Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Campaign to Save City College of San Francisco

Save CCSF: We Are City College!
Two campaigns that need funds – Please donate! 
Cartoon by Anthonty Mata for CCSF Guardsman   

We are working to ensure that the ACCJC’s authority is not renewed by the Department of Education this December when they are up for their 5-year renewal. Our campaign made it possible for over 50 Third Party Comments to be sent to the DOE re: the ACCJC. Our next step in this campaign is to send a delegation from CCSF to Washington, D.C. to give oral comments at the hearing on December 12th. We expect to have an array of forces aligned on the other side who have much more money and resources than we do.    So please support this effort to get ACCJC authority revoked!   

Save CCSF members have been meeting with Attorney Dan Siegel since last May to explore legal avenues to fight the ACCJC. After much consideration, and consultation with AFT 2121’s attorney as well as the SF City Attorney’s office, Dan has come up with a legal strategy that is complimentary to what is already being pursued. In fact, AFT 2121’s attorney is encouraging us to go forward.    The total costs of pursuing this (depositions, etc.) will be substantially more than $15,000. However, Dan is willing to do it for a fixed fee of $15,000. He will not expect a retainer, i.e. payment in advance, but we should start payments ASAP. If we win the ACCJC will have to pay our costs.   

Checks can be made out to Save CCSF Coalition with “legal” in the memo line and sent to:   
Save CCSF Coalition   2132 Prince St.   Berkeley, CA 94705   
Or you may donate online: []

"Saving City College of San Francisco; Stakes high in faculty contract negotiations"
2013-10 by Bob Price, PhD from "Freedom Socialist" newspaper []:
Bob Price, a chemistry professor at City College and member of AFT 2121, can be reached at
Like David fighting Goliath, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) faculty are in a pitched battle to protect their union, their students, and their school from destruction. They are up against big-business forces pushing to downsize or close community colleges so that profit-making schools can take over. Corporate foundations have lobbied to bring the California Chancellor for Community Colleges, and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) on board with their “reform” agenda.
 Faculty contract negotiations are now the critical front in a fifteen-month war to undermine the acclaimed college that serves 80,000 students. To win, it is imperative that faculty members mobilize their union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121, to take militant action, including striking if necessary.
Attack spurs fight-back. Privatizers put the school and the union in a stranglehold in July when the ACCJC declared it would yank CCSF’s accreditation in summer 2014. The statewide chancellor followed this with a coup — dismissing the elected Board of Trustees and appointing a Special Trustee — a czar with unlimited power. The Save CCSF coalition, in which FSP and Radical Women representatives have played a key role, organized a rousing response. Students, faculty, staff and community members marched 3,000-strong to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) San Francisco office.
 After months of agitating with rallies, pickets, teach-ins, sit-ins, and press conferences, the tide began shifting against the corporatists. In response to a complaint filed by the union, DOE announced that the ACCJC is operating in violation of its own rules, with possible conflicts of interest. A state legislative committee ordered an audit of the accrediting agency and its practices. The San Francisco City Attorney filed lawsuits against the ACCJC and California Community College Governors to halt revocation of the school’s accreditation.
 Meanwhile, the faculty contract expired in December 2012. In July, the administration implemented a 5 percent permanent pay cut without negotiation. The last time AFT members got a raise was 2007 — accounting for inflation, their wages are down 19 percent. So, it’s no surprise that negotiations have reached impasse. Besides the slashed wages, administrators demand new contributions to retiree healthcare and the right to cancel any class without explanation.
Union key to maintaining quality public education. Management’s demands have far-reaching ramifications for students. A selling point of CCSF has been its strong faculty. Now, with the lowest salaries among San Francisco Bay Area community colleges, CCSF can no longer attract or retain the most talented and committed educators. Handing administrators the ability to cancel any class for any reason would leave registered scholars in the lurch and lead to a downward enrollment spiral. State funds, based on student numbers, would shrink, reducing class offerings even more. By rejecting concessions, AFT 2121 can maintain access to excellent courses and teachers.
 Victories would also build steam for winning back classes and services already axed for thousands of undergraduates. Last winter’s firing of dozens of academic counselors and part-time instructors has especially affected adult education classes, including English as a Second Language. Ethnic studies have been hurt by cuts to department chairs’ hours. Although AFT’s contract doesn’t directly address these areas, a strong stance sends a message to the privatizers to back off.
 Union-busting tactics are key to any attempt to privatize public institutions. By standing for strong contracts and organizing mass student and community support for pickets, job actions, and strikes, faculty locals like AFT 2121 can build an effective resistance for the long haul. This is what the Chicago public school teacher strike accomplished last year.
 AFT 2121 has taken some important steps to defend its members, the college, and students. The local’s leaders invited members to a round of negotiations in August. A hundred faculty members came in a show of strength against concessions. It was the union’s complaint with the DOE last spring that goaded the agency to cite the illegal behavior of the ACCJC. This was a good tool to push back against the corporate agenda, but the fight cannot be won solely through government agencies or the courts. Now is the time to keep up the pressure. As negotiations wend their way through the final stages of impasse mediation and fact-finding, college management and the corporate raiders are unlikely to back down. At that point, the union may be left with few choices — accept concessions or organize job actions or a strike.
 AFT leadership has discouraged strike talk, and many faculty members may be following their example. But the failure to confront management with a strike, labor’s strongest weapon, would be tantamount to giving up without a fight.
 Local officers also present the battle at CCSF as simply a struggle with the ACCJC, when it’s ultimately about privatization. This obscures the big picture and undercuts militancy. And AFT’s top officials, as in most unions, have close ties to the Democratic Party — a major advocate of corporatized education. So, from national and statewide leaders the word is out to toe the line and put a lid on militancy.
 Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents staff, is certainly no help. It has links to the pro-corporate Campaign for College Opportunity, and has thwarted efforts to involve its members in defending the school.
Rank-and-file and community activism needed. Union members are crucial to building the fight. Those who stand to lose the most from the take-aways are part-time, or adjunct, faculty members, often women and people of color. They, along with their full-time allies, urgently need to mobilize for job actions and a strike if necessary.
 If they are strong and link their demands to promoting student success, San Franciscans stand ready to support them. A neighborhood-based campaign can galvanize support.
 CCSF is a crucial test case. AFT’s battle for a good contract is a front in the whole fight for public education. It’s a struggle that can and must be won.

"CCSF Students Occupy City Hall, 26 Arrested"
2013-08-21 []:
After a rally and sit-in of several hundred students on August 20, at midnight 26 students were arrested for occupying City Hall, after Mayor Ed Lee refused to meet with them or support their demands:   
1) Drop All ACCJC Sanctions Against CCSF  
2) Fire Bob Agrella – End the “Special Trustee” Dictatorship   
Despite the fact that the Department of Education has severely criticized the ACCJC and is threatening to pull its accreditation [], the Mayor has refused to call for the immediate reversal of the ACCJC decision to close the school. The sit-in was prompted by the refusal of Mayor Lee over the past month to meet with students — and during the sit-in the Mayor and his representatives again repeatedly refused to come and meet with the students.   
While the Mayor claims to support City College, in fact he has sided with the corrupt ACCJC institution trying to shut down/downsize the school. Instead of siding with City College, Mayor Lee has openly supported the imposition of a “Special Trustee” dictatorship of Bob Agrella to force through cuts in the name of meeting the demands of the illegitimate and corrupt ACCJC commission. On August 19th, “Special Trustee” Agrella announced he has “chosen not to use the DOE letter in our request for review” of the ACCJC decision, claiming that “the best path to maintaining CCSF’s accreditation is to follow the Commission’s rules, regulations, and directions.” In other words, Agrella is protecting this illegitimate rogue body by not including in the college’s appeal the information most likely to overturn the ACCJC decision (which can only be cancelled on the basis of a failure to follow rules and procedure.) In the name of imposing cuts, Agrella is sabotaging the fight to repeal the ACCJC decision to close City College.   
The struggle against privatization and gentrification continues. Students, teachers, staff and their community allies will continue to mobilize until all sanctions against CCSF are lifted and all cuts stemming from this imposed crisis are reversed. All students are invited to a General Assembly at 4pm this Thursday (8/22) at the Student Union Lounge of the Ocean Campus. Defend Public Education. Save CCSF. Join the Movement. 
To get involved, contact
For text updates send “follow saveccsfnow” to 40404 
Links to More Press Coverage: 

"CCSF trustee turns fiery in retorts to accreditors"
2013-08-14 by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle" []:
Don't argue with the umpire.   
That's been the mantra of City College of San Francisco trustees for a year as they have struggled to satisfy the requirements of a stern accrediting commission without back talk or complaint.      
But now that the commission has said it will revoke the college's operating license next year and state officials have stripped the elected trustees of their decision-making powers, one trustee has broken ranks and decided it's time to get in the umpire's face.  
"The failure here is not City College's but the accreditor's," Trustee Rafael Mandelman wrote Monday in an opinion piece in The Chronicle, in which he argued that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is causing "real harm" to City College with its requirement that the school come into full compliance with all accrediting standards or lose its right to operate.   
He argues that City College has made substantial progress on its many deficiencies and therefore should not be threatened with the loss of its accreditation. To the commission, however, a college is either in compliance with accrediting standards or not. There is little in between.    
Other college trustees may share Mandelman's views, even showing up at Save City College rallies. But only Mandelman has joined faculty and student activists in freely criticizing the accrediting commission, to the consternation of college officials who are still trying to cooperate with the commission that holds their fate in its hands.  

