Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Running Down the Walls 2012 Carrera para Bajar los Muros 2012

by Rockero, photos by Lane Farnham Monday, Sep. 03, 2012 at 5:01 PM 
Throughout the US and Canada, chapters of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation held simultaneous runs to raise funds for the needs of political prisoners and prisoners of war, as well as to continue to chip away at the system that massively incarcerates impoverished people and colonized people worldwide. Runs were also held at four prisons. In Los Angeles, the event drew about thirty runners to MacArthur Park. There they joined members of Revolutionary Autonomous Communities who were present for the weekly food program, danzantes from Danza Cuauhtémoc, in attendance to bless the run, and supporters from the radical community throughout Southern California. The over $1000 raised was split between ABC to replenish the warchest and RAC to support its ongoing mutual aid and organizing efforts.

A lo largo de los Estados Unidos y Canadá, comités de la Federación Cruz Negra Anarquista (ABC, por sus siglas en inglés) realizaron carreras simultáneas para recaudar fondos para las necesidades de presxs políticxs, al igual que para seguir derrotando el sistema que encarcela a una escala masiva a gente empobrecida y gente colonizada por todo el mundo. También se efectuaron carreras en cuatro penales. En Los Ángeles, alrededor de treinta partícipes asistieron al evento en el Parque MacArthur. A sus filas se sumaron integrantes de Comunidades Autónomas Revolucionarias (RAC, por sus siglas en inglés), quienes se presentan cada domingo para su programa semanal de repartición de alimentos, danzantes de Danza Cuauhtémoc, quienes llegaron para bendecir el evento, y adherentes de comunidades radicales de todas partes del sur de California. La suma de la recaudación, que superó mil dólares, se dividirá entre ABC para suplir su tesoro y RAC para solvemtar sus esfuerzos organizativos y de asistencia mutua.
There are dozens of political prisoners and prisoners of war currently being held in US prisons.1 The majority of them were active in the liberation struggles, especially the Black liberation struggle, of the 60s and 70s, although some of them have been captured due to their involvement in more recent struggles. Other former prisoners have died in prison from assassination (such as George Jackson and Joseph Waddell), old age, and illness (such as Kuwasi Bulagoon), due in part to the inadequate medical care provided to prisoners, which is aggravated for political prisoners. Some freedom fighters, such as Safiya Bukhari and Ojore Lutalo, have served lengthy sentences and have since been released. (Bukhari has since passed away.) At least one prisoner was freed by her comrades, and now is safe in exile in Cuba (Assata Shakur). It is also important to note that some prisoners, while not originally incarcerated for political activity, become politicized and engage in struggle once on the inside, and often face repurcussions for their political activity.

The Anarchist Black Cross exists to provide support to those who are paying the consequences for revolutionary activity. One of the primary ways that support is provided is financially. Prisoners are detached from any form of self-sufficiency and are unable to meet basic needs, and the ABC helps to fill that gap. ABC also helps provide support to prisoners returning to the struggle on the outside once they have finished their sentences. Finally, ABC promotes awareness of political prisoners and prisoners of war and the need to support them as part of the larger struggle for social justice by publishing and distributing literature.

The Los Angeles chapter of ABC is one of the longest-standing chapters in the country, and in addition to the work around prisoners, has contributed the preservation of historical memory of Los Angeles radicalism through its website and its historical walking tours. (The walking tours are now being carried out under the auspices of the Black Rose Society, which will hold a tour of San Pedro on September 15 that will focus on the history of the IWW in the port and the 1923 general strike.)

Prior to the run, Cuco from the danzas led an indigenous ceremony to ask permission from the four directions, as well as from other cosmic forces, to carry out the events. The ceremony was followed by statements of solidarity received from prisoners, as well as a statement from the Mexico City chapter of ABC.

Here are the statements:

The ABCF Warchest Program helps us. Thank you for attending to our basic financial needs. You don’t talk about it, you be about it. Thus I take great pride in and am comforted by your steadfast support of our political prisoners and POWs.
Your consistency in this regard and your social practice in general – “telling no lies and claiming no easy victories, “ is commendable. You teach by example.
Therefore, I strongly support you and the solidarity run. The race goes not to the swiftest but to those who endure.
Your Brother,
Herman Bell

Solidarity isn’t an abstract idea haphazardly thrown around like craps. Solidarity is a way of consciously living that is explicitly interwoven into an anarchists existence. Such a way of being transcends nation-state borders, prison walls, electric fences, and fascist barricades. Direct action infused in solidarity with us on the inside and you on the outside not only challenges systematic mass incarceration, but it shatters the social relations perpetuated by the prison industrial complex. Although I am behind prison walls in a scorching California desert, I am under the same sky, under the same sun, and am running down the same walls with you in solidarity towards freedom.
Phillip "Nomas" Ruiz
Blythe, California

To All Runners of Los Angeles,
My name is Oso Blanco. I am a powerful warrior; good things are going to come to me- big positive things- so I may be set free from fed prison and return to helping others. Before the universe I say, “Let is be so!” I say to the universe and all of you for RDTW – For we are all related and part of the universe, “Rise Up! Make it happen!” The government holds me hostage because of my inner power and I say reverse this with me. Set us all free.
Love Oso Blanco, EZLN supply line warrior.

