An analysis of the recent push by Berkeley politicians to facilitate far-Right organizing while attacking and policing the local population who mobilizes in response.
This statement is addressed to liberal residents of Berkeley and the Bay area who reflexively support the police and feel dismayed at the attack on municipal property on Sunday, August 5th, 2018. We’re concerned you do not fully understand the relationship of support between your police and organized racists, mostly traveling from regions far away, in 13 different US states, who’ve found Berkeley a welcoming site for neo-fascist organizing. We also suspect you don’t foresee the consequences — dangerous for everyone — of police collaboration with white supremacists.
On August 5th, 2018, the many disparate Bay Area communities who find themselves targeted by white supremacists — black and brown folks; immigrants from around the globe (including the undocumented) who make the Bay the world-class place it is; Muslims, Jews, and other religious minorities; women, queer and trans people, feminists and brave gender rebels; the houseless and their intentional communal encampments; progressive and radical political organizations, led by autonomous political tendencies; and many others made to feel vulnerable by violent bigotry — rallied together in Berkeley to defend themselves in #AllOutBayArea and #DefendtheBay mobilizations.
“Police attempts to intimidate abounded, going so far as to arrest people outside of the ‘banned items area’ around MLK Jr. Civic Center Park, extracting individuals from the march for no actual crimes committed (all arrestees were later released without charges — these arrests were baseless, arbitrary harassment).”
People showed up massively, as anti-racists and anti-fascists, in an inspiring manifestation of solidarity and courage, attracting popular support from all corners of the Bay. The goal: shut down an invasion of racist neo-fascists intent on taking over Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, a site chosen as a provocation against social progress. Even in this victory, the media reductively caricatured the actions as violent, with “extremists” plaguing the protests. But this mobilization was popular, and the so-called ‘vandalism’ was in direct response to the pre-emptive, unprovokedpolice attack on the crowd, and the authoritarian and hypocritical local government behind them, co-signing it all.
The actions of the Berkeley City Council were consistently manipulative and deceptive. In absurd contradiction of their liberal spectacle of ‘free expression’, the City Council passed an ordinance that banned face masks, flag poles and banners, all of which are open expressions of political perspectives. The mayor and the council responded to massive public pressure by agreeing not to ban face masks nor any other clothing, reflected in their absence in the banned items list under section 13.45.020. They then reneged on this agreement just two days before the August 5th event- with no time allotted to public input. This ordinance applied to anyone within MLK Jr. Civic Center Park, Ohlone Park, and a wide area downtown.
Those who did wear masks did so because they needed to — to protect themselves, their identities and their communities from fascist attacks and reprisals, both by reactionary non-state actors, political repression by the state and, in the case of vulnerable immigrants, deportation. We, as a community, stand in solidarity with those arrested, whose identities were intentionally publicized online by Berkeley PD.
Citizens of Berkeley, should be clear that by the police releasing the identities and photographs of arrestees – people not even officially charged with crimes, much less convicted — that “their” police department is actively collaborating with dangerous white supremacists’ practice of harassment, threats and violence against community defenders, activists, civil liberties lawyers, journalists,and anyone else they see fit to target. This makes a mockery of liberals beloved “due process” and amounts to extrajudicial violence and punishment.
The police came armed both with the above sorts of legal machinations and a full suite of weaponry: assault rifles loaded with all manner of ballistics and chemical weapons, grenades and other munitions, body armor, everything the deep pockets of Berkeley could purchase and the sadistic hearts of police could possibly desire. Knowing they would be outnumbered, Berkeley PD called on additional support from nearby localities (including Emeryville, Oakland and San Leandro according to their own statements). Of course, law enforcement routinely operates outside the law and behaved entirely unconstrained by the city’s own ordinances. Their claims of “de-escalation” are flat-out lies – as the marchers advanced to confront fascists in MLK Jr. Civic Center Park, riot police lined up to protect these interlopers here to promote their bigotry and organize militant white supremacy.
