Monday, December 8, 2014

We are under siege: Black Lives Matter

Police are assaulting peaceful demonstrators at UC Berkeley who are protesting the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other Black youth at the hands of the police. What sounded like a high speed chase, or unusually loud big rigs moving up the freeway, sirens, 'choppers, what sounded like gunshots. Not normal weekend noises. No, I did not witness it, but I could hear it. I could feel it. The pulsing sound waves of choppers overhead triggering a gripping  sensation of the eviscera around my heart. PTSD.

Amanda Moody was at UC Berkeley attending an arts event, she witnessed the riot firsthand (read all of her account here):
It was bizarre then to break from that rare and exemplary circle of human cultural expression and find myself pinned beneath a murder of low-flying police helicopters racketing around the full moon. A different sort of music. The moment my skin came into contact with the late-evening air, I became frightened. I could smell something in the air – something dry and cloying - baby-powder - in my mouth.
We got to the multi-deck garage, skipped the elevator and started climbing the ramp-way against the slow-draining spiral of exiting automobiles. Then, abruptly, we passed between two worlds: The World of Breathing. The World of Not Breathing. Tear gas, which had been earlier deployed and largely dispersed out-of-doors, had coiled itself in the high concrete column of garage.
They fired rubber bullets into the crowd. Lots of smoke bombs and teargas. Nothing much reported on the news or on Facebook or in the media, but clearly it's huge. The police used teargas to push the demonstrators down Telegraph to Oakland. Not just Berkeley, but now it seems Oakland is taking the brunt too. What have we come to? A police state? A portent of things to come?

From Jan Steckel, an email she found on Scribd. Police are beating journalists.
Journalists protest in a letter to Berkeley mayor Tom Bates, and Berkeley police chief Michael Meehan on the beating of journalists Saturday night as they tried to cover the Berkeley protest. Sunday night they were using strobe lights to prevent filming of police beating protesters.

Confirmed: KQED News: Journalists' group protests reported police beatings of journalists during Berkeley unrest.


Students are organizing a city-wide cleanup because of the violence, vandalism, and looting that has occurred throughout the city tonight. "Please invite all of your friends that attend UC Berkeley to ensure that we have as many Berkeley students out there as possible. Also, please bring cleaning supplies." —Facebook post
Apparently what I'm hearing now are fleets of garbage trucks rumbling through the streets: "City of Berkeley workers are out working hard tonight to clean up the riot and they're doing a fantastic job. Everything is clean down Shattuck from Bancroft to University Ave. There's no trash in the streets and the windows are being boarded up."

Shades of the 60s riots. Deja voodoo. The blue meanies are alive and well in Berkeley and Alameda?

From Brenda Hill and and Robert Hass. Poets bearing witness. Bob teaches at UC Berkeley, and wrote a moving piece on Occupy in the NYX, where they were observing it on campus, and a cop struck Brenda, shoving her down—they weren't even I trust their reportage. We've turned into a police state. More from Brenda on the Berkeley events unfolding:
Bob and I participated in the protest against racism and police violence for a few hours in Berkeley last night; several hundred energetic activists marched to dorms and called students then headed to police station and City Hall. It was good to see some of our students and Comrade Angie Hume out in the streets. Some headed to the freeway (we did not go to the freeway--two old teachers have their limits at the end of the semester!) No justice, no peace; black lives matter. —Brenda Hillman
Great, now that the 'choppers are finally quiet, I have a royal case of insomnia. And a massive headache—to add insult to injury. Taking a few moments to catch up on my reading, then into that void.  It doesn't help that I'm working on a wifi system that's made of baling wire, making it difficult to get the news. And overnight, America seems to have come undone. Life, retrograde.

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