Bay Area Solidarity Action Team Statement on Black Friday 14 Victory

#BlackLivesMatter    #BlackFriday14    #DropTheCharges

Today, Bay Area Solidarity Action Team (BASAT) celebrates the freedom of the Black Friday 14 from unfair punishment and criminal charges. After a year of public pressure, including petitions, rallies, and further civil disobedience by leaders from labor and faith communities, and other allies, D.A. Nancy O’Malley has announced today that she is dropping the charges against these 14 Black activists who — in the tradition of civil rights activists past and present — peacefully blocked BART trains as part of nationwide actions calling attention to police murders of Black men, women, trans folks, and children.

It is a fact that these Black activists were singled out, while countless others who took action to end the War on Black Lives since then have not faced charges (including members of BASAT and other ally groups). Because of this selective prosecution, we had to question D.A. O’Malley’s commitment to addressing racial injustice.

Today we recognize O’Malley for listening to the calls of people of conscience who stand with the Black Friday 14 and have demanded their charges be dropped. We congratulate the courageous Black Friday 14 on this victory. This is a victory for people-powered movements who boldly take action and demand justice. We are being heard, and today one of our demands has been met.

Now, we call on Nancy O’Malley to commit the full resources of her office to end the state-sanctioned War on Black Lives that her department helps wage. Dropping the charges against the Black Friday 14 was a necessary first step for O’Malley to prove she wants to be on the side of justice. But there is a long road ahead, and there is much work to be done. Dropping the charges is a beginning, not an end.

We are proud to have joined hundreds of community leaders, BART riders and concerned residents in demanding these charges be dropped. Now, we will continue to stand with these 14 activists and the broader movement for Black Lives in the long struggle ahead to dismantle white supremacy and end the War on Black Lives. Because none of us are free until all of us are free.

BASAT is an ad-hoc network of racial justice activists in the Bay Area who — inspired by the Black Friday 14’s bold action — joined together in Fall 2015 to use white solidarity to take action to challenge white supremacy and support Black liberation.

Survey: Moving Forward Strategically

In order to figure out how to most strategically move forward, we are soliciting YOUR opinions! Can you take 5-10 minutes to fill out this brief survey for us?

Survey will be closed at Friday, Jan 30th at midnight, so please take and share the survey before then!

Survey Intro:

We are an ad-hoc group of anti-racist activists in the Bay Area operating under the name of BASAT (Bay Area Solidarity Action Team) who joined together to take ongoing accountable action as allies in solidarity with the BlackLivesMatter movement. We originally formed by putting a call out to white folks to step up in our role to end the white silence that perpetuates violence against Black folks; however, through the formation of affinity groups through people’s personal networks and desires, we are not an entirely white group at this point; though the vast majority is. So far we have done two actions: the Oakland Tree Lighting ceremony redirect (12/5), and #ShutdownOPD (12/15).

While we are committed to continue taking action, we are now reflecting on the role of BASAT as a vehicle, what role it could play, or if it should continue to exist. Through organizing these actions, we amassed a large twitter feed, listserv, a national audience and readership of our principles and protocols, and lots and lots of people who are interested in continuing to take action with us.

Useful context: we did not all come together to vision what kind of infrastructure is necessary in the Bay, and BASAT did not emerge from that level of political thinking. Instead, it was an ad-hoc experiment of “building the plane while flying it” so that we could meet needs to execute big actions on a specific (fast) timeline. Our core tactical team was made up of 4 people who had strong relationships with both the Black leaders we were consulting with and many of the white activists who were invited to start BASAT. Now that we have some breathing room, we have an opportunity to step back and be more thoughtful about what we all want to create, what leadership and consultation should look like, and what our roles is. This survey is meant to help us assess our next steps.

KPFA radio discussion for organizers about the #ShutDownOPD action

On Dec 18th, Kamau Walton from Black Brunch, Christine Cordero from Asians4BlackLives, and Joshua Kahn Russell from Bay Area Solidarity Action Team were interviewed on KPFA about some initial lessons for organizers from the #ShutDownOPD action on Dec 15th. The discussion begins 24 minutes and 45 seconds into the segment:

Protocol and Principles for White People Working to Support the Black Liberation Movement

The Bay Area Solidarity Action Team (BASAT) is an ad-hoc group that initially formed for white people to respond to the call from Ferguson for white folks to take big action in solidarity with the Black Liberation Movement. After our first action at the Oakland Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Dec 5, 2014, the next big event pivoted to be a multi-racial action that shut down the Oakland Police Department with 11 simultaneous blockades for 4 hours and 28 minutes on December 15th. In the wake of the action, we are distilling lessons and determining whether BASAT should be a multi-racial vehicle, or one specifically for white people to work with non-Black groups of color in solidarity with this Black-led movement. We have been using protocol and principles to guide us in this work, and now have a new updated document, integrating some of what we have learned, that we would like to share and spread publicly. This is a living document that will continue to evolve. The foundation for this protocol came from The Ruckus Society’s Action Framework. Additionally we are collaboratively writing an article that distills specific lessons, which will be shared soon.

