S. Marine Corporal Scott Olsen’s skull. This Iraq war veteran’s injury in an Oakland war zone propelled 1,000 outraged attendees at an Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa) Plaza General Assembly to call a Nov. 2 General Strike to shut the city down.

On Oct. 28, filmmaker Michael Moore spoke at the resurrected tent city.

What forward-moving social urge gives these Occupy groups the amazing power to resurge against the military arm of corporate greed? Are they more vulnerable to dislodgment by the internal seeds of their own destruction than police or military assaults upon them?

It is becoming clear from Arab Spring nations like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Syria, where citizens will die to unseat corrupt totalitarian rule, that people globally no longer accept the authority of multi-national corporate-backed CEOs, kings, dictators, presidents, heads of state, governors, or even city mayors who allow – or send – militarized police to enforce their stranglehold on the 99 percent.

The sudden spontaneous emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its replication across the United States to San Francisco and back again across the globe carries echoes of the Arab Spring’s anti-authoritarianism and unyielding drive toward fundamental change – removal of the multinational corporate grip on governments and nation states.

The logical flaw

In his “Chaotic Ripple” blog post, “Occupy Wall Street, Swarm Behavior and Self-Organized Criticality,” Joe Brewer writes, “It is now the mainstream view that our (United States) government is fundamentally corrupted by corporate influence.”

Claude Carpenter, father of DeBray Carpenter, aka Fly Benzo, spoke at October 22nd. Note the foreclosure sign on the building behind him. Bayview Hunters Point homes account for 60 percent of all San Francisco foreclosures. – Photo: Mesha Monge-Irizarry

He observes that “old models for building civilization have become obsolete.” Gen-Xers and Millennials are deploying technologies for mass mobilization to generate new, more functional models.

Brewer presents “swarming behavior” as a way to explain the sudden, unaccountable springing up of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Immediately following Occupy Wall Street’s Sept. 17 tents and “We are the 99 percent” signs opposing corporate greed and bank bailouts, its sister clone, the San Francisco encampment, followed swarm movement patterns, materializing at the 555 California Bank of America former headquarters, “The Wall Street of the West.” It moved to the Market Street sidewalk fronting the Federal Reserve Bank’s western facade and, finally, to Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero.

“Observing what complexity researchers call self-organized criticality, Brewer explains, “We may be in the midst of an unprecedented pattern of self-organization that wasn’t possible before the internet.”

He asserts that the unfolding dynamic of self-organizing systems is the source of group intelligence. Structure and social order emerges through local conversations, “starting small-scale and spiraling upward” like “a flock of birds or school of fish.” It is a human swarm of individuals creating a group flow out of the delighted discovery of a mutual recognition and resonance between them of commonly-held feelings, ideas and beliefs.

He writes that “self-organized criticality” surfaces through the Occupy Wall Street – and, by extension, the Occupy San Francisco – movements by recognizing “no elevated leader,” bypassing “authorities with decision-making power in old institutions,” organizing locally “as fractal patterns of small groups setting plans through general assemblies,” orchestration of networks of groups through hub websites” like Occupy Together, “and “coordinated branding” through the meme-slogan, “We are the 99 percent.”

The archetype of swarming “self-organizing criticality” is sand slowly dropped into a pile which grows until rates of cascading avalanche slopes from top to bottom become “independent of the rate which the system is driven by dropping sand. This is the rate of a “self-organized critical slope.

“Rapidly changing social trends have passed a tipping point or paradigm shift indicating that the status quo is increasingly unstable and therefore unlikely to persist much longer.”

Growing global inequality; a shift from manufacturing to making money off of money; world-wide economic insecurity and unemployment since the 2008 financial meltdown; commonly accepted, but now nonviable life passages from childhood to college to career, homebuilding, then retirement; awareness of severity of environmental damage threatening the earth; rapid depletion of the earth’s raw materials; the plunge in public confidence in government, corporations and the banking system – these trends suggest “models for building civilization have become obsolete,” and we have passed a downward-dropping point on the slope where gun-toting cops cannot reverse the process.

Brewer asserts if imminent “monumental change” doesn’t transmute to “fundamental change,” it will gather momentum for future attempts “to be more bold and effective.”

If stepped-up militarized police raids fail to clean out Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland, will failure to meet its objective as an all-inclusive movement undermine Occupy San Francisco’s success?

Occupiers insist that the prime directives driving the movement include constructing solid new forms within the sand-avalanches of the crumbling social order based on shared equality, love over separation and an openhearted social contract guaranteeing everyone an equal voice.

But, if the movement’s core value is capital and money over human life, does a materialist fatal flaw lurk within the 1 percent vs. 99 percent equation ensuring certain failure?

America failed in its dream of true democratic equality, creating a derangement by basing its governmental system on a parallel logical fallacy – capitalist greed, violence, separation and the proliferation of imperialistic internal and external wars.

