Revolution Online, November 4, 2008
San Francisco Bay Area:
Hundreds of Students Walk Out to Protest ICE Raids
On October 31, hundreds of youth from throughout the Bay Area joined with others in a protest at the ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) offices in San Francisco, demanding an end to raids and deportations of immigrants. Hundreds of students walked out of East Bay high schools to take part in the protest, but the police prevented many from getting across to San Francisco.
The Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland are supposedly “sanctuary” cities for immigrants, but that has not stopped the ICE repression. The day after May 1, when thousands of immigrants and supporters marched in the streets, ICE raided 11 branches of a chain of Bay Area taqueria restaurants, arresting 63 workers. And the day after Cinco de Mayo, ICE vans were spotted driving around schools in Berkeley and Oakland, setting off panic among parents and students. There has been growing anger among students in the Bay Area about these raids, and determination to resist them.
The following correspondence is from a member of the Bay Area Revolution Club who was with a group of East Bay students who were part of the walkout.
On Halloween more than 400 hundred students from schools in Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco and Berkeley took part in walkouts to join with others in a blockade of the ICE offices in San Francisco to protest the fascistic raids that have terrorized immigrant communities around the country.
The first of the walkouts was at Richmond High where somewhere between 60 and 100 students walked out and went to the Richmond Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART, which connects the East Bay to San Francisco) station. According to BART police, some of the protesters allegedly attempted to jump the turnstiles into the station. The police tackled and pepper-sprayed a 20-year-old man for “fare evasion.” Two other people were beaten and detained for “obstructing an officer” who was assisting in the beating of the 20-year-old. According to other reports, high school students were beaten, slammed to the ground and arrested en masse, only to be released several hours after. Among the high school students at the Richmond BART station was a young person who was slammed on the floor and suffered an asthma attack, and was sent to the hospital.
BART spokesperson Lynton Johnson said of the confrontation and attack by police at the Richmond station that it “gave us our cue that we need to be aware of other possible protests. And in fact we had more protesters come into the Fruitvale BART station [in Oakland]…And we had to shut it down.” A hundred youth arrived at Fruitvale and were greeted by 10-15 BART police, Oakland police, and Oakland school police officers and a shut gate at the station. Trains were ordered to pass up the station altogether. Another hundred or so students from Castlemont High arrived at the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART station which was shut down too. And yet more students arrived at the West Oakland BART station and were prevented from boarding there.
I got to the Fruitvale BART station to also be greeted by a closed gate. But when I looked to the left as I got off the bus, I was also greeted by a powerful sight of more than a hundred students clad in black clothing and white bandanas covering their faces, lined up in marching formation with their fists up in the air, chanting in a call-and-response: “People! Power! People! Power!” The students decided to march down International Blvd, one of the main boulevards in Oakland. The police got on their patrol car loudspeakers to announce: “Please go onto the sidewalk. You are obstructing traffic and it is a crime!” Some youth got nervous and started moving toward the sidewalk, while the rest argued with their friends to not listen to the police. They started chanting “Fuck 5-0 [a term used to refer to police]!” Then more than half a mile back, still taking up one side of the street, the young people made a complete 360 back up toward Fruitvale BART. Some of us started chanting: “A world without borders: Si se puede! [Yes we can!] A world without ICE raids: Si se puede! Make a revolution: Si se puede! A world without police murder: Si se puede! A communist world: Si se puede!” Many of the more advanced and radical elements lined up next to us, and many took up the copy of Revolution newspaper on “The Morning After the Elections... and the Change We Really Need... WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO NOW?” As we neared back around to the Fruitvale BART station, some 50 students who had marched about two miles from the Coliseum BART joined our much larger march. There, students did a very lively wave by getting everyone to kneel down, first the front, leading to the back, and then jumping up. Then some of the youth got everyone (by this time some 200 students) to line up again in columns in marching formation. After everyone lined up, the youth in the front with a banner saying “End the ICE Raids!” gave the order: “Fists Up, Forward March!” Others, half-jokingly, started calling cadence. They marched forward toward the gated BART station and a line of about 25 cops.