The police fired dangerous projectiles and explosives into the anti-racist march. The crowd was already on edge because, only the day before, the Portland Police Bureau nearly killed a anti-racist activist with an explosive projectile that would’ve penetrated her skull had she not been wearing a helmet; she required extensive surgery to save her life. Members of the march panicked as these projectiles flew head-level into the crowd, and terrifying explosions rattled the streets; it was only at this point that black bloc participants threw fireworks at the police to hinder their attack on the march.
Instead of running, the bloc successfully calmed marchers down and encouraged the crowd to stick together. Police attempts to intimidate abounded, going so far as to arrest people outside of the ‘banned items area’ around MLK Jr. Civic Center Park, extracting individuals from the march for no actual crimes committed (all arrestees were later released without charges — these arrests were baseless, arbitrary harassment). Despite police attempts to break people apart, marchers rendered their terror tactics powerless by supporting, protecting, and loving one another.
“Despite police attempts to break us apart, marchers rendered their terror tactics powerless by supporting, protecting, and loving one another.”
For these reasons, people’s frustrations and outrage were entirely justified on the grounds of communal self-defense. Instead of protecting its own residents from out-of-town white supremacists, the City Council opted to use tax-payer funds and its heavily armed police force to attack an anti-racist mobilization, all for the sake of protecting fascist marauders. By banning the communities’ capacity for collective self-defense, the Berkeley City Council has once again shown its disdain for its residents who are vulnerable to far-right violence and organizing.
The windows of the imperialist Marine recruitment center were also attacked, reflecting people’s aim of total dismantlement of white supremacist capitalism and the military-industrial complex which violently enforces it, imposes its logic at the global scale. As antiracist and antifascist communities fighting an asymmetrical battle against capitalist and colonialist domination, people won’t hesitate to strike back when they’re attacked. Those windows are nothing compared to the brutality of a state that protects and empowers fascists, that deports and rips apart families, that kills and imprisons Black people, and whose violent presence is felt in nearly every country on earth. Any such comparison to broken windows is woefully ignorant and dehumanizing.
“Those windows are nothing compared to the brutality of a state that protects and empowers fascists, that deports and rips apart families, that kills and imprisons Black people, and whose violent presence is felt in nearly every country on earth. Any such comparison to broken windows is woefully ignorant and dehumanizing.”
Whenever people find their anti-racist organizing met with state violence, as on August 5th, people will defend their network of communities in whatever ways necessary. People will continue using direct action and community self-defense against white supremacist invaders and those structures — policing, governmental, economic — which uphold white supremacy. People will continue to directly shut down fascists and white supremacists, wherever they may lurk. We understand their intentions too well, through the thin veneer of “free speech” – and behind the safety of riot police shields. If police and city officials continue to protect neo-fascists and white supremacists, and attack everyday people in turn, resistance is sure to only escalate — people will certainly never back down when their communities’ safety is on the line. Politicians may be comfortable inviting violent racist organizations and sociopaths into our communities, but we can never live with this development because, for us, it’s a matter of life or death.
One thing is clear: white supremacist fascists will kill again, just as they did in Charlottesville, just as racist policing does every day, just as the border patrol kills migrants crossing the arid desert, just as neo-nazis plan to do in their fantasies of a white ethno-state. When they do, blood will be on the State’s hands, as they have turned their guns on the people in order to protect them and their political objectives.
We have watched the increasing militarization of local police in horror. We understand the emergence of large-scale, informally-organized neo-fascist militancy as the obverse side of white supremacy’s intensifying civil conflict. We therefore understand ourselves engaged in a war with two fronts, and won’t let either paralyze us in fear. We will confront and destroy fascism, no matter what form it comes in. We will fight for a world where all police are defunded, its institutions dismantled, where neo-fascists are afraid to leave their homes, where white supremacy finds no safe sites in which to reproduce itself, and we will go ALL OUT until we get there!
-Some San Francisco Bay Area Anarchists