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The Great Sideshow Army: An #Oakland Story

I:

We are leaderless right now and anarchy is winning.

Meghan McCain, May 31, 2020

Submitted to Enough 14. Originally published by The Transmetropolitan Review. Written by G. Pinguini.

Editor’s Note: The singular author of this short story was objectively not present for any of the events described and the entirety of this text should be read as fiction

I wish I could tell you the truth, only you wouldn’t believe me, so what’s the point? It sounds like total fiction. People believe all sorts of lies, conspiracies, especially when the truth is right in front of their faces, sort of like the fireworks going off right now, as I type this. Although to tell you the truth, calling it fireworks is a bit of an understatement. The loud boom I just heard was a quarter-stick of dynamite. Maybe even a half-stick.

Oakland, Fruitvale District, June 25, 2020

When I was growing up in East Oakland, my mom used to give me ten bucks every June so I could walk down the street and buy illegal fireworks from my friend’s uncle. During one of my trips to this infamous house, this uncle put a quarter-stick of dynamite in an old redwood stump, lit the fuse, and I hid behind a stone ledge as the sky lit up with pure white light and the concussion stole the breath straight from my lungs. People love fireworks in Oakland, they have since the 1980s, that much I’m certain of, only today they’re being labeled as CIA assets, tools of the police-state, or counter-insurgent agents committed to facilitating some sort of government crack-down. I don’t really know how people come up with this stuff, it sounds like pure fiction, but let me promise you, were I to stop typing and walk out onto the street, I’d find my neighbors rolling dice and occasionally setting off a quarter-stick. That’s how simple the truth is.

Right now I’m in West Oakland, sitting in a small cabin with a greenhouse just outside the window. It’s hot out today, one of the first official days of summer, and we’re over a month into an uprising against the police, the state, the fascists, and their supporters. I’ve spent time writing in this cabin these past days, but I’ve also spent time farming, talking to people in the neighborhood, and taking over pieces of vacant property. My partner and I have been turning abandoned lots into neighborhood farms, mostly to grow tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, basil, and grapes, things you need for a rich, healthy Italian diet. We like to just sit around, drink espresso, smoke weed, eat biscotti, water the plants, drink wine, laze in the shade, fuck like penguins, eat caprese salad, do crime, drink wine, lounge in the sun, hang out with the birds, smoke weed, fuck like penguins, water the plants, make fettuccine, drink wine, smoke weed, fuck like penguins, then usually go to sleep. We do all this in a massive anarchist compound, and before I write anything about the uprising in Oakland, I need to write about this place where I live. I think it’s important.

Our good friend, the Aphelocoma californica (or California Scrub Jay)

A long time ago, there was this thing called Bitcoin. It still exists, unfortunately, these fake credit chits that require entire data-centers and massive amounts of energy to “mine.” One day, a complete imbecile bought a good amount of these Bitcoins while tripping on LSD at the Burning Man festival and within a few years he was a millionaire. This imbecile wasn’t just any millionaire, he was a millionaire who wanted to be down. These days, you might call that woke, but back then it was down. This millionaire imbecile could be found at boat parties alongside the Anglx white-boy dreadlock dude who invented Signal with US State Department money, as well as other down white Anglx people. Lucky for us, we got wind of this imbecile early and found out he’d already bought up a giant parcel in South Prescott, that tiny chunk of West Oakland wedged between the BART tracks and the trainyard. Not wanting the neighborhood to suffer any further, my friends and I slowly seized the land, drove off the imbecile millionaire landlord, and eventually learned he was serving over ten years in a Thai prison, leaving us just enough time to legally acquire the parcel through an old California Gold Rush squatting law. Since then, we’ve been fomenting anarchist rebellion across the planet, just as we were before meeting this imbecile millionaire.

By the way, all of us who live here have literally the worst reputations you could possibly imagine, and obviously none of us give a shit. We are known [especially me] as violent, abusive, angry, moody “latinos” who are more than happy for you to shut the fuck up. No one seems to care that the imbecilic millionaire is in jail for arranging to sleep with a child in Thailand, all they care about is how we treated him and his yuppie Burner friends during the second tech boom, which was very badly. According to them, the Thai secret police set up their millionaire friend and we were the ones who drove him to engage in the sex-trafficking of a minor. It’s true, all of us have insane arguments at the top of our lungs, spit on our own rugs, shatter dishes against our heads, scratch at out best friend’s faces, whatever, get over it. Doesn’t change the fact that we’re better people than these creepy Burners and their millionaire friend.

The start of the quarantine

We stopped the Burners from getting their way, we slowed down the gentrification of our tiny South Prescott neighborhood, all before it was woke to do so. To be totally honest, once the property was in our name, I dipped out with a smile. It was 2015, there had just been an uprising, the repression was too intense, so much crazy shit had happened, and the gentrification was still coming, so I sailed with my partner to Buenos Aires shortly after Trump was inaugurated. I finally sailed back in late-2018 but then I immediately left again for Italy. Once I’d gotten my shit together in Europe, I returned to Oakland in 2020 and started building a cabin with my partner on our seized land in South Prescott. We finished the cabin five days before the COVID-19 quarantine started, so perfect timing. Now here I am, typing in that same cabin. It’s night now, my partner’s asleep upstairs, the fireworks have died down, but don’t get me wrong, they were going off well-after midnight, so loud that my partner woke up, spit on the floor, then hurled a dagger at my feet as a warning for me to shut the fuck up, as if I had anything to do with those giant mortars exploding in the sky.

View from our cabin loft

If it’s not fireworks going off around here in the middle of the night, it’s us insane, psychotic “latinos” screaming at each other while fucked up on red wine. We get POC points in certain circles (cough) for being latinx even though half of us are fucking Italian (like my partner and I, all the others come from Mexico, Chile, and Argentina). This is useful sometimes (wink-wink) but it’s totally fucking stupid. If you ask some indigenous Mayan what a latinx is, they’ll either say a colonizer or they’ll simply say a white person (even though there’s plenty of black and part-indigenous people who identify as latinx). Although though a few of us here have some indigenous backgrounds (not me, I’m just a literal Latin), we all recognize that, while we might be the poor, dumb, irrational white people looked down on by the real Anglx white people who control the US, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Northern Europe, back in Firenze or Buenos Aires or DF or Valparaiso, we still get the privilege of being basic ass latinx white people. That’s how simple the truth is.

Three months into the quarantine

II:

We have evidence that anti-government violent extremists—including those who support the “Boogaloo,” those who self-identify as Antifa, and others—will pose continuing threats of lawlessness. Some of these violent extremists, moreover, may be fortified by foreign entities seeking to show chaos and disorder in our country.