My thanks to you all for choosing to participate in an active remembrance of those hidden by the state. in our simplest and smallest acts we can nourish healthy communities and by coming together through intention our reach expands to embrace even those in the belly of the beast who may feel as though they cannot contribute. here's to the removal of the walls which separate us, and those systems which slow their natural pattern in life = to crumble.
Eric McDavid, ELF PP

To the runners
A short message just to send a greeting from Mexican land. We want this event to be a success and that soon we see all the walls fall down, not just those who are holding many of our comrades in prison, but also those that divide us by borders.
Here in Mexico we have two imprisoned anarchist comrades, but there are thousands of people in prison just because they are poor or indigenous. As ABC we are working for the destruction of these killing centers that prisons are and we are very happy to continue this fight with you.
Falling all the walls!
Solidarity forever!
ABC Cruz Negra Anarquista México

Dear Friends in the LA ABCF
Thanks so much for you letter regarding the planned Running Down the Walls. I got it on July 19th. I was afraid, frankly to say, your notice also evaporated as some of my letters do, incoming as well as outgoing. Therefore, I felt happy to know.
Anyhow, we, in FCI Terre Haute population, have organized a solidarity run with Running Down the Walls on the same day, but time is of choosing, forgive us.
The summer is extremely hot in this area, as you might know. I myself am in good condition since I run a little over 5k daily. Thus, I’m ready for the planned run. I hope your planned run is successful.
In Solidarity,
T. Shirosaki July 22, 2012.

Runners then braved high temperatures to join comrades in Brooklyn, Tucson, Denver, Connecticut River (Massachussets), Berkeley, as well is in the Canadian cities of Guelph (Ontario) and Penticton (British Columbia) in running down the walls. Prisons joining in solidarity runs included USP Terre Haute, USP Tucson, FCI Terminal Island, and USP Big Sandy.

Most participants took three laps around the perimeter of MacArthur Park, which measures approximately three miles. Some cycled, while others walked. Some pushed babies in strollers. As they finished their laps, triumphant runners were cheered by a crowd of spectators. They then ate food and drank water in celebration with other members of the community.

Those interested in freeing all political prisoners were urged to join the Jericho Movement, which will be meeting at the Southern California library on September 15 at 5:PM.


1. The Jericho Movement lists 67 political prisoners on its website. http://www.thejerichomovement.com/prisoners.html The Anarchist Black Cross lists 48. http://www.abcf.net/abcf.asp?page=prisoners\

Actualmente decenas de presxs políticxs y prisionerxs de guerra están recluídos en prisiones estadounidenses.1 En su mayoría, fueron partícipes en las luchas sociales de los 60 y los 70, en particular la lucha por la liberación negra, aunque a algunxs se les capturó debido a su participación en luchas más recientes. Otrxs ex-presxs se han muerto encarcelado, ya sea por asesinato (como en los casos de George Jackson y Joseph Waddell), vejez, y enfermedad (como Kuwasi Bulagoon). Los casos de enfermedad se deben parcialmente a la insuficiencia de cuidado médico en el sistema carcelario, la cual que se agrava para presxs políticxs. Algunxs luchadorxs por la libertad, como Safiya Bukhari y Ojore Lutalo, han salido a la libertad después de largas sentencias. (Bukhari falleció en 2003.) Por lo menos una prisionera fue liberada por sus compañerxs, y ahora vive en la seguridad del destierro en Cuba (Assata Shakur). Cabe destacar que algunxs reos, aunque no encarceladxs por actividad en un principio, se politizan y luchan ya estando adentro, y a menudo enfrentan represalias por su actividad política.

Cruz Negra Anarquista existe para proporcionar apoyo para lxs que están pagando las consecuencias de su actividad revolucionaria. Una de las principales maneras de brindar ese apoyo es monetariamente. A lxs presxs se les despoja cualquier forma de ser autosuficiente y por consecuente, no alcanzan solventar sus necesidades apremiantes. La Cruz Negra ayuda a llenar esa carencia económica. Por último, ABC conscientiza en torno a presxs políticxs y prisionerxs de guerra y sensibiliza acerca de la necesidad de apoyarlxs como parte de la lucha más amplia por la justicia social mediante la publicación y repartición de literatura.

El comité de ABC de Los Ángeles es uno de los comité de más larga trayectoria en el país, y en adición a su trabajo carcelario, ha contribuído a la preservación de la memoria histórica del radicalismo angelino a través de su sitio web y sus caminatas históricas. (Estas caminatas son auspiciadas hoy en día por la Sociedad Rosa Negra, la cual realizará una caminata por San Pedro el 15 de septiembre que enfocará sobre la historia del IWW en el puerto y la huelga general de 1923.)

Antes de la carrera, el danzante Cuco dirigió una ceremonia indígena para pedir permiso para llevar a cabo el evento de los cuatro puntos cardinales, al igual que de las demas fuerzas cósmicas. En seguida de la ceremonia, se leyeron declaraciones de solidaridad de ciertos presos, y también un mensaje del comité defequeño de la Cruz Negra Anarquista.

