End all attacks on the 99%

See below: National writers urge end to Oakland ‘crackdown on free speech’

by Alicia Garza, executive director of POWER

Last night, I watched in horror alongside the rest of the world as Oakland police and 16 other police agencies from across the Bay Area fired tear gas and war grade weapons at the Occupy Wall Street movement. I cried out in shame and anger as I watched OPD ripping apart the tent encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland, saw children being turned over to Child Protective Services and watched a woman in a wheelchair surrounded by a cloud of tear gas.

The right to free speech and peaceful assembly are cornerstones of democracy. We fight every day for a society free of poverty and oppression and work hard to achieve the basic human rights of all of us to live our lives with dignity and respect.

POWER stands in solidarity with the Occupy movement and with social movements around the world resisting brutality at the hands of the state as we fight for economic justice, racial justice and ecological justice. We are appalled by the decision made by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan to dismantle the Occupy encampments and to use excessive force against peaceful protestors who are doing the work that our governments should be doing for us.

The Occupy movement is providing housing for those who need it, feeding those who are hungry, providing relevant and political education to all who want it, and helping to create the world that we all want to see and participate in.

Along with our sister organization, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, we are calling on San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr to stand in solidarity with the Occupy movement and make a public commitment to refrain from raiding Occupy San Francisco, and to protect our right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Join us in our call by signing our petition here.

We know far too well that communities of color, immigrant communities, queer communities and working class communities experience a disproportionate amount of policing and surveillance. We also know that these communities make up a disproportionate number of those impacted by the foreclosure crisis, unscrupulous loans and unemployment. In San Francisco, particularly Bayview Hunters Point and the Mission District, these communities have been on the receiving end of unchecked police violence for far too long.

Just last week, DeBray Carpenter, better known as Fly Benzo, was arrested while speaking out against the SFPD in Bayview Hunters Point and severely beaten by police while in custody. DeBray has been an outspoken critic of the San Francisco Police Department, particularly since the murder of Kenneth Harding by SFPD during a fare enforcement inspection on a Muni train a few months ago. Since speaking out, he has been arrested three times and was previously released without charge. You can read more about his case and join the efforts to get him released from jail here.

In our communities, these stories are more the rule rather than the exception. Will you stand with us to ensure that what happened last night in Oakland will not happen again in San Francisco? Sign the petition here.

Let us work hard, together, to fight for the resources that our communities need to thrive. Let us join together in support of the Occupy movement and raise our voices in opposition to the excessive use of force by police, whether in Tahrir Square, in Palestine or in San Francisco. And let us continue to stand together to win racial, economic and ecological justice for all of us.

Alicia Garza is executive director of POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights). She can be reached at alicia@peopleorganized.org or (415) 864-8372, ext. 305.

National writers urge end to Oakland ‘crackdown on free speech’

by Christopher Cook

Today, just hours after last night’s Oakland police actions, more than 50 writers released a statement (below) denouncing a “crackdown on free speech” by Oakland police and Mayor Jean Quan. The list of authors, filmmakers and artists, from the Bay Area and nationwide, is growing by the hour. For more information, contact Christopher Cook, author and journalist, coordinator of Writers for Free Speech, christopher-d-cook@hotmail.com.

Dear Mayor Jean Quan:

The violent crackdown on peaceful, nonviolent Occupy Oakland protesters by your city police department is an outrage and a disgrace. As writers, authors, editors, filmmakers and artists from across the country, we believe free speech and assembly are paramount to democracy. We urge you to cease the police crackdowns immediately and stop trampling on protesters’ First Amendment rights.

As mayor, you are ultimately responsible for the actions of your police department and by all accounts they have behaved shamefully – attacking, beating and tear-gassing people who were assembled peaceably in nonviolent protest. Mayor Quan, let free speech and assembly have its day and its night, and stop your police from these terrible and entirely unnecessary attacks. The country is watching. Let the protesters speak and assemble, and end the attacks – now.