William Barr, US Attorney General, June 26, 2020

I’m back in the cabin now, it’s been a few days since I last wrote, but believe me, the fireworks haven’t stopped, not at all. Just this morning, while I was watering one of our garden beds, I heard the stupid OPD helicopter getting closer and soon it was circling the neighborhood. Right as I started waving my fists at the sky and shouting obscenities in the air, someone on the block shot a firework mortar at the helicopter. When it circled back, someone shot off another mortar, and the pilot quickly realized he wasn’t scaring anybody. After that, the OPD helicopter left. I love this neighborhood, and I sure hate that fucking helicopter. Thanks to all but two Oakland City Council members, the cops just received another couple million to maintain the three OPD helicopters. Gallo and Reid, two of the councilmen who preside over East Oakland and voted to fund the helicopters, basically told the public: we live in a dangerous city filled with animals and these helicopters are necessary to catch them. Gallo is brown, Reid is black, and even after the uprising broke out, the majority of the City Council voted to let the police continue to terrorize East and West Oakland with their fucking helicopters. At least people are shooting fireworks at them.

I’m going to write about the uprising in Oakland now, but don’t expect some objective blow by blow that aims to be the definitive account. If you weren’t in Minneapolis at the end of May 2020, you might have had the same experience I did, glued to the screen while Unicorn Riot documented the start of this uprising. The day after George Floyd was murdered, I remember sitting in this cabin watching as the police retreated into the Third Precinct while people smashed it to shit. On the second day, I saw Tweets of a small fire burning near a luxury apartment complex and wished it would burn down. Target was already being looted, which was legit, but I really wanted to see the luxury apartments burn. Sure enough, that six-story symbol of greed, gentrification, and exploitation caught fire and spent half the night burning down on camera.

Minneapolis, May 2020

By that point, roving bands were looting neighborhoods across Minneapolis using their cars to hit where the police weren’t looking. With most of the cops guarding the Third Precinct, everyone was temporarily free of capitalist law and able to get away with massive crime. This much was clear by the third day, when people burned the Third Precinct to the ground and the looting spread to Saint Paul. One person interviewed near the burning Third Precinct described the mood as good vibes, and these good vibes spread west to Oakland. A march was called to take place that Friday demanding vengeance for George Floyd, an event that originated as a simple anonymous post to Indybay anyone could have made. Some local organizations advised against people attending this march, knowing it would get out of control, but thousands and thousands showed up in Oakland that Friday night, along with the Great Sideshow Army.

I was in Italy over a year ago, in the spring of 2019, when someone sent me a video clip of a sideshow in East Oakland on the corner of International and 42nd, a block from the Cardenas market. Cars were doing doughnuts, an entire big-rig shipping container was looted, the truck was set on fire, firework mortars exploded in the sky, and gunshots filled the air. This was the Great Sideshow Army in full display, an anti-racist, decentralized, semi-military force capable of assembling within an hour and paralyzing entire neighborhoods and freeways. This video made me excited to return home, which I eventually did, and like I mentioned before, my partner and I built a cabin on our land in the winter of 2020, just before the COVID-19 lock-down. Once it was finished and we were living in luxurious comfort, the entire US went insane, but luckily we were well-stocked with toilet paper and garlic.

Sideshow, East Oakland, April 2019

Nothing changed for us at first, we prepared our garden, we planted shit, we got real dirty. A large corporation “generously donated” a bunch of high-quality organic potting soil and fertilizer to our little land project, and a few days after working with this stuff, my partner and I realized we both smelled funny, even though we’d bathed multiple times. It took us a minute, but then we realized we didn’t smell like fertilizer, we smelled like our dried saliva, sweat, cum, shit, blood, and piss. Once we had this simple realization, we also realized we’d been fucking non-stop for a couple days, our reward for getting all that nice fertilizer, and now we smelled worse than manure. So we boiled a pot of water, poured it into a plastic watering can, cooled it down with hose water, then took turns bathing ourselves in the garden. This was pretty much our routine, only sometimes we went out into the world, and when we did it looked real Soviet.

A garden bed, March 2020

The supermarkets were empty, the streets were dead, the trains were desolate, the buses weren’t full, only a few planes were landing at Oakland International Airport, and because of this obvious miracle, the planet was healing before our eyes. We went on a lot of hikes in the East Bay hills and when we did we saw things that are usually hidden: the distant valleys of Sonoma and Napa, the crystal clear Farallon Islands just off the coast, and when we hiked to the top of Tuyshtak (otherwise known as Mount Diablo), we saw the distant peak of Bohem Puyuik (otherwise known as Mount Shasta). With most of the daily pollution now vanished, this indigenous land could be seen in all it’s true glory, and we relished this clean air for what seemed like the first time.

View from summit of Tuyshtak

I still don’t know what to think of the bat that gave us COVID-19, but I’m pretty sure it was angry when it bit that human, most likely because humans were destroying its habitat in China. No one knows for sure, but the bat story seems the most likely to me. I’ve been around a lot of bats in my life and never been bit once, but then again, I’ve never been directly destroying their habitat. In fact, I always love it when the bats come out, because that’s when the mosquitoes go away, and when I was a kid I used to throw rocks in the twilight air just to trick them into thinking it was a nice juicy bug. I don’t do that anymore, but I still don’t know what to think of that angry bat in China.

Direct effect of COVID-19 on planetary carbon emission, 2020

On the one hand, that bat has killed hundred of thousands of humans with COVID-19. On the other hand, that bat has caused carbon emissions to drop 17% across the planet. Both are undeniable facts, but to be really honest, most humans can’t think outside themselves or their idiotic species, and the various government responses to COVID-19 speak for themselves (like re-opening the capitalist economy in spite of the 17% drop in carbon emissions). Maybe humans are doomed, I don’t know, but I have to say, if the uprising against the police spreads COVID-19 even further, if Trump’s anti-mask grandstanding cause Republicans to have a higher infection rate, or if Texas or California go into lock-down again, then it will be poetic beyond words. I really don’t know what to say, but I should probably tell you about the uprising in Oakland before you get bored.

III:

TRUMP: [‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’] means two things, very different things. One is, if there’s looting, there’s probably going to be shooting, and that’s not as a threat, that’s really just a fact, because that’s what happens. And the other is, if there’s looting, there’s going to be shooting. They’re very different meanings.

FAULKNER: Oh, interesting.

Donald Trump in conversation with Harris Faulkner, Fox News, June 11, 2020

It would be fair to tell you that I’d been waiting my whole life for this uprising, but what surprised me most was how calm I was about all of it. In the days leading up to May 26, 2020, I’d been helping people take over empty houses and open up pieces of vacant land. One of the houses was in Oakland, the other was in San Francisco, and both were evicted in the middle of the quarantine despite the state-wide eviction moratorium. When the cops raided the San Francisco house, all of them wore Blue Lives Matter face-masks, and after beating a bunch of people, the national mainstream media ignored this open display of fascism among the SFPD. If those same cops enacted this spectacle today, the public would be out for blood, but back then during the good old-fashioned quarantine, the public didn’t give a shit, even though this eviction proved the entire moratorium was a lie. One thing I do know for certain is the Democratic Party-aligned media have little incentive to air liberal San Francisco’s dirty laundry, especially with the hypothetical coronation of Joe Biden hovering on the horizon.

