BMWS ON FIRE OFF THE SHOULDER OF TELEGRAPH AVE
June 13, 2020 by ABNER HÄUGE
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I was kind of disappointed the ‘ATTACK AND DETHRONE GOD’ meme’s gone a little stale but hey, with the autonomous zone in Seattle and now I guess in Chicago, Ashville and Nashville the mood is less destroy everything bad and more let’s create the new world already. Just so I spell it out now by the way I’m going full gonzo for this article and I’ll be back to prim and proper reporterly style next article.
Anyways, Oakland didn’t pop off until a couple days after all the other cities so maybe our autonomous zone isn’t coming until we get a little more destruction in or find just the right spot. Who knows? We’re living in the Cool Zone now.
A couple of sources told me the people who called for the march were legit. It wasn’t some weird set-up honeypot fed op thing. A source familiar with the situation told me the protest announcement had a real “bring your crews” vibe.
The people who came out were militant. What does ‘militant’ mean here? Complex theoretical answer maybe, but one part of it is they weren’t afraid to smash shit up.
“The call was for a speakout,” a source recalled.
The scene was pretty chill where I was standing while a crowd of I’m guessing 250-300 stood around MacArthur BART. A bunch of them did graffiti that said cool stuff like “Cops don’t cum” and “Cops ski with jeans on.” According to a source familiar with the situation, the sound system kind of sucked and wasn’t loud enough. According to me, I could barely hear what people were saying for a lot of it. First thing I heard clearly was the chants of “Death to America!” which I’m sure the right-wingers are gonna love.
“If it wasn’t for violence, if it wasn’t for looting, if it wasn’t for robbery, we would not be here…this country was built on violence!” I heard a speaker say. He was talking about slavery, genocide and war don’t you know?
“Did you catch the Karen Chronicles at the beginning?” a source asked me this morning.
“NO WHAT HAPPENED,” I replied. Dammit why the fuck am I always a few minutes late for the good shit.
So what happened apparently was some Karen “was filming and everyone yelled at her to stop and ran her out.” This Karen apparently had a flannel shirt, red bandana, blondish hair and was probably around 30. “Then she came back, tried to talk shit, went to talk to the BART manager and came back again.”
“She literally found a manager,” I replied to this source.
She was screaming at the crowd about how she has a right to film them or something similar.
Oh yeah and this source said she was “on some Jews run the world shit,” though my source didn’t hear exactly what she was saying themselves–their friends did. If you got more info on that you know where to contact me.
So we started marching away from BART, turned the corner down to Telegraph and headed to the CHP building under the highway overpass. On Saturday the 6th this month in deep East Oakland, CHP killed Erik Salgado and gravely wounded his girlfriend, causing her to miscarry her child. 46 shots.
A friend gave me a helmet and goggles so I wasn’t afraid of being blinded or killed by rubber bullets this time. Wasn’t looking forward to the inevitable gas, though. Only it didn’t really turn out like that.
We walked past the cops and under the overpass. People started setting off fireworks. It looked surreal.
You know how a lot of people have been complaining about “protest cops”–those straw-hat-and-orange-safety-vest-wearing white moderates at protests all the anarchists hate who try to keep people from fucking shit up and doing graffiti and fighting fascists? Well we didn’t have that. What we did have was very reasonable people sort-of leading the protest who told people not to fire shit off around the unhoused people who were camping under the overpass. After we came out the other side of the highway overpass, people gathered around the loudspeaker. One person said a lot of the houseless people have to deal with gunfire-related trauma and to cut that shit out.
“You want to go annoy someone? Don’t annoy the homeless people! Go annoy some fucking condos!” someone said over the mic.
And to the crowd’s credit, they didn’t fire anything off next to the houseless camps after that.
People decided to turn around and confront CHP again. The air smelled like smores for some reason. Then I saw them. The medics with their own vans and motorcycles. How fucking cool is that? They got out of the van and were PISSED that people had shot fireworks off under the overpass. But things kept moving. We turned around and went back to CHP’s building.
The cops didn’t do shit in front of the station besides pointing their sudden impact munition guns (c’mon, you know calling them ’less lethal’ is bullshit and calling them SINs is tight) at us when someone threw something. They never fired on us when we were in front of the CHP station though.
Well, unless that guy who threw an M80 was an undercover cop. I’m not saying he was because I don’t fucking know alright? But what I saw was weird. I was right next to the guy. He was kind of short and totally bloc’d up but for some reason when I tried to remember what he looked like later that night the only thought that came to my head was his clothes in the brief moment I saw him looked really new. And you know what? That thought might have popped up and cross-pollinated from somewhere else. I really don’t know. Later that night before the crowd moved on from the CHP building, someone deep in the crowd of protesters threw another M80. It landed in the middle of a group of people who were getting in police’s faces. M80 go boom. They scattered. That was really odd to me.
So people threw a little paint on the cops and missed. They yelled some pretty interesting things at the cop and I think hit.