Las declaraciones fueron las siguientes:

El programa del Tesoro de ABCF nos ayuda. Gracias por atender a nuestras necesidades financieras básicas. Ustedes no hablan de ser solidarios y solidarias, ustedes en verdad lo son. Por ende, me da mucho orgullo y socorro su apoyo consistente de nuestrxs presxs políticxs y prisionerxs de guerra.
Su constancia en este respecto y su práctica de justicia social en general de "no echar mentiras ni tomar el mérito para ninguan victoria fácil" es loable. Enseñan por ejemplo.
Por consecuente, lxs apoyo fuertemente y apoyo su carrera de solidaridad. La persona que perdura, no la que termina primero, es la que gana.
Su hermano,
Herman Bell.

La solidaridad no es una idea abstacta que se avienta al azar como un par de dados, sino una manera de vivir conscientemente que se teje explícitamente con la existencia del o de la anarquista. Tal es una manera de ser que transciende las fronteras del estado-nación, los muros de los penales, las bardas eléctricas, y las barricadas fascistas. La acción directa infundida con solidaridad con nosotrxs que estamos adentro, y ustedes por fuera, no sólamente le pone reto al encarcelamiento masivo, sino que despedaza las relaciones sociales perpetuadas por el complejo industrial penal. Aunque me encuentre detrás de la rejas en un desierto chamuscante de California, estoy bajo el mismo cielo, bajo el mismo sol, y estoy corriendo para aniquilar los mismos muros con ustedes en solidaridad hacia la libertad.
Phillip "Nomas" Ruiz
Blythe, California

A todxs lxs carreristas de Los Ángeles
Mi nombre es Oso Blanco. Soy guerrero poderoso; cosas buenas me queda por delante, cosas grandes y positivas, para que me liberen de la prisión federal y regrese a ayudar al prójimo.
Ante el universo, declaro "¡Que así sea!" Se lo digo al universo y a todxs ustedes para RDTW - porque todxs somos parientes y formamos parte del universo, "¡Levántense! ¡Háganlo realidad!" El gobierno me tiene de rehén por mi poder interior, y yo digo, deshagan esto conmigo. Libertad para todxs.
Amor de Oso Blanco
Guerrero de línea de apoyo material al EZLN.

Mis agradecimientos a todxs ustedes por elegir participar en una membranza activa de lxs que esconde el estado. en nuestros hechos más pequeños y simples podemos nutrir comunidades sanas, y al unirse a través de nuestra intención, se expande nuestro alcance para abrazar incluso a lxs que están en el vientre de la bestia que puedan sentir que no tiene cómo contribuir. un brindis a la quitada de los muros que nos separan, y aquellos sistemas que atrasan su secuencia natural de vida = que se desmoronen.
Eric McDavid, PP del ELF

A lxs carreristas
Un mensaje breve nada más para mandar un saluido de tierras mexicanas. Queremos que este evenot sea un éxito y que pronot veamos caer todos los muros, no sólo los que encierran a muchxs de muestrxs compañerxs en la prisión, sino también los que nos dividen por fronteras.
Aquí en México hemos dos camaradas anarquistas presos, pero son miles de gente encarcelada sólo porque son pobres o indígenas. Como ABC estamos trabajando para la destrucción de estos centros de matanza que son las prisiones y estamos contentxs de continuar esta lucha con ustedes.
¡Que se caigan todos los muros!
¡Solidaridad siempre!
ABC Cruz Negra Anarquista México

Queridxs amigxs en la ABCF de LA Tantas gracias por su carta concerniente la planeada Carrera para Bajar los Muros. Me llegó el 19 de julio. Tenía miedo, para decirles francamente, la noticia también evaporó así como algunas de mis cartas, tantas las entrantes como las salientes. Por lo tanto, me sentí contenco de saber.
Bueno, nosotros de la población de FCI Terre Haute, hemos organizado una carrera de solidaridad para el mismo día, pero el tiempo es de [nuestra] elección, perdónennos.
En verano hace un calor estremo en esta área, así como tal vez lo sepan. Por mi cuenta estoy en buenas condiciones ya que corro un poco más de 5k diario. Por eso, estoy listo para la carrera planeada. Espero que su carrera programasa sea exitosa.
En solidaridad,
T. Shirosaki
Julio 22, 2012

Luego lxs carreristas desafiaron las altas temperaturas para unirse con compañerxs de Brooklyn, Tucsón, Denver, Río Connecticut (Massachussets), Berkeley, al igual que en las ciudades canadienses de Penticton (Colombia Británica) y Guelph (Ontario). Reclusorios que participaron en carreras solidarias incluyeron USP Terre Haute, USP Tucsón, FCI Terminal Island, y USO Big Sandy.

La mayoría de lxs participantes dieron tres vueltas al perímetro del parque, lo cual que mide aproximadamente tres millas. Algunxs anduvieron en bicicleta, mientras que otrxs caminaron. Algunxs empujaron carriolas con niñxs. En lo que terminaban sus vueltas, una multitud de espectadores echaron porras a lxs carreristas triunfantes. Luego comieron y bebieron agua con otrxs miembros de la comunidad.

A la gente a la que se le interese liberar a todxs lxs presxs políticxs, se les instó a unirse al Movimiento Jericó, que tendrá reunión el 15 de septiembre a las cinco PM en la Biblioteca del Sur de California.