Squatting action, San Francisco, May 1, 2020

The other squatted house in Oakland was also evicted, but not by the cops. My partner and I had helped a well-known housing activist start moving into a two-unit, five bedroom house in deep East Oakland. It was all seeming pretty chill and ideal until the owner in Texas got his homies to start fucking with us and threatened to bring in the guns. All we knew beforehand was that some goon from Sotheby’s was trying to flip the house, only no one would buy it because of structural damage, leaving the distant owner in limbo. The guy was raised in deep East Oakland, the house had belonged to his family, and because he was a human and not some New York house-flipper piece of shit, there’s still hope for the situation. If all goes well, a community land trust will buy the house directly from him, but we’ll see. Either way, none of those houses worked out during the quarantine, so my friends and I shifted our focus to land.

In the week leading up to the George Floyd uprising, a couple dozen of us frantically seized multiple parcels across West Oakland, and from what I gather, things went pretty well. Not only were the empty lots opened, people opened up basically anything that was locked, leaving the neighborhoods to do as they wished. I’m pretty sure a lot of resources were redistributed from all this, but people still had to show up every day and water the crops they’d just planted. My partner and I volunteered at one of these farms where we met an older black woman named Miss Daisy who’d been in the neighborhood since 1948. Her parents had built warships for WWII and now she’s pissed because the owner of the vacant lot next to her house wants to build a ten-unit monstrosity and block out all her sun. Miss Daisy said she’d move if he built this luxury bullshit but we told her not to do that. I don’t know how we could stop this development, but Miss Daisy is happy with our garden and we’ve been thanked multiple times by people in the neighborhood. According to Miss Daisy, the lot used to have a Black Panther house on it until it was burned down by the FBI and then bought by a local speculator. These are the kind of things you learn fighting for tierra y libertad.

Vacant lot, West Oakland

The morning after they burned down the Third Precinct in Minneapolis, my friends and I were up early salvaging wood for our invasion of raised garden beds. All of our bodies were sore from shoveling dirt into buckets, lifting those buckets into trucks, lifting them back out, then dumping the soil in our new beds. That morning I was groggy as we picked through lumber that would otherwise be thrown away. We gathered enough wood for not only five new beds, we also found enough to build an entire outdoor kitchen and solarium at our anarchist compound in South Prescott. By the time we distributed these building materials, all of us were pretty tired. So we went back to our homes, rested up, and on that night, May 29, 2020, Oakland threw down on the street like it never has before.

Oakland, May 29, 2020

First the streets flooded with people, a long ribbon between Oscar Grant Plaza and the OPD headquarters. People took the freeway but everyone eventually collected around the barricades sealing off the OPD headquarters and that’s when people started shooting fireworks at the cops. After that, the rioting and looting spread across Downtown Oakland. At the edge of these angry crowd was an endless stream of cars waiting for their opportunity to make off with a big haul of goods. These cars represented just a fraction of the Great Sideshow Army, but they were out in force that night as people drove around in a stolen forklift, stole a car from a Honda dealership, made off with cash registers, and looted resources from corporate stores. Whenever someone scored something big, they jumped in a car and drove away. While some people lived out their fantasy of being in Hong Kong, other people lived out their fantasy of being in Oakland, and a lot of dreams were realized that night by all kinds of people who wanted to be free, most of them in their early twenties and teens. It was glorious, and honestly, I didn’t do anything but ride around on my bike with my partner and take it all in. I’m serious.

Oakland, May 29, 2020

A long time ago, me and bunch of other people worked really hard to normalize militant demos across the US. We all did this for different reasons, only there weren’t many of us back in 2006, and it was all really difficult, violent, and traumatizing. Some of us were placed on the Terrorism Screening Center watch-list and targeted by the FBI, other people were not, but our crazy ideas took root and became commonplace. I don’t really want to get into it now, but we’re so far away from the repression of the Bush years that I can hardly believe it. Back in 2006, we were all beaten by the police, maced, tazed, cuffed, thrown in a van, locked in jail, and charged with felonies simply for leading a march off the sidewalk and into the street. Things have changed a lot since then. While anarchists were joining the Kurds to fight daesh, the fascists were killing black people, burning their churches, and engaging in what most people would called actual terrorism. As if to make this point clear, one of these fascists took advantage of the chaos in Oakland and gunned down a black security guard at the Federal Building on May 29, 2020.

Shooter in white van, Oakland, May 29, 2020

It happened when my partner and I were peddling across the 14th Street bridge from West Oakland into Downtown. Neither of us heard the shots or saw the van speeding away, and we waited at the stoplight without realizing what had just happened. Before we could get close, a bunch of cops surrounded the intersection, so we took a left and eventually joined the demo. Neither of us suspected what had just happened, especially when the demo got wild and people trashed the auto dealerships on Broadway, burnt the luxury cars, and stole a brand-new Honda, an idea that quickly spread among the Great Sideshow Army. This uprising wouldn’t look like an umbrella phalanx in Hong Kong [even though that appeared also], it looked like a semi-motorized, anti-fascist army, just like in Minneapolis. For the entire night of May 29, the crowd was composed of a mixture of cars, bikes, and people, similar to an Oakland sideshow, and this small army wreaked havoc on an already weakened capitalism.

Target, Walgreens, and bunch of other shops were looted. People set fire to what they could, including the Walgreen’s, the car dealerships, and a Starbucks. Even after the security guard was killed, people went back to the Federal Building and trashed it, most of them not knowing what had just happened. Only those who were checking their smartphones (a really bad thing to have at a demo) would have seen the fascists immediately using the shooting for their counter-insurgent propaganda. I didn’t find out until the next morning that BLM protesters shoot black federal guard or that anti-cop protesters shoot black family-man. It was a lot to handle, so my partner and I chugged down some looted Campari and fresh squeezed orange juice, our favorite breakfast drink, then got busy watering our new garden beds at Miss Daisy’s. It was going to be another long day.

IV:

There is no evidence that these men had any intention to join the demonstration in Oakland. They came to Oakland to kill cops.

FBI Special Agent Jack BennettJune 16, 2020

About a week before the uprising, my partner and I gathered about four months of recyclable bottles and took them to the Cash 4 Cans in the Fruitvale, just across the street from the Cardenas supermarket. All sorts of people are always there, some looking to make enough money for the day, others arriving in trucks with huge bags of plastic bottles, but everyone united in one goal: to redeem the waste of this society in exchange for money. After waiting in line for about thirty minutes, we processed our bottles and received a voucher for just over twenty dollars, which we redeemed at a small window for cash. We then took about half of this money and walked across Bancroft Avenue to buy twelve tamales for ten dollars from this little cart run by this family who give you a nice bag of salsa verde to go with their bomb-ass food. So there we were, pigging out on tamales in the Cardenas parking lot, not having the slightest clue an uprising was about to happen. Aside from all the face-masks, it was the normal scene on Bancroft, one of East Oakland’s main arteries, a road that leads deep into wild territory where the Great Sideshow Army reigns supreme. While we sat there eating tamales, our faces covered in salsa verde, car after car passed by with tinted windows, V-8 engines, and shiny rims. All of them were heading south, or as we call it in Oakland, east. Once the uprising broke out in Oakland, all those same cars would be headed west towards Downtown.

