Tag Archives: oakland

Push and pull

There’s been a lot of strange back-and-forths in the news this week. Here’s a short list of some interesting forms of that which I saw crop up in the past couple days.

From Sanders to Clinton, yet again

I’ve written here before about one of the key dynamics in the current Democratic presidential primary being how further left critics of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have nudged her into adopting more liberal policy proposals. With Clinton largely holding her own on issues of social justice, the main part of that has been on economic policy. Most obviously, sitting Vermont Senator and fellow candidate Bernie Sanders has effectively pushed Clinton into adopting similar platforms to him on the availability of higher education.

That said, similar efforts to promote unionization and financial industry regulation haven’t (yet?) become shared policy ideas between Sanders and Clinton. On Tuesday, the Campaign for America’s Future asked if one of the most recent iterations of those economic politics from the Sanders-Warren wing of the Democratic Party might be picked up by Clinton. In this case, it’s a repeal of a “performance pay” tax exemption for larger companies in order to pay for cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients. Fresh from having failed to assure a number of people that she wants to protect Social Security in the long term, Clinton might need to pick this battle, unless she wants to write off a large chunk of the Democratic primary vote.

The Keystone Pipeline is dead! Long live the Keystone Pipeline!

Recently, the proposal to build a new pipeline from Canada to shipping areas in the southern US was officially rejected by the Obama administration. The company that has been seeking the pipeline’s construction for years now thinks they might have another Clinton-economics-related shot at getting it done in spite of that though: NAFTA. As the Hill put it, they “could ask a tribunal to mandate compensation from the United States for rejecting the pipeline, or even require that the project be approved.” With the possibility of the Trans-Pacific Partnership looming in our future, it seems important to note how its smaller, weaker predecessor allows business interests to challenge and even overrule the decisions of a democratically-elected government.

Who will survive in America?

One of the criticisms of the Keystone Pipeline, is the displacement that it already has begun to cause within certain rural communities. Unfortunately, that upheaval is hardly unique to that specific part of the US, as artist and astrophysicist Nia Imara documented in her recent photography project about gentrification in Oakland. The East Bay Express published earlier this week a short but intriguing look into her process and relationship with the community while creating her work.

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Twitter Livecast

It’s been a while since I’ve liveblogged much of anything, and I’m going to hop back into that with a bit of an experiment. I’m going to try out my new phone’s twitter mobile by combining a liveblog with some local politics. The Alternative Night Out, put on by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and affiliated with the #SafetyIs campaign will be held tomorrow night 5 to 8 in Oakland, at the Lake Merrit Amphitheater. I’ll be there, noting away what the ambitious event, which will in part be about “collectively developing alternatives” to the policing and security politics reinforced by the national Night Out, at which police and their local communities meet and coordinate.

As always, you can follow my reactions to, thoughts about, and descriptions of the event here, on my twitter.

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It’s not just Trayvon

TW: George Zimmerman’s acquittal, racism, racist criminalization, police brutality

By now you’ve hopefully realized that a defining feature of the still on-going Zimmerman case (there’s always civil suits!) was how racist ideas about Black people create an image of them that’s inevitably, invariably criminal. This phenomenon has a terribly academic name, racist criminalization, that unfortunately rolls off the tongue about as easily as a brick does. In spite of its regrettable inaccessibility, it’s a really useful term for describing the fears that are now rippling out of this specific case and into the depiction of Black people’s reactions across the US to it.

As Jenée Desmond-Harris, herself Black, put it – many White people seem almost disappointed in the lack of a riot, since that would have confirmed every idea about Black people as violent, criminal, and unstable (never mind the context of yet another man getting away with murdering one of them). A lot of attention has been placed on a few sporadic instances of vandalism in Oakland, with minimal to no attention paid to more dangerous conditions which were typically created by police in response to protestors.

Below is one video account of a confrontation between protesters on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and LAPD. Obviously, the mostly young and of color protesters weren’t the most polite as at :57 they begin to loudly greet the police with the chant “I believe that we will win” (that is, that Zimmerman will eventually be convicted). By 1:14 however, they’ve begun moving away from the police, only for a loud noise to interrupt the few remaining chants. At 1:30 it’s revealed that the noise was a police officer driving through the crowd on a police-issued motorcycle which elicited shouts of “be careful with that”. A confrontation ensues, resulting in the protesters shouting various slogans (including the Vietnam War era favorite, “how many kids have you killed today?” and the more modern “stop killer cops”) at the police.

By 3:51, shouts for people to move on from the confrontation had caused almost everyone in the crowd to look away from the police and move away from the area where they had been arguing. As they’re leaving, however, one officer, who appears to be the same one that initially drew the crowd with his reckless behavior, raced through the group and grabbed one particularly young, Black teenager. He pulls the teen away from the others who begin shouting at him to stop, and one of whom (at 4:04) pulls him out of the officer’s grip. You can hear the protesters at this point calling for someone (it’s unclear if they mean their fellow protesters or the police) to “back up”. The police move forward and begin firing “warning” shots at 4:14. The tape ends shortly after, once the protesters have fled out of range of the police amid calls to “keep marching”.

To be clear: there were multiple points where the crowd began moving away from the police – once before the incident with the motorcycle, after they decided that that incident wasn’t worth arguing over, and during the calls for people to “back up” after a police officer grabbed a young Black person. That indicates pretty strongly that the protesters, while clearly wanting to criticize the behavior of the police then and generally, also hoped to avoid a physical conflict. The police officers, on the other hand, indicated otherwise through their unprofessional endangerment of the protesters (first by using a motorcycle in the crowd, then by grabbing one protester with a nightstick in the other hand, and finally by using warning shots against a retreating group of protesters).

It’s important to hold on to those facts in the next coming days, if what coverage has happened so far is an indication. The narrative of Black people as violent criminals is an extremely established one.

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