Removed from committee -
He has already been removed from the committee searching for a permanent chancellor by Robert Agrella, the state-appointed "special trustee with extraordinary powers" who has run the college since July 8 instead of the trustees. (Agrella also removed student Trustee Shanell Williams, who has spoken out against the accrediting commission, and Trustee Anita Grier, who recently told the state college system's Board of Governors that City College didn't need Agrella's help. Trustee John Rizzo has encouraged cooperation with the accrediting process and will remain on the committee.)   
Mandelman, 39, ran for the Board of Trustees last fall on the promise of making the "real and decisive changes" demanded by the accrediting commission. He was the only newcomer elected to the board, which has seven voting members.    
But his views have changed, he said. "I'm now much more sympathetic to the critics" of the accrediting commission. He not only published the opinion piece Monday accusing the accreditors of damaging the college, but also traveled to Sacramento to deliver the same message to the college system's Board of Governors and to its statewide chancellor, Brice Harris.    
"When the institution you care about is struggling for its life, you go into battle mode," Mandelman said.   
He said a turning point for him came in April when a visiting accreditation team quizzed him extensively about an earlier opinion piece he'd published in March rebutting another piece by a former federal education official defending the accrediting commission's strict approach. 

Independent voice -
The visiting team's "take was that my piece was a troubling violation of the accrediting standard that the trustees speak with one voice," he said. (The standard for college governance says, in part: "Once the board reaches a decision, it acts as a whole.")     Mandelman said he understood the standard was meant to encourage effective governance, which he acknowledged was often lacking among the bickering trustees.    But he said he was amazed that the visiting team suggested his essay violated the standard.    "I don't think accreditation requires elected officials to give up their First Amendment rights," he said. "And if that's what the standards require, there's a problem with the standards."    Mandelman said the incident only inspired him to be more outspoken - especially after the commission's surprising verdict on July 3 that it will revoke City College's accreditation next summer.    But it's the kind of talk that has state community college officials on edge.    
"Mr. Mandelman's approach is a little like the auto accident victim on the emergency room operating table arguing with the doctors and nurses over who regulates the hospital. It does nothing to improve the chances of the patient pulling through," said Paul Feist, a spokesman for Harris, the state chancellor who previously served on the 19-member commission composed mainly of educators.  

The wrong message -
Harris has told activists "to take their fight with the accrediting commission somewhere else," because protesting at City College sends the message that trustees, faculty and staff can't be trusted to carry out the changes needed to bring the college into compliance with accrediting standards.     
"I think it's unfair of them to use City College as the sacrificial lamb in this process," Harris said.    
Almost as soon as the accrediting commission announced its decision, Harris and the Board of Governors took over college operations, hoping to achieve what the trustees and two interim chancellors could not.   
Harris replaced the trustees with Agrella, whose unilateral decisions may accelerate improvements and, they hope, win City College the right to stay open. Agrella is also overseeing efforts to get the accrediting commission to reconsider its decision.    
Mandelman has become skeptical.   
"I don't think anyone - including the state chancellor - knows how to solve this problem," he said.

SF Mayor Ed Lee, of the Democrat Party, Appoints an actual Fascist to SF Community College Board
2012-08-22 report by John Coté from "San Francisco Chronicle" []
Making waves: Mayor Ed Lee on Tuesday appointed Rodrigo Santos, a structural engineer who has served on three different city commissions, to fill an open seat on the embattled City College Board of Trustees.
Santos, who was already the top fundraiser out of a field of 10 candidates vying for four spots on the board of trustees in the November election, now holds the seat left vacant after Milton Marks III died earlier this month from a brain tumor.
The appointment gives Santos the trappings of incumbency for about 2 1/2 months before a pivotal election for the college, which faces the threat of losing its accreditation in June because of poor financial management.
Lee said Santos' business background - he co-founded the engineering firm Santos & Urrutia in 1988 - was part of his draw as a trustee to help turn around California's largest public school, with its 85,000 students.
Santos has been criticized by some on the city's political left as a conservative and polarizing figure.
He was registered as a Republican for years before changing his affiliation in 2008 to the American Independent Party, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections. He switched to the Democratic Party in December.
Santos came under scrutiny in 2005 for a potential conflict of interest when he headed the Building Inspection Commission but was also hired as an engineer to help get approvals for a construction project that the city department overseen by the commission had shut down.
Lee dismissed the idea that Santos was a polarizing figure, saying, "The business background that Rodrigo brings to this is really a huge asset for City College."

Note from Dr.G.: The American Independent Party is Christian-Supremacist, and White-American Nationalist, according to their website []. Fascists hate public programs such as public education and public libraries. They want these public resources to be inefficient or privatized, and expensive for the majority of the Public, so that only the wealthy can access knowledge, and everybody else are relegated to being uneducated wage-slaves. Knowledge is Power. Power in the hands of the wealthy... That's fascism.

2012-08-24 "SF City College board takes first step toward scaling back its mission" by Joe Fitzgerald from "San Francisco Bay Guardian"
The first step was taken in changing City College of San Francisco’s educational mission at last night’s Board of Trustees meeting, a decision that would drastically alter what programs the college funds and who it serves.
The college’s mission statement is an overarching funding guideline, according to Gohar Momjian, the college’s accreditation liaison officer []. She presented the mission statement workgroup’s findings to the college’s board and a packed room of faculty and students last night.
Momjian oversees the 15 workgroups responsible for addressing the major areas the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges told the school it has to rectify. A failure to do so by March 2013 could result in the revocation of the school’s accreditation, which is necessary for the college’s degrees to be recognized and for the school to receive federal funding.
Simply put, City College was tasked by the ACCJC to gets its mission in line with current fiscal realities. The workgroups, tasked with brainstorming ways to reshape the college and meet the criteria of the accreditation team’s findings, will use the new mission statement as a guide for what programs are viable, said Momjian.
So what was cut out of the new mission statement? Completion of adult high school diplomas, GED’s (which help students test out of high school), active engagement in the social fabric of the community, lifelong learning, life skills, and enrichment courses were all dropped from the revised mission statement.
In their place was a statement making these things “conditional” on available resources. “In addition, the college offers other programs and services consistent with our primary mission, only as resources allow and whenever possible in collaboration with partnering agencies and community-based organizations,” reads the new draft statement of the college’s mission.
Essentially, the college promises to enrich the community only if the resources are available to do so. Students and faculty from classes geared towards older adults and also disabled students came out to oppose changes to the mission statement, and a loss of their funding.
“We have students that will wait 40 minutes in the rain in a wheelchair for a bus to get to class,” Disabled Students Programs and Services faculty Katherine Brown said to the board.
Shelly Glazer, faculty in the older adults program, left the board with a warning. “Here are the almost 2,000 letters written to the Student Success Task Force when they tried to cut our dollars,” Glazer said, dropping the huge stack of paper on the top of the podium. “They need your support, and you need theirs.”
Importantly, English as Second Language classes and basic skills classes were preserved in the primary mission guideline. “There are compromises made in the mission statement. There are things we can do under [better] conditions,” said Momjian in her report to the board. “That was our compromise.”
The board made a motion to approve the new draft mission statement, and voted unanimously in favor. The board will look at a second revised mission statement on Sept. 11, and take a final vote to amend the mission statement on Sept. 27. The draft mission statement can be read at the City College website here.
Forty-five problem areas were found in City College’s financial structures by a financial consulting group at the same college board meeting last night. The findings left the college board nearly speechless once the report was complete.
The Financial Crisis Management Team, known as FCMAT, was paid for by the state community college chancellor’s office and assigned to City College to help it review its finances. This was good timing with the recent accreditation troubles, but officially has no connection to the recent accreditation team visit or with any direction from the state chancellor’s office, FCMAT Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree told the college board.
Plumbtree and her associate Mike Hill made the presentation to the board on behalf of the four members of the “financial SWAT team,” as they’ve been dubbed by the board in the past. The report it gave to the board that night was only the tip of the iceberg.
“The report itself is going to be in the realm of 65 pages. There are about 45 specific recommendations,” said analyst Mike Hill. “But we do want to give you a sense of some of our observations first, and some of our recommendations grouped together.”
The hit list was read in a bullet point fashion, and as he rattled off each of the findings, the silence in the room deepened:
* The district has made a cost structure over time that can't be sustained in this economy.
* The district opted for short term solutions.
* Employee contracts have been made without long-term analysis.
* Decision making has been made by power and political whim rather than logic and fairness.
* The conduct of key leaders and the culture within the district have greatly diminished the role and the effectiveness of the management team.
* The district lacks data to assess sites.
* The district supports much more faculty than its closest peers.
* There's a history of maintaining a small fund balance, with 90-92 percent of the budget being committed to salary and benefits, the college needs to make adjustments.
* The department chair structure is not cost effective nor administratively sound.
* We're recommending a reduction in full time faculty through attrition.
* We're recommending the district not subsidize categorical programs, and that current subsidies be reassessed (the state cut funding for some categorical programs, like the second chance program, and City College has been eating that cost to the tune of around $20 million a year, according to AFT 2121 president Alisa Messer).
* Consider either elimination of department chairs or diminish them while empowering deans and giving them the ability to act.”
“There's a lot there, it covers a lot of territory, and you need to see the context and data and analysis in order to have informed questions, or else you'll be spinning our wheels,” Hill said to the stunned board.
Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree concluded by cautioning the board against inaction. “The circumstances the district found itself did not happen overnight, decisions made over many years brought you here,” she said. “You're going to have to move quicker than you want to, but that's what's needed.”
“Some of these things are new to me, but some of these things have come up in work groups. Some of these things are things we've known for years,” board President John Rizzo said after the report concluded. Financial administrators at City College declined to comment before the release of the full report. The 65-page final report will be made public on Sept. 18, and given to the college board a few days before that, Plumbtree said.
The City College Board of Trustees motioned to delay one of their most controversial votes at last night’s board meeting.
The board hopes to bring in a “special trustee,” who would be provided by the state, to help guide them through their recent accreditation woes. A special trustee is not simply a guide. A special trustee has veto power over the college board, giving the trustee unilateral decision making powers, according to college officials that night.
Most of the board welcomed the notion of outside help. The board has asked for $1.5 million dollars in cuts that never got made, Rizzo said, arguing for the need for the special trustee.
“It’s an enormous wealth of expertise that we do not have...We need someone from the outside to tell us where that mistake was made,” Rizzo said.
Trustee Chris Jackson wasn’t sure that the board had full knowledge of what it was asking. “I support a special trustee, but I have questions...How long would a trustee be here? What’s the process of asking them to leave?” Jackson asked, to the applause of the audience.
It was student Trustee William Walker who clarified the students’ position. He had a meeting with students the previous day, and they strongly disagreed with bringing in a special trustee to help run the school.
Given the history of special trustees in college districts, it's not surprising why. A report by the LA Sentinel [] shows the discord brought by one special trustee to the Compton community college district, also facing accreditation woes. To read a report of Compton College’s and how it mirrors City College, check out the Guardian report “Saving City College.” []
Special trustee Dr. Genethis Hudley-Hayes, was removed from her position as special trustee by State Community College Chancellor Jack Scott last September, according to the Sentinel article. The article cites multitudes of complaints against her by the community, who wrote a six page letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and Scott asking for Hayes’ removal.
“Who do you serve and why are you here?” Associated Students President Shanell Williams said to the board during its public comment session. “It’s shameful... If you can’t make decisions without a special trustee, then we need a new board.”
Student Kitty Lui said that the board’s decision to bring in a special trustee would undercut the democratic will of the community.
“If you don’t know how to move forward, I don’t know why you’re still here,” she said.
Despite students’ objections, if the board does not choose a special trustee, the likelihood is that one will be imposed on them, Jackson said. The board ultimately decided to shelve the decision until a special meeting on Sept. 11.
Interestingly, the “financial SWAT team,” FCMAT, thinks that a special trustee is a good idea. “To have an outside expert is always good,” FCMAT Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree told The Guardian. “Sometimes, you’re just too close.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oakland is Rising against Fascism