Tamale cart across from Cash 4 Cans, Fruitvale, Oakland, 2020

On the morning of May 30, 2020, I got up late with my partner, drank a few gallons of espresso, ate some banana bread looted from Walgreen’s, then smoked some weed looted from a dispensary. To be honest, we didn’t loot anything, we just gathered it off the ground, that’s how massive the thievery was, and it made the uprising very enjoyable. Well-nourished, we walked across West Oakland to go till the soil on one of our seized pieces of land and we worked in the hot sun while the neighborhood watched us do something both wholesome and illegal. Multiple people thanked us and we felt charged up by the amount of love we were getting from people who had lived there for decades. Later that day, we gave away a bunch of weed starts, tomato starts, basil starts, everything we could to everyone who wanted some. In the middle of all this work, I had a very simple thought. If all those thousands of people protesting the night before had also been occupying vacant land, expropriating empty houses, or seizing luxury apartments, this uprising might look a little different, especially in black and brown neighborhoods like East and West Oakland. I didn’t have time to think about this for very long because right then we got a text about shit popping off in Emeryville, just northwest of the Oakland border.

Looting of Best Buy, Emeryville, May 30, 2020

Within an instant we were in the car and off to join the Great Sideshow Army in the siege of the Bay Street mall. Unlike the night before, we were on wheels and able to reach Emeryville quickly. We sat parked around the corner while Best Buy was being looted and ferried two random people to safety, along with all their stolen gear. On our way across West Oakland, one of our passengers explained how the fascists were all over Twitter spreading lies about the shooting at the Federal Building and how BLM had done it, the anarchists had done it, everybody except the fascists had done it. All of us in that car knew the truth, that a fascist had been the shooter, but there wouldn’t be any confirmation for many days, not until that same fascist shooter killed a cop in the woods near Santa Cruz. Regardless, we left them deep in West Oakland then went back to Emeryville to assist other strangers, only we didn’t get very far up Peralta because the police showed up with their stupid tank and everyone scattered towards the Oakland border. We let a few people get in our car with their loot and then took them all the way to Vallejo, smoking weed the whole time. By the time we got back to Oakland, it was May 31, 2020, a whole new day of the uprising. That was when I finally checked up on Twitter.

I was on the internet so long my partner hurled a razor-sharp ax at me and screamed water the fucking tomatoes. Meanwhile, my head was swirling with almost five days worth of an uprising, all distilled into thousands of stupid Tweets. As I watered the fucking tomatoes, I realized we’d all finally arrived in the world of our dreams. A long time ago, my friends and I discovered something similar to what occultists call the Hand of Glory, a magical weapon that can cause total blindness in an opponent. This same magical weapon is still known as the coup de main, “a swift attack that relies on speed and surprise to accomplish its objectives in a single blow.”

Occultists believe the Hand of Glory is the pickled hand of a hung murderer (along with five candles made from their dripping fat) but that’s all superstitious, semi-poetic nonsense accumulated over the centuries. As my friends and I discovered, the Hand of Glory is made from the total combined accumulated energies of all those who have been executed by the state, regardless of their alleged crime. Channeled into one object, this energy is capable of rendering an opponent blind, allowing the hand’s wielder to accomplish a coup de main. A long time ago, my friends and I wield this weapon, only it didn’t work. As far as anyone was concerned, nothing happened. As I watered all those fucking tomatoes that morning of May 31, 2020, I realized we’d been successful beyond all measure, it just took years for the cracks to grow and widen. I felt truly wonderful.

My friends and I wielding the Hand of Glory, circa 2007

My partner and I eventually went into our cabin where we covered ourselves in blood, piss, shit, cum, and saliva. We were just falling into a nap when my phone started ringing off the hook. Thinking it was some type of emergency, I answered the call, put it on speaker, and let my old friend recruit my partner and I into a scheme to liquidate an estate in Walnut Creek. Both of us needed money, so we agreed to wash the shit and cum off our bodies, dress like yuppies, smell like cologne, and go meet with a real estate agent somewhere off Ygnacio Valley Road. We drove down Highway 24 towards Tuyshtak, otherwise known as Mount Diablo, and beheld a landscape only half-polluted by western civilization. In every direction were the grassy, oak-dotted hills, all colliding into massive Tuyshtak, the lonely sentinel of the inland valleys. We descended the off-ramp for Ygnacio Valley Road, took a right into the sprawl of suburbs, and were only ten minutes late for our meeting with the real estate agent. Basically, our job was to sell all the expensive furniture in the house and keep the money, otherwise it would be taken to the dump. After the real-estate agent left us the keys, we realized we could squat the estate for two weeks, sleep in a giant bed, soak in a hot-tub, and lounge beside a pool, all while making money in the end. To seal it all up, the estate we were liquidating was the mansion of my old friend’s Trump-voting, Republican Party grandmother. While he was off in Bulgaria, we were poised to redistribute some of his family’s wealth. That’s when I happened to check Twitter.

It turned out that downtown Walnut Creek was being looted, so my partner and I hopped in the car and sped downtown still dressed as yuppies. On the way, we joked about my old friend who’d gotten us this job and remarked on the poetry of what was now taking place. Our friend had always been a legitimate white anarchist from Walnut Creek who moved to Oakland in his 20s and would get down at protests, a crime for which he was punished dearly. The myth of the white anarchist outside agitator from Walnut Creek has a long history and was used to discredit any protests that turns into a riot. According to this narrative, there’s no way anyone in Oakland would ever riot, it could only be white anarchists from suburban Walnut Creek. My old friend suffered greatly from this narrative, being exactly the creature needed for it to work. In every riot from 2009 to 2020, the media and the internet explode with calls for the rioters to go back to Walnut Creek or to go riot in Walnut Creek. On the evening of May 31, 2020, the looters of Oakland finally did what they were asked and besieged hoity-toity downtown Walnut Creek from every direction. My partner and I were there for all of it.

The looting of Walnut Creek, May 31, 2020

Driving in our black Honda with its V-8 engine, we burned rubber, smoked weed, and honked our horn as people broke into and then pillaged the major corporate stores in downtown Walnut Creek. Hundreds of people were out there, taking whatever they wanted, and much to our delight, no one needed help because everyone had come in a car. Once the Walnut Creek police arrived, everyone sped to Pleasant Hill and then looted everything on both sides of the freeway. After that, people moved on to Concord, keeping the police blind and confused. We drove through this madness blasting music, smoking weed, and burning rubber, joyous beyond measure. By the time we got back to the mansion, the first curfews were in effect, given the widespread looting. While we’d been cruising the suburbs, people looted downtown San Francisco and pillaged San Leandro where dozens of cars were stolen directly out of dealerships. As we soaked in the mansion’s hot-tub, checking Twitter, both of us knew the rebellion would only keep growing. All the major cities of California were in open revolt, from Los Angeles to Chico and everywhere in between. Just as I had this thought, three young people did a drive-by shooting of the Oakland Police Department headquarters. They were soon captured in the West Oakland, taken to jail, and I still don’t know what happened to them. Do you?