1. El Movimiento Jericó nombra a 67 presxs políticxs en su sitio de internet. http://www.thejerichomovement.com/prisoners.html La Cruz Negra Anarquista maneja una lista de 48. http://www.abcf.net/abcf.asp?page=prisoners


Runners lining up to register






Reading statements


Reading and interpreting statements


Supporter from RAC


Literature from ABC table


Food from RAC mutual aid program


Supporter from RAC

Pomona City Council Chooses Trash Over Residents


by Rockero, photos by Melissa Ayala Monday, Jul. 23, 2012 at 2:12 AM 
Monday, July 16, 2012

POMONA, California - A city council meeting to decide the fate of a proposed waste transfer station in the city's impoverished east end became contentious as various factions interacted at a pre-meeting rally. After a long corporate presentation and an even longer public comment period, the council voted against the vast majority of the community to approve the project. Protest, including some shoving involving police, ensued.
Pomona City Council ...
Valley Vista, the company proposing the project, has had its eye on Pomona for over ten years now, during which time it has been making financial contributions to politicians and non-profits, halting political payouts (except to the mayor) just in time for the councilmembers to be able to legally (but not ethically) vote on the project.

Upon its initial proposal about two years ago, Valley Vista sought just over ten acres on which to build a regional "transfer station" that would sort garbage from 11 area cities before shipping it to landfills and other destinations.

Of course, the plan provoked consternation among residents, who already suffer from high rates of police violence, poverty, and environmental racism.

The Los Angeles affiliate of the Alinskyist Industrial Areas Foundation, One LA, played a leading role in creating awareness about the project. However, once the community became aware, concerned youth unaffiliated with the IAF spearheaded efforts to spread that awareness throughout the affected area by door-knocking, creating art, and holding demonstrations. Nonetheless, these youth were excluded from negotiations that One LA entered into with David Perez, the owner of Valley Vista and the disgraced former mayor of the neighboring City of Industry. (Perez resigned in late June, purportedly for health reasons,1 but under clouds of numerous allegations of corruption regarding city contracts with his family businesses, as well as for contributions to LA county district attorney Steve Cooley's re-election fund while the city was under investigation for conflicts of interest regarding the contracts.2)

One LA, apparently having come accepted that the station was a foregone conclusion, came up with a set of demands on the company rather than organizing to prevent the establishment of the station in the city outright. These included demands addressing environmental concerns, such as the demand that the station be served by no diesel-fueled trucks, that the facility not include a diesel fueling station, and for a reduction in the tonnage of waste processed there.

Others are better-termed conciliatory petitions, such as the "demand" that the 50-some jobs predicted by the company be designated specifically for Pomona residents. (A more genuine demand would be for union jobs, or at very least, that the employer respect the workers' right to unionize if they so choose. In One LA's negotiations, the issue of unionization was not even on the table.)

Some, on the other hand, were just self-serving, including the demand that Valley Vista fund a "clean and green" non-profit that would be managed by a board composed of One LA members.

These demands, and the negotiations around them, were not generally known to the public until the company's appeal before the planning commission last Monday. (Public opposition to the transfer station had resulted in the Pomona city planning commission's deadlocked vote, effectively denying the permit application.)

One LA scheduled a rally just prior to the meeting and mobilized a fair number of people from its member institutions, which consist of a few, mostly white Protestant churches in the Pomona and Claremont area, a heavily-Latino Catholic church, and the Associated Pomona Teachers. While the public messaging about the rally continued to be "stop the 9th street transfer station" on facebook and elsewhere,3 One LA was prepared to support the project if its demands were met. And in negotiations between a select group of individuals from the member congregations, the deal was all but guaranteed.

However, just prior to the meeting, which was held in a large lecture hall at Western University downtown (which was controversial in itself due to Western's stated support for the project), word got out about the secret negotiation. Other groups also showed up to rally, although with their own causes.

Valley Vista brought its own supporters, who wore green buttons reading "Jobs for Pomona" and carried picket signs bearing supportive messages. Most, if not all, were employees from other Valley Vista operations.

Activists affiliated with Pomona Habla, a community coalition that has focused primarily on the checkpoint and vehicle impound issues that disproportionately affect the undocumented population, generally oppose the project, but rallied in support of a popular referendum to allow the people decide whether they wanted the station or not. A similar referendum was held about six years ago and shot down the idea.

But the most vociferous group was an autonomous group of Pomona youth, who were livid not only about the trash, but also about One LA's exclusive negotiations. Other unaffiliated community members gravitated toward this group. They carried signs that read "One LA doesn't speak for me!" and chanted "No transfer station! No negotiation!" Their chants drowned out One LA's amplified speeches, and some One LA members became very defensive in the face of the criticism.

Things heated up as the time for the meeting approached, but calmed again as the 400-some interested folks filed into the hall.

Following strict admonitions against cell phone usage, applauding, booing, and other uncontrolled forms of participation, the first item on the agenda was a lengthy presentation from Valley vista detailing the project. After the presentation, councilmember Freddie Rodriguez asked how much the city was going to be receiving from the company for upkeep to roads resulting from the increased traffic by the garbage trucks, and learned that the figure was one million dollars. The estimated cost of the repairs, he learned on further inquiry, was between three and five million.

The presentation was followed by the public comment period, which was divided between supporters and opponents. David Perez and his attorney spoke first. In his comments, Perez discussed some of the amendments the company had made to the application based on the negotiations with One LA. Most of the project supporters came from Pomona's business community, including the chamber of commerce and the Downtown Owners Association. Some, however, came from the non-profit sector. The Boys and Girls Club, for example, registered its support for Valley Vista. It has received financial contributions from the business4 and David Perez is president of the executive committee of its board of directors.5 Their comments took about a half hour.

