- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 2:32 AM
I don't usually do these opinion-type pieces, but I'm trying something a little different here. Bear with me.
I feel like I need to write a little to give some context to the Occupy LA's ChalkWalk action of Thursday night due to the inaccuracies rampant in the corporate media.
While some journalists actually talked to Occupy and got some background on the CCA and how the chalk action grew out of it, most of them got things horribly wrong when it came to describing who did what at Artwalk.
Just to be clear, I wasn't present, but the next night at Fort Manning (the camp set up at the courthouse to demand the freedom of political prisoner and accused whistleblower Private Manning) I talked to many participants of Chalk Walk. I have also reviewed the video evidence and have been following the movement closely.
The first arrest of the evening was indeed of an occupier for chalking on the sidewalk. Video is available here:
So is the second:
Subsequent skirmishes and arrests, however, primarily involved Artwalk attendees who are unaffiliated with Occupy LA.
The crowd was of Artwalkers drawn by the cops in riot gear who responded to the chalking. (Nothing draws a crowd like a phalanx of riot cops.) It was Artwalk attendees who threw bottles and possibly the other projectiles claimed by media and police (although none of the videos I've seen show anyone throwing rocks).
Occupy LA yells at cops, makes fun of them, gets in their faces, and openly defies them through acts of civil disobedience, such as taking the streets and, now that they've decided it's illegal, chalking. But they do not throw things at them. The apolitical/depoliticized artwalk attendees (hipsters, artists, and homeboys, especially) are not as accustomed to interacting with police in a protest environment and had the natural reaction to witnessing such aggression: rage.
It was these folks, untempered by months of political resistance that has provoked brutal law enforcement response and trained activists in best practices, who let their anger get the best of them, not our occupiers.
Members of street defense organizations (i.e. gangs), unlike the hipsters and the artists, are used to tangling with police in confrontational situations, but homeboys also know how to fight back.
So this was the combination that brought about the volatile situation on Thursday, and brings up a couple of issues.
The first is one of strategy. The anti-chalking enforcement is obviously bullshit. Chalking is a harmless way to publicly express oneself and efforts to criminalize run counter to the principle of free speech that must be defended at all costs. A "chalk-in"--that is, deliberate civil disobedience of the unjust laws being cited by cops to arrest and try people if they are indeed bothering to rely on some section of code, falls directly in line with the tradition of the IWW free speech fight, lunch counter sit-ins, and even such acts as deliberately planting hemp or marijuana for political purposes. Handing out chalk and encouraging its use, in my view, was a brilliant strategy in that it created the opportunity for the civil disobedience to be highly participatory, widely expressive, and simultaneously allowed for outreach that politicizes and empowers.
However, it leads to the next issue, which is actually two issues combined: safety and responsibility. It is incumbent upon event organizers, especially when those events are political, to prioritize the safety of all participants, the unpredictability of police violence notwithstanding. That is, to the extent that it is humanly possible, participants in a political action, especially one intended to break the law, need to know what risks they are taking and what the potential consequences are. They need to be able to freely accept those risks and consequences or walk away from them as they are comfortable or able, especially as things escalate. Think about it like sex with a partner who has a right to say "no" (or use the safety word) at any time. That's practicing consent.
However, it is not clear that all Artwalk chalkers or Artwalkers who became confrontational with police knew those risks and consequences and made their decisions based on knowledge of those risks. In fact, it's pretty clear that at least some of them didn't. This is especially crucial as it concerns vulnerable individuals and communities: folks who are on probation or parole, those with prior criminal convictions, transgender folk, the young, the elderly, the disabled, and of course, the undocumented or those who could become deportable via negative contact with the law (i.e. permanent residents or folks on visas).
Just to continue on this idea, responsibility doesn't end with the action, it continues until everyone entangled is out of the clutches of the police state and its complex. Fortunately, the most conscientious of the OLA comrades are aware of this and are working very hard on the cases of the people who were caught up, and that fact deserves to be recognized.
Before I move on to conclusions, I'd like to point out a few other ways the for-profit media is fucking up. Censorship: KTLA interviewed the same vato as Sam Slovick, but neglected to show his baseball-sized welt. If you're gonna interview the guy that got shot, wouldn't you think you'd mention it and show visual evidence? In all likelihood that was the reporter's intent but these decisions are made at the editorial level, not by the face in front of the camera.
And this last one is pretty silly, but worth mentioning. The photo gallery on the LA Times website has some decent images, but is sorely lacking in accuracy and context. For example, the caption on the photo of the march to Fort Manning Friday night says that the march was in response to the police action. Wrong! That march for Manning had been planned for weeks prior to the Chalk Walk, and was about Pvt. Manning, even of some of the anger about the chalk was still palpable. The photographer (or the captioner?) also fucks up by calling the rubber bullet rifles "non-lethal." Wrong again. Those shits can kill. And finally, on a lighter note, at least one of those pics highlights the fact that it was amateur night. All of us have photos of ourselves standing in front of a row of riot cops (or with them behind us) because we participate in the struggles that bring on the repression. But one of the LA Times pics (and a YouTube video) demonstrate that for most of those people, this was the first time they had ever seen it, and they were snapping up the chance at the "romantic" or "funny" photo op.
Let's move on to conclusions. I contend that the evaluation of this action depends on the outcome, which has yet to be seen. We're already starting to see some of it on both sides, from the anti-Occupy that always crops up everywhere, en masse, usually from the corporate sector and the rightwing commentators (and I'm including those assholes like Randy Treadway who just make stupid comments from their facebook pages on the LA Times comment section and this Robert Vogel motherfucker on YouTube who don't know the shit he's talking about--you seen that?) to the pro-Occupy gallery owner who, post Chalk Walk, realized that "[t]he government is treated [sic] people like dirt and is suppressing our basic rights to be heard." This is the battle of public opinion, and it's still being waged, so don't hesitate to get your voice out there, if not somewhere very public, then at least to your friends and family on your facebook. What you say will influence how they think about it. (On second thought, some of you should probably remain silent.)
But the battle of public opinion on the web is not as important as the opinions of the non-activist people that were there, and whether or not they are politicized or radicalized by their experience. It only takes one good police riot to catalyze a "normal" person into somebody who not only realizes that shit-is-fucked-up-and-bullshit, but who is also willing to do something about it. 'Til then, the jury's out!
Report this post as:
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
More Local News...
Behind the scenes at fbi National Academy
Treasury Takes Aim at Shell Companies
Paraphysique de l'intelligence
Oklahoma GOP Senator Jim Inhofe's Bloody Record
Globalization: hope on the horizon despite Fake Liberals.
Sorry President Trump,Ted Cruz Texas Judicial System,is Worse Than Many Shithole Countries
The Shortwave Report 07/20/18 Listen Globally!
3 Essential Videos
The System Question as a Survival Question
“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen
Nation's Largest Voting Machine Co., ESS, Admits Lying Re Having Installed Remote Control
Du pain et des jeux
Fbi joins with Facebook to remove this report
Paraphysique de martyrologie
Asian Countries:Cambodia, Vietnam, N. Korea do not permit unlawful immigration
Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator
Democratic Socialists of America
Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's
Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Cleanup
FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution?
Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians
The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally!
Social Policy as Social Infrastructure
Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud
Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner..
June 2018 Honduras coup update
Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support
More Breaking News...