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Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Member since: Tue Aug 19, 2014, 11:02 PM
Number of posts: 3,732

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Wish that Berkeley's Revolution would modify its demands

Thanks to an epic fail judgment call on the part of the Berkeley Mayor, or whoever was in charge of dealing with the anti-police-state protests Saturday night, Berkeley has radicalized in way not seen since the 60s. Dude, you just don't meet a protest against the police state with a police state of jack boots, batons, rubber bullets, and tear gas. Unlike the 60s, citizens have cellphone video now.

Berkeley was already a powder keg over gentrification, housing turnover, and the county's lack of social safety nets. Add the natural revolutionary spirit of UC Berkeley students to that and....KABOOM!

I've read pamphlets on the street calling for immediate communist revolution based on the local circumstances - I kid you not!

So the anger and the revolutionary spirit is still building up a head of steam here. Last night the peaceful part of the protest grew to 2000 people - that's huge for Berkeley. After the protest hundreds went to block the bridge to San Francisco and the commuter trains. A couple hundred were arrest.

Tonight there is a Berkeley City Council meeting - and the protest/revolution will be bigger soon. Since the Black Bloc "anarchists" hibernated last night, I wonder if something big is being planned for tonight. Berkeley should batten down all hatches. :/

Well, getting to the point...I wish the Revolution would rethink some of its demands.

First, the main protest organizers, the student group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) demands the release of all protesters arrested. However, the people arrested are mainly the over-the-top violent "anarchists" that the protesters themselves try to stop. What about that looter who hit a protester in the head with a hammer? Should he be released. (I'm not including the bridge group here - I believe they were released shortly after their token arrest.)

The second questionable demand, which I saw on the Occupy Oakland site, was for the immediate overthrow of Berkeley's Mayor Bates.

Let me clarify that I'm not a fan of Mayor Bates. I don't like how he and his State Senator wife built a "machine" to own Berkeley politics. This man has actually been caught stealing newspapers with editorials critical of him prior to an election. He soaks Berkeley with parcel taxes and uses the general fund on whatever he wants (to pay off cronies). He is a property developer who only sees the pov of the 1%. He has sold all the public housing units in Berkeley, stated that building low income housing in Berkeley would be "stupid" (closet racism?), and kept grant money to address the housing crisis locked up in committee. He throws money at Bayer, which hires Berkeley residents as hopeless permatemps. He sends out his propaganda, but does not respond. Most of Berkeley disengaged with the local political process and became disempowered in the face of gentrification under his "leadership".

In sum, I think Tom Bates is a terrible Mayor who doesn't represent me. I didn't vote for him. I wish someone else who cared about my situation were Mayor. But this is a democracy, and Tom Bates - Machine notwithstanding - won the vote.

It would be against everything democracy stands for to overthrow a fairly elected Mayor, even if he is an asshat.

What if some rightwing nutball group or the KKK organized a big rally in Berkeley and declared voting just wasn't working out for them? What if they came and overthrew our new "Revolutionary" Mayor for a candidate of their choosing? That's what happens if we turn to "mob legitimacy". This is exactly how the local socialist governments fell in late 1930s Germany.

IMHO, this is a great moment for Berkeley, whatever the property damage. It feels like we have some of our mojo back. I hope the spirit of protest keeps growing, and I pray the result is attention to the social problems that have been covered up by political propaganda and the deliberate will to ignorance by people who don't care about things unless it directly impacts them. I wish the goals of the revolution would be framed this way.

UGH - Berkeley is Going to End Up in Flames

I don't think Berkeley's protests could have been handled any worse, and the circling TV news helicopters are preying on this city.

First, Mayor Bates loses oversight of the mixed police forces called in on Saturday, leading to the use of bloody batons, rubber bullets, and tear gas on peaceful protesters who were protesting the oppression of the Police State - on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (echoes of the Free Speech Movement and Civil Rights). Epic photo op win for the Revolution!

Second, Mayor Bates ordered no tear gas the next day and apparently didn't follow up on some resentment on the part of the police. As a result, when the usual fringe "anarchists" (now encouraged by the student leaders of the protest), swept through to vandalize and loot the commercial thoroughfares of the city - now waving the banner of "retaliation for Berkeley PD police violence - no police bothered to apprehend them. Yay, now Berkeley has to pay for an expensive mess!

Tonight Mayor Bates is threatening to take out the tear gas again because shrill Berkeley property owners are calling for the National Guard to deal with the problem. In other words, they want to address a protest against police militarization and the police state by establishing a police state.