Next followed the comments of the opponents, which grouped One LA members with the other opponents of the project. The impassioned speeches were based on intensive research, concern for the youth, and especially, fear of the environmental impact of the plant. Leaders from One LA did their best to register conditional support, but for the most part, their comments ended up sounding neutral. Their rank-and-file members gave speeches that were not as carefully-aligned with the official message of the organization, and which made many good points. Other speakers included a man who spoke in Spanish about his opposition to the plant, and who has been turning in signed petitions at every public meeting on the topic. On Monday he turned in another 600-odd signatures, bringing his total to about 6,000. Another resident took advantage of the presence of the president of Western University to denounce the planned clearing of several magnolia and jacaranda trees from Western's parking lots to make way for a housing project. She spoke against the station, and used the final moments of her comments to bring attention to Perez's resignation from the mayorship of the City of Industry, the only speaker to do so. One young artist recommended that instead of a waste transfer station, that the city instead install an eco-friendly composting facility. Jim Sanbrano, the attorney with the Pomona Habla coalition, brought up the potential illegality of One LA's negotiations, citing a ruling that found that such talks must be held in public. One man spoke of the danger to the water table beneath the city. Many questioned One LA's authority to negotiate on behalf of the entire city. Wary of the police presence to enforce the "no applause" ban, numerous participants, especially the youth, "twinkled" their fingers in support of comments they agered with in the manner of occupy.

In total, over an hour's worth of public commentary critical of the proposal was given and heard by the majority of the council. Among those not listening were the mayor, who had recused himself from the hearing for having received campaign contributions from the company, and councilmember Ginna Escobar, who was too busy texting, fixing her hair, and otherwise disengaging from the process.

Perez and his attorney took more than their allotted time of five minutes to theatrically rebut their critics, and then the council launched into discussions. During the discussions, an audience member who is a well-respected writer and a mentor to many of the area DREAMers, asked about the water issue and was promptly ejected from the meeting by the police. Councilmember Cristina Carrizosa questioned the last-minute changes to the proposal based on One LA's negotiations. "Why are these changes being made now? We have been relying on documentation detailing a prior version of this project, and are not in a position to make a decision without the chance to analyze the changes." She made a motion to subject the proposal to a popular vote. The air became tense as the room waited for someone to second, which would have allowed the motion to go forward. None came. As the moderator moved to the next point, one young man shouted out "Shame on you! Shame on you!" Police quickly moved in to silence and eject him, but he left voluntarily. He inspired others to do the same. "If you kick him out, you'd better kick me out too!" "This is not democracy!" and further shouts of "Shame!" were heard as a large contingent of angry residents exited the lecture hall.

Discussions of voting the council out of office gave way to chants of "November will smell like trash!" from outside the hall. Police began herding protesters out of the hallways, using force at times. One elderly man took a spill on the steps from the force.

The crowd regained composure and began quietly discussing the issue when police approached and informed the group that it had to leave the premises. The administration of private university had ordered their removal, calling into question yet again the council's choice of location for the "public" meeting.

As midnight neared, the council finally took their votes. Carrizosa and Rodriguez voted to oppose certification of the environmental impact report, with the remainder of the council voting to in favor of its certification. Carrizosa and Rodriguez also opposed the parcel map, with the remaining councilmembers approving it. Carrizosa left the meeting in protest, and missed the vote to approve the conditional use permit, leaving Rodriguez as the only vote oppositional vote. The project was approved.

The decision marks an obstacle for the movements for democracy and environmental justice in Pomona and the greater region. Numerous avenues to overcoming the obstacle are being explored, including legal injuctions, demonstrations, and research into allegations of corruption, including suspicions that councilmember Danielle Soto's campaign manager is on Valley Vista's payroll, among others.

The issue also raises other issues about the political process in Pomona. Does a single organization, even if composed of numerous groups, have the authority to privately negotiate on behalf of all the residents of the city? Why has One LA changed its name to the "Inland Empire Sponsoring Committee," and what is it sponsoring? Are non-profits in the city "for sale" to corporations making tax-deductible donations to them? Where are the voices of the oppressed in the process, especially when the negotiating organization is composed primarily of white, middle-to upper class elderly church members? Why is the teacher's union supporting the project when there is no guarantee that the workers will have the benefit of union protections? How can Pomona solve the unemployment and poverty problems within its boundaries without creating environmental hazards of which the poorest and most marginalized will bear the brunt? How can we organize in such a way that not only produces concrete victories and changes, but also avoids the pitfalls of NIMBYism and creates a space for consciousness-raising about local and global issues?

The community, angered by the trash company's purchase of their democracy as well as the perception that One LA has sold them out for its own short-term benefit, will be seeking answers to these questions as it renews its own organizational process and its pursuit of justice.

1. Baeder, Ben. "2 minutes and $228 million: Here's how Industry spends its money." San Gabriel Valley Tribune, June 30, 2012. Accessed July 23, 2012. http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_20979720/2-minutes-and-228-million-heres-how-industry

2. Connell, Rich. "Cooley's donations raise questions about the line between fundraising and probes." Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2010. Accessed July 23, 2012. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/06/local/la-me-cooley-contributions-20100906

3. "Don't Trash Pomona! | Stop the 9th Street Waste Transfer Station." https://www.facebook.com/donttrashpomona. Accessed July 23, 2012.

4. Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley. "Our Supporters." http://www.bgcpv.org/about-us/our-supporters/. Accessed Junly 23, 2012.

5. Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley. "Board of Directors." http://www.bgcpv.org/faculty/board-of-directors/. Accessed Junly 23, 2012.


One LA rally.


Full house


Corporate presentation




Teacher speaks out


Youth speak out


Ginna Escobar has better things to do than listen to the public and participate in the meeting. In this photo, she reads a text. Who is it from?


Ejected from the meeting


Post-walkout meeting

Big surprise: Corporate media fucks up chalk walk story

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!

Police arrest copwatcher during checkpoint, Occupy Riverside responds


Friday, May 18, 2012 

RIVERSIDE (California) - Police arrested a woman for observing a checkpoint Friday evening. The community responded in protest, occupying the area in front of Robert Presley Detention Center overnight, marching, and demanding the release of our comrade. The woman was released to the hospital at approximately eight o'clock Saturday morning, despite having suffered an epileptic seizure some nine hours earlier.
Police arrest copwat...
Friday turned out to be a long day for many occupiers and their allies. Some had attended the Labor Studies Conference at UCR, and quite a number were also at the Bank of America protest in the afternoon. Even those who weren't were at the earlier events had planned on attending a nuclear power-themed general assembly and a strategies session. But plans changed when activists spotted the downtown police roadblock on northbound Market Avenue.

Immediately, people showed up with signs to warn approaching drivers and cameras to document any abuses or police incidents. The operation's commander was notified that observation and documentation was going to be taking place at a distance.

Monitors stood on the sidewalk in between the street where the checkpoint was taking place in and the parking lot that served as both staging area and secondary inspection area.

Northbound motorists in both lanes were stopped and demanded their driver's licenses. Some were asked if they had had anything to drink. Many were directed into the parking lot, where many families were removed from vehicles and numerous vehicles were towed.

At about 7:30, an officer approached the group of about six copwatchers, one of whom was filming, and ordered them to leave. The man who was filming asked if he was breaking a law, and if so, which one. The officer responded that it was a matter of officer safety and that he couldn't conduct the checkpoint and "keep an eye on" the activists at the same time. When the man repeated the question, the officer said that he wasn't gonig to answer any more questions, and that if the group did not remove itself in five seconds, they would be arrested. He called for backup and started moving in on the man, who backed up quickly, and the group began to leave. One of the group, a 22-year old woman and a student at Riverside Community College, was arrested.

The activists were unnerved and at that point the observation action turned into a protest of the arrest. Over the next two hours, numerous supporters arrived to the location to join the protest. A meeting was called and a decision made to wait outside the jail and protest the arrest. When it became clear that she would not be out until the morning, we retrieved our pillows and blankets and set up camp for the night.

The area was scrawled with chalked messages of and solidarity and others that read "ftp." Signs were placed in the trees and on walls surrounding the detention center. The Occupy Riverside banner was placed on the steps of the detention center, and when deputies ordered its removal, an even larger one was tied it between two trees in front of the sheriff's door. This, too, was ordered down, under allegations that it was a safety hazard because "someone might not see" the 20-foot banner. Unfazed, the occupiers tied the banner between the poles holding the city streetlights.

As people exited the jail, they were surprised to see the number of people but were encouraged that we were out there. They were not surprised to learn of the injustice committed by the police, and several shared stories of abuse by police and sheriffs in the detention center. Many also joined us, opting to show their solidarity for our sister and with our efforts against the system.

To pass the time, we chanted, sang, and read together. We took time to get to know the new people who had joined us. We made signs and banners. We ate and drank coffee and smoked cigarettes.

At about seven in the morning, we saw an ambulance pull into the back of the jail. Concerned for the safety of our friend and aware of her medical condition, we rushed inside, only to learn that the desk clerk had no information. Two hours later, an official came out and informed us that the accused had been transferred to the county hospital in Moreno Valley. We rushed over there and were eventually able to visit her.

She was discharged at about noon.

Once we were able to speak to hear, we learned what had happened. Authorities had attempted to pump her for information, but were thwarted when she asserted her right to not speak. They made snide comments about Occupy and the protest. They needlessly seized her footwear. They ignored her cries for help when she tried to alert them to her feeling the seizure coming on, mocking her instead. Hours later, once she woke, they did not acknowledge the episode, just asked if she was cold but did not provide any blanket after an affirmative response. It was only after the second seizure, at about six in the morning, that medical attention was provided and she was transported, still in chains, to the hospital.

The general assembly that night was particularly well-attended, with the many new and relapsed occupiers in attendance joined by released detainees, visitors from Sacramento and San Diego occupys, and passersby.

Right after GA a militant march took place that immediately took the streets, blocking traffic and parading discontent throughout the downtown area. As it descended on the jail, three police squad cars arrived but were confronted by the angry group that asserted its right to protest. The march stopped by the police station before joining in a group hug in the middle of the street, and then spreading the word to the elderly crowd then exiting the Fox Theater.

As we returned to People's Plaza, we passed police chief Sergio Diaz, dressed in civilian clothes and chomping a cigar, who glared angrily as we passed by chanting "No justice, no peace! No racist police!"