2012-08-10 "NY Times Underestimates Oakland’s Radicals" by Davey D
A protester speaks at a rally for Oscar Grant. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Thomas Hawk.

Last week The New York Times published a piece called “Oakland, the Last Refuge of Radical America” that pretty much had everyone in Oakland, including some of the folks they interviewed, scratching their heads and mouthing a collective WTF?  Reporter Jonathan Mahler seemed more interested in crafting a fictional piece to rival famed writer Jack London, whom he referenced, rather than telling the truth and putting the subject matter he highlighted in its proper context. His article basically paints Oakland as a seedy, dangerous, impoverished Wild West where anarchy abounds, crime is rampant and where folks (mostly white) are flocking to exercise and keep ‘radical’ politics alive. Keep in mind this is all coming from the same New York Times that earlier this year declared “Oakland as the 5th Best place in the World to Visit,” where they penned glowing reviews citing all the new restaurants, cultural activities, abundant nightlife etc.
I don’t know how much longer Occupy Oakland will survive. But I do know this: its disappearance wouldn’t end radical politics in Oakland. That’s because there’s something The New York Times forgot to mention. Oakland has a large community of astute, determined, political activists who pre-date Occupy. And I’m not just talking about people who were active in the 1960s.  This is a city where folks are simply not content to sit back and wait for a messianic leader to come along and make things happen.
‘Radical politics’ — in Mahler’s world — are those who like to throw rocks at windows, fight the police for the notoriety and recapture the hey days of the Black Panthers and rowdy rebellious spirit of the Hells Angels who have a chapter here. That in no way describes what people are all about here in Oakland. It diminishes the true grind that organizers put in day-in and day-out to improve their community and better this city. Those who take direct action in the face of oppression do so because they have little or no choice. It’s not something to be romanticized, it’s not a game, even if this writer came across a few individuals who thought it was.
So let’s put a couple of things on the table that The New York Times and Mahler omitted, starting with the Movement to win Justice for Oscar Grant. For those who don’t know, Grant was a unarmed 22-year-old man who was shot point-blank by a BART police officer on New Year’s morning 2009, while he lay face down, restrained on the Fruitvale station platform in Oakland. His killer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced in November 2010 to two years in prison. To not mention the intense, well-heeled organizing efforts that took place for more than two years around Grant and how it was a direct precursor to the Occupy Movement in Oakland that enabled it to flourish is akin to someone doing a piece on police brutality incidents in New York City and not mentioning Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo.
Simply put, the Occupy Movement found a home in Oakland, not because it was this mythical  ‘last place on earth for radicalism‘. It flourished because it was preceded by an intense, well-heeled movement for social justice that addressed many of the overarching issues that eventually were raised by the Occupy Movement. Occupy had a nice way of framing things, 99% vs 1%. But economic disparities, the prison industrial system, school spending relative to money spent on prisons and the dominance of corporations and their influence on legislation and politicians were all issues that were unavoidable and vigorously tackled as folks struggled to get justice for Grant.
To be completely honest many of those aforementioned issues were being addressed by various organizations even before Grant. If we did a complete history of the Oakland and Bay Area social movements you could write a book as some already like SF State Professor Andreanna Clay, The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth, Activism and Post-Civil Rights Politics where an in-depth run down of political battles in Oakland post civil rights is accurately chronicled. If you look at the history, one would have to name check everything from the Free Speech Movements, Anti-War Movements and the Black Panthers to the Anti-Apartheid Divestment Movement which was recognized by Nelson Mandela, to the Chicano Moratorium, to the fights around Prop 187 (anti-immigration), Prop 209 (anti-affirmative action) and later Prop 21 (juvenile crime Bill), which were all assaulting pieces of legislation that politicized the last few generations.
To read this New York Times piece and see how the writer leap frogs from the heyday of the Black Panthers and activism in the late 60s and 70s to Occupy, overlooking the few movements I mentioned above and the many more I haven’t is to erase history and paint a false narrative. He makes it sound like there was nothing cracking off in Oakland before the Occupy. He makes it sound like all the organizations putting in work just folded up and went home.
In the past 10 years, most of it under former Mayor Jerry Brown, we’ve seen the city of Oakland be forced to spend a whooping 58 million dollars in police brutality settlement claims. All this money has been spent while the city claims to be broke resulting in all sorts of school closures. We’ve seen record numbers of foreclosures in Black and Brown communities resulting in the city losing almost 25% of its African-American population. We’ve also seen a substantial number of ICE raids targeting brown and Southeast Asian communities even as Oakland has declared itself a sanctuary city. The Oscar Grant murder was the straw that broke the camel’s back and brought everyone together.
This is extremely important to note, because for 2 years leading up to the Occupy Movement, folks from various ethnic backgrounds, and political persuasions and stripes found ways to work together and at the very least co-exist, as everyone pushed hard to get justice for Oscar Grant. It was unprecedented. You had everyone involved from suit and tie church-goers to blue-collar labor folks to longtime grassroots youth activists to traditional civil rights leaders to white t-shirt wearing cats off the block to longtime police reform advocates to students both in college and high school. You had revolutionary and anarchist types working alongside folks from the Nation of Islam working alongside immigration reform folks working alongside teachers and professors.
It wasn’t always easy to organize and there were more than a few days in which folks butted heads when deciding on tactics. Some wanted direct action while others wanted to give things a chance to work its way through the system. Many of the debates that came up under the Grant Movement and even movements prior to Grant are the same debates we saw eventually emerge about Occupy: diversity of tactics, reforming the system versus overturning the system, people of color and white privilege, the role of women etc. Such topics are decades old and have long been debated in movements above and beyond Occupy. They will continue to be debated and that’s not a bad. At the end of the day, it makes your movement stronger.
In Oakland because of the Oscar Grant Movement, everyone came away knowing each other. Even if you didn’t agree with folk’s politics you were very aware who was whom and what they stood for and what was their political ‘get down’. The Occupy Movement was the beneficiary of those hard-fought battles and lessons learned, giving them a running start build upon and take the fight for social justice to other levels, including getting tens of thousands of folks out for November’s General Strike, shutting down ports along the West Coast and feeding folks up to a thousand meals a day…
It was a big miss and journalistic dishonesty by The New York Times not to mention any of these radicals. With or without Occupy, the issues will continue to be aggressively addressed.
Is Oakland the last refuge for Radicalism where outsiders are invading the city? No, Oakland is a city where people are not shy about fighting for a demanding justice. The real outside agitators are the police where 75% of its members don’t live in Oakland, yet their insidious activities of brutality have cost the city tens of millions of dollars.
We been lucky to have a strong media justice movement with a lot of independent media to tell our story regardless of what outlets like The New York Times says or doesn’t say. There are scores of other places around the country where folks fight hard for similar things — from Detroit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Jackson, Mississippi to Tuscon, Arizona to name a few. This article didn’t illustrate Oakland, instead it highlighted just how out of touch and desperate traditional news outlets are to drum up traffic and keep themselves relevant using half-truths and controversial statements as fodder.

