We Come In Violence
Original 2009 Introduction
What you hold in your hands is a collective re- counting and analysis of events surrounding the shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old Black man in Oakland. Oscar Grant III was executed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers during the first hours of 2009 on the plat- form of the Fruitvale station. Unfinished Acts was written collectively by a group of anarchists who were and still are actively present in the rebellion following Oscar Grant’s execution. We were in the streets during the spontaneous uprising in downtown Oakland on January 7th where numerous cars were
torched and businesses were smashed during militant standoffs with the Oakland Police Department. We were in the many demos since, attended countless “community meetings” at locations ranging from Black churches to art gallery spaces to anarchist co-ops, and organized support and solidarity for those who were arrested during confrontational actions. In those free moments, which barely exist, we have put together this exposé on the events so far (as the story is still unfolding) and would like to share it with you.
The following pages include a few significant local histories to help contextualize the rebellions. This history acts as intermissions for a documentary dramatization (but factually correct!) of some of the events that unfolded in the streets during the first month of 2009. We have reconstructed the narrative and dialogue from collective stories, personal experiences and videos of the rebellions posted online.
The opening of this letter is not merely an empty play on words. Anarchists within the contemporary global terrain of political struggle tend to be regarded as curious creatures with crazy, irresponsible, or romantic ideas about politics and social change. From this persepective, anarchists come out of their dark caves and like vampires (or the Taliban!), ruin it, sometimes violently, for everyone, again and again. They ruin it for authoritarian leftist organizations (self-proclaimed leaders of movements), and they ruin it in the mind controlling and numbing mass media. But outside of that narrow perspective, we simply desire political conversations and organizing with those whom we can identify a common starting point; one that involves a push towards militant direct action driven by solidarity in the streets of our cities.
It is with this desire that we have put out this publication. We hope that it can provide a starting point to spring from, a reminder to those of us in the Bay Area and to those who are afar, a glimpse of exciting and/or tragic possibilities in US urban centers.
Who Is We?
The pronoun “we” is used extensively in this manuscript. “We” refers to all of those who took part in the rebellions, and made the conscious decision to instigate and escalate confrontations. That “we” includes, but is not limited to, men, women, trans, queer, Black, Latin@, Asian, white, anarchist, communist, youth, and adults. Our sameness is in our participation, actions, and solidarities in the streets of Oakland, not in our identities or life experiences.
Throughout this publication, the dialogue is transcribed verbatim from the streets; the quotation marks refer to the state’s logic while the italics refer to ours.
The “we” who edited this publication are anarchists in the Bay area who participated in the rebellions in the aftermath of Oscar Grant’s murder as well as much of the solidarity work that went into responding to the state’s repression of the movement.