The racism flaw

Further, if Occupy SF is truly open-hearted, all-inclusive and all-embracing, why do so few Black and Brown faces Bayview Hunters Point, the Fillmore, Mission, Tenderloin and Bernal Heights join Occupy SF with other established, but still marginalized Asian, LGBTQ, disabled and age-based groups?

Proportional to San Francisco’s ethnically-cleansed diminishing Black population, Bayview occupiers are few. Like Chicago, San Francisco’s deepest poverty and highest foreclosure rates in Bayview Hunters Point mean almost 50 percent of families may lose their homes by late 2012. Survival trumps participation in Occupy movements.

Some say white privilege assumed by the exclusivity and ownership of the 1 percent to 99 percent capitalist equation keeps them away. Historical lack of trust toward Caucasians and white leftists is a stay-away order.

Barbara Banks, mother of DeBray Carpenter, spoke at the October 22nd protest, decrying the police brutality and censorship of her son. – Photo: Mesha Monge-Irizarry

Knowing that the October 22nd rally, attended by Occupy SF, was organized by two predominately white organizations, Bayview residents’ participation dwindled. Activists reported no police brutality incidents, the kind Bayview residents experience daily, partly because SFPD anticipated the October 22nd Coalition would notify media, but someone “screwed up and didn’t.”

Respected Black activist Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin wrote Sunday, Oct. 23, on the Facebook page, “The Progressive Plantation: Racism Inside White Radical Social Change Movements,” “The anti-globalization movement, and even further back, Socialist and Communist parties have all succumbed to racism and white supremacy.”

Like Black activists before him, he asks. “Why should the OWS movement be different?”

“There is only one possible conclusion to be reached,” he writes. “We need a social revolution with Black and POC (people of color) leadership to destroy this system entirely and thoroughly, leaving no traces of racism or capitalism, rather than have the very classes and peoples who have historically oppressed us in charge of our fate. I do not believe or argue that white people are inherently evil; rather that if we do not organize for our own freedom, nobody else will (do it for us). The only question is how many white people will unite with us in genuine unity, mutual aid, and with the same fervor for total change?”

Some feel a successful healing of the ravages of deliberate capitalist-corporatist social engineering requires Caucasians humbly step back so peoples of color and their brothers and sisters currently enslaved on the prison-industrial plantation, exploited Latinos and immigrants, and colonized indigenous nations are finally free to step forward and unlock silenced voices.

Sincerely attentive occupiers can learn about true police brutality from Bayview residents like talented rapper DeBray Carpenter, aka Fly Benzo, who can speak to the constant police assaults and killings in the hood, the unprovoked Oscar Grant murder and the July 16, 2011, assassination of Kenneth Harding, shot in the back for avoiding a transit fare. Fly Benzo suffered three false arrests and SFPD beatings after courageously criticizing the SFPD.

They can learn about militarized police state toys – specialized weaponry, riot gear, stun and other guns, tanks that roll through Bayview – about police surveillance in a fascist regime heralded by the homeland security van at the Oct. 16 SFPD camp assault.

Some peoples of color believe only through the expression of their truths during a piercing class and race analysis can the social order re-organize along humane, human rights, leveled equality lines.

One brother occupier involved in the Bayview wants conversations where “Together, we get to the heart of it, to a place that is beyond uncomfortable, that is existentially painful” and finally address the elephant in the room.

The good news is that an occupier in a recent General Assembly meeting reported forming an exploitation working group.

POOR Magazine/Pobre Prenza is creating “Decolonizers’ Guide to a Humble Revolution,” a handbook for Occupations “to learn about working with all peoples, each other and all the other movements in need of their support and resources.”

The classist flaw

Minerva Dunn, ever the activist, stood on the median handing fliers to passing cars during the protest. – Photo: Mesha Monge-Irizarry

And what of unhoused people living on San Francisco streets who fall entirely out of the 1 percent/99 percent money-based equation? The Occupy movements are about who controls America’s wealth, excluding those who scrabble through garbage cans.

I have noticed that, though virtually half the original occupiers were homeless, like many unhoused folks, they do not own their commonality with street people. In human empathy dynamics, this distancing creates cracks and separations.

Contradicting this assumed entitlement, Janice, a lovely 20-something reading on her pallet on the Japantown bridge, smiled and said, “A friend went, and he was very well-treated.”

However, “I’m too concerned about where I’ll get food for me and my dog to go.”

Original occupier Xander, a medic-in-training, informed me medic teams have spread across the city outreaching to homeless people.

Occupier and Coalition on Homelessness organizer Bob Offer-Westort is working on non-punitive strategies by which those with mental illness can be understood and facilitated. He wants to start a mental health working group.

Nothing can stop a perfect swarm. Internal contradictions, however, can transmute it into a derangement bearing tragic unintended consequences.