Our city was on fire, I suppose
A recap of of Oakland July 26 JusticeForTrayvon from a(notso)far, via helicopter cam, twitter, ustream, the police scanner, and a few glasses of wine
It is 4pm on a Monday and I am watching the local news in an assisted living facility with the woman who introduced my parents to each other. She is dying, or has been for about ten years, but now depends on assistance to adjust her position in the hospital bed that sits in the center of her warm but sterile room.
The news man tells of a protest gathering, a riot is both feared and expected. Rightfully so — from the fearporn perspective I suppose — given the ‘violence’ committed against all that property on Saturday night following the verdict announcement.
I am exhausted from light sleep and vivid dreams, from days with alcohol, from the notion of of gradual decay and inevitable death. 7 o’clock comes and Jeopardy is my cue to leave, back to my newly adopted shared home in west Oakland near downtown, now under the hum of three helicopters.
I am not new to this. I lived only a few blocks away when tents colored the plaza and helicopters alerted us to check the internet and then the news. I had in fact moved to the neighborhood during the Oscar Grant protests, still bringing in furniture as my roommate filmed a motorcade of 30 or so police drive by our front window.
During those ‘flashpoints’ I had participated, in my way. An active witness rather than an organizer, feeling the distant surveillance that I inherited (recently confirmed).
Tonight I would be an observer, with a glass of wine and a laptop.
KGO 7 has a helicopter up for this type of thing, and their feed will run live for several hours through a website. There is a theory that when the “Eye in the sky” leaves then the cops move in. I tune in to find a march of 300ish coming up from the south end of the lake. I wonder who I may know in the crowd — only one old friend has been posting pictures through the afternoon. The crowd moves slowly, calmly, peacefully, as joggers and birds crisscross the screen. A fake twitter account pokes fun at the scene:
Up to Grand and out towards Grand Lake, a pleasant scene for a somber occasion.
After turning away to refill my cup, I return to my 12 inch window to find a much different scene. A murder in front of a house, the EMTs loading the ambulance and slowly driving away, at least ten police cars, officers tagging the 10 or more shell casings on the street and front yard. The helicopter makes one very slow round of the neighborhood before zooming out. It is East Oakland, looks like near where Foothill hits MacArthur. They got what they came for, so head back toward the Lake as dusk falls. Later I see claims that a “#blackTeenager #died” because of the protests.. hmmmm. Perhaps another tragic event, but given the timing and phrasing it seems like opportunistic, agenda-driven misinformationists.
Aaaaand.. we’re back. The police and highway patrol block the southbound entrance to 580 at Lakeshore. Guess the 880 shut down earlier didn’t make it seem like they had everything under control, as this was the lead story on the evening news..
The crowd keeps marching, a biker with a sound system plays “Strange Fruit,” a large firework spirals upward, and head back to the center of town
"Eye in the sky" is not cutting it. New window, search twitter for "oakland livestream" — bingo.
Mareejane has “never streamed before, only did it tonight because no one else was.” She receives nervous calls from her mother that interrupt the feed, Then reiterates that she is from occupy and is there to keep the cops from doing bad things to the crowd, turns the camera away whenever there is some “smashy.” She captures the scene as firecrackers explode behind the police line near 16th St. The crowd has clearly thinned out to about 100, perhaps knowing what comes next from intuition or experience.
It is rather surreal to experience these moments of transition in a demonstration, as the group that has been expressing complex social frustrations begins to anticipate panic or malice. The police seem calm from a distance, but you can sense the spiked adrenaline in their otherwise blank stares.
Teargas, flash bang grenades, trashcan fires, broken glass, the march moves to the new bars and restaurants at the start of Telegraph Avenue, up towards 27th.
Suddenly, Mareejane has her phone stolen while still streaming, a yelling match is heard as the white man in a mask runs away, the stream goes black, the comments go abuzz with “justice for maree” “RIP MAREE” as well a slew of racist comments against black men, “zeig heil”, and implications that she was “raped” and “zimmermaned.” Unfortunately it seems like this clip was not saved, but maybe we can do an FOIA request to see what the NSA picked up.
The helicopter feed is out too, so it is back to twitter. Oh great, a Flora waitress is hit in the head with a hammer.
So on to the police scanner I go
- Individual protester with gun, green hat, white shirt and hood, blue jeans
- Fires at 17th and Broadway and 19th and Telegraph
- 4120 market, multiple reports of semiautomatic gunshots
- 32nd and Adeline, multiple reports of semiautomatic gunshots
The crowd gradually dwindles. Mareejane got her phone back with the support of the crowd (mom heart attack averted). A bit past midnight and the helicopters fall quiet, at least on this side of town.
No doubt the local and national news will report on the vandalism, focusing on the worst bits from Oakland and Los Angeles. This seems to be a common trope.
I’d like to give a bit of my perspective on how this sort of protest / demonstration / diversity of tactics / riot is interpreted within the oh-so-diverse and changing city of Oakland, as well as how it viewed by the rest of the country and its place in the larger global resurgence of direct action. Also a bit about Oakland being a patsy. But that is going to have to wait until later..
NOVA dissects the forensic and surveillance tools used in the aftermath of the horrific Boston Bombing.
14:40 Collecting privately owned surveillance video
15:40 NYPD’s CCTV system “domain awareness system”
21:20 NYPD’s facial recognition capabilities
Meet the Handsome Atlas:
So we came across a ton of beautiful old documents in the Library of Congress’s online archive.
The browsing interface wasn’t too easy to use, and it was nearly impossible to play around with the documents, zooming and checking out different parts.
So we did what any good programmers would do: fixed it all up. You can read the whole story over here.
This is a visualization of San Francisco from the series “Transit Patterns”. The piece shows transit ridership in public transportation over 24 hours, depicting what areas of the city have the most activity and when.
from Schema Design
Data that shows where people live, work, and play is being sold to businesses and city planners, as mobile operators seek new sources of revenue.
Behold: the internet.
Bingham is an open-pit mine—a gigantic hole in the ground. The landslide, in effect, was the collapse of one of the pit walls. (For scale, the pit is a bit less than three miles wide and a bit more than three-quarters of a mile deep, and as you can see, the collapse stretches halfway across it and all the way from top to bottom.)