[Addendum: A Better Oakland's link round up of the Downtown Oakland "riots" here.]
[Addendum: Read Racialicious, "What is the purpose of a riot" here.]
[Addendum: Yes yes, Oakland is angry, and I am trying not to be angry. Is there any way to somehow rise above it all. But then I read this, and it breaks my heart.
"there are more people of color now. young kids of various backgrounds are smashing cars, and at least one car is burning. Store windows are getting smashed now too. At first i thought black kids were targeting Korean stores, but then an African hair braiding store got smashed. Later, friends would tell me that they saw the immigrant African family in the store, asking why, why, why? Another friend said that an older Asian man-- on crutches no less-- pleaded with rioting youth not to smash his car up. But they did. Right in front of him. And i saw a middle aged Asian woman running, screaming because her bag had been snatched. I shouted for people to leave her alone, but i had no idea where her assailants were."
Oakland is angry, and it’s going to be an angry year. Downtown this morning, walking into Chinatown, helicopter blades beat in the sky. From my desk I can still here them through the skylight. This morning, there are so many broken, boarded up storefront windows along 17th Street between Franklin and Webster. Locally owned, family owned business store fronts (my tattoo parlor got smashed in too). Last night from our window, we could see the helicopters circling over 14th Street, my old neighborhood, where protesters went from peaceful assembly to straight up violence over the BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant, who was unarmed, who was face down, who was 22 years old, who is dead.
Oakland is angry at the failure, the inability, the unwillingness of any authorities to act upon this shooting in any kind of timely, responsible manner. News of the shooting officer’s sudden resignation from BART coincided with Grant’s funeral services. There is so much cause for outrage, with no one willing to be accountable for this young man’s life; there is so much cause for calls of “Enough is enough.”
Oakland is angry, and it is a seething body. It is lashing out at its own disenfranchised/marginalized constituents in its rage. Last night, I couldn’t sleep; I was so worried about the elderly Chinese/Vietnamese folks who live in the Hotel Oakland on 14th and Harrison. I worried about their fear, how this compounds the fear they already live with every day, victims of hold ups and assaults at gunpoint. I worried about the Vietnamese ladies’ nail salons, the African American braids salons on 14th and Franklin, working folks with families; I worried about their livelihood. Protesters were vocally dismissive, for loss of capital, loss of livelihood is not a loss of life.
“Nobody feels happy about the guy getting killed, but if they come back to attack me as a black sister I feel very disappointed. I’m struggling here too. And they come and wreck my business.”
Oakland is angry. It is my city, but I cannot condone what’s happened here. It is my city, and I want you to know that it is a beautiful city. I am sad, because I have nothing to offer it, nothing to assuage its anger.
* * *
14th & Broadway Lullaby, Oakland
After Anne Waldman’s “& Sleep, the Lazy Owl of Night”
& sleep, the Cleavage Lady of Night
& sleep will make you whole
& sleep, the B-Boys of the Corner
& sleep will make you bold
& sleep, the Poets in the Skids
& sleep will make you still
& sleep, my City, sleep deep
& sleep will give reprieve