I have come across the flyers below on the street and on-line. Reading these filled me with dread and sadness, which was followed swiftly by anger.
After conferring with community members as to who might be involved in the placing of these flyers, the consensus view is that there are three possibilities:
1 – These flyers are being placed by young men of color, who are angered by the perception that their city is being vandalized by “activists” who feel that breaking windows, frightening innocent citizens, and non-strategic property damage is part of their right to free speech.
2 – That government or police agents are posting these flyers in an attempt to prevent people from coming out in numbers to commemorate and protest the vicious attack on the Occupy Oakland encampment of October 25th, 2011.
3 – The flyers are a prank – someone’s idea of a joke.
With this, I wish to address all three possibilities.
First and foremost, I wish to reach out to group number one. If this flyer was written by young people of color – I beg you not to go forward with any plan which will bring more violence to our streets. There are no words for the love I hold for you – I am the mother of sons. And as such, I know intimately how difficult life is for you in this city and country.
Racism has singled you out as targets; there is so much you deserve that you have been denied. I feel your anger as you address the possibility that people who weren’t born in the city, nor have an investment in this city, may be using Oakland as a staging ground for their version of being radical – rather than respecting our struggle and seeking to support what many, dare I say the majority of Oaklanders, need and view as radical: which is the education and feeding of children & families, employment, housing, dealing with our insanely corrupt police force, etc. I hear your question: how does non-strategic vandalism address or solve any of those ills? I feel you.
All that being said, I am concerned for you, my sons. I am concerned, should you follow through with any sort of retribution, that the hammer will fall heavily upon you –- as racism rules the arm of our police force and government. My concern is that you will be injured or hurt or jailed. You do not deserve this.
I am also concerned that you, in your rage, might hurt others who are not ill-intentioned, but are perhaps misguided. Rage does this: it always seems that when we strike out in anger that the blow never seems to fall upon the “guilty” party. Rage reduces our ability to think; it separates us from the creativity we need to find the solution to our problems.
With love and with all due respect, I ask you to join with me and others to productively organize and address what is angering you. Please don’t be the instrument of harm to anyone – and please don’t allow yourselves to be the target of racism anymore than you already are in your attempt to live your lives.
Number two – to any governmental agencies who may be responsible for the posting of those flyers – there are no words for the contempt in which I hold you. What pathetic cowards you are to attempt to short-circuit this community’s ability to organize and exercise their right to mass in the street and confront you.
Last year you frightened innocent protestors from their sleep; beat, harassed and arrested them. Later in the day you subjected this community to toxins (tear gas) as well as rubber bullets – more arrests and abuse. In the camp, and on the streets later, were little children and elders – so we know that you and your handlers have no respect for the vulnerable.
Your only focus is serving the needs of your handlers – the 1%, whose desire is to continue to take power from the people and maintain hold on every aspect of our lives. If you want peace, give us justice!!! And until there is justice, righteous people will continue to rise up against you! Your attempt to frighten and confuse us is pathetic – your actions are seen… You disgust me.
And finally – for those who think that posting such flyers is funny – seek mental health support immediately. In my opinion, you are painfully ill, and a direct danger to yourselves and others.
L. Samsarah Morgan