National Day of Nonviolent Action: Oscar Grant

By Adrienne Maree Brown Jan 13, 2009

Tomorrow there will be a National Day of Nonviolent Action across the country in solidarity with the Praying for Peace, Marching for Justice Rally/March in Oakland, CA. Over the past week, clergy, young folks from Oakland, small business owners, non-profit organizations, collectives and individual organizers from all backgrounds and political outlooks have come together to stand with the Coalition Against Police Executions (CAPE) and support the family of Oscar Grant, III. Please stand with us in action – follow the instructions on the site to let us know if you do solidarity actions!! Spread the word! — And some additional thoughts… Last week I wrote a piece on real justice for Oscar Grant, and an update on the protests and rebellion that emerged from the rally on the day of Grant’s funeral. I got a lot of responses to that post, reminding me of why writing emotionally can be a blessing and a curse. Rather than try to respond to all the emails, comments, phone calls and other outreach that came in, I’ll just share a few things I hope people can keep in mind: – Until we are all living in a just, brutality-free environment, we can not claim to know the perfect strategy, we can only learn from our experiences and continue to grow towards justice and accountability in our communities. – No social justice movement in history has been successful without direct action, and sometimes that action is planned for months and targeted, and sometimes it emerges organically out of a deep need or a deep anger. There is a wide range of community organizers and funded organizations that have the skills to support strategic direct action. We are all learning how to do that in ways which challenge privilege, model the world we wish to see, and center those most directly impacted by the issues we work on. Real movement solidarity begins when we stop looking at each other with blame, fault, distrust and critique, and shift our attention to using all the knowledge we have to overcome our common problems: racism, inequality, state sponsored violence and oppression. – Violence is what the police have become comfortable doing to us. The young people involved in the rebellion last week were involved in property destruction in RESPONSE to the violence done to their community…however, it is always our hope that we won’t take our anger at our oppressors out on our community. – Every white person who shows up to a protest is not an anarchist, or interested in property destruction. Many of the white folks showing up tomorrow and to other events I’m regularly a part of are amazing and experienced allies. My concern last week, in light of the blatant racial targeting in Oakland, was that every report I was getting from the streets was that white folks with masks were escalating the situation, and people of color without masks who were releasing their anger at having no justice or response from BART or the Oakland Police Department or District Attorney or Attorney General were getting chased and arrested. That’s never a good dynamic. But that’s a political, tactical conversation that we can and should have within the organizing community, towards the goal of real change – instead of letting ourselves be divided and never actually calling ourselves to that face-to-face accountability. There’s real opposition out there, we need to handle our business, get shoulder to shoulder, and face it. – Anarchist is not a dirty word, or a white thing. In this world, where the police shoot us and brutalize us at home and send our tax dollars around the world to invest in the proactive oppression of folks who live and look and love like us, we should all understand more about the key problems with traditional, hierarchical modes of holding power and be investigating and attempting new ways to live and be with each other. Don’t forget, people of color have a long history with challenging the power structures of this country. – We can and must work together, preachers and young folk and nonprofits and anarchists and everyone else. Tomorrow’s gathering is the collaborative work of folks calling for prayer as the response and answer, working with artists, working with people who believe that protests and marches are the way to make change, working with small business owners who want to support the community that supports them. In the brief time between last Wednesday and this one, there has been a lot of chaos and a lot of beauty as the multitude of skills and resources in the community have come together. Tomorrow, we ask everyone there to work together, stand together, with the family of Oscar Grant and all people killed by those who claim (and get paid) to protect us.