East Bay DSA stands in solidarity with George Floyd, may he rest in power, with his family, and with the millions of Black people who fear death because of the violence of white supremacy in the United States. The murder in broad daylight of another Black man in the United States has triggered massive popular protest around the country, not just because of this singular event, but because of the terror of racism Black people have faced in this country since before its founding. From slavery to segregation, vigilante terror to police terror, the black working class has faced unspeakable horror at the hands of those who have claimed to represent law and order. Today, we stand together against the tyranny of racist capitalism and all those who enforce it.
The East Bay is no stranger to police brutality or effective militant struggle against it. In 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded, in part, to address day-to-day violence against Black people by the Oakland Police Department as a key struggle against US racial capitalism. Their movement opened the way for a generation of far-left organizers in the US and offered a model for militancy based on local conditions. 43 years later, the murder of Oscar Grant by local mass transit police at Fruitvale Station ignited a Black-led uprising against police terror. That insurgency directly led to others, including Occupy and Black Lives Matter, snowballing over the course of a decade into a nationwide renaissance of working-class struggle that galvanized a generation.
Since the tragic shooting of Oscar Grant in 2009, over 242 people have been shot and killed by the police in the Bay Area: Derrick Jones, Raheim Brown Jr., Kenneth Harding Jr., Alan Blueford, Derrick Gaines, Mario Romero, Mario Woods, and many others who did not receive media attention. The struggle continues and the work is far from complete.
In light of the murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Steve Taylor in San Leandro just last month, and the countless working class victims of police violence all across the country, we join the mass demands that local, state and federal officials institute the following policies to stem the bloodshed in our communities now!
- Charge all officers involved in police brutality and murder cases, as well as those involved with corruption charges, sex offenses, and those collaborating with ICE.
- Defund and demilitarize the Oakland Police Department, and all police departments.
- Eliminate the Oakland School Police.
- Fire Sheriff Ahern and defund the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.
- Fund services, housing, education, libraries and hospitals instead of policing.
- Reduce the population and improve conditions at Santa Rita County Jail, where COVID is rapidly spreading, and reform late-night release policies that have led to deaths.
- Close all immigrant detention centers and release ICE detainees.
Given the Republican party’s explicit white supremacist politics, and the Democrats’ elite neoliberal politics, the only available avenue for black working people to exercise their outrage is mass protest. As Minneapolis has shown us, these protests cannot be suppressed or ignored. It is the reality: mass protests are coming in the East Bay. What is less certain is how the thousands of working people who will hit the streets (and who will go home to loved ones of all generations) can stay as safe from COVID-19 as possible.
With a membership including healthcare, education, and essential workers of all varieties, East Bay DSA is highly sensitive to the risk this virus poses to the people of our community. For those facing the heart wrenching decision of joining this latest upsurge in Black struggle, on the one hand, and struggling to avoid the dangers of the virus, on the other, we offer the following guidelines to keep yourself and loved ones as safe as possible, all things considered:
- Shelter-in-place and complete isolation are the only definite protections against the virus. If you are high-risk or suffer from chronic respiratory conditions, or are in close contact with somebody who is, we highly advise you consider sitting these protests out.
- Bring a change of clothes! Change your clothes and shoes before re-entering your home if you have loved ones you do not want to expose. Immediately wash your clothes at the highest heat possible.
- Shower immediately when arriving home.
- Wear face coverings, only well fitting and properly tightened N95 masks will keep COVID-19 out, but anything helps. This is not about protecting yourself, but protecting your comrades from you!
- Consider wearing gloves, either disposable ones that can be thrown away right after the action or ones that can be immediately washed or wiped down. Gloves will also encourage you not to touch your face.
- Wear goggles (helps with the virus and the tear gas!)
- Practice physical distancing at least 6 feet apart
- Stay calm and de-escalate tension with other protestors around health practices. Encourage others to wear masks. We want to keep ourselves safe from the virus and the police!
We offer these tips in a spirit of genuine concern and support for an uprising born of necessity, with the understanding that those participating are doing so out of a legitimate fear that allowing George Floyd’s murder to go unanswered poses a risk of its own. We don’t intend to make that call for anyone; but an offering to keep each other as safe as possible in the face of extraordinary circumstances in our fight for justice. Find more safety tips
East Bay DSA has officially endorsed and calls on our members to attend the Justice for George Floyd & Breonna Taylor Car Caravan organized by the Anti Police Terror Project (APTP) this Sunday at 2 pm, and the George Floyd Solidarity March called by Oakland Tech student leaders this Monday June 1st at 4pm.
No Justice, No Peace,
East Bay DSA Steering Committee