FTP march

Categories: Discussion, Reflections

Saturday night’s Fuck the Police march went according to script.

The Tactical Action Committee proved they could organize a significant action.

OPD proved they still have superior firepower and are willing to beat the living crud out of random march participants.

TAC is now upping the ante and calling for 1,000 people to march next Saturday. Hyperbole it may be, but OPD is surely making mutual aid plans accordingly.

TAC has declared that every Saturday night will be Fuck the Police night in Oakland. I’m not sure how this decision was made, though I suspect it stemmed from a random tweet suggesting what a grand idea a weekly march would be.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The TAC are well within their rights to hold these marches, both autonomously and with the imprimatur of Occupy Oakland. The creation of TAC was, of course, endorsed by the OO GA. Occupy Oakland cannot pretend not to have a relationship with TAC. TAC is the child of Occupy Oakland.

There are ample reasons to continue to remind OPD of their many and varied crimes over the decades and TAC are clearly capable of delivering those reminders. However…

1. What is the end game? What result is TAC hoping to achieve? There has to be one…otherwise the weekly march is going to rapidly dwindle from last night’s 200-300 to less than 100.

2. Time spent on organizing a weekly march is time taken from more effective TAC activities, such as foreclosure occupations and the Burger King protest (which, to my surprise, turned out rather well).

3.Like it or not, marching with a banner that says Fuck the Police is going to alienate you from 99% of the 99%. Even those of us generally sympathetic with FTP would probably prefer something a little less inflammatory. May I suggest Stop Police Brutality, Free All Political Prisoners, or (if you must insist on something a bit rude) Up Yours OPD as the motto for next week’s banner?

4. If TAC continues the Saturday night marches, it will need to develop some discipline. If someone throws a bottle from the back of the crowd, that person needs to be identified and removed from the march–otherwise TAC is complicit in the endangerment of non-violent marchers. If you are unwilling to do that, you need to make it clear that only those willing to throw bottles should attend. We know OPD are always looking for the slightest excuse to bash heads. Either don’t give them one, or be honest and upfront about endorsing confrontational tactics.

5. I know that TAC are revolutionaries and probably uninterested in compromise. But you are never, ever going to achieve your goals by remaining ideologically rigid. The United States is not ripe for the kind of revolution you are hoping for.

I was hopeful that last night’s march would pass without incident; that it would take place and that OPD would simply stay away. That would have been a great success for all involved: it would have allowed the city to display its purported dedication to free speech, and it would have allowed TAC to magnanimously declare victory. This did not happen, and it is clear it is not going to happen on future Saturday nights.

In my opinion, TAC needs to re-think its priorities. 10th and Adeline was a great thing; Zion Cypress was a great thing. You may think otherwise, but I don’t believe these were defeats–both occupations were more help than hindrance to the movement. Whether casting light on the sins of banks and the foreclosure industry, opening eyes to the inadequacies of the City Assessor’s Office, or simply revealing that a plot of empty land in West Oakland is owned by a rich man in Lafayette, these were admirable and positive actions.

Fuck the Police, however, is not a goal. It’s a pit of despair and angst, a trap OPD and the city want us to fall into. If they change the discussion from economic and social injustice to the police battling scary anarchists, they will win.

Keep the faith! Occupy everything!  (Cross-posted at Pickled Bologna.)


8 Responses to “FTP march”

  1. Simcha

    OK, I haven’t been to this website or any Occupy event in weeks. I have to say that the night of the “Fuck the Police” march was a new low for Occupy Oakland, in my humble opinion. I cannot and will not openly advocate provoking the police into a physical altercation. The profanity is free speech. And, holding up a huge sign that says, “Fuck the Police,” is a perfect way to get yourselves on Main Stream Media in a very negative way. It plays into the hands of the 1%. You end up alienating anyone but the most radical and revolutionary 99%. You play directly into the hands of the city government that has labelled you as nothing but “violent anarchists” from the very beginning. This action and possible future “Fuck the Police” actions will just alienate more of us in the 99%.

    I will not and cannot stand with people who hide behind masks and wear black clothes who claim to be “brave revolutionaries” “fighting police brutality” with provocative brutality. In my opinion, people who engage in these actions wearing masks and dark clothing are cowards. Show your faces if you believe in what you are doing! If you are afraid of being identified to hide from “the man” then you are not being entirely honest about your commitment to “the cause.” You are hiding behind masks and are no better than the police who hide behind their riot gear, in my opinion.

