From the July-August 2012 issue of News & Letters:
A voice from Occupy
Oakland, Calif.—I am an anarchist and believe in acting according to my principles, most recently in Stockton on May 31 in a general strike protesting the murders of three Black men—James Rivera, Jr., Luther “Champ” Brown, Jr., and James Cooke—killed by police. The demonstration showed the community, masked up, willing to defend themselves from the police, in solidarity with the families who were standing up.
We sent a message to the police that it’s not okay to keep killing. There were people from Oakland, Modesto and other valley towns. I would not have believed it was possible to confront the police on that scale when I lived there as a child.
This was anarchism at its best: mutual aid, solidarity with people who are not trying to organize with a set leadership or bureaucracy, who are coming together to stand up, creating community ties. There was no vanguard rhetoric.
I was radicalized by the student movement in 2009, in the Wheeler Hall occupation at the University of California at Berkeley. There was a build-up to the occupation: people going to classrooms talking about fee hikes. We must have relationships with other people that we would not normally talk to in order to build up towards radicalizing actions.
A revolution, to be successful, has to be about relationships. In Oakland there are tens of thousands of working women who are in abusive relationships. But some of those women become union organizers, the most powerful leaders, who stand up to their bosses.
It taught me that you have to do a lot of hard work educating people about the crisis. Then you have direct actions, spectacles that draw people in, that are an exercise of power, that also show police brutality, the true colors of the administration, etc.
The world we want to live in can exist now. There was an Oakland Commune at Oscar Grant Plaza. People were living their lives differently, having free healthcare, education, food. I want to live in a world where it is an option to have small-scale communities that can organize themselves non-hierarchically. You keep fighting, while living according to your principles.
If we’re not actively working towards the world that we want, it makes it a “someday” project. Someday I may not have to live in an abusive situation. But if you’re fighting patriarchy, it is right now, not someday.