Ever since May first, Occupy Riverside has been in an existential crisis, wondering which way it would go in the future. But this incident reminded us that what we will do, we have done already: Form community that supports each other, feed the hungry, stand with homeowners against the banks, defend education and educate one another, take back public space and use it for democracy, and provide an alternative political body as a refuge from the 1%-dominated spheres.





Riverside Celebrates May Day, Police Violence Mars Protest


Tuesday, May 1, 2012
RIVERSIDE (CA) - Several hundred people participated in a series of actions marking International Worker's Day in Southern California's Inland Empire. The day featured an Occupy bank protest, an immigrant rights march and rally, and a food and clothing giveaway hosted by an autonomous grouping. The day of community empowerment was temporarily disrupted, however, when police violently targeted students and arrested them.
Riverside Celebrates...
Preparations for May Day began months ago, when, shortly after Occupy Los Angeles called for a general strike, Occupy Riverside endorsed the call and began reaching out to community groups and participating with other Southern California occupy movements in the planning of build-up actions.

Occupy Riverside planned and hosted the #F29 day of non-violent direct action to shut down the corporations comprising the American Legislative Exchange Council, focusing on distribution centers used by Walmart, as a build-up action for May 1.

Outreach was also done to labor unions, organizing efforts, community groups, and immigrant rights groups. Hundreds of doors were knocked on in the Riverside area, primarily in the downtown and Eastside areas.

Other, less-traditional methods were also used, although it is not clear by whom. Capitalizing on the vast talent pool within Occupy Riverside and the larger Inland Empire community, numerous works of art were produced, distributed, and posted throughout the region. Wheatpasted and painted messages were spotted in Riverside, Corona, Ontario, Pomona, Claremont, and Chino. No particular group has claimed credit.

Another unorthodox method was used on Monday, April 30th. Students at John North High, Arlington High, And Ramona High Schools in Riverside were distributed letters claiming to be from the district superintendent announcing the cancellation of classes. In response, the district made over 100,000 automated phone calls to district households to disavow the letter and demand that students attend school, where standardized testing was scheduled to occur at many campuses. According to reports in the corporate media, the schools are "working on an investigation with Riverside police."1

Occupy Riverside also took the initiative to schedule a week of consciousness-raising events prior to May 1. The "Five days of May" spring training began on April 26, with an education fair held in People's Plaza, the site of the former Occupy Riverside camp. Workshop topics included the history of May Day, 9/11 and its political aftermath, a primer on immigration and immigrant rights, and a discussion on problems in the public education system and the need for unity between students, faculty, and staff to bring about change.

The following day featured a payday protest of Wells Fargo, calling particular attention to the bank's financing of private prison corporations and the impact the industry has on the migrant population. That action featured a march, streetcorner rally, the setting up of a tent, and a "tour" of the bank, in which OR militants entered and chanted "Invest in communities, not in jails!" before being asked to leave. Police responded as soon as the tent was set up in front of the bank (they did not seem to mind a bit while it was on the street corner) and forced its removal. Otherwise, the protest went off without incident.

On Saturday a march was scheduled to promote the Occupy Riverside-initiated May 1 gas boycott in protest of high gas prices and all the other injustices rooted in the petroleum industry, from ecological disasters like the BP oil spill to their influence over US foreign policy and the wars it creates.

Plans changed, however, when Occupy activists learned of an anti-violence rally planned by the Riverside Area Peace and Justice Alliance, and most went to join them. Some, however, spread the word about the gas and driving boycott. Occupy Riverside has found that targetting petroleum companies has been effective means of tapping into popular anger toward high gas prices.

All were small actions in comparison with Tuesday. May Day began with a noon protest of Wells Fargo, which had extra security since early in the morning. About 40 picketers shouted anti-bank slogans, and mic-checked the reasons they were opposed to the banks practices, naming the foreclosure crisis and the financing of for-profit detention centers as our primary grievances.

The ATMs were declared "out of order" and the bank was declared "shut down" for the day. We then entered the building lobby, which caused the security to enter the bank and lock the doors.

Customers were still allowed to enter, but only one at a time, and were locked in once they entered.

Occupy Riverside posted notices of closure on the banks doors and then ceremoniously exited, chanting "No private prisons!"

We then marched a block south to Riverside City Hall, where we joined the pre-march rally hosted by the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, a broad-based coalition of faith-based, labor, student, and community groups and activists. Speakers included people from the Inland Valley Friends, Riverside's homeless community, Occupy Hemet, as well as workers from the Pomona College dining hall and Martin Berrospe, a Rancho Cucamonga day laborer recently racially profiled and detained during ICE's "Operation Cross-Check," which purported to target "criminal aliens" for deportation in the largest ICE operation in US history. Berrospe, however, has no record and was stopped without any reasonable suspicion that he was undocumented. He was detained for 36 days but refused to waive his rights and was freed after a community campaign to raise his bond. He will be facing deportation proceedings this summer, but was on hand to express his gratitude and words of encouragement.

After a few speeches to energize the crowd, the hundred-plus marched through People's Plaza and down University, taking both the sidewalk and the street.

Members of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition led chants of "Undocumented and unafraid!" and many other pro-migrant slogans.

At Park Street, we turned to pass the historic Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, an important site for Eastside Riversiders. Faithful there distributed water to the thirsty marchers and joined the parade.

Upon arriving at the corner of 14th and Park, marchers occupied the intersection, blocking traffic for several minutes while waiting for the contingent of students from Riverside Community College to join us.

