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

by Jesse Falk-Finley

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.

Video streaming by Ustream

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.

One Response

  1. jesse falk-finley

    Thanks, oloco editors, for putting this up.

    fyi Last bit was truncated here (which i can understand). I am planning on writing a bit of a perspective piece as well if anyone out there in internetville is interested.


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