by JP Massar
No one had a clue the thing even existed. Buried deep within the consent agenda of the Oakland City Council for years, appropriations for the Domain Awareness Center and the implications thereof had gone unnoticed.
Until, that is, @domainawareness caught it in July of 2013 and called it out at City Council. Oakland Privacy (nee Occupy Oakland Privacy Working Group) formed within weeks, outreach was done, protests began, marches were marched, City Council meetings spoken at en masse and eight months later the DAC, for all intents and purposes, was dead.
It wasn’t just Oakland Privacy. It took one of the biggest informal coalitions of community members and groups in Oakland’s recent history (and some lucky breaks) to stop the City of Oakland’s foray, in conjunction with the Port and the Feds, into the mass surveillance of Oakland’s denizens.
While the Oscar Grant movement and Occupy took largely to the streets and the Plaza, this coalition took the battle directly to Council Chambers as well. Meeting after meeting, month after month, dozens, then scores, then hundreds of community members appeared to speak against or support the opposition to the DAC, and to vocalize their fears of being surveilled. Leaders from the Black Community, leaders of faith from the Muslim and Christian communities, Arab Americans, Jewish Americans, former Occupiers, anarchists, socialists, Greens, and plenty of others (including two Mayoral Candidates – one human, one canine!) flyered, marched, light-brigaded, wrote and most dramatically testified before City Council into the nights.
On March 4th, 2014, the City Council voted to bury the DAC within the Port of Oakland, not allowing its equipment onto Oakland’s streets. Subsequent events consigned the DAC to a well-deserved dust heap.
It will take more than a village to stop white supremacist fascists. It may take a whole country. But the lessons learned from the DAC fight – relentless pressure, and standing together despite our differences against an existential enemy – are good ones to keep in mind as Big Hate reaches everywhere and touches us all.