I've seen other idiotic suggestions that would just be ignored as well: curfews, permits, forbidding this and that group. Again, imposing a police state is not how you address a protest against the police state. I'd bet my bottom dollar that the " revolutionary" types are already using burn phones and alternative social media - they won't be where the police expect them to be tonight, since the Mayor already announced violent measures will be used against them. They will provoke confrontations on their own terms.

Another ludicrous thing the Mayor did was challenge the "anarchists" to take their masks off. Obviously he has missed a couple of decades of debate about anonymity, signified by the prevalence of the Guy Fawkes mask. In short, once they take that mask off, class privilege and status come into play. It makes no sense to reveal your identity unless you are equals and you don't have to fear informal power being leveraged against you. In any case, the police don't have to unmask a person to see them setting a fire or throwing a brick through a window. A person can always be unmasked after they have been caught committing a crime. Throwing in that unnecessary comment about unmasking just amplified the cloud of white class privilege Mayor Bates floats on - that was like throwing a match on kindling!

By the way, Mr. Coward Mayor was MIA from the public eye the last two days...except for a brief TV comment.

While a lot of the wealthy property-owning types have been grumbling about "outsiders", I think there's also a curios lack of awareness of the "native" potential for uprising here. Gentrificatrion has caused a lot of displacement and turmoil. The Berkeley City Council has been shrugging off the problem for a long time, and the wealthy people of the city are more focused on global issues. They don't realize the lack of social safety nets affects Berkeley, too. Today I read a poster rallying people to a new Communist Revolution. The argument referenced problems with the prison system and the "endless paperwork"the State forces you to fill out (before they screw you over anyway). Wow, the argument was pretty darned convincing!

So, while I think most Berkeley natives (as opposed to radical student groups like BAMN) will try to defend the city from "anarchists" for now, the Mayor should watch his step about making them wonder if they should bother to defend a Gentrified Berkeley that will soon make them homeless.

Meanwhile, the Mayor should talk to the police about focusing there efforts on vandals and looters...but also encouraging the police to be present and do their jobs so citizens feel safe. Just stick to arresting actual criminals, don't kill anyone in the process, and everything should be fine.

Meanwhile, because of the multiple screw ups and general fail attitude toward this protest, Berkeley can expect days of protests, undreamt of property damage, and nights of lost sleep as helicopters circle overhead -attracted like flies to asteaming pile of horse hockey.

I'm expecting the"anarchists" to try to burn buildings tonight or tomorrow. We will be lucky if no bombs are thrown (the CHP claimed "explosives" last night…). One tweet predicted the first protest gunshot death will be in Berkeley. It wouldn't surprise me.

Seriously, I can't imagine a worse clusterfrak in terms of handling the Berkeley protests.


The Mayor's statements that this post responds to can be found here:

I wasn't able to add the link earlier because I was posting from my Kindle.

It is now past midnight, and Stage 2 of the protest (the blocking of highways/bridges) is just now winding down. From what I could tell the Black Bloc was not among them. Which means they are...elsewhere. Stage 3 should be starting any minute now.

Left Behind by the Revolution (in Berkeley) T_T

Tonight I tried to join the protest/march in Berkeley. I wanted to show my support against police violence, against a racist/classist society in general, and I also wanted to be a witness in case there was more police violence.

However, as a disabled person with mobility issues, I had trouble keeping up with the protest. At each leg of the protest I would start out near the front, but eventually fall 4-5 blocks behind. By the time I caught up to the location where the main group paused, they were ready to move on again. I was trying so hard to keep up, I'm in pretty epic pain right now, and it may take me as long as a week to recover.

At around 8pm, after 4 "catch ups", I finally lost the protest all together. I gave up and made my way home.

I wasn't the only one who was left behind by the speed of the protest. There were many stragglers who just gave up along the way. I saw one couple asking people randomly where the protest was. Another person was dejectedly dragging their sign. The most important "photo moment" of the night (if only I had a cell phone camera!) was of an old man with a cane/walking stick who had fallen as far behind as I had. Because we had lost the buffer of the crowd, cars were edging back in to the street. Here was this old man with his cane in the middle of the street grouching at the cars trying to take back the road from him while he was trying to protest!

I'm not sure why these protests have to move so fast. The same thing happened at Occupy Oakland a couple of years ago - I gave up after trying on two separate days. Are the leaders not aware that older and disabled people want to protest just as badly as they do? It seems to me that they would benefit from gathering as much headcount as possible, but instead the people who can't keep up peel off, give up, and go home.

