A Little On Tactics

It’s too early in the day to really start processing how hideous the CIA report is. There’s plenty of others obsessing over that at the moment anyway, and I don’t want to get distracted from the thing that is giving me hope, even as it causes consternation.

My old stomping grounds of Berkeley have “gone hard” as we’d say in the Beast over the past few nights for the anti-Police Brutality movement. The students and protesters were rewarded for this in two ways:

One in the form of some police brutality of their own. If there’s one bunch of cops that seems to be bred to beat up college kids it’s cops in Berkeley. The UC Berkeley’s campus police and city cops alike. It is, after all, a decades-old tradition.

They were also rewarded with the efforts of the anti-capitalist black block anarchists and opportunistic looters who played their greatest hits for them. Classic’s like “Beats by Dre from Radio Shack” and “let’s hit the aging Berkeley leftist in the head with a hammer.”

That shit, by the way, is not the tactics I want to talk about. All I want to say about the Block is that my favorite reaction was a sign seen last night: “White Looting Enforces White Superiority” (I might be paraphrasing, I can’t find the page I saw that on last night. It might have just flown by on Twitter on the Daily Cal or Berkeleyside streams.)

I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some point, I have no great love of the Black Block.

What I’m wrestling with is the freeway takeovers.

A narrative is starting to emerge, thanks to the woman who went into labor last night, that the freeway takeovers are “too dangerous” to continue. The problem is that in our totally disconnected world the shutting down of a major freeway is just about the only tactic I’ve seen that has gotten people to sit up and take notice.

It is a major power move, but a clear line needs to be established—narratively speaking—between the freeway shut downs and major police reforms. The one’s that come quickest to mind: the body cams that Mike Brown’s parents want, establishment of a truly adversarial system for investigating police use of force (as opposed to letting prosecutors softball Grand Juries), a total overhaul of police training so that officers make Beyond good faith efforts diffuse situations as opposed to shooting first and asking questions later.

Smarter, savvier, wonkier people will come up with the specifics. Right now I’m just concerned that the movement—at least here on the West Coast—will get caught up in the usual sideshow of confronting cops in the streets as opposed to building up the political might to change the institutions.

Those of us who have eyes to see know that things are out of control, but without a clear narrative for the fence sitters it will be far too easy for the powers that be to justify snuffing out this spark of hope.

Ugh… I need more coffee.