Feminist vigilante gangs to march on Oakland Friday


Oakland’s last feminist vigilante gangs march was a demonstration promoting offensive feminism in response to rape, assault, and murder of “women, queers, gender rebels and allies.” It was also a birthday party.

“The first march basically came about because it was my 30th birthday,” said Lauren, one of the organizers of that march and a second feminist vigilante gangs march, which will take place in Oakland on Friday.

“I had been talking a big game about feminist vigilante gangs and calling attention to the need for people to form affinities for a long time. When I was asked what I wanted for my 30th birthday I said, I want a feminist vigilante gangs march, as a joke. But people were into it.”

Last time, a group, equipped with and radical queer and feminist literature, banners, and glitter, marched from the "fake neighborhood" of uptown Oakland to downtown Oakland, Lauren said, ending with a dance party in "Oscar Grant Plaza," Occupy Oakland's longtime home base outside City Hall.

Along the way, organizers “stopped at some places to talk about things have had happened there," said Lauren. “For instance, the place where Brandy Martell was killed.”

Brandy Martell was transgender woman who was shot April 29. Her murder remains unsolved. Martell’s is a “a high-profile case of transgender bashing. She died, and so we know about. But these types of things happen everyday on the streets in Oakland,” said Lauren.

The next feminist vigilante gangs march begins Friday at 7pm from 19th and Telegraph. It will also stop at the spot where Martell was killed, as well as other spots where queer bashing, rape and assault have taken place.

Lauren says the march is a few things. It’s a call-out “encouraging women, queers, gender outlaws in the Bay Area to start thinking offensively about the abuse that we’re on the receiving end of.”

It’s also “a way for us to practice discipline in the streets. Because we live in a culture that’s so abusive towards women, queers, gender variant people, its really hard for us to form affinities.”

The group plans for a tightly organized march. A security team and a league of bike scouts to protect the march have already begun training, and before the march begins a generalized security training is planned. Anyone who arrived alone will be given the chance to hook up with a marching buddy. Street medics and “emotional medics” from the Occupy Oakland safer spaces working group-- “people who have some training to interact with people who are experiencing PTSD or who are experiencing emotions that are making it difficult for them to participate”-- will be on hand.

“We have a bloc that is set up for people with limited mobility, that’s wheelchair users, cane users, people using walkers,” Lauren said.

Community self-defense

Organizers of the march hope that its spirit and practice of community building and self-defense can extend to the everyday lives of participants.

One way is by connecting demonstrators “with the resources to begin things like self-defense training, especially in a feminist and collective environment,” Lauren said. Groups like the Offensive Feminist Project, the Suigetsukan Dojo, and Girl Army.

“Something that we should be creating in marginalized communities is community self-defense. That’s something that the Black Panthers worked on. It’s not a new concept, in Oakland we have a lot of history with that,” said Lauren.

Community self-defense, of course, is supposed to be unnecessary; crime prevention and retribution is supposed to be relegated to the police and the criminal justice system. But Lauren said that these institutions are not working.

“I don’t believe that the criminal justice system is just, or serving anyone. And I think that’s a perspective shared by the people who are organizing the march, and probably by most of the people who will attend it,” she said. “I say this as someone who’s watched the police interrogate a rape victim and-- interrogate is the correct word. There’s no justice in the criminal justice system for victims of rape and assault. So we want to talk about extra-legal methods of dealing with these issues.”

Extra-legal means of dealing with violence, she says, is “what feminist vigilante gangs is all about.”

After the march, organizers plan to continue this conversation at “a series of plenaries and salons in the East Bay” where participants will discuss questions like “What does feminist vigilantism look like?” Lauren said.

“As these conversations continue we will be spending a lot of time focusing on issues like race, and things like the history in the United States of falsely accusing men of color of assaulting white women so that they can be imprisoned or abused or killed,” Lauren said.

The group also has an open call for entries for a feminist vigilante gangs zine, for those who want to continue the discussion on paper. "People have been writing about bashing back. The Bash Back book Queer Ultraviolence just came out this year," she noted.