If a protest wants to include these people, they will have a guided "slow group" - and they might have some emergency measures just for them like fold-out chairs and bottled water.

In this case, I want to make a general point rather than a complaint because I'm not sure I *was* wanted at this protest. There was some discussion ahead of time (though it may have been culture jamming to dilute participation in the protest) of whether "white liberal" Berkeley was hijacking #blacklivesmatter from more authentic protests in Oakland. Also, Berkeley is simmering with its own social issues right now, so a lot of the joiners will be hoping for a broader movement of social change, not just showing their support re: Ferguson. Do the organizers of the protest want that broader sentiment? I'm not sure: perhaps the reason the protest moved so fast as it marched toward Oakland is it wanted to shake off Berkeley and what they probably consider to be its privileged problems.

Well whatever happens with the revolution tonight, I won't be part of it. I'm pretty depressed about that. All I can report is that there were no black bloc shenanigans (though I did see guys with their faces covered) and no tear gas as of 8pm. I only saw one police officer the whole time, and she politely asked a disabled friend of mine if he needed help with a steep curb cut.

*Actually I may have also seen some undercover police officers. In my "Anarchists" thread someone posted a Youtube video of Oakland police officers caught participating in a march wearing hoodies and generally looking like skateboard dudes. I could swear I saw one of those same guys tonight. Perhaps that's why I didn't see any *uniformed* police officers...

UPDATE: Apparently some people are using the protest as an excuse for mayhem. A guy was hit in the head with a hammer for trying to stop some "demonstrators" from vandalizing Radio Shack. I was actually passing by when the ambulance was there, though I didn't know this was related to the protests. The reason why I didn't know this was related was the protest was FAR AWAY from this incident. At that minute, I knew from a bus radio, the protest was at Ashby (not sure of the cross street) - a good 10 blocks away. These guys were possibly just thieves pretending to be "demonstrators".


That Splinter Group that Starts Looting/Violence/Provoking Police at Every Protest

Apparently the Berkeley protest was peaceful until a splinter group of "anarchists" - dressed in black, wearing masks, etc. - started vandalizing, looting stores, etc. over the objections of the other protesters. This undermined the protest by angering the community and bringing down tear gas on everyone.

I've been reading complaints about these guys in regard to the Oakland protests. I saw them in action myself during the Occupy marches a few years ago. They were indeed dressed in black and masked. They would run up to police and provoke them. At the time I presumed it was because they wanted a photo op. I was also always surprised to find some building had been vandalized during what I had experienced as a peaceful protest.

Who are these guys?

Are they really "black bloc" anarchists traveling from protest to protest to sew chaos?

It seems to me that they could sew more chaos by letting the protests flourish without interference and doing their acts of anarchy separately.

Are they "professional anarchist activist" hoping to inspire the other protesters to violence? If so, I have yet to see this work. Usually other protesters are at their wits end trying to figure out how to get these guys to stop.

Are these guys opponents of the protest who are trying to generate bad press and bad blood within the community by demonstrating that protests are violent and cause damage to local businesses? I just recently became aware of the practice of "culture jamming" on the Internet, but this could be a variety of real life culture jamming...misrepresenting the protesters so the surrounding community will mistakenly police and/or attack them.

Among the Berkeleyside comments I saw a remark that would never have occurred to me, naive born-after-the-60s child that I am. Apparently the CIA and the FBI (NSA? Homeland Security? Other black funded agencies?) were quite fond of disrupting the civil rights movement by throwing in fake "violent" elements. Could these "anarchists" belong to some government agency that is trying to kill the protests before they get big enough to require embarrassing martial law interventions?

Any other thoughts on who the "anarchists" might be and how to handle them?

Protests with Tear Gas in Berkeley

I started commenting on loud helicopters in GD, and then the actual situation became apparent.





I won't repost here because the situation and my response to it is still in progress in the GD post. Just thought I should make a note here since it's going on in Berkeley.

The GD post is here:

The Loudness of the Helicopters (Berkeley Tear Gas Update)

For the last week I've been listening to helicopters flying overhead. At first I chalked them up to news cams and police surveillance. Occasionally they were followed by the sound of sirens.

However, I've begun to take note of how nerve-wracking these nightly rounds of helicopters are. I associate this sound with surveillance and military action. Helicopters are capable of rendering "attack from above". Just the noise itself is a sort of annoying buzz that vaguely resembles tinnitus. The helicopters keep me on edge, stressed out, intimidated, in fight or flight mode.