Protest of the Oscar Grant verdict. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Jonathan McIntosh

2012-08-01 "How Oakland became the spiritual capital of Occupy Wall Street" by Jonathan Mahler from "New York Times Magazine"
Jonathan Mahler is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and the author of “The Challenge” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning.”
The Anti-Capitalist Brigade started gathering early on May Day at Oakland’s Snow Park. There was free coffee, oatmeal, doughnuts, fliers with the day’s agenda and plenty of pot. A “street medic”—“I just finished a wilderness first-aid course,” he told me when I asked about his training — tended to his first case of the day, a man in his 20s whose leg had been beaten to a purple hue with a metal rod in an overnight fight in the park. Nearby, an organizer reminded protesters to take down the toll-free number for the National Lawyers Guild: “This is important. Do not put it in your cellphones, because if you get arrested, the cops will take those away. Write it on your bodies. In indelible ink. There are Sharpies on the table.”
No central action was planned. A coalition of labor unions had asked Occupy Oakland, with its proven ability to turn out large numbers of militant activists, to blockade the Golden Gate Bridge, but then withdrew the request at the last minute. Instead, thousands of Occupy protesters met at various “strike stations” and fanned out into the streets with shields and gas masks (or the homemade alternative: bandannas soaked in vinegar), transforming downtown Oakland into a roving carnival of keyed-up militants of every shape and size: graduate students, tenured professors, professional revolutionaries, members of the Black Bloc, dressed like ninjas, their faces obscured.
Joints were passed, but this was not a mellow crowd. A barefoot man known as Running Wolf grabbed an American flag from outside a popular cop bar and dragged it behind him. Packs of protesters charged into businesses, overturning tables, shattering windows and smashing A.T.M.’s. An activist spray-painted vulgarities on the window of a Bank of America branch.
The Menace was loose again, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote about a different group of rabble-rousers, the Hell’s Angels. This riot had a soundtrack, too, a cacophony of chants—“Strike! Take Over!” and “Take Back Oakland! Kick Out the Yuppies!”—overlaid with beating snare drums and the rhythmic thump-thumping of the police and news helicopters hovering overhead.
Many businesses were closed, less in solidarity with May Day than out of fear of reprisal from protesters. The rumored targets weren’t just the big corporations, but smaller shops that were the quarry of the so-called antigentrification brigade. In an Occupy Oakland twist on the “Soul Brother” signs that shopkeepers used during the race riots of the 1960s, Awaken, an upscale cafe and art gallery, had plastered its windows with signs reading:
“We are Oakland. We are the 99%.” As the swarm made its way down Broadway, shouting, pounding on windows and throwing bottles at stores, two Asian immigrants hastily boarded up their small, sad-looking beauty-supply store. When I tried to talk to one of them, he shooed me away —“Too busy”— and reached for another board.
A few blocks away, I spotted Phil Tagami, a real estate developer who has taken to standing guard in the lobby of his downtown office building with a shotgun during protests. Dressed in black fatigue pants and combat boots, he was scuffling with a group of activists who were trying to force their way into another upscale cafe called Rudy’s Can’t Fail.
Clusters of cops in riot gear stood impassively outside a few strategic locations. Others jogged around the city in formation. At one point, a few officers knocked a protester in a black hoodie off her bicycle, pushed her facedown on the ground and roughly zip-tied her hands. An angry crowd quickly converged, chanting, ‘‘Pigs go home!’’ Then there was a pop — the firing of a tear-gas canister — and a cloud of chemical smoke quickly swept across the block, temporarily dispersing the protesters.
As the activists collected at the intersection outside City Hall, Scott Olsen, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran who was shot at close range in the head last fall with a beanbag round by the Oakland Police, rolled a cigarette and calmly observed the chaos through glazed blue eyes, his long, stringy blond hair protruding from beneath a protective helmet. He looked less like an ex-Marine than a stoned, skinny teenager who had gotten lost on his way to the skate park. I asked him what brought him out. ‘‘I can’t stay home on a day like this,’’ he said.

