Occupy Wall Street West

January 27, 2012

Last Friday, Occupy San Francisco and their allies hit the streets in an attempt to shut down areas of the financial district.  Small groups organized autonomous actions, including civil disobedience and shutting down banks, marches, rallies, music, street theater and other creative displays of nonviolent direct action.  It was a great example of an action honoring and encouraging “diversity of tactics,” but within an agreed upon framework (strategic nonviolence).

I don’t really like the framing of the “nonviolence vs. diversity of tactics” debate/dialogue that’s been happening in many Occupy movements.  Nonviolence and diversity of tactics are not mutually exclusive.  There are so many diverse tactics within nonviolence, so it’s not like arguing for nonviolence means you’re arguing against using many divers tactics. Read the rest of this entry »


Occupy & Demands

January 25, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of making demands, who to make demands to, and the general tone of some of our tactics and messaging in the Decolonize/Occupy movement.  I was thinking about it again tonight and that thought led to another random thought, and onto another and another and soon I was writing my personal blueprint of how I want to see this movement grow.  So here’s another installment of Random Thoughts on the Occupy Movement, with a special focus on making demands!

Lessons from Coca Cola
A while ago, I heard about some research that Coca Cola was doing back in the day when subliminal messaging and advertising was still legal in movies.  They would show split seconds of advertising during a movie so quick that you wouldn’t consciously notice it, but your brain would capture it.


And they found that ads were more effective when they were framed as a question or an option as opposed to an order or a demand.  If their ads had a message like, “go buy a coke” or “you want a coke,” it was less effective then when they framed the message as  “do you want a coke?” or “are you thirsty?”

I think the logic behind it is that when people hear things like “do this” and “do that,” it sounds like an order (or a “demand”) and they are more likely to ignore the message.  When people come at you aggressively, there is a tendency to get defensive and not listen to the message behind the words.  When someone makes a demand, you feel like your choice was taken away and you don’t have an option other than to submit.  And you get defensive.  And you stop listening. Read the rest of this entry »

Nonviolence and Diversity of Tactics

December 20, 2011

Wow, how dependent we’ve become on technology.  My computer crashed after this event, and I was without my laptop for 4 days and I felt like I had to put a huge part of my life on hold.  It was kind of nice actually, but these videos are coming to you late.

Last Thursday night in Oakland, the Decolonize/Occupy Oakland Events Committee held an event called “How Will the Walls Come Tumbling Down: Diversity of Tactics vs Nonviolence in the Occupy Movement.”  I was humbled to have been on the panel along with people I have a great amount of respect for, some who I just met and some who I have looked up to for many years.

This event was organized so those who advocate for nonviolence and those who advocate for diversity of tactics can come together, learn more about each others perspectives, and try to figure out how we can continue to work with each other.   Close to 400 people spent the night in respectful dialogue, trying to strengthen our movement by strengthening relationship with each other. Read the rest of this entry »

Fighting “the Man” vs. Confronting Injustice

November 30, 2011

There is a difference between wanting to fight and wanting to confront.

Sometimes, not just at Occupy Oakland events but in many movement spaces in general, I get the sense that some people want to fight the police and they want to fight the state.  They want to escalate the tension to the point it erupts in violence.  With tear gas, beatings, pepper spray.

It’s cool.  It’s radical.  It’s militant.

But the point of a direct action isn’t to incite a fight, it’s to put pressure on a strategic target so it gives you leverage to negotiate or make demands.

Again, there’s a difference between wanting to fight and wanting to confront.

Nonviolence is not afraid of conflict.  In fact, nonviolence means confronting violence and injustice.  Nonviolence is a powerful way, and in my opinion the most powerful way to confront injustice. Read the rest of this entry »

Hip Hop Stands Up for Occupy

November 23, 2011

The very existence of Hip Hop has always been political.  It is a culture that grew out of a people that were told that they didn’t have a voice.  That their concerns and their realities didn’t matter.  So I often get frustrated at the dichotomy we create between “conscious” rap and “mainstream” rap.  It is all political.

That said, I do want to give special recognition to artists like Jasiri X, Rebel Diaz, Lupe Fiasco, and others who continue to take strong stances in support of movement work.  Here are some “Occupy” themed songs that have come out recently, check them out.

“Occupy (We the 99)” by Jasiri X.  My favorite one.  Make sure you check out his other videos too.

“We are the 99%” by Rebel Diaz, who blessed us with a performance recently at this event at Occupy Oakland.

“99 to 1” by Marcel Cartier

“Occupation Freedom” by Ground Zero & The Global Block Collective

“Better Days” by Rob Royalty & Flick Millan

“We are the 99” by Sgt Dunson

“Revolutionary Hip Hop: Occupy London” by DCP

What are your favorite Occupy Movement anthems?

Vigil to Honor Our Ancestors

November 20, 2011

On 11/17, I was honored to help organize this vigil to honor our ancestors at Decolonize/Occupy Oakland.  This event was organized to remind us of the shoulders on which our struggle stands on, and to remind us for whom we continue to struggle.


Support OSA!! Liberate, don’t Occupy!!

November 17, 2011

I admit, at first I had some hesitations about signing this petition.  But the more I thought about it and the more I heard from parents with children at the Oakland School for the Arts, the more supportive I became.

Let me explain.  Last night at Occupy Oakland’s General Assembly, a proposal was approved to “Occupy” a park located on Telegraph & 19th.  There is some symbolic justification of this location, where a statue is being built to memorialize past movement leaders such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez and others.  Ironically, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce is footing the bill for this memorial: the same Chamber of Commerce who represents Oakland’s own 1%, and who was the leading voice in evicting Occupy Oakland from Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza.

This is a decision voted on in haste, without enough information and input from immediate neighbors, by a General Assembly that was attended by just over 200 people.  The vote did not happen until close to 9PM.

The major concern is this: This park is located a block away from the Oakland School for the Arts, a school that has already had to cancel several classes due to safety issues.  Kids go here.  And parents and neigbors are rightfully concerned.

Without prior support from the immediate neighbors, then these encampments really do become “occupations,” in the worse sense of the word.  We need to be liberating and decolonizing our communities, not occupying them without involvement of immediate neighbors.

The General Assembly process at Occupy Oakland needs an overhaul, but that is a larger conversation.  In the meantime, we need to support OSA.  If you agree, please sign this petition and forward it along.