Protocol & Principles for White People Working to Support the Black Liberation Movement:

Frontline Leadership
•    We commit to following leadership from the front lines; in this struggle that means Black organizations who are locally and nationally connected to this movement. We follow the guidance from Black organizers and their groups specifically on strategy, goals, vision, tone, and message of actions. Receiving such guidance is a gift of capacity and time from these Black groups, and we are committed to taking direction, while learning from them how much time they wish to give to solidarity groups trying to do this work.
•    In this moment of ad-hoc group formation and self-organization, we commit to building infrastructure that allows for organizational accountability. We will distinguish between consultation with individual Black organizers, and ongoing group consultation (recognizing that some Black-led groups are also in formation stages), and include a diversity of perspectives, strategies, and tactics.
•    We commit to building accountable relationships with non-Black people of color with whom we collaborate to support this Black-led movement. We will learn from and support their leadership, remain conscious of internal power dynamics between white folks and non-Black people of color, while co-creating multiracial spaces.

Solidarity is a Verb
•    We make solidarity real through action and behavior. Accountability is a relationship. There may be moments where we are out of alignment, and we commit to our own course-correction with each effort, action, meeting, mobilization, and agreement.
•    We will leverage the access that some of us have to various resources to help advance the goals of this Black-led movement, including from allied organizations who may not be central to this fight but can lend critical skills and capacity.
•    We will leverage our white privilege in direct actions in explicit ways aligned with Black strategies.

Long Haul Relationships
•    We understand that taking accountable action in this movement requires long-term political relationships (organizationally and personally) and building trust through long-term commitment and shared struggle. We know that in movement work and “movement moments” like this, it is the alignment that comes from long-term relationships that helps us navigate complexity and challenges.

Centering Blackness
•    We aspire to show up in clear integrity and action logic in our role as a non-Black solidarity group, be clear about why white people are taking action as white people, and represent ourselves authentically so we can lift up Black voices in tone, content, media, and demands. We will engage in political education with each other and other white people to center Blackness in solidarity actions. We will articulate our own role, so that white people do not adopt Black messages and approaches that do not apply to white folks, and thus erase the racial context  (i.e. “I am Mike Brown”, “I Can’t Breathe”, etc.).

Don’t Let Whiteness Get in the Way
•    We are being directly asked to turn it up and go big. We will collaborate through complex, emergent and “imperfect” situations. We will not let the white culture of perfectionism get in the way of us taking bold action. Many of us are accustomed to accountability protocol that assumes lots of time and capacity for consultation. In this moment, where we need to move quickly, we will continue to attempt to apply our accountability protocol to learn how to show up well in fast-paced situations. Specifically, we will not allow the white culture of “frantic-checking-in” to lead us to asking more time and capacity from Black groups than they have agreed to give, and not let our own self-consciousness turn into the white culture of deference that freezes us. We are willing to navigate contradiction, and willing to make mistakes.

Stay Human, Stay Grounded
•    We commit to staying grounded in our reasons for joining this fight. Our own liberation is bound to the liberation of Black people. We will stay present with our own humanity, honor the humanity of those with whom we collaborate, be humble, listen, connect, and feel. We will stay emotionally connected to the gravity of the war on black people, and not get lost in the logistics of action planning.

Visionary and Confrontational Action
•    We commit to taking action that holds space for community vision, aligns with national demands from FergusonAction, and places our bodies in the path of injustice.

Tactical Discipline
•    We will be bold and militant when confronting injustice. We do not take a stance on tactics that other groups choose to use in their circumstance. For our actions, we will do no violence against other living beings, and we will not engage in intentional property destruction, as it can distract from the political goals we are being asked to amplify and uphold.

Reflection ←→ Action cycle
•    We will constantly evaluate and learn from our mistakes and strengths, and share learning with others.

•    Many of us are sprinting and in rapid-response mode. We will rotate roles so we can care for ourselves and each other to keep actions going. We will ask for what we need from each other to stay healthy and committed to the long-term fight, in this moment where we are pushing ourselves to continue acting in a consistent and strong way to harness the exponential potential of this moment. We know that in order to achieve the national FergusonAction demands, continued work over the long haul is required. We will find ways to embed this work in our day-to-day lives even when the media stops highlighting it.