LAST SPRING, as the Occupy movement struggled, vainly, to recapture its lost energy in New York and elsewhere, in Oakland it remained vital. Occupy Oakland was the show that wouldn’t close, complete with its own cast of celebrities, including Olsen, the movement’s Ron Kovic; Tagami, the city’s Charles Bronson; its mayor, an ex-radical herself; her countless critics; and Oakland’s infamous police department — O.P.D.
In a sense, Oakland is the last place you would expect to find the most stubbornly active outpost of the Occupy movement. It’s a city almost entirely devoid of financial or corporate institutions, a city that “capital” fled decades ago. The shimmering skyscrapers of downtown San Francisco, packed with Pacific Heights investment bankers and venture capitalists, are all of 12 minutes away. Silicon Valley, bursting at the seams with dot-com millionaires, isn’t much farther. Why not take the fight there, to a more plausible surrogate for Wall Street?
Maybe because Occupy Oakland, whether its leaders have articulated it or not, isn’t a protest against what Oakland is, but rather what it’s in danger of becoming. Oakland may be broke, but all of the wealth being generated in its immediate vicinity needs someplace to go, and some of that wealth is already beginning to find its way to Oakland, to a place that has long been the catch basin of America’s radical energies and personalities.
Why are radicals so inexorably drawn to Oakland? The cheap rents don’t hurt (free, if you’re willing to squat in an abandoned house or industrial space, and hundreds apparently are). Oakland is urban, dangerous and poor—fertile social conditions for inciting revolution. What’s more, it has a long, easily romanticized history of militancy. America’s last citywide strike, in 1946, took place there; the Black Panthers were born in Oakland; and David Hilliard, a former Black Panthers chief of staff, still gives three-hour tours of the movement’s local landmarks and sells his own line of Black Panthers hot sauce: “Burn Baby Burn.”
Running parallel to this history of political militancy is a history of lawlessness. In the early 1970s, when the Hell’s Angels were scandalizing America, their most infamous clubhouse was located in East Oakland. The Oakland native Felix Mitchell was one of the first to scale up corner drug dealing into a multimillion-dollar, gang-controlled business. On his death—he was stabbed in Leavenworth in 1986 —the city gave him a hero’s send-off: thousands came out to see his coffin borne through his old East Oakland neighborhood by a horse-drawn carriage trailed by more than a dozen Rolls Royces and limousines.
In Oakland, the revolutionary pilot light is always on. At the dawn of the 20th century, the Oakland writer and social activist Jack London said this to a group of wealthy New Yorkers: “A million years ago, the cave man, without tools, with small brain, and with nothing but the strength of his body, managed to feed his wife and children, so that through him the race survived. You on the other hand, armed with all the modern means of production, multiplying the productive capacity of the cave man a million times—you are incompetents and muddlers, you are unable to secure to millions even the paltry amount of bread that would sustain their physical life. You have mismanaged the world, and it shall be taken from you.”
It’s a dream that still exists in Oakland — that the world can be taken from the haves and delivered to the have-nots. Like all dreams that are on the brink of being extinguished, its keepers cling to it with a fierceness that is both moving and an extreme exercise in the denial of the reality that is at their door.
“I’m not afraid to call myself a Communist,” the rapper and activist Boots Riley told me one morning last spring in the kitchen of his weather-beaten yellow Victorian house in Oakland’s Lower Bottoms section. “I think some people call themselves everything but, because they don’t want to associate themselves with the failures and mistakes that other folks who have called themselves Communists have made. But Christians don’t stop calling themselves Christians just because some other Christians made some mistakes.”
 Riley was getting dressed as we talked, combing out his black-power Afro with a cake cutter, a once-popular African-American grooming accessory that he now has to order from online cooking sites. He covered his face unevenly with shaving cream and carefully sculptured his prominent sideburns — tapered muttonchops that stretch to the corners of his mouth like a pair of giant peninsulas. Virtually anywhere else, Riley would look and sound about as out of place as someone speaking Old English in colonial dress. But in Oakland, a kind of Amish village of retro-radicals, he makes perfect sense.
 When Riley first visited Occupy Wall Street’s encampment in New York, it didn’t do much for him. “It bothered me that there was no agenda,” he said. “Just a lot of folks saying, ‘I don’t have an answer.’ ” But Occupy Oakland felt different. “Our strategy is not just to get people to say, ‘We don’t like the banks,’ ” he said. “This is about getting folks to confront the system where they are.”
 In Oakland, Riley is radical royalty, which in hard-left circles helps offset the somewhat credibility-undermining fact that he’s also a legitimate hip-hop star, albeit one with a mostly cult following. His father was an N.A.A.C.P. pioneer, militant organizer and civil rights lawyer who met Riley’s mother at a 1968 student strike at San Francisco State University. Hanging in Riley’s kitchen is a picture of him as an infant, clutching a copy of Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth,” an anti-colonialist manifesto that was required reading for radical ’60s activists.
 Many local radicals come to Oakland via a nearby U.C. campus: Berkeley, Davis or Santa Cruz. Riley is Oakland-bred. The first action he ever led, at age 15, was a strike to protest budget cuts at his predominantly black public high school. The rapping came later, after the rise of politically conscious, militant hip-hop. There’s a long history of popular musicians taking up revolutionary causes. Riley inverted the equation: He was a revolutionary who turned to music to get his message out to more people. His band is called the Coup — as in coup d’état.
 Riley’s politics are extreme. He doesn’t want to see capitalism reformed; he wants to see it toppled. “We need a system that’s not based on profit, but that’s based on helping people, that’s based on some sort of mutual control of resources,” he says.
 Recently, Riley has been trying to channel the radical energies that Occupy Oakland unleashed. He’s less interested in smashing windows — “that’s a tactic that . . . immediately draws a line between you and the people” — than in gathering new circles of supporters. This can be a challenge given the movement’s local record of vandalism and destruction.
 Later that spring afternoon, I joined Riley as he canvassed a strip mall to let people know about an upcoming protest at a home-foreclosure auction.
 “There’s this woman Nell who’s getting her home auctioned off from underneath her, and we need to go and stop that from happening,” he told an African-American man inside a Starbucks. “What do you think? Do you want to come through and help us save this woman’s home?”
 “I don’t know,” the man replied. “You guys have been doing a lot of parading around, tearing stuff up and just getting people upset. It’s against the law to shut down the auction.”
 “So was integrating coffee shops,” Riley said. “Should we not have done that? This would be a whites-only Starbucks if that hadn’t happened.”
It’s strange to think of Oakland, with its 19 miles of coastal waterfront, as a rust-belt town, but that’s exactly what it is. In the late 19th century, Oakland Point was the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad, which, coupled with the city’s access to the sea, made it an ideal destination for factories, canneries and warehouses.
 During World War II, Oakland’s factories and shipyards churned out warships at a furious pace, providing jobs to tens of thousands of black migrant workers from the South. From 1940 to 1945, Oakland’s African-American population more than quadrupled. The influx of blacks ultimately drove many white residents either to the suburbs or north into the hills. Over the course of the ’60s and ’70s, the jobs disappeared, and the city spiraled downward.
 Oakland is now a sprawling and diverse but segregated city of about 400,000, a real-life Monopoly board that operates on a de facto economic principle of urban design: it gets poorer and more dangerous as you descend from the eucalyptus-scented hills into the urban flatlands. Its downtown is still lined with architectural masterpieces, decaying reminders of the city’s haute bourgeois past amid unmistakable signs of a diminished present — like grand prewar hotels that have been converted into Section 8 housing.
 Oakland’s civic core, such as it is, is shrinking. The city has three professional sports teams. One team, the A’s, are trying desperately to relocate to San Jose. Another, the Raiders, may wind up in Los Angeles soon — again. (The city continues to pay about $20 million a year for the deal that brought them back to Oakland.) The third, the Golden State Warriors, who conspicuously refuse to include “Oakland” in their name, are preparing to move to San Francisco.
 Oakland is $2 billion in debt and counting. To balance its precarious budget, the city has been reduced to crude accounting tricks like selling the Kaiser Convention Center — shuttered in 2006, when the city could no longer afford to maintain it — to its own redevelopment agency for $28 million.
 A couple of years ago, in an effort to shore up the city’s eroding tax base, members of Oakland’s City Council voted to allow the industrial-scale cultivation of medical marijuana and grant permits for four indoor pot plantations of unlimited size before Washington intervened. The city still receives millions in tax dollars from its medical-marijuana dispensaries, but that income stream may be in jeopardy. In April, federal agents descended on downtown Oakland and raided a dispensary and Oaksterdam University — the so-called Princeton of Pot, which offers classes in cannabis cultivation. (This being Oakland, as the agents filled a U-Haul with confiscated computers and enough pot plants to get much of the city stoned, a crowd gathered outside chanting: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”)
 When Oakland officials leave the city government, they tend to not go quietly. Last year, Oakland’s departing attorney, John Russo, said he was resigning because he had “moral objections” to the way the city was being run. “The government is led by people who have spent their whole lives fighting authority,” Russo told me. “Now they are the authority, and they don’t know how to deal with that. It’s a uniquely immature and narcissistic leadership group, and that’s why they’re always fighting with each other.”
 For a few weeks last fall, Mayor Jean Quan could look out her third-floor office window and into Occupy Oakland’s teeming encampment, where, among other goings on, Running Wolf was living in a tree house in an old oak, lowering his waste down in a bucket.
 The encampment was equal parts revolutionary base camp and modern-day Hooverville. Its kitchen was a popular destination for the hungry, homeless and mentally ill, many of whom were already sleeping in the plaza when the tents appeared. Others weren’t far behind. One homeless man, who has since become a prominent figure in the movement, first visited the camp with the intention of stealing pot from the hippies who were living there. It turned out that the pot, like everything else, was free. “We spent a lot of time counting people to see if we could move some of the mentally ill people out, but a lot of them didn’t want to move,” Quan told me recently. “These kids were giving them free food, free wine and free dope. I’d stay here, too, if I were them.”
 Quan’s first instinct when the tents rose on Oct. 10 was to let the protesters stay. There were just a few issues that needed addressing: the illegal open fires, the unauthorized and possibly dangerous use of City Hall’s power outlets, the 911 calls reporting incidents of violence and sexual harassment inside the camp.
 Arturo Sanchez, an earnest young deputy city administrator, was dispatched to serve as Oakland’s liaison to the movement. His brief was to both express the city’s concerns about the camp and to listen to the protesters’ complaints. He quickly learned that the protesters wanted nothing to do with him or anyone else representing the city. “It’s a shame,” he says. “If they had come to us with an agenda, we’re probably one of the few cities that would have written resolutions and lobbied our state legislators and sent a message along with our mayor when she went to the White House.”
 Oakland’s government mistakenly treated an insurrectionist movement as a progressive one. Occupy Oakland’s organizers weren’t disenfranchised liberals but committed anarchists operating from a revolutionary playbook that prohibited all negotiations with government officials. In fact, government officials were at the top of their target list. As one Occupy Oakland blogger put it, the goal was to launch “unmediated assaults on our enemies: local government, the downtown business elite and transnational capital.”
 Once Quan decided later in October to dismantle the camp, everything that could possibly go wrong did. The police moved in on the morning of Oct. 25, a day before she was expecting them to, and while she was on her way back to Oakland from Washington. During the raid, they injured an Iraq war veteran, of all people.
 Quan is not on the best of terms with her own Police Department. She was herself named in a police report shortly before she took office in January 2011 for her conduct at a police-brutality protest, and the police union spent thousands of dollars backing one of her opponents. “The theory among some of my left friends and among some members of my family was that I was set up,” she said. “You know, I was out of town, they closed down the camp a day early and then overreacted. Certain people in the police had tried to set me up before. I mean, my car got booted right after the election.”
 “Why?” I asked.
 “To send the message that they can do what they want,” Quan said. “That I better watch out.”
 Quan’s efforts at damage control only compounded the mess. After the first eviction, she permitted the protesters to return to the plaza in front of City Hall and set up a second encampment. Days later, thousands of people — estimates range from 7,000 to 100,000 — participated in a strike that shut down most of the city’s businesses and the port of Oakland, a vital source of jobs and revenues, prompting Quan to label them “economic terrorists.”
 The police union, for its part, publicly criticized the mayor for sending “mixed messages” about Occupy. On Nov. 14, she kicked the protesters out of the plaza for a second time.
 By that point, Quan’s popularity was in free fall. In December, her approval rating dropped to 19 percent, and she became the target of two recall efforts (both of which have been abandoned).
 When I met with her in March, Quan told me that she didn’t want to waste too much time talking about Occupy. “It was just a blip,” she said. “It came and went.”
 Several weeks later, on May Day, the protesters were again rampaging through Oakland.
 By the time Riley and I arrived at the home-foreclosure auction at the Alameda County Courthouse, dozens of protesters were already trying to push their way into the building via a side entrance. The crowd parted for Riley, and he wove his way toward the metal detector in the entryway. A muscular African-American police officer blocked his path. Riley grew annoyed.
 “I respect your frustration,” the officer said. “I also respect your artistry. I’m a big fan of your music.”
