[Correction 6/21/11: Four people were arrested during the June 17 Anticut protest. Previous versions of this article cited an incorrect tally of arrests by the Oakland Police Department: OPD maintain 10 people were arrested during last Friday's protest: This reporter witnessed four arrests during the action.]
Four people were arrested during a Friday afternoon protest condemning cuts to Oakland’s library system.
The action, which began at 3 PM at the intersection of 16th Street and Broadway, is the second of two “anti-austerity measures” mounted this summer by Bay of Rage, a self-described “anti-Capitalist initiative.” The protests target gentrification (the first Bay of Rage took place during Art Murmur two weeks ago) banks, school debts high police salaries, budget cuts in cash-strapped Oakland. In order to close the city’s $58 million deficit, Mayor Jean Quan has threatened to shutter 10 of the 14 public libraries unless city unions (including the Oakland Police Officer’s Association) agree to wage concessions and pension reform.
A pamphlet entitled “Let’s Block Everything” described the premise of today’s protest as “Libraries vs. Banks.” The action passed by Citibank and Wells Fargo branches downtown, as protesters unsuccessfully tried to enter both banks. Some demonstrators carried signs painted with the covers of several books, including Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, Nanni Balestrini’s The Unseen, Assata Shakur’s autobiography and The Story of Ferdinand, a pacifist children’s book banned from Franco-era Spain.
According to the communique, libraries and other public services are being gutted while financiers grow rich off debt payments and outsourcing of government services to the private sector:
The austerity that closes libraries will help us into an even deeper hole; the bank and austerity are not so different. They work as a team to keep us trapped in the amber of debt, of privatization, of alienation. They are an image of the present in its gleaming tatters.
The march wound around City Center, with protesters chanting “books not banks,” and “shut down OPD, not the Public Library.” About 20 Oakland Police officers shadowed the demonstration as they made their way around downtown Oakland, and took four people into custody as the march turned the corner on 12th Street, and again on Clay Street. The three men and one woman arrested are facing charges of failures to disperse and battery on a police officer.
The march ended at the steps of the Oakland Main Library on 14th and Oak Street. Six people were taken into custody: no details are available about the charges filed.
Here is a section from the Bay of Rage pamphlet laying out the group’s antipathy towards banks and police, whom they accuse of “enforcing austerity.”
“We are here today taking the streets because we’re sick of it. Sick of the library and day care center closures, sick of the dismantling of public schools and elderly care facilities. Sick of the corporate tax cuts and their $12.8 trillion in bailouts and their record profits…
We’re sick that being a cop is one of the few high paying public jobs is one of the few high-paying public jobs left in California (“Starting salaries in Oakland are over $70k + rich benefits package”) at a time when “peace officers” enforce austerity and deploy deadly violence to terrorize and cordon off black and brown communities. We are sick of immigrants being murdered in their homes and at the border, and being scapegoated in the press, by politicians.
We are sick of the state running the Oakland schools into $100 million in debt, doubly sick of Wells Fargo buying the debt to make obscene profits on the interest after getting a $25 million bailout, then turning $12 billion in profits last year, and paying not taxes. Scam. Rigged game. We call bullsh*t.
The next Anticut event will take place July 8th, at an undisclosed time and location.
Ali Winston permalink
Anti-cuts protesters march down Broadway on June 17th, 2011.