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Jun 4, 20

San Jose, CA: South Bay Takes to the Streets in Solidarity with George Floyd

The following is a report on what happened on the streets of San Jose, California, May 29th, as over a 1,000 took to the streets in solidarity with George Floyd. Originally posted to Dump Trump San Jose.

On Friday, May 29th San Jose held protests in solidarity with Minneapolis, MN protesting police brutality following the MPD’s murder of George Floyd. Early on the protest resulted in storming and blocking the 101 Freeway for the better part of an hour, later a stand off near City Hall in Downtown San Jose.

San Jose PD opted for an extremely aggressive approach to attempt to shut down this protest, quickly using riot gear, and issuing a dispersal order. Less than lethal rounds shot at close distance at protesters, and ultimately deploying tear gas. All of this was visible from live streams from media organizations, who often were also affected by the tear gas.

As the police violently pushed to regain territory and disperse the crowd, protestors responded by escalating themselves, constructing barricades and throwing projectiles to slow police advance. Fires were set in the streets to further slow the line of riot cops.
As protestors were pushed from Santa Clara St, they regrouped towards César Chávez Park. Police advanced through the park, shooting tear gas and flashbangs to get the crowd moving faster and faster. The crowd at this point was estimated at 1,000 protestors, who marching down San Carlos escalated to a riot. Several businesses had windows smashed, including FedEx, Pizza My Heart, and Yogurtland.

The crowd began rotating towards the 280 Freeway at 4th street, which ended with cops splitting the crowd in front of the freeway. Police were able to accomplish this by driving a fast moving line of police motorcycles between a crowd that was running and a crowd that was walking. The running group proceeded to zig-zag through streets towards the SoFA area, setting fires to slow police advance in intersections and breaking windows of corporate and gentrifying businesses along the way. This group would ultimately disperse into the park area next to the Children’s Discovery museum.

The second group pushed back towards San Jose State University, taking part of the campus. The police appeared to be ready for this, encircling the campus. This group would merge with individuals scattered from the first group near Santa Clara and 4th, the incident with the SUV driver running over two protestors would occur around this area at approximately 9pm. SJPD continued to surround this group with a “Kettle,” a riot police tactic to surround the group on all sides and force them to disperse or arrest all contained within. Dispersing the crowd north, the largest groups of protestors were now scattered.

Video evidence of breakout groups continued for hours, showing further fires directed at slowing police advances. Residents nearby reported hearing police sirens and helicopters reaching towards 2am.

Some Observations:

The average age of the crowds was very young. It is extremely encouraging to see angry youth taking control of their lives and standing up against the State. However, this demographic doesn’t yet know all the ways police operate in riots and how to avoid legal trouble following a riot.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, always COVER YOUR FACE when at a protest action. Advanced facial recognition software, online conservative activists, and government agencies are all working to scour video evidence of crimes at riots to prosecute those individuals later. Cover your whole face with a mask or bandana, wear a beanie or something to cover your hair, and wear dark glasses, especially when engaging in anything you wouldn’t want your picture taken of. Do not remove your face coverings until you are alone and away from cameras (a dark neighborhood is a good place to do this).

ALL CAMERAS ARE POLICE SURVEILLANCE. Even your personal photos, Snapchat and Instagram stories. Best practice is not to film anything. If you do decide to document things of the night, do not show any faces, and refrain from posting these images to social media. These can and will be used against protestors in a court room, and people will get arrested and serve jail and prison sentences based on this evidence.

CROWD PACING IS IMPORTANT. It is almost always better to walk at a brisk pace rather than run when a crowd is moving. In crowds like the one in San Jose where a clear leader isn’t present, the crowd should ideally move to hold an intersection, wait for a majority of the crowd to catch up, and agree on the next destination. If part of the crowd is running forward, it leaves part of the crowd behind. This is how SJPD was able to split the crowd at the 4th St Freeway on-ramp.

RIOT POLICE TACTICS do not generally allow for them to move quickly into a large crowd without setting up first. Thus, there is no need to run from first sight of police presence, including the motorcycle cop line that SJPD utilizes. Instead, consider gathering in a large group to hold the area while the rest of the crowd catches up. Scattering quickly allows for individuals to be singled out and arrested.

INTERSECTION BARRICADES WERE EFFECTIVE at slowing down police advances, allowing the crowd to move more quickly than the police. In a moving protest, mobility is the protestors advantage over heavily armored police, who also rely on transport vehicles tailing them with supplies and reinforcements.

San Jose seriously turned out Friday night and we should be proud of those who rebelled against the police last night. Stay safe, don’t incriminate yourself on social media, and see you next time out in the streets!

-Someone in the crowd

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