V:

Oakland is a mess.

Donald Trump, July 20, 2020

I’m still sitting in my little cabin, but it’s almost two months now since the uprising began. As I write this, there have been over 50 days of continuous protests in Portland, Oregon, a struggle that has led Donald Trump to order federal gunmen to police the city, even against the wishes of the municipal government. While the first contours of a civil war are emerging up north, every liberal metropolis is now under threat of a federal occupation, including Oakland. As of today, Trump’s goons are being sent to Chicago in response to a popular effort to topple the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park, a monument that also bears the image of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, another Italian responsible for genocidal massacres. According to a lot of right-wingers on the internet, the Italian identity itself is under threat by George Soros & Company, a cabal that has engineered the toppling of Columbus statues across the US. Regardless, the black, neo-liberal, Democratic mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, has just announced she will let Trump’s nascent death-squads to set up shop in the city while they attempt to protect a statue of Christopher Columbus and Benito Mussolini. I’m not making this shit up.

Bust of Mussolini on side of Columbus statue, Grant Park, Chicago

Anyway, back here in Oakland, I woke up to discover that mayor Libby Schaaf’s house in the foothills had been sprayed up in the night, attacked with firework mortars, and peppered with paint-bombs. A communique just went up on the Indybay website a minute ago, claiming responsibility for the action and demanding the cancellation of all rent, the end of the Oakland Police Department, free housing for all, and the dropping of all charges against those captured during the uprising (283 people within the Bay Area alone). When I read all this just a few minutes ago, I realized I haven’t been hearing as many fireworks in the weeks since the 4th of July. I guess most people ran out, but the people who attacked Libby Schaaf’s house were clearly saving a few goodies. As far as I’m concerned, this little action was perfectly timed. Ever since Trump threatened to send his federal gunmen to Oakland, Libby Schaaf has been drooling over the prospect of once again being the liberal darling who stood up to Trump. This morning was a clear reminder that everyone hates her guts in this city, given what she’s done, and no one is going to forgive her, ever. I’m pretty well-known for my hatred of this neo-liberal arch-swine, but I also know I was definitely wiping cum and shit off my face when this attack went down.

Before the uprising, before the quarantine, I went out a couple nights to help my friend put up a bunch of anarchist posters across Oakland. The posters actually had a circle-A and were meant to spread the actual philosophy of anarchism, something oddly rare in Oakland, at least back then. Aside from our little team, I only ever saw two other anarchist taggers on the streets, mostly along Fruitvale Avenue, a street that stretches from the Jingletown waterfront all the way to Libby Schaaf’s neighborhood. It’s a pretty major east-west street in East Oakland and we kept the anarchia vibes flowing on its walls before the quarantine even started. One of our posters, in Spanish in English, read Libby Schaaf is destroying Oakland, along with a picture of a vampire-fanged mayor grinning over a luxury apartment building ringed with a homeless encampment. We plastered this poster deep in the barrio then covered the Dimond District, hoping to make a big splash just down the hill from Libby Schaaf’s comfortable house. We put up other posters too, and those ones stayed up, but Libby Schaaf must have sent in her goons because all those posters in the Dimond District came down within days. We did a second wave to make clear we weren’t going away, but those loyal Schaaf fanatics were as quick as before. They were so determined to remove this profane image of their master that they left some hard-core anarchist propaganda plastered on the walls, as if it wasn’t a threat. Too bad for them.

Fruitvale, Oakland, March 2020

One of the posters left up by Libby Schaaf’s goons was the image of a dark haired woman lifting one eyebrow while staring directly at the viewer. Emblazoned on her high-necked collar was a circle-A, along with the cryptic phrase she’s watching you. According to the person who made the poster, it’s the spitting-image of a French-Swiss anarchist named Josephine Lemel who moved to San Francisco in the year 1873 and basically spread anarchy for the next seven decades of her life, sort of like my friends. Just like us, she’d sailed from Buenos Aires to San Francisco in an effort to build a fiery ribbon along the entire American coastline. Each of our families have insane legends, just like hers, and some of us were born into anarchist households, even if some of us didn’t know it. Our families had escaped Spain, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, all for obvious reasons, and because of this, most of us grew up trusting no one at all until we met each other, then we kept even our friendship a secret.

Photo taken October 2019

So when my friend asked for help putting up this poster of Josephine Lemel, I was happy to tag along, and we pasted it all over the Bay Area, including the staircases of Telegraph Hill where Josephine Lemel is said to have lived. Just a few days later, the Christopher Columbus statue on Telegraph Hill was covered in red paint and anarchist symbols on the exact morning a bunch of idiots flooded the summit to watch military jets terrorize the waterfront in spectacle known as Fleet Week. For those precious days, the residents of Telegraph Hill were all thinking about anarchism, something that hadn’t happened for over a century. It made me pretty happy, way back in those final months before the quarantine. As I’m writing this to you, the City of San Francisco has since removed the Columbus statue before an angry mob could throw it into the sea. There’s a lot of stuff on this website about Josephine Lemel, if you’re interested, but now I should it bring it back to Oakland because the poster with her face was one of the few signals of anarchism plastered in the deepest pockets of that city before the lock-down. All the big graffiti writers saw it every night and seemed to leave it alone. Like I said, only a few other people were throwing up circle-As back then, but it was consistent, and we kept l’anarchia alive on the streets for all to see. Then the uprising happened.

Telegraph Hill, San Francisco, October 2019

When my partner and I drove into downtown Oakland on the evening of May 31, 2020, we marveled at all the circle-As, ACABs, 1312s, FUCK 12s, and FTPs. The walls were covered in paint, all the windows busted out, and capitalism was frozen cold. It felt like anarchism was winning, that our simple message was rapidly expanding its reach, and that its lines of communication now ran directly into the underworld where the Great Sideshow Army resides. As I write this now, the city is still covered in political graffiti, with many well-known artists taking nightly risks to spread a subversive message. Back then, at the start of the uprising, we cruised through this wrecked downtown as if in a dream.

Once we were back in our anarchist compound, we sat around smoking weed for a while, unsure what to do. We needed the money from our estate liquidation gig, but we could push that off a few days. We’d just been really close to a lot of unprecedented, crime-wave kind of shit, so we decided to go to our communal boat in the Oakland estuary and then anchor-out in Richardson Bay, the little boat-squatting community just off the Sausalito waterfront. Once we learned a curfew had been declared in Oakland, our decision made even more sense. Just when we were getting settled in our leaky-ass boat, we heard the fucking OPD helicopter circling above so we checked Twitter and found out shit was going down in Fruitvale. We eventually made it to the Cardenas market and discovered that people had looted the WSS shoe-store, a corporate chain, and we drove down Bancroft looking for anyone who needed help. There wasn’t anyone on the streets, we could hear police sirens everywhere, so we cruised all the way to Seminary then drove back down to the water, both of us feeling like something terrible was going to happen.