 The officer started quoting from one of Riley’s early songs, “Fat Cats and Bigga Fish,” the story of a small-time hustler who sneaks into a black-tie party planning to steal anything he can. It’s a comic narrative that builds to an ironic, political twist: the hustler winds up getting a lesson in real hustling when he overhears his city’s mayor talking to a corrupt real estate developer. (“Ain’t no one player that could beat this lunacy/Ain’t no hustler on the street could do a whole community.”)
 “ ‘All right then, let’s begin this,’ ” the police officer rapped, picking up midway through the song. “ ‘Nights like this is good for business.’ ”
 “You didn’t listen to any of the lyrics,” Riley interrupted.
 “Yes I did,” the officer replied.
 “The lyrics are talking about the people being able to express their power and control their environment,” Riley said. “And you’re stopping that.”
 “That has nothing to do with what I’m doing right now.”
 Word quickly spread that the auction could be taking place around the corner on the steps of the courthouse. “That’s perfect proof of why this movement has to exist as opposed to just art,” Riley told me as we followed the crowd around to the front of the building. “Because you can listen to my music and just still be manipulated by other things and end up becoming a cop.”
 Hundreds of protesters soon gathered on the courthouse steps, chanting: “Hey, hey! Go home! Our house will not be sold today!” No one was quite sure what was going on. Was that the auctioneer they had seen walking to his car? Had the auction been postponed?
 A few protesters spotted a man in khaki shorts, a red Titleist baseball cap and sunglasses, clutching a clipboard with a list of addresses — a prospective investor, they surmised, who had come to the courthouse to snatch up a foreclosed home or two. A large circle of activists rapidly closed in on him, moving within inches of his face, chanting: “Scumbag! Scumbag! Scumbag!”
Oakland’s chief of police, Howard Jordan, a 23-year member of the force, had the misfortune of taking over the department three days after the first Occupy Oakland encampment went up. “Our chief goal has always been to facilitate people’s right to assemble and give them a right to exercise their First Amendment rights,” he told me shortly after May Day in his office at Police Headquarters, which overlooks a medical-marijuana dispensary, Oakland Organics.
 That’s not exactly how it has looked in viral videos of flash grenades and police-baton beatings at Occupy Oakland protests. In February, the federal monitor charged with overseeing the Police Department said he was “thoroughly dismayed” by some of its behavior. In particular, he criticized the department’s “overwhelming military-style” response to the Occupy protesters. The clashes that took place the night Scott Olsen was injured triggered a record number of internal-affairs complaints. The department has since missed its court-imposed deadline for investigating these complaints; to expedite the process, it outsourced the cases to law firms and investigators, an added expense of $750,000.
 Jordan was not going to be unprepared for May Day, calling in hundreds of mutual-aid officers from neighboring towns, including SWAT teams. The day proved to be a relative success for the Police Department. Considerable damage was done to the city, and one police car was set on fire, but tear gas and other so-called nonlethal munitions were used only sparingly. There were no serious injuries, and only 39 protesters were arrested, compared with 400 at the last major Occupy action.
 But Occupy is just the beginning of Jordan’s problems. On the most basic level, his department can’t protect its citizens. Budget cuts continue to reduce the size of the force — to 640 today from 800 officers in 2010 — even as incidents of violent crime continue to rise: Oakland’s murder rate is up 5 percent over last year, when 110 were killed, and robberies are up 24 percent.
 Oakland’s police force already consumes more than 40 percent of the city’s general-purpose fund. Clearly, this is not enough. After a round of layoffs in 2010, the department announced that it would no longer respond to burglaries and break-ins that were not in progress. (They have since amended the policy so officers will now respond to home burglaries “when possible.”) Officers have not discouraged store owners in especially dangerous neighborhoods from arming themselves.
 The department’s every move is scrutinized by federally appointed independent monitors, a result of a settlement agreement reached with the city in 2003, when four Oakland police officers were accused of planting evidence, falsifying reports and using excessive force. It gets worse. The department’s efforts to comply with the settlement agreement and implement reforms have cost it millions in extra payments to independent consultants. And that’s in addition to the $57 million the department has paid over the last decade to settle various police-misconduct lawsuits.
 According to the city’s former police chief, Anthony Batts, the federal scrutiny has, perversely, hurt the department’s ability to fight violent crime in Oakland, forcing the department to assign more detectives to internal affairs than to homicides. “You wind up with tons of police officers inside a building counting data so you can check off boxes,” Batts told me. “Meanwhile, people are dying in the streets.”
 Batts resigned abruptly in October after just two years on the job, taking the customary potshots at the city on his way out the door. (He told a reporter that Oakland treats its Police Department like “a necessary evil.”)
 His successor, Jordan, now finds himself dealing with a demoralized force, only 15 percent of whose officers actually live in Oakland, according to Quan. Jordan is also dealing with a community that doesn’t trust the men and women sworn to protect them. Like everything else in Oakland, the negative perception of the department is entangled with the city’s history: in the aftermath of World War II, Oakland’s municipal leaders recruited white Southerners to police their increasingly black city.
 Jordan’s department is running out of time to comply with the reforms mandated by the settlement agreement. In a matter of months, the O.P.D. could be placed in federal receivership. I asked Jordan how the federal government would go about running a municipal police department. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a police department that has gone into receivership. It’s not something that I want to be the first to do.” He paused for a moment to give the matter a little further thought. “I imagine that I would become an assistant chief.”
“Why is this happening to Oakland?” Ignacio De La Fuente, a city councilman, asked me, gesturing toward his office window in the midst of the May Day chaos. “It’s our fault. The mayor failed to recognize that this was a problem that if we let grow would have a detrimental impact on the city. The mayor failed miserably dealing with Occupy, and she’s failing miserably now.”
 We were sitting on the second floor of Oakland’s deserted City Hall, a gorgeous, cream-colored, Beaux-Arts wedding cake of a building — America’s first government skyscraper — that rose from the rubble of the Great Earthquake of 1906. Downstairs, police officers in riot gear stood guard in front of the building’s entrance. Their presence was by no means a symbolic gesture: when Occupy protesters turned out en masse for an action in late January, City Hall was ransacked. Windows and glass display cases were smashed, flags stolen and burned, an architectural model of City Hall itself toppled.
 De La Fuente, a small, tough-looking man with a raspy, Spanish-inflected voice, sneaked across the Mexican border in 1970, unable to speak a word of English. He started out as a dishwasher, then became a machinist and labor leader. He was elected in 1992 to Oakland’s City Council as part of a wave of left-wing political reformers fighting for impoverished neighborhoods devastated by unemployment, crack cocaine and municipal neglect in the ’80s.
 As he ranted, De La Fuente sounded more like a law-and-order Republican than a former illegal immigrant and militant union organizer. “This incredible amount of money we have spent baby-sitting these people,” he said, referring to the protesters. “It should be absolutely unacceptable.”
 Oakland can have a peculiar effect on progressive politicians. In 1999, the corporate-America-bashing former-and-future California governor Jerry Brown swept into the mayor’s office and promptly set about undertaking an ambitious, aggressively pro-business agenda for the city. Brown, who had a Labrador named Dharma, was soon cozying up to real estate developers, lobbying the state to loosen its environmental review process on urban construction and conjuring visions of a new Oakland, with a downtown ballpark for the A’s and a luxury resort hotel and casino. The centerpiece of his redevelopment plan, the 10K Project, was to lure 10,000 well-off residents to gleaming downtown condominium towers, establishing a new tax base and driving the growth of retail stores and restaurants.
 De La Fuente was now straining to be heard over the protest raging outside. An aide closed the window, but the noise continued to seep in. The councilman went on, almost shouting: “The national and international bad reputation, the perception and the reality unfortunately that Oakland is a place where they can do things that they cannot do anywhere else, that it’s a magnet for troublemakers — we’re seeing that here again today.”
 As if on cue, a loud bang rang out — the detonation of a flash grenade from the Oakland Police.
Manifesto Bicycles is a boutique bike shop in downtown Oakland that specializes in single-speed and fixed-gear bikes, or “fixies,” and also sells a small selection of Oakland-made apparel, like a T-shirt featuring a bicycle tire, a razor blade, a syringe and the words “Welcome to Oakland.” Its owners are the husband-and-wife team of Sam Cunningham, a 44-year-old former professional skateboarder and herpetologist, and MacKay Gibbs, who describes herself as a “music fanatic with a passion for vintage everything and a nose for business.”
 Their small capitalist enterprise — named to evoke the famous anti-capitalist tract — represents another side of Oakland, albeit one that’s still in its infancy. Think of it as a less twee, more D.I.Y. version of artisanal Brooklyn. Oakland even has its own take on the Brooklyn Flea, known as the Art Murmur, a sprawling hipster street fair, cultural bazaar and gallery-and-pub-crawl. At the Flea, you can buy refurbished manual typewriters; at the Murmur, you can buy Sharpie-on-foam-cup drawings by a local artist.
 The collision between Oakland’s growing cadre of small-business owners and the local Occupy movement has produced some memorable moments of low comedy. In November, 30-year-old Alanna Rayford, who owns a showroom for local fashion designers in a Gothic Revival building downtown, closed up shop to join the march to the port. She returned the following morning to find the windows of her store smashed and some artwork missing. One of the paintings, a gorilla smoking a blunt, had been placed on prominent display at the entrance to the Occupy encampment.
 Investment money tends not to flow into cities with soaring violent-crime rates and large numbers of militant nihilists for whom revolution is less a branding opportunity than an active, ongoing goal. And Governor Brown just eliminated the state’s economic redevelopment agencies, which will make it much harder for small businesses to open in Oakland.
 Like pioneers in an unsettled urban frontier, Oakland’s small-business owners have had to band together. They are talking about creating an emergency fund for those who can’t cover their payments in a given month and are experimenting with the reseeding of neighborhoods. Recently, a “pop-up hood” appeared in Old Oakland, the city’s original downtown. Six small businesses temporarily operated rent-free in order to test the viability of adding retail stores to a quaint enclave that has been experiencing a boomlet in bars, restaurants and residential conversions and construction.
 For all its fragility, a transformation is clearly under way in Oakland. The tent poles of the new American city have already arrived — the urban bike shops, the restaurants with locally sourced fare, the cafes with fair-trade coffee, a Whole Foods. There is a distinctly Oakland character to many of these businesses — Awaken, whose menu includes a Santa Cruz-brewed ginger ale at $3.50 a bottle, says its mission is to “bring people together and launch movements” — but it’s an unmistakable part of the same trend that has been taking hold across urban America for years.
 It is, in a word, gentrification, and what’s most striking about its arrival in Oakland is that it’s just now getting there — that the city has existed for so long as a kind of living museum of 1970s radicalism, its culture of militancy, poverty, crime rates and dysfunctional government all conspiring to delay what now seems inevitable. “For years, Oakland has been the black hole in the middle of the great galaxy of Northern California as it shimmered its way into the electronic age,” says Richard Walker, an urban-geography professor who recently retired from the University of California, Berkeley.
 In this context, May Day — and Occupy Oakland, more broadly — looks less like an expression of the city’s indomitable radical spirit than the last gasp of a protest movement overmatched by the encroaching forces of capitalism. Oakland is simply too geographically well positioned and financially underexploited not to absorb the creative, professional and entrepreneurial overflow from more expensive places like San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Berkeley. And as it continues to develop its own gritty-chic cachet, there’s a good chance Oakland might become more than just a default option for some of the Bay Area’s nouveau riche.
 What will this transformation mean for Oakland? It should produce a bigger tax base that can help improve city services and maybe even create a more effective police force. But gentrification is not a recipe for job creation. In the end, Oakland’s income inequality can only grow, making it not so different from so many other American cities. “You will still have poverty, decay and decline in the midst of immense plenty,” Walker says.
 The utopian vision for a post-capitalist Oakland clung to by Boots Riley and the rest of the city’s revolutionaries will soon be dead. But radical Oakland will live on, awaiting its next opportunity to rise up, even as the city itself evolves. For every young tech worker moving into a downtown condominium tower or entrepreneur gobbling up cheap, deserted retail space, there’s sure to be a militant graduate student drawn to a city that has just added another chapter to its long radical history.
Ever since its encampments were dismantled, Occupy Oakland has been talking about reoccupying a public space and establishing a new beachhead for the revolution. Earlier this year, the protesters tried, unsuccessfully, to take over the abandoned Kaiser Convention Center.
 On May Day, rumors were rampant that after the protests wound down, they would take back the City Hall plaza. As dusk fell, thousands of activists converged on City Hall, dancing, drumming, distributing leaflets for their various revolutionary movements.
 But when the sky darkened, the number of officers on Broadway multiplied. The familiar warning followed: “I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly and . . . command all those assembled to immediately leave. If you do not do so, you may be arrested or subject to other police action . . . which may result in serious injury. . . . If you refuse to move, chemical agents will be used.”
 The threat worked. Soon, just a few hundred determined protesters remained, rattling their metal shields, hurling obscenities and glass bottles at the police. The Menace’s last stand. Only this group was small enough to manage. The police charged the crowd, pushing it north up Telegraph Avenue. People raced past Awaken, with its “We Are Oakland. We Are the 99%” signs. The cafe’s tattoo-covered owner hastily unlocked the door to let a few fleeing protesters in as the riot cops chased the retreating herd from downtown.