    I don’t have respect for people who cannot and will not identify themselves when fighting for that which they believe. If you cannot identify yourself with your convictions then why should I listen to you? Why should anyone listen to you?

    I know I’m not alone in feeling completely alienated from Occupy Oakland as an Oakland resident who is definitely part of the 99%.

    I know that many may respond with the typical, “Well what are you doing? Why don’t you attend GAs and TAC meetings and express your opinions?”

    My answer to this now that I have seen what TAC is up to with the “Fuck the Police” actions is that I will not bother being around people who believe that the only way to confront police brutality is to answer it with brutality, violence, and vulgarity. At the very least, it’s immature. At the very worst, you are playing into the hands of our oppressors. You are outgunned and you will be overwhelmed by more horrible oppressive brutality by the police if you continue these actions. And you will not have the support of the rest of us, the 99%.

    I keep reading on this site how this movement has been taken over by “revolutionaries” who seem to believe that the only answer to the current oppression is to “protest” by not voting and starting a violent Marxist/Anarchist/Socialist (or whatever they are calling themselves) revolution.

    The fact is that most of the 99% don’t agree that only violent revolution will solve the problem of oppression by the 1%.

    The fact remains that we still have the institutions and the trappings of representative democracy. I cannot stand with people who refuse to try to change the system from within first through standing toe to toe with the demagogues who claim to represent the “will of the people” while in actuality they represent the will of the 1%.

    The 99% has yet to reclaim the system that we have in place now (that actually has a process for redress of grievances) from the hands of the 1% because the 99% hasn’t worked to be involved in US politics for a very long time. Voter apathy is what has created this mess.

    Take some responsibility for your actions. Seriously folks. If you continue to stand on the side lines of the political process by removing your voice by not voting or becoming actively involved in the political process, you have no right to complain about how that system oppresses you. You have abrogated your own personal political power in the current system that is in place without working to change it. Instead you pull your voice out of the system and cry “foul” when the system oppresses you. What you don’t realize is that if you aren’t engaged in our participatory, representative democracy, you are choosing to live in a dictatorship of your own making. You abdicate your personal power and you allow the 1% who actually vote and participate in the political process to take control of the system for you.

    So, you end up with these violent actions like “Fuck the Police” reacting out of unreasoned anger. You alienate the rest of us who want to get our hands dirty and work for change. You play into the hands of the oppressor by revealing yourselves to be the “violent anarchist rabble” that they claim you are. And you invite more brutal and violent oppression against you.

    It’s more of the same. This has been done before. Violent revolt in this country will get you more violent brutal oppression. That is what is expected.

    Try something that is unexpected. Try talking to the OPD and other police departments. Try reaching out to your neighbors and engage them in political discussions. Get involved in local, state, and national politics. And vote, vote, vote, en masse. We still have the right to vote “for the moment” and we should be using that vote to the best of our ability to create change. Pulling your voice out of the process plays into the hands of the 1%. They vote. They set the agenda, if you let them.

    OK, now that I’ve offended everyone in this movement, I’ll wait to see if you all come up with something in which I can ethically participate so I can rejoin you. This movement was a good thing until it got hijacked by the violent people who hide behind masks and dark clothing from out of town.

    Until that time, take care. So long, and thanks for all the fish. Peace. Good luck.

  2. David Heatherly

    I like the idea of staging the march from other locations, you should really try to get this through to TAC in person because I’m not sure if they check this site, although they might be in touch with others who do.

  3. David Heatherly

    Why not, you know, talk to these guys? They’re not hard to find. Good kids. I know them, they know me a bit. My impression is that even though they are brash and aggressive, they are willing and even eager to listen to elders. And we can always learn, even the most eldest among us.

    But I can understand, you wanted to put it together in a logical presentation, and the website is a good place for that. Here’s a few points, then, in response. I think Occupy Oakland has always been more direct. Fuck the Police is direct. And I think they pretty much are being up front about the fact that they are using confrontational tactics. But that doesn’t mean it’s cool to throw a bottle from the back of the crowd either. The only compromise that we are really operating under right now is a separation of actions, and I think that having this one that late at night in Oakland basically lets everybody know that it’s not a totally safe march. And, to be true, you’re not “totally” safe at any time hanging out with Occupy people in downtown Oakland. I’ve seen some things in the last 2 or 3 weeks that have surprised me, even after everything I saw from the police in the first 2 months. They are grabbing people, they are targeting people that are trying to document events — I think you know as well as I do that this calls for some kind of response as a community. I hope that maybe after a few weeks of this stuff, TAC organizes a more peaceful daytime march. “Up Yours OPD” sounds great to me. I will not take part, but I respect this.