Little did we know that everyone was going wild that night, from Berkeley to Fairfield to Hayward, stretching the cops thin in each city and striking fast across the map. The Great Sideshow Army had discovered the magic formula and was paralyzing local law enforcement across the East Bay, a huge geographic area. We woke up the next morning (ie: afternoon), drove into Fruitvale to assess all the looting, and bought twenty tamales at the little stand by Cardenas, just across the street from Cash 4 Cans. Guys were already boarding up the WSS, but people at Cardenas were shopping like nothing had happened. Everyone knew WSS wasn’t local, so no one gave a shit. Some places were hit along International but there wasn’t any of that they’re destroying their own neighborhood vibe. I know it might surprise the white-bread Anglx yuppies, but Latinx people are also intelligent, and fully human. As basic as this sounds, something happened the next evening that makes this all worth repeating.

We spent the whole of June 1 getting ready for our trip across the bay and had finally gone to sleep on our leaky-ass boat. In the early morning of June 2, 2020, while we were sleeping, the Vallejo police murdered 22 year-old Sean Monterosa in front of a looted Walgreen’s. Sean Monterosa was carrying only a hammer that night. He wasn’t from Vallejo, he’d driven in from San Francisco. The police and his friends were the only people who knew what had happened at first. We didn’t know about it, not for days.

San Francisco, July 2020

Sean Montersoa was Latino. His parents were from Argentina. Growing up in the Mission, he was raised in Latino culture. On the day he was murdered, few knew he was dead. It was as if his life didn’t matter. My partner and I didn’t know. We pigged out on tamales, saved twelve for the boat, then checked Twitter one last time. The white anarchist outside agitator myth was exploding, fueled largely by the fascists, and people in Oakland were falling for it. Every time someone visibly white-skinned broke a window on camera, it was used as clear evidence of right-wing infiltration, police infiltration, lizard infiltration, the usual. Remember, it was the fascists spreading most of this stuff, and people still didn’t know who killed that security guard at the Federal Building. It got worse when right-wing accounts started claiming the security guard was black, all the while spreading false information that the shooter had been an anarchist, an antifa, or part of the BLM conspiracy with George Soros. Meanwhile, stupid memes about cops planting bricks for the white anarchist outside agitator spread across the internet, feeding a growing sentiment that only cops, fascists, or agents would riot across the US. After reading all this on Twitter, my partner and I untied the boat, spun it around, revved up the engine, then sped off down the Oakland estuary towards Yerba Buena island. It was definitely time to lie low.

We spent the next four days anchored-out near Sausalito in Richardson Bay, a ritzy waterfront town that’s barely holding on to its old-school anarchy vibes. We paddled our canoe to the public dock off Turney Street every morning and caught up on the latest harassment against the boat squatters. Two months earlier, the SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) had dismantled one of two public docks in Sausalito, claiming it was the site of high-crime from the boat squatters. As they dismantled the dock in the middle of the quarantine, the Sausalito police were close-by to ensure no one got rowdy. Basically, the rich pieces of shit up on the hill in Sausalito, along with their developer friends in BCDC, want to cleanse Richardson Bay and remove what little free housing remains in the Bay Area, around 100 boats that pay zero rent. It’s an important battle, we were happy to add one more boat to the mess, but we left on the morning of June 6 to dock at our slip in the Oakland Estuary. In our marina, BCDC has decreed that only 10% of the slips can be legal live-aboard units, a housing status which does not allow the resident to have a legal address on the waterfront. We don’t have a live-aboard permit. People can only sleep on our boat three nights of the week, otherwise we risk getting evicted, but we pay less than 300 dollars a month for access to the marina’s facilities, which include a hot shower, unlimited water, unlimited electricity, and free wireless [ie: much cheaper than 12 days in a motel]. There are enough empty boats and anchorages to end homeless in the Bay Area and the only people preventing this are BCDC.

Boat squatters, Richardson Bay, off the Sausalito waterfront

We sailed back into the Oakland Estuary, docked our old-ass boat, and then drove back home to our anarchist compound in South Prescott. Our friends had been watering our plants and they looked great, all bursting with juicy vegetables. We went on a walk through all the other seized parcels of land and saw everything was healthy, all the plants were watered, and life felt really good for the rest of the day. Both of us were tired, so we went to sleep early and then woke up to discover two young latino man had been gunned down by the police while we were away on our boat. One was Sean Monterosa. The other was a young man in East Oakland. As we would learn in the coming days, 23 year-old Erik Salgado had been driving a Dodge Hellcat stolen from a San Leandro car dealership on June 6, 2020. His then-pregnant girlfriend Brianna Colombo was at his side when undercover California Highway Patrol officers opened fire on the car with assault rifles, striking Brianna and killing Erik. Brianna would later lose her child.

Shrine to Erik Salgado, East Oakland, June 2020

Once again, a member of the Great Sideshow Army had been murdered by the police, and once again they were latino. In other words, their life didn’t matter, especially because they were criminals. There were no national protests for Erik Salgado or Sean Monterosa, there were no calls to rename Hearst Street in Berkeley, no efforts to topple any Hearst monuments, no recollection of what Hearst did to latinxs in Mexico. If latinxs are really white people [which they are sometimes, often not], why are their murders still invisible? Why can cops gun down latinxs without consequence? Is it just because liberal Anglxs only care about assuaging their guilt for anti-black racism, not anti-brown racism? Maybe, right? Either way, no one was rioting in LA for Erik Salgado, no one was burning cop cars in NYC for Sean Monterosa.

It’s hard being one of the few bona fide Latins in any given situation, especially because I have darker skin. To most of the Anglx hipsters, I look latinx, which almost makes no fucking sense, only it does, because I’m definitely Italian and white. According to the right-wingers, I should be threatened every time a statue of Columbus is toppled and thrown into the sea because it’s a direct attack on my Italian heritage. All I know is that my family have been anarchists since forever, all of them are Italian, and I don’t need any statue of anyone to remind me, especially that genocidal pig Christopher Columbus. Italy is as racist and shitty as anywhere else, but it’s also just as rebellious and beautiful. I don’t know what else to say.

VI:

We are not experiencing any civil unrest right now, but I can think of nothing more likely to incite it than the presence of Trump-ordered military troops into Oakland.

Libby Schaaf, July 20, 2020

I didn’t grow up Catholic, neither did my mom, but her new husband did. One year, she told me to ignore everything I heard when we all went to mass to appease my new grandmother. It was the late-1980s, everyone was wearing the latest neon fashions, and I sat on that pew bored as fuck, just staring off at the insane murals. Jesus took up most of the scene, obviously, but I became fascinated by those two men crucified behind him. Who were they? Once the mass was over, that’s exactly what I asked my mom, and she told me they were niente, just forgotten criminals unworthy of their own religion. Even back then, I could tell she was talking about my father, last seen in Torino in 1986, suspected of arming urban guerrillas but never actually charged, and cursed to live under constant surveillance. He and my mother were never married, but from what I’ve gathered, his involvement in the underground turned out to be more important than a family.

