Thursday, January 8, 2009

::The Oakland Stroke::

Last night, the citizens of Oakland, California took to the streets to protest the New Year's Day murder of an unarmed civillian named Oscar Grant by several members of the city's transit police. With a glimpse of déjà vu in the rear view mirror, the event turned violent, steering this public assembly dangerously close to the edge. In the malay, a dumpster was set ablaze along with several trash cans in the area, windows of local businesses were left shattered, car alarms parked in the vicinity were intentionally set off, several of which were damaged (including a police patrol car) and at least one burned:

Over 100 protesters were arrested, including at least one minor:

Now, no matter how violent the media may try to sensationalize this small scale riot as... was nowhere near as tempestuous as the Watts riots of 1965:

(pejorative media news reel)

Or the L.A. riots of 1992:

But this pattern of rioting demonstrates, albeit theoretically, just how passionately the citizens of urban California feel about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And though I deeply sympathize with the business owners whose windows were broken and the owners of the cars that were damaged, I completely understand and side with the protesters.

When human life is devalued in a capitalist society, it is a scary thing. Murder of civilians at the hands of government-owned agencies is one of many issues of gross misconduct and inhumanity that needs to be addressed as this new administration begins to plant its seeds. If the country is continuing with business as usual after 233 years of existence and still fails to address the err of its ways past and present, then hell hath no fury that will match the fire from the people when they really become fed up.

This should not be the way we bring in a new administration promising a new brand of hope. But I guess that's my idealist mind talking. I guess what I really mean is that this riot, no matter how small scale, fortifies the need for citizens to be proactive in their government and communities. Because if this is a snapshot of the fallacy of our new post-race America, it's only the tip of the iceberg.

I'm well aware that historically, riots have been frowned upon by the intelligentsia and the like:

But if we've learned anything from the French and English revolutions, although they were more strategized, revolts can elicit results. And I also believe it's one of the very few mediums that the masses have to effectively communicate their collective anger and frustration with a sociopolitical system that is failing.


Bochinche X said...

But I'm saying though:
When will the frustrated "collective" WAKE UP & STOP! vandalizing & setting fire to business & property in THEIR "home" community AND unleash their "protest" on the community that is causing their outrage?

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the French & English (Spanish, Asian & African) revolutions NOT internalize their rage & keep their protest on their own community.

Superbizzee said...

I'm in no way condoning or validating destroying one's own community. I agree: if you're going to riot, inflict the injury on the transgressive party and not yourself. I'm just countering the viewpoint that riots are the mark of uncivilized people. Which is what many people across America look at these biased news reports and believe. I think differently. Rioting is a last resort for a people who feel they are powerless against oppression. It's a symptom of a larger more problematic issue that has gone unaddressed. Internalized or not, it shouldn't invalidate their feelings.

The French and English revolutions focused their revolts on the seat of the government and the social symbols of oppression. Most revolutions throughout history were done just the same. But they were organized. It can be said that riots are essentially microcosms of revolutions, except they typically have no strategy. So this leaves room for any and everything to go wrong. The problem is when people who say they are gathering together for the intention of a demonstration (read: protest) decide to turn the demonstration into a riot. There was no strategy, so people just wild out. This is a prime example.