• Christopher Cook, author of “Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis” (San Francisco)
• Media Alliance, 425-member advocacy organization for media democracy (Oakland)
• Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (Berkeley)
• Dave Eggers, author of “Zeitoun” (San Francisco)
• Raj Patel, author of “Stuffed and Starved” (Oakland)
• Rebecca Solnit, author of “Hope in the Dark” (San Francisco)
• Norman Solomon, author of “War Made Easy” (Inverness Park, CA)
• Lucia Hwang, editor of National Nurse magazine (Oakland)
• Michael Parenti, author of “The Face of Imperialism” (Berkeley)
• Michele Simon, author of “Appetite for Profit” (Oakland)
• Bryant Terry, food justice activist and author (Oakland)
• Andrea Buffa, freelance writer and media specialist (Oakland)
• Debra Walker, artist, political director, Women’s Caucus, California Democratic Party (San Francisco)
• Matthew Rothschild, editor, The Progressive magazine (Madison, WI)
• Michelle Tea, author and executive director, RADAR Productions (San Francisco)
• Antonia Juhasz, author and National Advisory Committee member, Iraq Veterans Against the War (San Francisco)
• Tracy Rosenberg, executive director, Media Alliance (Oakland)
• Joe Loya, author of “The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber” (Oakland)
• Jason Ferreira, professor of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University (Emeryville, CA)
• Kimberley Campisano, artist and educator (Oakland)
• Doug Henwood, author of “Wall Street” (New York, NY)
• Jane Ganahl, author, editor, arts organizer (Half Moon Bay, CA)
• Laura Fraser, journalist and author of “All Over the Map” (San Francisco)
• Bill Costley, citizen blogger, The Bay Citizen (Santa Clara, CA)
• Willie and Mary Ratcliff, publisher and editor, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper (San Francisco)
• Gregory Dicum, journalist and author of “The Coffee Book” (San Francisco)
• Paige Bierma, filmmaker and journalist (San Francisco)
• Chris Carlsson, author and editor of “Ten Days that Shook the City” (San Francisco)
• Camille Taira, freelance reporter (Oakland)
• Jill Richardson, freelance journalist (San Diego)
• Frappa Stout, reporter and editor (San Francisco)
• David Munro, filmmaker (San Francisco)
• Julia Scheeres, author of “Jesus Land” (Berkeley)
• Janice Cooke Newman, author of “The Russian Word for Snow” (San Francisco)
• Todd Oppenheimer, author of “The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology” (San Francisco)
• Matthew Zapruder, poet, author of “Come on All You Ghosts” (San Francisco)
• Steven T. Jones, author of “The Tribes of Burning Man” (San Francisco)
• Susie Gerhard, journalist (San Francisco)
• Sasha Cagen, author of “Quirkyalone” (Oakland)
• Alexandra Kostoulas, writer, English professor, Peralta Community College District
• Tommy Tompkins, journalist and editor (Los Angeles)
• Tina Gerhardt, independent journalist (San Francisco)
• Peter Orner, author of “Love, Shame, and Love” (San Francisco)
• Tommi Avicolli Mecca, poet and writer (San Francisco)
• Gina Welch, author of “In the Land of Believers” (San Francisco)
• Rachel Brahinsky, writer and geographer (San Francisco)
• Richard Knee, freelance journalist (San Francisco)
• David V. Johnson, journalist (San Francisco)
• Isaac Fitzgerald, TheRumpus.net magazine (San Francisco)
• Chris Colin, author of “Blindsight” (San Francisco)
• Rob Eshelman, journalist (New York, NY)
• Zoe FitzGerald Carter, writer (San Francisco)
• Nato Green, comedian with Laughter Against the Machine (San Francisco)
• Maw Shein Win, poet, editor, arts organizer (Berkeley)
• Robert Avila, arts writer (San Francisco)
• Victoria Schlesinger, journalist (San Francisco)
• James Tracy, author of “Hillbilly Nationalists”
• Melinda Hemmelgarn, Host, Food Sleuth Radio (Columbia, Mo.)
• Bill Wasik, author of “And Then There’s This” (Oakland)
• Chaim Bertman, author of “Stand-Up Tragedian” (San Francisco)
• Andrew Hsiao, editor, Verso Books (New York)
• Heather Donahue, author of “Grow Girl” (San Francisco)
• Alison Hawkes, freelance journalist (San Francisco)
• Sam Green, documentary filmmaker, “The Weather Underground” (New York, N.Y.)

Before dawn on Oct. 25, 2011, riot police from 17 different law enforcement agencies raided both Occupy Oakland encampments: the one at Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed Oscar Grant Plaza, then Snow Park. This video shows clips over a several hour period. – Video: josborn25

Scott Olsen, a Marine veteran who did two tours in Iraq, was hit by a police projectile during Tuesday night’s brutal crackdown on Occupy Oakland. He is in critical condition at an Oakland hospital with what friends report is a “skull fracture and swelling of the brain.” Scott, 24, is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace and a supporter of Courage to Resist. It’s ironic that days after Obama’s announcement of the end of the Iraq War, Scott faced a veritable war zone in the streets of Oakland last night. He and other protesters were surrounded by explosions and tear gas as people nearby carried him injured while yelling for a medic. “It’s terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us,” said Keith Shannon, 24, Scott’s roommate.