Tear Down the Prison State: report on Anticut 3
Anticut 3 was dedicated to making visible the links between austerity and prison and was carried out in solidarity with the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay Correctional Facility and at all the prisons across California. Arriving a bit early—around 5:15 p.m.—my friend and I were struck by the intense police presence, compared to the previous Anticuts. While we weren’t very surprised after the asymmetrical response last time, when four people were arrested, it was clear that the police had stepped up their presence in an attempt to intimidate us. They were too numerous to be counted, posted in large groups around the meeting point on the triangle at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph—they had even pulled a big SUV onto the triangle and surrounded it with police. Cops kept asking where we were going, offering to assist us, but we didn’t respond.
We met up with the rest of the people getting ready for the action, which started with a mikrophoniki. Surrounded by the group of about 150 people, including a few kids with their parents, various speakers used a megaphone to discuss the relationship between prisons and austerity measures and the role of prisons in regulating society. One speaker read the list of demands from the Pelican Bay hunger strikers. Another speaker addressed the recent murder of Charles Hill by two BART police and announced an action to disrupt BART that would take place the following Monday.
After the mikrophoniki finished at about 6:45 p.m. we began our march by blocking up in the middle of Broadway behind a large banner reading “END PRISONS / ABOLISH CAPITAL / in solidarity w/CA pri$on strike.” Immediately a group of police officers ran out and stood directly in front of the group to prevent us from marching up the street and after some pretty intense threats, our block moved onto the sidewalk. But as we turned onto 14th we took the street again and remained there as long as we could until we were met with threats of violence. I was impressed by how well the group moved together and how people stayed tight and seemed to be protecting each other.
With the mass of police (including roving snatch vans, cars, and at least 30 officers on foot) following and attempting to corral us, we made our way down to the Oakland City jail, repeatedly taking the street for a block or two and being pushed back onto the sidewalk. In front of the jail, we stood our ground and blocked the intersection of 7th and Clay streets, chanting loudly—“Inside! Outside! We’re all on the same side!” and “Oakland to Cairo, London to Greece / Tear down the jails, no justice no peace!”—and using the noisemakers we’d brought. Several speeches were also read, including part of the communiqué posted on the Bay of Rage website. Between chants, we could hear the prisoners inside banging on the windows in response. The moment was punctuated by a loud firework which seemed to come from a few blocks away. At that point we blocked up again and left, chanting “we’ll be back!”
The return was slightly more relaxed, but in general the police still threatened us for walking in the street and tried their best to keep us on the sidewalk. As we reached the 12th St. Oakland City Center BART station, people stuck around on the corner talking until about 20 minutes later some people pushing a sound system appeared. As soon as that happened the cops, who had been standing around watching, moved in quickly. We surrounded the equipment to defend it, and when Mac Dre’s “Don’t Snitch” came on many of us started dancing. But the police formed a tight circle around us, effectively kettling us and preventing anyone from leaving. It felt very sketchy to be so vulnerable. Eventually the police let people leave a few people at a time, and even let the sound system leave as well. Followed by a line of about 30 cops, people walked down 12th shouting “Fuck the police!” and dispersed.
As far as we know, there were no arrests connected to the action.