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Revolution by the Book The AK Press Blog

Athens and Oakland

Posted on January 6th, 2009 in AK Allies, Happenings

[Editor’s note: The following statement was sent to us by Devin Hoff, an AK comrade and co-organizer of the Bay Area’s Alexander Berkman Social Club.]

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On December 6, an Athens cop shot and killed a young unarmed anarchist, Alexis Grigoropoulos.  In a matter of hours, Athens exploded in a mass uprising of anarchists, students, migrant workers, and the unemployed. For over two weeks, in their anger and frustration, they attacked not just the police themselves but the oppressive institutions cops are armed to defend: banks, government buildings, multi-national corporate interests. Not since 1968 had Europe seen such militant and targeted mass direct action, and actions around the world echoed the heroic actions of our comrades in Greece. Not far from where I am writing, in San Francisco, solidarity actions were held and moving speeches given decrying police violence and the state capitalist hierarchies such violence is inevitably in service of, and vowing to “bring the fight home.”

Sadly, the fight has, once again, come home.  On New Years Day in Oakland, an unarmed butcher and father from Hayward, Oscar Grant, was shot in the back at point blank range by a transit cop after being pinned face-down on the ground.  There can be absolutely no justification for this cold-blooded police murder. As was the case in the murder of Alexis, there are several witnesses who have come forward stating the officer was in no danger, some even with video recordings of the atrocity. Predictably, though, the cop who fired the shot, Johannes Mehserle, has not been arrested or even officially interrogated about the incident.  This is no surprise; we know how the authorities will respond (or fail to), given their total disregard for the lives and humanity of working and poor people of color.

But how will we respond?

We are loudly indignant when police kill a militant in Athens, and applaud the just and outraged response of his comrades.  We are furious when state violence kills oppressed people in Gaza, as is horrifically happening at this moment.  But what do we do when a working class black man is murdered in cold blood by the cops in our own community? Do we value the lives and well being of Palestinians and Greeks and Oaxacans and adventurous middle-class white radicals more than those of working people we see every day in our own neighborhoods?

It has been five days and counting since Oscar was killed.  What have we—supposed radicals and would-be revolutionaries—actually done?

Perhaps a better question is, how should we combat police violence in our own communities?

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Note: There is a demo tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/07) at the Fruitvale BART station to protest Oscar’s murder starting at 3pm. For more info go here:

Below is a video of the killing (the woman who filmed it eventually comes onscreen to explain what you’re seeing…about halfway through). You can also check out the Indymedia story for more details.

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