Around the same time, several hundred students and other protesters began to make their way from a gathering and speak-out at Ferry Park in downtown SF to the ICE offices. When they arrived, the protesters took all the exits from the building, in particular a large alleyway where 10-15 ICE patrol cars and vans—used to round up immigrants and split apart families—were parked. Protesters barricaded these exits by chaining themselves to metal barrels, to prevent these modern-day slave catchers from operating as usual. It wasn’t until later in the evening that several dozen ICE goons cleared the way, along with an ICE patrol car that nearly ran over several protesters. Many people taking out Revolution newspaper were there at the protest to engage with this highly politicized crowd, primarily Chicanos but including many different nationalities, and join in fighting the power. The red flags of internationalism of the revolutionaries could be seen on a few local news reports.
Back at the Fruitvale BART station, the youth running toward the gates and chanting “Let us in! Let us in!” were clearly making the police nervous by their refusal to allow them to set the terms. The confrontation was very heated. [Video of this scene from CBS5.com is available at: http://cbs5.com/local/ice.protest.immigration.2.853754.html] A lot of BART commuters on their way to work, who were literally locked out of the BART station, joined in the protest. In this confrontation, Oakland Tribune videographer Jane Tyska was snatched up and detained and had her film confiscated by police as “evidence” that she scratched an officer’s vehicle and bent the side-view mirror as she was walking backward taping the protest.
Eventually, the youth left the Fruitvale BART station and went to a youth center where a speak-out was organized. Halfway to the youth center and about a quarter of the mile away from the station, an Oakland police patrol car pulled up and announced on its loudspeaker that the station was reopened and that the protesters could go to SF in small groups, just not altogether at once. A few people decided to go back to the station, while the rest started chanting “Don’t trust the pigs!” and continued to the youth center.
Taking a step back from the situation, the human toll of these criminal ICE raids becomes clear…and the righteous anger of these young people becomes much more emboldened. When some of the youth at the protest were asked how many of their family members have been directly affected by ICE raids: more than 75 percent raised their hands. How many of you have had friends affected by ICE: almost all raised their hands, including some white and Black youth. In light of this, I posed a question to a lot of these young people: What kind of system puts millions and millions living in the shadows, only to be blown out of the shadows by ICE agents setting bombs to blow up a door where a family sleeps to deport them, as was done in San Francisco earlier this week? I just read this quote from a statement by SF Supervisor Tom Ammiano on an ICE raid that occurred in SF on October 22: “At the Bay View home, ICE agents broke down the front door, detonated an explosive device, handcuffed the adults and older children, and held all family members, including an 8-year-old child, at gunpoint. ICE took the mother and father, leaving their 19-year-old daughter to care for her 15- and 8-year-old siblings. ICE also brutally attacked a woman, causing her to lose consciousness and require hospitalization.” We’re speaking of human-fucking-beings here!!! Not a movie, not a video game, not an exaggeration! This is what this system does to people who have been thrown off the land by imperialist globalization and free trade agreements and given the “choice” to live in the shantytowns or in the shadows in the belly of an imperialist giant. And there’s a huge significance to hundreds of youth of many nationalities taking independent political resistance out to the streets—four days before one of the most politicized presidential elections in history, where white supremacists and fascists are being unleashed in very disgusting ways, while the Democrats are not standing up, and will not stand up, to forcefully call out and oppose what is going on!
“We’re speaking for those who can’t be heard, living in the shadows; our family members and friends. They can’t be out here, so us young people are [here], to give them hope and support.”
—young person at Oakland protest
The Bay Area Revolution Club and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party will be keeping their fingers on the pulse of the masses, diverting these mass movements into the growing revolutionary movement, fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution! We will be taking out, boldly and broadly, Revolution newspaper and engaging with people around the questions of what is and what is not revolution; why is this a revolution aiming toward communism; what is communism; and what is the transition to communism—socialism—all about; all this as part of transforming objective conditions to the maximum degree possible and winning growing numbers of people to take up the communist outlook…especially in the next few days when the election’s outcome is determined by the powers-that-be and masses respond. Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism!
An audio file of the Oct. 31 Flashpoints program on Berkeley radio station KPFA, which includes interviews with protesters at the East Bay BART stations and at the S.F. ICE offices, is available at http://kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=29186.
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