I'm starting to wonder if helicopters actually have to be that loud: perhaps the police ones are noisy on purpose. Perhaps they are even amplified? Is this part of their crowd-controlling strategy, to use the noise of helicopters to keep people in state of anxiety, and thus make them more susceptible to any commands given by authority figures, i.e. the police?


I'm updating this post from the comments: it turns out the helicopters are so loud because they are circling low and directly overhead. This is what is going on:




GREAT PICTURES HERE >>>>> http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/12/06/breaking-post-ferguson-demo-in-downtown-berkeley-march-continues-to-berkeley-police-hq/

The irony is earlier today I was looking for ways to join one of the protests in Oakland, which have been hard for me to get to. I was literally a block away from this protest when it started: I was picking up groceries on the same street at the time it says the vandalism started (though I didn't hear anything). I did see the helicopters start to circle as I waited for the bus, but I thought they were headed to Oakland. Arg - only a block away!

I'm weighing the thought of going out now. Obviously stuff is still going on given the level of helicopter activity. I'd like to go to join a protest, though, not to just walk into a cloud of tear gas.

From Berkleyside liveblogging:

Update, 10:50pm: Berkeley Police officer Byron White posted on Twitter at 10:49pm: “Residents in the area of Telegraph corridor, shelter inside to avoid exposure to tear gas.” Witnesses on the ground report that police have “pushed” a group of protesters south on Telegraph and they have passed Ashby.

Update, 10:22pm: Police have deployed tear gas and ‘flash bangs’ at the remaining protesters in downtown Berkeley, according to witnesses on the scene, including Chronicle reporters Seung Y. Lee and Evan Sernoffsky. Berkeley Police Officer Byron White reports via Twitter that police patrol vehicles are being vandalized. “This is gonna be expensive…

(For reference, I live 2 blocks from Ashby, and a few blocks from Telegraph, so the protesters were being "pushed" south from Downtown Berkeley, in the direction of my place, toward Oakland. Not sure why the police are trying to pass this problem off to Oakland...)


According to the latest note at Berkeleyside, the grocery store that I was at earlier was one that was damaged/looted. Had I not moved, the protest would have come to me...


LOL - reading the Berkeleyside comments and there are a number of remarks about the helicopters. Perhaps they were exceptionally noisy after all (because they were flying so low). As a coincidence, they just stopped all at once. The cessation of noise was so abrupt, my ears actually popped. I wonder if there was some law that said they had to cut it out at 11:30...?

The #1 with Wealth Inequality: It's An Invitation to Slam the Door in Your Face

After reading Robert Reich's article about the political ramifications of extreme inequality (http://www.salon.com/2014/11/19/robert_reich_the_1_percent_is_gutting_americas_middle_class_partner ), I was reminded of how every big political showdown in history has come down to expediency: "Can you FORCE us to do it? How will this increase our POWER?"

Moral persuasion and justice has never been enough to secure rights, to free slaves, to win the franchise, or prevent vile abuses. There always has to be that element of "well we better get it done this time OR ELSE." There has to be an ultimatum. There has to be the art of the deal.

Think of the most basic injustice in our medical system as well. When the cure for cancer is discovered, who will be the first in line to get it: the wealthy. That's economic "rationing". The rest will be told to "live within their means". That's moral/character "rationing". Those on welfare won't have access to these kinds of treatments at all: they don't have a political voice, so no one will be the wiser. They don't have a political voice because they don't "contribute": they are a "cost center" rather than a "profit center" in terms of society. They should feel lucky when we throw them a moldy bread crust. They should not expect "cadillac care" from the medical system.

Similarly, people without money should not expect "cadillac care" from the political system. The wealthy persuaded us to give them all the money with the oh-so-economic-rational argument that this was the best way for the money to trickle back down to the rest of us. But all that does is empower the wealthy to shut the door in our faces. Now, as far as the wealthy are concerned, we're just an annoying rabble whose MoveOn petitions and Tweetstorms are at be swatted aside like flies. If they don't want to see our diseased bodies and dirty hovels, they can just build a gated community...on a "tax liberated" space station if they have to! The more money they have, the less they have to care about justice and human rights for other people. In fact once the walls go up they can commit humiliations and abuses we thought we had eradicated along with feudal society: because they own the judicial and police forces as well as the political establishment - that's part of what Ferguson is about.