L – R: Dismas, Jesus, Gestas

He told my mom to leave Firenze, which was a good idea, because it was less than a year before Aldo Moro was kidnapped. She had some relatives out in San Francisco so she bought a one way plane ticket to California and got a job at the Mezzetta pepper plant on Sansome Street near the old Latin Quarter now known as North Beach. First she stayed with her mom’s cousin, then she got a room on Telegraph Hill, then she suddenly bought a house across the bay in Oakland, thinking her job would always be in San Francisco. When the company announced they were moving the plant to Napa, my mom simply bought a cheap VW bug and made the commute six days a week, then five, then four. By the time she made her first visit back to Italy in 1983, my mom had won her own three day weekend and a two-week vacation. That’s when I was conceived, on her trip back home, and thanks to her, I was born a US citizen. I grew up in her tiny little house in East Oakland on a street you’ve probably never heard of, a bizarre horse-shoe called Sunshine Court. Two other women from the Mezzetta plant lived with my mom and one of their mothers raised me while all of them were at work. When my mom got married, she refused to live anywhere but her house in East Oakland, and the marriage didn’t last long, given my mom never evicted her friends. But it was thanks to that poor guy and his Catholic mother that I first learned of Dismas and Gestas, the two criminals crucified behind Jesus. Few ever seemed to care about them.

I thought a lot about Dismas and Gestas after Sean Monterosa and Erik Salgado were murdered by the police in the middle of an anti-police uprising. Few people seemed to care, probably because they were portrayed as latino criminals. People seemed to care a lot more about George Floyd, mostly because the liberal establishment of the US is largely Anglx and carries the guilt for its culture’s documented history of slavery and anti-black racism. In all this white Anglx guilt, people ignore that the indigenous were enslaved in California once the Anglxs showed up, just like thousands of latinxs were massacred to make room for white gold miners. So far, the cops who murdered Sean Monterosa and Erik Salgado have faced no consequences. They are no different than George Floyd, and yet they are, just as Dismas and Gestas were different than Jesus, even though all three were criminals. Jesus has his own religion today, but latinx criminals only have Santa Muerte, the last remnants of an ancient indigenous goddess who guarded the underworld. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have a shrine to Santa Muerte here on our anarchist compound, one that was burning all night, every night, for the past four months.

I’ve attached a picture of my tiny kitchen along with this story, so you can have some perspective, and also to introduce our beloved oven mit, Giuseppe Pinguini, named after my lost father. In this picture, Giuseppe and his friend Mangeri are standing next to our Rhino propane tank. Every month and a half, we spend 25 bucks on a new tank, and it would be even less frequent if we weren’t always cooking, making essential oils, boiling bath water, all that bourgie luxurious kind of stuff. Our tank is attached to a simple iron burner made in China, which also cost 25 bucks. Our water and electricity comes from the main houses and we pay roughly 80 bucks a month in utilities, although we just got our solar panels working so our usage should drop soon. Basically, we live like peasants [ie: the majority of the fucking planet].

Our kitchen

Our cabin is pretty small but has a loft and enough space for us to feel sane. There’s also a library filled with all our old Italian books passed down over the decades, texts printed and bound in Firenze, the city where my mom was born and the place she’s living now. In 2012, my grandmother got sick in their old apartment in Firenze so my mom retired from the pepper plant, packed a few suitcases, then flew home for the first time in decades. After my grandmother died, my mother stayed in Italy, leaving the house on Sunshine Court to the people who raised me. The last time I went to visit her way back in 2019, the fucking secret police followed me around Firenze as if I was up to something. Really unpleasant.

Firenze, Italy

My partner and I travel a lot, both of us are Italian, the difference is that they were born in Argentina, not the US or Italy. In our little cabin, we have a wide variety of objects, many of them from Argentina and handed down over the decades. There is the traditional maté gourd made from a dried squash and wrapped in a decorative metal frame. Along with this are several bombilla straws used to sip from the gourd which is filled with steaming water, dried maté, and maybe some sugar. Down in Buenos Aires, people go to work with their thermos of water, their maté gourd, their dried maté, and maybe some sugar, but they’ll also just drink coffee like every other capitalist wage-slave. As it turns out, we have a sugar gourd wrapped in the leather of a dead carpincho, which is another word for capybara, the cutest, kindest animal on this earth. This particular carpincho was murdered sometime in the late 1800s and throwing it away would be almost more macabre than killing it in the first place.

L – R: chimichurri, maté containter, empenada plates, Martín Fierro, dulce de leche, carpincho sugar container, maté gourd, various bombillas, y bambino pinguino

People eat a lot of meat in Argentina, beef mostly, and I truly love some nice carne asada slathered with chimichurri, which is basically a salsa made up of minced garlic, Italian parsley, oregano, white vinegar, and ají molido, but that’s just the red version we keep in a jar. I love it. I put it on everything, rice, beans, eggs, and if all the vegan anarchists want to stop us from using our old wooden plates for beef empenadas, they’ll just have to destroy the factory farms that feed the supermarkets which feed the food-banks where all the expired meat ends up in the fucking trash. It’s sort of like our poor carpincho. What’s worse? Letting all these enslaved animals suffer pointless deaths only to be thrown in the trash, or eating the excess meat and waiting for the vegan anarchists to destroy all the factory farms? I don’t know, but I can tell you the basic plot of El Gaucho Martín Fierro, the arch-classic of Argentine epic-poetry. In this story, the rural gaucho harmony of poorMartínis broken when the state forces him to fight the indigenous, who eventually capture him. By then he has become a drunken, racist murderer. While living in their idyllic, pre-colonial world,Martínwatches disease and war hammer away at the besieged indigenous until he eventually rejoins western civilization and its long parade of death, including his own, perhaps. It’s definitely a problematic text, even Borges was critical, but it sums up a lot about Argentina’s past.

La Patagaonia Rebelde, 1974

Some anarchists in the US might be familiar with gauchos from the 1974 film La Patagonia Rebelde where maté sipping rebels burn warehouses and ambush police. It was banned well-before the CIA-backed dictatorship took power, even though it had nothing to do with state-communism. Pretty dark times, but anarchy still lives on the waterfront of Buenos Aires and across all of Argentina. A long time ago, when my partner’s great-grandparents were living in Buenos Aires, a bunch of anarchists started a baker’s union and then sold their baked facturas to the public in exchange for currency. Just as a worker submitted their invoice to the boss for payment, the anarchist baker submitted their factura to the boss (ie: the customer) for payment. Among these invoices sold to the public were the vigilante, shaped like a policeman’s baton, and the bolas de fraile, made to look like a priest’s balls. The public gobbled up those facturas back then, just like they do today, and I’m telling you the truth when I say good old Errico Malatesta was a founding member of the anarchist baker’s union that made facturas part of the very Argentine identity, a rebellious mark not even two dictatorships could erase.