A chalk drawing from Occupy Oakland (Peter Bohler /The New York Times)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Black August: Communitarians rebuilding the Culture!

Black August is an important zeitgeist towards liberation of the Community through culture and political power within our cities. What Black August is about ain't radical, it's simply common sense! After all, when Tyranny is Fascism, Liberation for Oppressed Communities is a Rational Goal. Ghetto life, REAL Ghetto life, warps the spirit of all people who live within it's confines.
As we know: Communities under Martial Law (Oakland, Atlanta, Vallejo); Most Prisoners on the Planet (6 million in all); 'Economic Sacrifice Zones' ("ghettos"); No recognition of Human Rights; Millions of Dead Civilians from Eternal War, starvation at home; Torture of dissidents in Prison...

2012-08-04 "Gettin’ it right: a message for Black August 2012" by Amy Buckley for the "San Francisco Bayview" newspaper
Comrade Amy Buckley is deputy minister of justice for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC). This story was approved by Minister of Justice Bobby Dixon. “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander can be purchased from the oldest Black book store in the country, Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, (415) 346-4222.
Angela Davis takes time to talk with apprentices and programmers after recording an interview with Minister of Information JR at KPFA in 2009. – Photo: Adalia

As women of the struggle, it is time we start gettin’ it right. For too long we have stood against one another, unwilling to put aside our petty issues and stand united. We have allowed ourselves to be disrespected and to become enslaved with the life of crime and imprisonment. Our children should have been our priority, but instead we chose to make the streets, drugs, men and other things our priority. We should strive to follow in the footsteps of great revolutionaries such as Angela Davis, following the example she has given us.
When will we, as women, get it right? We must stop fighting with one another, set aside the things that separate us and work together for equality, justice, peace and freedom. The realization that unity is a key factor in overcoming our struggles should draw us together! Those of us who are older and more experienced need to teach those who are younger and more susceptible to outside influences. We must stand strong, refusing to accept defeat and persevere despite adversity.
Disrespect is a major problem among women, men and youth alike. Many people are caught up in using terms such as nigga, cuz, bitch and ho. This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated! As long as we are drugged out, in prison or dead, we will never get the respect we deserve. It is time for us to command respect from all people, and in return give respect as well. Respect is paramount if we are going to stand united.
We must stop fighting with one another, set aside the things that separate us and work together for equality, justice, peace and freedom. The realization that unity is a key factor in overcoming our struggles should draw us together!
Enslavement to a life of crime and imprisonment has become an enormous problem for women over the years. This problem continues to grow at an alarming rate today. When is enough enough? We need to open our eyes and see that the unjust “justice” system does not care if we are male or female, young or old; they will throw us in prison just the same.
Inside the belly of the beast, I see on a daily basis women who are so institutionalized that they can no longer function in society. They have literally been broken by the system that was supposed to rehabilitate them. It is essential that we lay down the life of crime and turn our focus to our careers as mothers, wives, sisters and comrades. Once we get our priorities in order, we will be able to take our rightful positions in the world and become the leaders we are meant to be!
Let us not forget our children – our future. I cannot stress this point enough. So many children today are left alone in this world because their parents have chosen the fast life and have ended up dead or in prison. Our children look up to and depend on us. Setting good examples for them to follow is of utmost importance. Who will teach them the importance of honesty, respect and education among other things if their parents are in prison? Other people may lead them down the wrong path and teach them the wrong things. We, as women, need to be there to teach and guide our children, being positive role models and ensuring that they are on the right path in life.
The Bay View’s JR and Rashida talk with Kathleen Cleaver in 2004. – Photo: Kamau Amen-Ra

My comrade sisters, let us look at the example set for us by Kathleen Cleaver and follow her lead! This great woman continues to press onward in the revolutionary movement despite persecution. We must start today breaking the chains that have us bound in order to live in the freedom that knowledge has to offer.
Once we have educated ourselves, we will strive for unity, command respect and make our children our priority. We will no longer allow ourselves to become enslaved to a life of crime and imprisonment. Upon realizing our potential, we will be able to stand strong, overcoming the struggles that beset us.
Today is the day: Join together, never give up, never give in, always press onward despite our current circumstances! My sisters, it is time for an awakening – it is time to start getting’ it right!
If you have not read “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, it is an excellent book, filled with knowledge and is a must read. I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice, Mr. Bobby Dixon, for his support and friendship. All power to the people! In solidarity, with Panther love.

“August is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.” - Mumia Abu-Jamal
 Black August originated in the prisons of California to honor fallen Freedom Fighters: Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden. Jonathan Jackson was ambushed outside the Marin County courthouse on August 7, 1970 - as he attempted to liberate three imprisoned Black freedom fighters: James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee.
 Ruchell Magee is the sole survivor of that armed rebellion. He is the former co-defendant of Angela Davis and has been locked down for 40 years, most of it in solitary confinement. George Jackson was assassinated by prison guards during a prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971.
 To honor these fallen soldiers, the brothers who participated in the collective founding of Black August wore black armbands on their left arm and studied revolutionary works, focusing on the works of George Jackson.
 Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance.
The tradition of fasting during Black August teaches self-discipline. A conscious fast is in effect FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET (6:00 am to 8:00 pm) Some other personal sacrifice can be made as well. The sundown meal is traditionally shared whenever possible among comrades. Black August fasting should serve as a constant reminder of the conditions our people have faced and still confront. Fasting is uncomfortable at times, but it is helpful to remember all those who have come and gone before us, Ni Nkan Mase, if we stand tall, it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.

Sunday, 12:00pm
85th Ave. between Dowling St. and Bancroft Ave.

2012-08-05: Freedom fighters, community activists, political organizers and people's key resistance forces gathered at sistah's house for a community food give away.

2012-08-11 "Reverse the Hypnosis" (BRLP Hip-Hop show)
Saturday, 10:00pm until 2:00am
La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, California 94705



2012-08-18 "2nd Annual 'Burning Spear' Festival Honoring Marcus Garvey"Saturday, 2-6 PM
Location: Marcus Garvey Park on 34th and MLK
Contact: Jabari Shaw [] [510-472-2066]
“The Burning Spear Pick up the Torch” Second Annual Marcus Garvey Commemoration Celebration is designed with the community/ family in mind and will be presented free of charge on august 18th 2012, the Saturday following Marcus Garvey birth day. This event is also designed to educate, stimulate and broaden minds to the philosophies held by and influenced by the work of Marcus Garvey. This event will encourage youths to aspire for excellence and self reliance through the legacy and lessons of their elders. It will also include physically activity and mental activity games for the youth, adults and elders. The event will include cultural artists of the African diaspora; poets, rappers singers, dancers etc. The event will also include speakers from the community involved in teaching the history of Marcus Garvey and his influence. A portion of the donations and funds raised by this event will go to community programs and organizations working for self determination in Oakland, Ca.

Significance of the event -
 This is a call of unity for community and organizations to come together in an fun filled-day that will include: A Cultural Entertainment Package, Market Place & Food Court, Children & Youth Activities, Community Speakers, and a Fund Raising Raffle.

 Entertainment Package -
 The cultural entertainment component is designed to entertain, educate and motivate in form of reggae, jazz, gospel, dramatic-skits, live bands, cultural chanting, drumming, poetry, comedy, rap and speakers.

Market place/Food court -
 The market place will be hosted by local community gardens who will display foods and talk about the importance of growing your own produce. The food court will offer snacks for kids and provide a variety of dishes from the Afrikan diaspora.

Children/Youth activities -
 The early part of that day is specially designed for the children, youth and their parents. Among the many activities there will be workshops: historical arts and crafts, story telling, and economic development. With educational cultural fun games destined to stimulate the minds of the youth to encourage further education.

Performers/Community speakers -
 Libation will be established to recognize those who have made significant contribution on towards the betterment of Afrikan people at home and abroad. These awards are giving in the names of Afrikan people, who are no longer with us-in the flesh- so that they will be remember for their UN-selfish contribution. The ceremony will commerce with a tribute to the late great Gill Scott Herrion. Followed by a array of speakers, performers, dancers, clergy and community activist. Who will speak on the theme of the day. Encouraging the need for unity, education, and cultural awareness in our community.