In the U.S. we used to explain away wealth inequality by saying we had some sort of spiritual equality self-worth and "equality of opportunity". But who can say we have either of those any more when a tiny sliver of society not only has more rights than the rest of us, but they have the power to slam the door in our faces, preventing us from ever getting any kind of justice in the future?

Don't Ask How to Feed People, Ask How to End Poverty

This article in NYT speaks the truth:

However, the reason people always want to frame the problem in terms of the economics of scarcity is solving the problem of poverty - doing anything for the greater good of the "public" really - involves redistribution. It involves transferring wealth from people who have it (perhaps unfairly, perhaps even through cheating and theft) to people who need it.

Our civilization has advanced to the point where it's gauche to simply not care about people starving in the streets and being made vulnerable to the most terrible forms of exploitation by their need, so the wealthy like to rearrange things in their head so as not to see poverty as need. They will instead see character flaws like laziness, bad decisions and irresponsibility, mental illness, welfare queens and scammers, corruption that's causing problems in what's otherwise a perfectly good system, problems they can't do anything about, "the poor will always be with us", or they choose to turn a blind eye and not see people in need at all. Sadly no one seems too worried about the poor actually rising up in violent protest of the conditions in which they have been subjected to.

Political activity at the local level seems to be increasingly discouraged as the GoP are hyper-aware that the first thing people in need will do if they use their votes is "vote money to themselves". In other words, people in need who are politically empowered and don't have the wool pulled over their eyes some how will vote for some sort of redistribution.

That said, there is some question over how this redistribution will occur. Will it largely be conducted indirectly through the building of infrastructure and the delivering of services like universal healthcare, so it won't look like specific people are getting "handouts"? Will people get tax refunds that feel like they are getting something back for paying into the system? Will the money go into shoring up social security and our eldercare resources? Will we demand the creation of phony jobs so it will look like we're "working" for our money and so all the moral philosophers in the peanut gallery be happy? Would we fund free trade schools and public universities and take a serious bite out of the welfare system as we routed people through schools instead? Could we have subsidized housing, keyed to income, everywhere?

The amelioration of poverty can only happen through SOME form of redistribution. It's a dirty word, but someone has to say it. Gruber, of ACA faux pas fame, got into trouble because he felt the American people couldn't deal with this concept. If Democrats want to do anything about poverty, they should stop doing the two-step around this implicit logic - and they definitely shouldn't try to obfuscate what they are doing in a lot of legalese. Just OWN it. Lay out where the money was stolen and take a little of it back on behalf of the American people.

Also, people in the activism world should be focusing GOTV efforts among people in need and teaching them that the vote is the way they ultimately change their circumstances and get their needs met. They should raise awareness of the long term connections between policies that affect redistribution and the way those ultimately shape the world we live in. We joke about how "all politics is local", but is it anymore? Do people feel very engaged with their local politics, especially the neediest constituents who are largely ignored because they can't make donations to candidates. Maybe they can't donate, but they can still vote.

Shifting the landscape of poverty in the US should become a prominent feature of the Democratic agenda if we don't want to look like "the other Republicans".

2595 people apply for 18 affordable housing units in SF


This is what's placing the pressure on Berkeley - and we have no way of coping with it since Mayor Bates was dismantling the affordable housing infrastructure in order to change the "profile" of Berkeley. We're at the mercy of greedy landlords eager to accommodate this SF spillover.

I was about to post this in GD, but Liberal in LA had already posted it yesterday. Go comment on that post for visibility.


Politicians Deny Problem if They Don't Like the Solution

I've been greatly frustrated by a local political situation where monied/propertied interests have largely been successful in denying the very existence of an enormous poverty problem and housing crisis. But anything I have to say about it is just "anecdotal" or "opinion" of course.

I love it when science comes through and starts kicking some butt on behalf of the truth. Thank you, Duke University, Harvard of the South:


In summary, this article says that politicians of all stripes will pretend a problem doesn't exist if the obvious solution doesn't fit into their ideology/talking points

A case in point that should have been enacted in 2008: a massive Federal jobs program that would have reduced unemployment, placed pressure to raise wages, both expanded the tax base and increased the wages on which taxes were paid, could have rebuilt some of this country's crumbling infrastructure and restored its collapsing public services, and would have naturally dissolved as people left to seek higher wages in the private sector.

But no. We didn't do it because "big government is bad". We can spend a trillion dollars on an airplane, but not on enhancing the quality of our own civilization.

We have met the enemy, and s/he is us.

So now that that's been said - what to do about it?
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