Against Political Managers: A Reportback from the Uprising in LA after the Zimmerman Verdict
What follows is an original submission around the uprisings that occurred in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. While much as been written already about the riots and revolts that happened in Oakland for several nights, this piece touches on the drive by various elements to control and manage the events as they happened. The author makes connection between the push by some to manage the revolt and actions of others that has happened both in LA and in Oakland.
Proponents of the popular narrative in Los Angeles after our displays of rage around the Zimmerman verdict made no effort to challenge the media and police agenda. The initial outrage of community members intent on taking streets (defying both the state and political managers) was an expression against racism and hegemonic power, but as usual, mainstream organizations were intent on urging people to continue enduring structural injustice. This led to controlled protests within days, poised to be easily recuperated by the policy making agenda of institutional power. They did this with constantly appeasing and pacifying rhetoric while demanding people stay in Leimert park or on the sidewalk. In other words: by not being disruptive.
The statewide mobilization at Corcoran Prison, July 13th, in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners, where political managers discouraged taking to the streets, serves as an interesting contrast. We were able to witness the limitations and powermongering of protest politics at its finest. Whereas the planned protest at Corcoran left no room for the questioning of tactics, the uprising after the Zimmerman verdict took a few days to get under the traditional control measures of planned protest. The outrage at the verdict (a legal example of the racism and apologist agenda of the state) led folks into the streets. It is in these ruptures that we are able to act, to carve out our intent. And hopefully, replicate and build this energy beyond the immediate spaces in which we act.
The moderates did not know what they wanted, but they were certain that we should be well behaved according to the propriety of our oppressors. They did this by dictating, megaphones in hand, what the ‘appropriate’ response to our oppression should be, colluding with police and media to manage the organic resistance of impacted youth and filtering our pain and rage into symbolism and vigils.
By the third day following the verdict, mainstream news articles were coming out misattributing the actions of the previous days to ‘outside agitators and anarchists'- a narrative very familiar to Oakland. By the fourth day, Tuesday, the Crenshaw district was under tactical alert (7 choppers, and crews of 6-8 squad cars each combing neighborhood streets). The message was clear- the protests are OVER.
One wonders how aware these organizations are of their role in apologizing and protecting the state from the threat of our collective rage or any real challenge to structural injustice.
Instead of recognizing the willful acts of defiance of the people who took freeways, defied police lines, and marched 11 miles through the streets of Los Angeles, these organizations turn their heads away from us. They are both, 1) entitled enough to believe they have the right to lead the struggle and ‘protect’ people (management usually comes under the mantra of safekeeping) and, 2) are threatened by something outside of their agenda-setting, and thus seek to neutralize and recuperate our energy. The channels for this are well established, the political process and the learned passivity they depend on.
We took to the streets to express our ongoing rage against exposure of the determinant worth that people of color have in this society comparatively to whiteness or assimilation into that whiteness. We were met with brutal retaliation from the protectors and beneficiaries of these systems of
oppression; namely by the Los Angeles Slave Patrol aka the LAPD, though we were also forced to confront homophobic/hetero-sexist bigots, infiltrators, and others of a likeminded fascist variety.
We hold that practice and implementation of resistance is not just against overt enemies, but their apologists (namely organizations that cater to institutional power and seek to manage our people) and believe that our practicing can inspire us beyond space and energy to be replicated and experimented from LA to the Bay.
To discredit the current [mis]narrative we must continue to wage war on white het/cis male capitalist supremacy with our bodies and spirit of unapologetic resistance, not just in the streets, but in every space we hold.
- From your friendly co-consipirators in LA