Fund-raising Raffle -
 This is a very popular component of the celebration. Tickets are sold in advance for the chance to win prizes which will come in the form of donation from local businesses. Each prize will displayed on stage in some form that may include photographs throughout the day's event until the time of the drawings, which will occur in the late afternoon.
 The above two components encourage community business owner's participation. This is accomplished by inviting sponsors of prizes to assist with the drawing of tickets and the distribution of prizes. This allow them to personally meet the recipients of the award they sponsored- live on stage. It also gives them the opportunity to promote their products or services, and to participate in the festivity in a visual and meaning way.
 It will not be easy to finance due to current economic conditions, however were there’s a will there’s a way. This is what the life of a great man like Marcus Garvy teaches us, a lesson we want future generations to use to become successful. We encourage volunteers to come forward in spite of the fact we realize many may be losing their charitable ways as the demand on their time increases and their dollars buys less.

Projections -
 Marcus Garvey celebrations will be a annual event packed with fun, education and commerce.
 International participation and support
 Telecast of celebration on local stations
 A documentary of celebrations
 Establish a building fund for the feed the people program the little Bobby Hutton literacy program, the Laney B.S.U. and the U.M.M.A. Project.

Who is Marcus Garvey ?
 The honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) was the Founder/Leader of the United Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.) The most powerful African organization to date in the Western Hemisphere. In its hey day the UNIA numbered over 11 million members world wide. Marcus Garvey is one of the most influential Black leaders in the history of the African diaspora. In the process of educating the Black community to a knowledge of ourselves we must study, commemorate and build upon the legacy of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA.
 "The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity."  — Marcus Garvey

2012-08-18 photograph showing Community members enjoying free cookout and free groceries at Marcus Garvey Park on 34th and MLK, Oakland.

Full bags. What stands out in my mind is an old woman came by, five kids at home and she had no food for them. She began crying when people bagged food for her, and would not take money from her.

2012-07-27 "Black August 2012" by Kamau M. Askari
My people, we know that prior to the commencement of Black August memorials from within the foul confines of California’s infamous prison system via our first Black August Organizing Committee (BAOC) in 1979, there existed no established institution fulfilling the special need or purpose of honoring and paying homage to our Afrikan ancestors, Afrikan heritage and long line of New Afrikan (Black) revolutionaries and freedom fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice and waged tireless struggles in service to the interests of our captured and colonized New Afrikan (Black) nation in Amerika to achieve national independence, socialism, human and civil rights.
We further know that misconceptions are prevalent and pervasive, primarily among California state prison officials, relating to our Black August concept. Internal contradictions are inherent in all things and phenomena of nature, having their own negative and positive sides.
For instance, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and its subdivisions, such as the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) Security Housing Unit (SHU), Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI), Investigative Services Unit (ISU), Law Enforcement and Investigations Unit (LEIU), Office of Correctional Safety (OCS), Special Services Unit (SSU), et al., routinely and by rote disseminate misinformation rooted in misconceptions regarding Black August to suggest that New Afrikan (Black) prisoners who advocate or refer to our Black August concept in political articles are thereby promoting prison gang activity; that Black August is used as a recruitment tool through which to recruit New Afrikan (Black) prisoners to prison gang membership; and that Black August is a time for acts of retaliatory violence to be undertaken against California prison officials.
The misconceptions, i.e., subjective personal views and opinions of the above-listed California prison authorities relating to our Black August concept constitutes the negative aspect of this existing contradiction currently confronting Black August’s objective reality.
Prison authorities disseminate misinformation that New Afrikan (Black) prisoners who advocate or refer to our Black August concept in political articles are thereby promoting prison gang activity; that Black August is used as a recruitment tool through which to recruit New Afrikan (Black) prisoners to prison gang membership; and that Black August is a time for acts of retaliatory violence to be undertaken against California prison officials.
The positive aspect of this contradiction relative to concrete reality inherent to Black August’s memorial commemorative practice in addition to the commencement has to do with the manifestation of its cultural component. The cultural component of our Black August concept necessarily entails our New Afrikan Nation (NAN) build a revolutionary culture diametrically opposed to the established dominant, oppressive capitalist culture.
A process which also encompasses mass education that heightens the political consciousness of the masses of New Afrikan (Black) people to the inherent defects of capitalist culture and society is antithetical to prison authorities’ innate vested interests, offering practical examples inherent to the science of struggle.
Black August provides New Afrikan (Black) people with a confidence that we can fulfill our historical obligations and win our ideological and political objectives. It inspires New Afrikan (Black) people to wrest control of their own destiny from the hands of their historical oppressors and tormentors and actively participate in the process by which the decisions affecting their daily lives are made, i.e., “democratic centralism.”
Black August provides New Afrikan (Black) people with a confidence that we can fulfill our historical obligations and win our ideological and political objectives.
Black August helps us understand the significance and practicability of providing for the needs of our own, i.e., Ujima (collective work and responsibility) – to build and maintain our own communities together to make our sistas’ and brothas’ problems our problems and to solve them together – and Ujamaa (cooperative economics) – to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.
Eternal Black August resistance!
Send our brother some love and light: Kamau M. Askari, b/n Ralph A. Taylor, D-03780, D-3-102, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95531. He is coordinator of the NCTT (NAN Collective Think Tank). This story was transcribed by Adrian McKinney.

2012-07-31 "In the true spirit of Black August resistance" by Kijana Tashiri Askari
This rare and precious photo from Kiilu Nyasha shows Khatari Gaulden and Hugo Pinell in the San Quentin yard in the 1960s. For his participation in events that lie at the foundation of the Black August tradition, Hugo Pinell has been locked in solitary confinement for over 40 years, the last two decades in the Pelican Bay SHU.

For the past 10 years in particular, CDCR state operatives have been steadfast in criminalizing the historical-cultural legacy of Black August, under the false pretense of it being a BGF (Black Guerrilla Family) prison gang concept that promotes violence against CDCR’s state operatives. And therefore the commemoration of the Black August memorial over this 10-year period has constituted an alleged threat to the safety and security of California’s slave kamps, i.e., prisons, which has led to several New Afrikan Black captives being arbitrarily placed on indefinite solitary confinement status as alleged prison gang members.
However, on Feb. 22, 2010, Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court issued a court ruling that stated in part: “Defendants appear to contend that a categorical ban on things related to Black August is proper, as they have not identified any particular statement about Black August in Harrison’s mail that actually ‘might be thought to encourage violence.’ Procunier v.Martinez, 416 US at 416. Black August commemorates some people who prison officials may not think are worthy of commemorating, but the defendants have not made an adequate showing of such a close connection between the BGF and Black August that the court could find it undisputed that mail pertaining to Black August actually encouraged violence.” See Harrison v. I.G.I., Case No. C-07-3824-SI, 2010 US Dist. Lexis 14944, dated Feb. 22, 2010, page 10.
I would like to make it absolutely clear that Black August is not a prison gang concept, and it definitely does not entail the promotion of any violence! Black August is a viable community concept that has been constructed under political, social, cultural, economic and spiritual values that speak to the advancement and the building of the class interests of our New Afrikan Nation. So as we continue to wage struggle via our collective efforts to be liberated from the yoke of U.$. colonial oppression, it is imperative for all New Afrikan Black people to have a true and correct understanding as to what Black August resistance really means.
Black August resistance represents the highest consciousness of Afrikan people – consciousness which allows for no quarter of submission, capitulation or abandonment to the unrighteous, decadent, exploitative ways of U.$. imperialism. It is a consciousness which is bred in defiant, fierce and intrepid struggle against all which is exploitative, oppressive and dehumanizing.
Black August is not a prison gang concept, and it definitely does not entail the promotion of any violence!
Black August resistance is exemplified by the profound courage and determination of George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, Jonathan Jackson, Jeffery Khatari Gaulden, William Christmas, Cleveland Edwards, Alvin “Sweet Jugs” Miller etc., just to name a few. Their examples served and continue to serve as a clear and determined line to march upon, which our nation of New Afrikan people and all oppressed people must tread in the perpetual ascendancy towards the historic destiny of humankind.
The defining element of Black August resistance is the struggle against all values, ethics, economics and social philosophy which perpetuates the exploitative, oppressive rule of usury economics – monopoly capitalism – which maintains the systematic denial and colonial slave condition of non-property holders.
Black August is a viable community concept that has been constructed under political, social, cultural, economic and spiritual values that speak to the advancement and the building of the class interests of our New Afrikan Nation.
The class interest represented by George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, Jonathan Jackson, Jeffrey Khatari Gaulden etc. is in the interest of the New Afrikan working class and the oppressed poor. The struggle which they firmly stood upon is born of the revolutionary traditions of those who preceded them, such as Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessey, David Walker, Nat Turner etc. George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, Jonathan Jackson and Jeffrey Khatari Gaulden defined struggle on an objectively higher level than those who failed the tradition of Afrikan resistance.
Black August resistance is the defining element for popularizing the revolutionary forms of resistance, which have consciously been liquidated, obscured and hidden from the people by self-serving opportunists of the dominant reactionary culture, such as the Black petit bourgeoisie. So in the true spirit of Black August resistance, we New Afrikans are now here to reclaim and redeem our historical-cultural legacy of Black August that CDCR state operatives have been criminalizing for the past 10 years!
No surrender! No retreat! Black August resistance!
Send our brother some love and light: Kijana Tashiri Askari, s/n Marcus Harrison, H-54077, D3-122 SHU, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95531. You can also reach Tashiri via email, at, and visit his MySpace page at This story was transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.