Still, many people have not been exposed to the ideas and practices behind the feminist vigilante gangs march. On Friday, a lot of people will be-- the march will coincide with Art Murmur, and downtown Oakland's streets will already be crowded. A contingent from GLITUR, aka the Grand Legion of Incendiary and Tenacious Unicorn Revolutionaries, is coming down from Seattle. This march might get big.

But never fear, Lauren assured: "We should have enough glitter bandanas for everyone who comes.”


I'm pretty sure self-identifying as a "vigilante gang", feminist or not, is the most effective way to alienate potential allies, and least effective way to be taken seriously.
I say this is a woman, a queer, and a radical feminist. I would be scared as shit to show up to this event. Sounds crazy.

Posted by FreetoGoodHome on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

if you're alienated by women taking things into their own hands you're not a fucking ally in the first place

Posted by judgedead on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:06 am

A woman who thinks she's entitled to go around shooting random men is not my ally, or the ally of any man, gay straight or bi. she's just a plain old-self-righteous bigot. Instead she makes herself a target for someone "protecting himself."

And if oyu're alienated by men taking things into their own hands you're not a fucking ally.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 8:16 am

Who said ANYTHING about shooting people? A 'vigilante' is someone who responds to crime who is not an agent of the state. Assuming that responding to crime inherently means shooting people, or any type of physical violence, is just ignorant. The only actions discussed in this article are marching and wearing glitter bandanas. If you think that any non-police response to violence is akin to shooting people, then you clearly have no understanding of what feminist and queer bash-back events look like. Sometimes they look like posting pictures of queer-bashers around their neighborhoods; sometimes they take the form of collective community shaming; sometimes they take the form of non-violent verbal group confrontation. You need to do some research and some closer reading before you condemn these actions.

Posted by AJ on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 11:05 am

It conjurs images of violence because historically vigilante groups were organized to hurt people. So I find the word troubling for this reason. But I'm glad that AJ has clarified things a bit, because the article doesn't. It leaves you feeling like these gals are out to get even, but doesn't indicate how they will go about it. As a woman and a feminist, I can understand their anger about the level of violence against women and gays. But I don't agree with people setting themselves up as judge and jury in an extrajudicial fashion. Or playing God. You don't correct an injustice with another injustice. Count me out.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

Hopefully I can get to artmurmur early enough to enjoy the galleries before this gang of dunces ruins everything. It would be a shame if this mindless exhibitionism ruins the evening for everyone who doesn't want to be involved.

Posted by Jaime on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

boo hoo

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

Yeah don't want to miss out. Not like it doesn't happen every month or something. I wish that all of you assholes that come to Oakland for art murmur didn't ruin my evening by forcing me to be involved in your bullshit. I live here. People like you ruin my evenings all the time..

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 12:32 am

boo hoo.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:43 am

Thanks for covering this march in this thorough way. I have been seriously considering attending the event because I do think having our own affinity groups that can respond to the violence cis and trans women and queers and gender rebels etc etc. experience on a regular basis is really, really important. While the name of the march originally gave me pause, I actually think it makes a lot of sense on reflection. And that's someone who is not an advocate for the police who is uncomfortable with the FTP marches. In this case, I think it makes sense, because going on the offensive would be a form of vigilante-ism, but maybe that's what we need.

Posted by whatsername on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

If the FTP marches make you uncomfortable, don't bother with this. The first time they did it, they marched straight to the OPD headquarters while shouting "Fuck The Police" at the top of their lungs. This is just an FTP march with a different name. Lauren Riot is one of the most hateful, angry, bitter leftovers of the Occupy Oakland movement and she alienates just about everyone she meets.

Posted by Trey Abraham on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

Then you don't know her. She just happens to stand up for what she believes. She speaks out. It might make folks uncomfortable, but that's the point. She actually is one of the most caring people I know. She cares. She cares about people being fucked up to other people. But instead of ignoring the problem she is out in the streets showing people she cares about them. Are you a douchebag? If you think Lauren is full of hate than you must be. Because yeah, she makes people uncomfortable by calling them out on their shit.