I’ll transcribe what the woman speaking to a female officer was saying:
“Woman to woman, I want to know how you can volunteer to be part of an oppressive system. Get a real job–one that doesn’t involve hurting people. The homeless people on these streets–you’re throwing their fucking homes away! They don’t have anywhere else to go! And the black and brown people are getting it the worst of all and you’re killing them on the streets! Maybe it wasn’t you, but you stood by while your friends did it! You can’t do this!”
As the female officer and the others moved up the block a bit, the protester shouted “You can quit right now! You don’t have to go over there! Take off your gear and go home! You can quit right now!”
“We realized we didn’t have the numbers to fuck with CHP,” a source told me. “The idea was ‘OK, let’s go fuck up some gentrifiers in Temescal.”
So we walked north up Telegraph and people started putting away their banners and a few started taking out some bats and smashing windows. A couple of people had leafblowers to get the teargas away from the protesters if need be. Instead they just used ’em to blow the broken glass out of the way so people wouldn’t tread on it.
The fires always make for good footage but I tried my best not to film people–especially not the ones setting them. People broke into a BMW dealership and tried to torch a car. It didn’t really work–at least it seemed like it fizzled out when I was there. A source familiar with the situation told me they looked up from the fire in the dealership and “this guy leaned out the window and played the trumpet at us.”
Someone who lived nearby DM’d me on Twitter that night and wanted to give me an anonymous account of what happened at the BMW dealership.
“It was very visible and clear to me from my windows that it was a small group of young white people or white passing people dressed in all black who did not have signs or any protest stuff that broke into the dealership and set the car on fire,” the nearby resident told me.
Another source told me people in the crowd were putting their banners away as the vandalism part of the evening started in earnest.
“It was not the white punk black bloc at all–especially not making decisions,” a source told me. For the record I was right there when the smashing happened and I honestly don’t know what anyone’s race was who were doing it. People were bloc’d up.
“No one was in charge. Like nobody hijacked the thing. The party invite basically said “Come 2 the riot. They keep fucking killing people and we’re tired of marching,” a source told me.
“They then scattered up toward McDonald’s while medics and protestors put out the fire in the bushes out front,” the nearby resident recalled. “Firefighters put out the car fire but not after the car exploded within the building. Medics were being excellent as usual. Heroic.”
Someone on Twitter said the police were claiming the protesters had pipe bombs. I didn’t see any. Hell, I couldn’t even find the police claiming that.
A few drug a huge display rack of spray paint off the wall after they smashed up a Kelly Moore Paints. I could see the weird firey shimmer of squad cars and fire trucks in the distance crawling towards us like the bad guys’ caravans in every Mad Max movie.
People in the back kept shouting “Take what you want and go! They’re coming!” The police and firemen were about five blocks away and coming up kind of slowly. Another fire truck came by from the north and started putting out trash can fires as people walked up Telegraph at a leisurely pace.
Someone had collapsed behind me a block away but the volunteer medics were taking care of them. They were taking care of people all night. I saw them get someone’s scraped knee even.
People fucked up a McDonald’s then started smashing up an AT&T store. In their excitement, they didn’t really think about the people living in the apartments above. After most of the crowd had moved on, the medics rolled up and put out the fire. They weren’t happy about it at all.
“Like the whole vibe was mostly inexperienced people who were really mad and figuring out shit as they went. There isn’t a riot school,” a source reflected.
Well it was about that time that the police started to rush in and the crowd scattered. The cops and protesters turned the corner on 51st and I really didn’t see what happened. So I started to walk back to my car.
As I walked back I couldn’t help but think that the volunteer medics were actually keeping people safe and putting out fires all night while the cops and firefighters weren’t. I saw fire trucks and a cop with some kind of big rifle as I walked past one of the buildings where a blaze got started and just thought “what the fuck are you doing here?”
Then someone DM’d me and said “please don’t spread misinformation” about the medics. I couldn’t figure it out, so I looked back and ah shit my copy on the tweet about the medics putting out the fire wasn’t exactly clear when I posted it. Sometimes that happens when you’re doing breaking news! So I clarified and made sure to state the medics weren’t causing any problems and that I thought they were kind of fucking heroes. Then the person who DM’d me said the medics were also being detained.
And they were. I was frankly outraged. I was also kind of freaked out. I kept asking my friends if they thought it was my fault for shooting the video of them. I’d been avoiding filming people all night but I thought it was fine since these people were doing something heroic. My friends told me that no, it probably wasn’t me. It was probably just the cops targeting protest medics. They do that a lot around the country nowadays.
So the medics were detained. Thankfully, the police didn’t arrest anyone. The medics told me themselves that the cops didn’t take any of their stuff. But they did make a mess in the van.
But one medic did get cited. For driving 15 in a 30.
A source familiar with the situation told me the people who called for the protest were overall pretty happy with it. Me? I dunno.
It was a weird night.