Friday, August 5, 2011

2011-08-05 photograph of "Coffee Not Cops" action at 16th & Mission st. in San Francisco
2011-08-05 communique passed out during propaganda action at 16th & Mission st. in San Francisco

two simple demands
We can’t afford to pay the fare, and we have other shit to spend our money on even if we could. We jump the turnstiles, board through the back door, and buy transfers on the street.
We have places to go: jobs to get to, lines to wait in at the food stamp office, parole officers to see, charges to beat, streets to sweep, lonely parents to see. We need a ride because our legs can’t take us that far anymore, or because we just didn’t want to walk on the street wearing a skirt and heels, or because we’re black and brown and know the cops don’t need any more reason to fuck with us.
We sit on this overcrowded piece of shit day after day with our heads down, not talking to anyone. A message telling us to snitch on taggers plays on repeat. Pictures of cops and jail cells above our heads advertise one thing: give us your money, sit down, shut up, keep moving.

The transit system does not exist for us. We have a real need for free movement: a desire to get where we need to go, to see our sweeties, and take care of our business. But none of this is the purpose of the BART or the MUNI systems. The train lines exist to maintain an economic system within which we are simply statistics – bodies to be exploited, managed, moved, separated.
For some of us, the train lines exist solely to bring us to our miserable jobs on time; to deliver us as human resources to the bosses that steal our labor. For others, the system is designed to keep us in our neighborhoods – to keep us in line and ‘where we belong.’ For all of us, the system is in place to keep us moving stagnantly in circles, dying a little more each day. Around every turn, the ceaseless movement of the transit system exists to maintain the economic and racial order of capitalism and white supremacy. At every stop, the collection of fares enforces the racial and class divisions of this dying system.

Last month, police killed two people on the trains in as many weeks. On July 3rd, BART police responded to a report of a ‘wobbly drunk’. Within 15 seconds of arrival, they shot and killed Charles Hill on the Civic Center platform. On July 16th, SFPD fired ten shots at Kenneth Harding after he ran from them during a fare inspection, shooting him through the throat and leaving him to die on the streets of Bayview. By now this story is all too familiar. We all remember the first hours of 2009, when a BART officer shot Oscar Grant in the back, while he was handcuffed and facedown on the Fruitvale BART platform. History repeats itself: the cops keep killing on these trains.

It is worth noting that it costs more to enforce the fares than it costs to run the trains all together. Were it not for the cost of enforcement (the machines, the ticket readers, the fare inspectors, the accountants, the transit cops) the trains would be almost free. We pay in order to maintain these police apparatuses, and the police apparatuses exist to make sure we pay. This endless system of fares and fare-enforcement all points to one real purpose: control.
You’ve probably already heard the news: we are living through a crisis. The media and the politicians repeat it daily: the economy is falling apart. Whether they call it austerity or budget repair, management or restructuring, it always means the same exact thing: they’re going to make us pay for their self-imploding system. We will have less and less, so that they can continue to have more and more. Austerity means that food will rot on shelves while we starve, that houses will sit empty while we die on the streets, that the trains will keep running, and if we can’t pay the fare we are as good as dead.

Obviously we don’t believe in their system anymore. The politicians don’t give us hope because we know that they cannot offer us anything. It should be totally clear that there is no solution – no solution within capitalism. As long as houses are owned by banks and food is owned by grocery stores, we will continue to starve and to be thrown onto the streets. As long as the laws of property and ownership govern our lives, we cannot determine them for ourselves. At this point, no reform can solve the disaster.
This means that any action to improve our lives must come from us. In each instance we are faced with the same enemies: profit, control, police. The real answer to austerity is to immediately destroy each of these. If we want food, we simply need to take it. If we want houses, we need to take them as well. If we want to move freely – without fares or fear of death – we need to take direct action to eliminate fares and the police. If we want free trains, we simply need to make them free.

STOP PAYING FARES: board through the back door, jump the turnstiles. Keep one clipper card to swipe if you see the inspectors board. If you get caught, buy a transfer on the next bus and send it in with your ticket.

NO CONTROL: spray paint the cameras, smash the ticket machines, break the card readers, black-out the snitch-lines.

HAVE EACH OTHER’S BACKS: open the back door or emergency exit, share your transfer, and never snitch!

GET TOGETHER: Drivers, riders, poor people, unemployed people, those of us that are targeted and harassed by cops – we need to meet up, to make plans together, to fight together to get rid of the transit police and make public transit free.

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