Posted by lildevilgrrrl on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 10:19 am

It needs vigilante gangs?

That city is doomed.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 3:31 am

If feminists are intent on such violence against men, perhaps men will start to organise their own vigilante gangs. That would lead to an undesirable situation.

Perhaps these bloodthirsty feminists should think twice about encouraging violence. That's never a good thing.

Posted by Evil Pundit on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 11:11 am

There is nothing in the article about feminists committing violence. This is about visibility and bringing attention to an oft ignored issue. That is violence against women, gender/sexually variant people and minorities as a whole. Only a person who thinks that violence is the only solution would think that. You are also clearly biased against women who call themselves feminists.

Posted by TransSupremacist on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

Unless you want to come up with new definitions for those words, "vigilantism" and "gangs" both imply violence. And feminist violence against innocent men is far from unknown.

Violence against women and gays is not ignored - it gets media coverage and street marches. It's violence against men that is denied and swept under the carpet.

Of course I am biased against people who call themselves feminists. Feminism is a hate movement against men. Everyone should be biased against hate movements.

Posted by Evil Pundit on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

Maybe you should google 'vigilante,' because it's actually about justice, not violence....

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 9:13 am

What, you mean like the first link for "vigilante", which states:

"Vigilante behavior involves various degrees of violence. Vigilantes may assault targets verbally or physically or may vandalize property or actually kill individuals."

"Vigilante" implies violence. It's pathetic to co-opt a word to sound edgy while simultaneously denying its historical meaning.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

"Helena Bertinelli grew into the mysterious vigilante known as the Huntress."

What's in the water in Oaktown & SF?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

All incarnations of the character were created by men.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

"Madison said that she always finds it hard to put a finger on why she loves a particular character, and the Huntress is no different. 'I think her origins are very interesting, even though this is [an] Earth where she's the daughter of a mob family, the reader still gets a hint of the founding mythology of Earth-2 Huntress, who was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman,' offered Madison.

'She is a dark hero, always brooding, a loner, very tough, principled; conflicted but always takes action; characteristics of Batman and Catwoman. She could have ruled the mob, but instead she wants to take down the mob. Her sincere Catholic faith is interesting, her problems with Batman and with male authority figures is interesting.'"


"Asked how a successful lawyer, entrepreneur and writing coach has time to write 'Huntress: Year One,' Madison responded, 'I had to stop coaching other people with their writing to focus on my own, and I don't practice law either. You teach what you need to learn, and I did that.'"

(Note the interesting construction: "had to stop coaching others people... and I don't practice law *either*." That certainly doesn't put to bed the notion that she's passed herself off as an attorney, now does it?)




Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

You are a plain ol' liar

From Google:

"vig·i·lan·te (v j -l n t ). n. 1. One who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one's own hands. 2. A member of a vigilance committee."

There isn't one link on the initial page after searching that gives the definition you describe.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2012 @ 12:33 am

every problem looks like a nail. Lauren sounds like she needs treatment and medication.

Posted by Chromefields on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

Exactly. Lauren sits at home all day on Twitter finding things to complain about, wishing death on cops, and ranting about how she's "unschooling" her daughter by force-feeding her Black Panthers propaganda. She's a horrible person, filled to the brim with bitterness. Make no mistake, this "feminist vigilante gang" march will just turn into yet another FTP clusterfuck.

Posted by Trey Abraham on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

Die straight scum.

Posted by FierceFaggot on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

This is an example of the hatred espoused by so-called "social justice" movements.

Posted by Evil Pundit on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

Reading this comment earlier improved my day. I don't literally endorse the plan - it's straightness I want to destroy - but expressions of queer rage are so beautiful in the context of the omnipresent violence and oppression directed against us.

Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

I think you need to go have some homosex and quickly.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

...to be gentle and kind."