After some delay, march organizers continued the march to Bordwell Park, sensing the impatience of the crowd and certain of the safe arrival of their RCC comrades. Shortly after leaving the intersection, police began to follow the march.

Upon arriving at Bordwell Park, picnic tables full of free groceries awaited us, as did piles of clothes, furniture, and household items gathered by volunteers from Riverside's Really Really Free Market. The Occupy Riverside and Occupy UCR library was revived and many boxes of books, most of them political in nature, were distributed.

Sound systems were set up, and protesters began to settle in for the rally when screams came from the street. The crowd rushed to the intersection of Martin Luther King and Kansas to observe the police brutality occurring there. The RCC contingent had finally caught up with the main march but was attacked just prior to its arrival at the park. It is unclear why.

Witnesses reported that while some students marched on the sidewalk, those arriving on bicycle were legally riding on the street. March security guided them, but was clipped by two vehicles. In plain view of the "escorting" officer, these two vehicles came dangerously close to the march security, endangering their safety. The police did nothing to intervene in the situation.

Subsequently, according to witnesses, an officer in a vehicle ordered one of the cyclists onto the sidewalk. When the cyclist, an RCC student, questioned the order due to its illegality, the car cut off the path of the cyclist and the officer attempted to pull the student from his bicycle. The officer then kicked him and hit him with his baton.

It was at this point that the cry for witnesses and cameras went up and people rushed to the corner. Within seconds, numerous police vehicles, both marked an unmarked, were on the scene. The officers scuffled with protesters, bringing out riot weapons such as rubber bullet guns and police dogs. They arrested the initial cyclist and then another young man, a UCR student, slamming him violently to the ground. According to reports in the Spanish-language media, he was also beaten while handcuffed on the ground.2

After the second arrest, the crowd returned calmly and peacefully to the park depite the growing number of armed and armored officers in the street. Once the officials realized that we were not going to allow ourselves to be provoked into using any kind of violence against them, they withdrew their forces, leaving only a few cars around the perimeter of the park within sight of the convergence.

Since the crowd's nerves remained on edge, Julio Marroquin, a community activist and the founder of the Inland Empire Latino Forum within Occupy Riverside, led an ecumenical prayer denouncing the police violence and urging peace. Once we were a bit calmer, we began hearing speakers on a number of topics. Luz Gallegos of TODEC informed us about the struggle in Southern Riverside County, and Jose Calderon, professor emeritus at Pitzer College gave a brief historical retrospective in honor of Lucy Gonzales Parsons and her partner Albert, who was assassinated by the state in the wake of the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago.

Over 200 meals were served courtesy of the People's Kitchen and community members, and meals included vegan options. A group of DREAMers joined a pickup soccer game with some Riverside occupiers, and musicians formed a circle and found expression. Others held discussion groups to digest the police repression, and much information was shared at the welcome table.

A critical mass bike ride, originally scheduled for seven p.m. at the end of the convergence, was reorganized. Rather than waiting, the cyclists decided to ride to the Robert Presley Detention Center to support the arrestees and to gather information.

While several activists and community members were quite upset about the violence and the state's attempts to shatter the unity we had created between multiple factions as well as the neighboring community, others sought to emphasize the triumphs of the movement that were embodied in the day and its events.

Activists vowed to pursue all avenues towards justice for those who were wrongly detained, as well as to continue organizing throughout the year to build community and power for oppressed people.

1. Straehley, Dana. "RIVERSIDE: Schools asks police to investigate fake May Day letter." Press-Enterprise, May 2, 2012. http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/riverside/riverside-headlines-index/20120502-riverside-schools-asks-police-to-investigate-fake-may-day-letter.ece accessed May 3, 2012.

2. Cano, Alejandro. "RIVERSIDE: Policía interviene en manifestación," La Prensa, May 1, 2012. http://www.laprensaenlinea.com/noticias/noticias-historias/20120501-riverside-policia-interviene-en-manifestacion.ece?ssimg=557859#ssStory557860 accessed May 3, 2012.


"Detainee" in ICE hood at Wells Fargo shutdown, May 1, 2012. Photo: Marina Wood


Stealing homes is OUT OF ORDER! No Banking. Wells Fargo Makes Families Homeless. Photo: Marina Wood


Julio Marroquin speaks at City Hall prior to the march. Photo: Marina Wood


Jornaleros bringing up the rear. Photo: Marina Wood


Photo: Marina Wood


Photo: Marina Wood


This was a touching moment. While marching down Park, a group of workers, likely jornaleros, heard us and stopped working to watch us pass. As they did, they raised their tools in the air and held them up the whole time we were passing. Photo: Marina Wood.


After occupying the intersection, we took the parking lot. Photo: MIguel


IE-IYC. Photo: Marina Wood.


Second arrest. Photo: Miguel


Lots of cops. Photo: Miguel


Prayer. Photo: Marina Wood


Luz Gallegos of TODEC. Photo: Marina Wood


Maria Barragan of IE-IYC. Photo: Marina Wood


Elisea of Workers for Justice. Photo: Marina Wood


Annie of the People's Kitchen. Photo: Matthew Snyder


Cookies. Photo: Matthew Snyder


No hunger in Riverside? Photo: Matthew Snyder


Music. Notice the accordion to the far right. Photo: Marina Wood