Bolas de fraile, my favorite

There’s a lot more I could write about my family, my partner’s family, our friend’s families, but I’ll just leave you with this description of a dagger usually hidden in the back of my family’s heirloom writing desk. Since I’ve been writing this text, I’ve kept this dagger within my sight. My mom always called it a letter-opener but this became obviously untrue the older I got. Why would a letter-opener have a metal loop meant for a waist-belt? When I finally asked her for the true story, she said it came from her grandmother, part of her collection of pre-WWI objects. According to my grandmother, this dagger had once belonged to an Italian woman in San Francisco, that it had slit the throats of a hundred men on the Barbary Coast, and a dozen other folk-tales from the old Latin Quarter. Whatever the truth is, my mom left it to me and said it needed to stay here, in California. So here it is, sitting beside me as I write the last words on our uprising here in Oakland.

Just the other night, thousands of people took the streets, smashed up the police station, set the Alameda County Courthouse on fire, tagged up the USPS fleet, and covered the city walls with the names Erik Salgado and Sean Monterosa. Among those tags was tucan, the nickname for Sean Monterosa, a tag that was also on the Walgreen’s in Vallejo where he was murdered. The morning after this riot in Oakland, all the USPS workers went on their Sunday mail-routes (where they exclusively deliver Amazon packages) with their vans covered in circle-As, ACABs, 1312s, and FTPs, providing anarchist propaganda to West Oakland. There are some people who care about Erik Salgado and Sean Monterosa, and a while ago they marched on the CHP and then trashed gentrifying Temescal, even though there weren’t many people. Just the other night, they covered downtown Oakland in the names of the dead, our local Dismas and Gestas, now only remembered by the Great Sideshow Army and its patron goddess Santa Muerte. There’s a few Anglx journalists holding it down, to be sure, juts like there’s people keeping the memory alive on the streets for all to see.

Alameda County Courthouse, Oakland, July 2020

Some people are really obsessed with Hong Kong during this uprising. It seems like they want people to think of Honk Kong, but if anything, this uprising looks more like what happened in Chile in 2019. Hong Kong is really small and dense while Chile is really long and spread along the coast. Either way, this uprising in the US looks different than Hong Kong or Chile. People have access to guns and fast cars and use them during moments of social unrest. Starting during the Ferguson Uprising of 2014, this form of partisan warfare has spread in reaction to police violence, embraced from Minneapolis all the way to Oakland. I feel safe here on the coast of California, surrounded by the Great Sideshow Army with its thousands of anti-fascist soldiers. Some people call this force the Imaginary Party, but I like the Great Sideshow Army better, because that’s the form its been taking in the US for years now. It doesn’t look like Hong Kong, not unless you’re on foot and confined to a few city blocks. It looks like a wild, joyous party that can move faster than water, but only if you can stand the burning rubber and fuel.

A long time ago, when my friends would chant ACAB or yell fuck the police,they’d mostly be the only ones, the violent ones. Then, after some years, it caught on and spread. Back then, I remember sitting in some room coming up with chants that are now part of mainstream US protest culture. We should have seen what was happening. After wielding the Hand of Glory, we were disappointed beyond measure, not realizing we had shattered the cornerstone of our opponents superstructure. In our alleged defeat, we failed to notice the hand symbols taking over every protest within the US, starting with the Occupy Movement and extending up to today with the clenched fist of the BLM movement. This was the true Hand of Glory, the symbol of our triumph over world fascism, a reminder that our coup de main was an insurrection made irreversible. What made matters worse for the state is that we taught others to wield the Hand of Glory, for it was a weapon the state could never yield. Only those victimized by the state are capable of using it, and it’s truly powerful, but that’s only if you believe in things like Santa Muerte, the Hand of Glory, or UFOs. Speaking of which, the US government just admitted they have pieces of an alien spacecraft, which may or not be true, because you and I know there’s nothing like a good distraction from reality. My point is, if UFOs turn out to be real, will you finally believe in the Hand of Glory? At least the Great Sideshow Army is real, and its power is just growing and growing. At the end of all this uprising, it’s going to be them who depose the cops and enable the world of our dreams.

A long time ago, my friends and I sat around hypothesizing on what would happen if everything was looted in the city of Oakland. Assuming every store was seized and had its goods distributed in a fair manner, that’s still only a month of food for everyone, at best. Next up would be the Port of Oakland and all the logistics centers, which might represent any number of months worth of food for the local population. After that, we’d be on our own and would need to be already growing food in order to survive. We’d also need to control the water supply. For the longest time, these type of fringe discussions were reserved only for us anarchist wingnuts hellbent on visualizing industrial collapse. During the uprising in Oakland, this became a pressing topic. After the widespread looting, many of the box-stores like Home Depot and Walgreen’s refused to re-open at first. Some of them, like the Target on Broadway, still haven’t re-opened, along with a few weed-shops. For the first time in my memory, people other than my friends were discussing what happens when you loot everything, when the stores are empty, when capitalism no longer functions.

Emeryville, May 30, 2020, after the looting

I’m about to finish typing this story and go outside to tend the garden now bursting with nice squash shaped like little anarchist bombas. We grow enough basil to make pesto for everything, all the time, and we have enough red Manzano chili to destroy the tongues of all West Oakland. One day, we gave a bag of these red Manzanos to an ILWU matriarch named Miss Nancy because she told us she liked her food spicy and these ones are as hot as they come, almost. We grow about one meal a day on our land, for ourselves, but we share with our friends on the compound so there’s never any lack. We’re getting ready for 2020, for 2021, for the Greatest Depression the US has ever seen, and all of us need to build resilience now. Beneath the spectacle of the election, the media, the politics, and the bullshit, is the grim truth of the capitalist world system and its decaying center within the US. I can’t really get into that, but for as long as I’ve been involved, people in the US have always been doing solidarity actions for people in other countries, and for the first time in my memory, our comrades in Greece held a solidarity demonstration for us in Athens, a demo that achieved the impossible. Every year, on November 17, a massive march attempts to reach the US Embassy in Athens where the CIA planned the 1967 coup d’etat, only the march never does. I’ve been on this march myself a half-dozen times and it always ends in tear gas, molotovs, the usual.

On June 3, 2020, thousands of people finally succeeded in reaching the US Embassy in a solidarity march for George Floyd and the Minneapolis Uprising. They threw molotovs at this evil building, fought off the police, and brought our anarchist fire to a place long thought unreachable. For the first time, I saw our Greek comrades drawing strength from us in the US, not the other way around. All of us inspired them to achieve the impossible and together we have rebuilt the Anarchist International, a vast web that stretches across the globe. When I wake up and walk into my garden, two months into this uprising, I know that I’m living in the world of my dreams. We specialize in killing time here amid the plants, we just need everyone to kill time with us. Soon enough, all those thousands of people will seize the buildings, seize the land, seize everything we need to live our best lives outside of capitalism. If I’ve succeeded in anything, I hope it’s convincing you that it’s possible. While all of this story might be fiction, don’t be afraid of pretending it’s true.



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