  4. csp4321

    Very sad all this police brutality. They think they can control the population through violence. But all they have succeeded in doing is raise the ire of many ordinary people who were just watching OWS. They have stirred the silent majority with their pepper spray and batons – unintended consequences, perhaps. This has only served to make the OWS movement stronger.

  5. Michael Terry

    I admire the TAC crew, Love those who are willing to confront the police, As i have since 1984, But the FTP march is a waste of time and resources, that plays right into the hands of our opponents.
    OPD are a gang of assholes and bullies, who have jerked us around at the bidding of our pathetic city government, but…..
    OPD did not restructure our economy over the last 30 years
    OPD Did not loot the treasury with a tax funded bailout.
    OPD did not slash our social programs, undermine our unions,export our jobs, wage aggressive illegal wars overseas for oil,
    OPD will not build the tar sands pipeline, or new coal fired power plants.
    OPD does not direct the capitalist system, they serve it.
    OPD will engage in, and enjoy jousting matches with OO for as long as we are willing to entertain them.
    The capitalists love that we switch our focus to their lackeys
    The capitalists love that undertake actions well designed to isolate us from the masses who come out to support us.
    The capitalists love that we spend ALL our funds on bail and legal defense.
    Lets take actions that build our movement and are directed to change the society we live in, confront the cops when we need to.
    I say Fuck The Police, and boycott the FTP march.

  6. Tlahtolli

    Or just take the march to East Oakland and Fruitvale and kill two birds with one stone.

  7. calaverasgrandes

    I have two problems with the FTP march.
    First I take issue with the absurd tactic of deliberately provoking the police.
    Second I do not think they did a very good job of engaging the police in terms of tactics and strategy.
    On the surface these may seem contradictory.
    To elaborate;
    The Oakland Police, and most police in major metropolitan areas, have benefited from a militaristic buildup of both equipment and training while at the same time we are ironically told that the funds just aren’t there for effective community policing to put a stop to the gang/drug issues. Of course the rationale is federal vs state money and so on, but I see a total lack of will. That is a topic for another day. The cops are more than happy to play with new guns and train with various “experts”. It is folly to try and engage the Oakland police force in a direct confrontation and expect any other outcome than arrests and broken bones.
    On the other hand, Oakland, and every other police force utilize standard line tactics that date back to ancient times. All it takes is a cursory review of history to see that the Celts, Native Americans, Viet Cong all developed effective tactics to counter these.
    A central tenet of OPD militaristic strategy is to advance and hold ground. They place value on controlling the situation and controlling the space.
    If you refuse to hold ground they will not attain victory.
    Part of the tactics they use to control the space are holding a line, kettling, flanking maneuvers etc.
    By disrupting their ability to maintain a stable upright stance you disrupt their line. Suggestions would be using slippery substances such as steering fluid or motor oil on hard surfaces. Or seeking to only engage them on sandy, muddy or wet surfaces. You could also decide to not engage them as a line but rather use swarm tactics.
    The easiest and most common tactic is the “Fabian Strategy”. This is perceived as cowardly because it essentially involves never confronting the enemy head on. Only poking at them from the sides and the rear and withdrawing as soon as their formation is brought to bear.
    Whatever the tactics that are chosen, whether they be a head on march or not, please do not, DO NOT start your marches from OGP. This essentially guarantees that any reprisals will be against the people that are not trying to battle the police, but rather are holding down the plaza. Quite a few are homeless and do not have the privilege of retreating to a warm living room couch and beers after the days fun of smashing the state.

  8. sigmarlin

    I second this! Especially point #3. In under-funded, crime-ridden oakland, the 99%’s sign could just as well read “More police, please?”. While the riot police play cat & mouse chase with macho, masked teenagers, serious violent crimes and robberies are occurring in the other parts of the city. I agree Quan’s priorities are askew and she should leave the occupiers in peace, but this march just seems indulgent and juvenile. Police brutality is a problem but whether the police should be eliminated is certainly up for debate.

    Please get back ON MESSAGE. The beauty of the movement was when it brought large masses of disparate groups together around a common economic complaint: That Capitalism serves the very, very few, and the politicians (even the “progressives”) are it’s enablers. Focusing on fights with police are a distraction and alienating the masses you need ; please be more creative in your actions and resist the temptation for self-righteous rogue actions, and perhaps the large numbers will join you again.