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

I sure hope there isn't too much slap-fighting or hair-pulling, though one expects a good many scrunchies and Lee Press-Ons to be sacrificed to the battle. Therapy would be a better route for you. You need to discover why you're obsessed with provoking people who are completely indifferent to you. The "omnipresent violence and oppression" you're haunted by is common among paranoid schizophrenics, and can be at least stabilized with medication.

Posted by Chromefields on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 6:02 am

Martyr economists and oppression Olympians all. Nobody wants to join people who are enmeshed in their own powerlessness and react through acting out increasingly powerlessly.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 6:22 am

There's no surer rejection of powerlessness and victimization than self-defense. It's funny how y'all haters are terrified of revolt by women and queers yet simultaneously dismiss us as impotent whiners.

Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 9:34 am

There is no self defense going on here. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense tailed the OPD with rifles to make sure they did not kill civilians. That was self defense and the result was Reagan ushering in the era of gun control in California.

There is no direct confrontation with power in order to bring it to account going on here, just acting out in a way that does not even raise consciousness outside the inner precincts of the activist scene.

Women appear to have rejected second wave feminism as well. Like most all identity politics clingers on, there does not seem to be any traction within the identity communities for this activist approach as measured by election outcomes here in SF at least. And that rejection by the greater community as well as their base is what drives the practitioners of identity politics to increasingly desperate and shrill presentations and more and more marginalization.

Some of these techniques used to work. But power has adapted an immune response to them and the activists have been incorporated by power and coopted. Even if not coopted, I'm not sure that these techniques will work now from the outside.

I'm as gay as they cum. Back during the VI AIDS conference in 1990 when I still had fresh knees and ankles, I was sk8ing down Folsom towards a debauched underground party we threw at a post-quake red tagged warehouse. At 7th and Folsom, I stopped for a red light and there were two leather fags and two dykes there with me. A Camaro full of skinheads rolled by, slowed down and issued homophobic epithets at us. We returned them in kind. The other four walked off in different directions, I continued down Folsom and was immediately confronted by three skinheads who were unraveling 6' lengths of chain from their belts. They began whipping the chains at me, shouting "run away, little faggot, run away." Instead of running away, I used my board as a shield and stood up to them. They'd left their car running with the door open and as soon as the light cycled and the next wave of traffic came by, it was they who fled.

So don't give me any shit about standing up to gay bashing when I paint yet another Take Back the Night march as an impotent display of powerlessness. Gay bashing and violence against women were tolerated a few decades ago but are now universally excoriated. It was Matthew Shepherd's family who had to ask Wyoming to not execute his murderers--Wyoming--and that was almost 15 years ago now, prosecution and conviction were never off the table.

The only debate locally on proscuting anti-queer violence was over how to charge Gwen Araujo's killers, murder 1 or 2, and that was after she did the not so smart thing of trying to fuck teenage boys while she still had a unit without telling them which is nonconsensual sex and similar to rape. If women killed their rapists, then there would be celebrations and clamor for no charges.

The Oakland activist scene has proven itself all smoke and no fire after the OO debacle. The insistence on hijacking every movement with broad popular support in favor of activist narrow martyr and oppression frames is what does it in. Nobody wants to paint themselves as victims and they resent activists when they are painted as powerless victims by activists when they see themselves as powerful.

I actually think that it would be a good thing for the play date and self esteem generations to get a good ass kicking to toughen them up as they only seem to contest those less than or equal to their power and can never seem to meaningfully confront corporate or state power.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

Not all of us want to be protected by the state or believe it can protect us effectively. Nor do all - or any - of us live in the magically transformed world you seem to inhabit. Violence against queers and women remain prevalent despite the prosecutions you laud. The straight state ain't never going to be the solution, because queerness means the struggle against all domination. Even in the unlikely event that liberalism someday enacts its vision of equality under the law, economic coercion and normativity would remain in place.

Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

Got no problems in mutual aid self defense. Don't see how a march is going to get to that. To really be vigilante against violence, that would require a much higher level of organization and resources.

I don't think that most queers see a crisis of violence against queers to the extent that you do. At least not one that rises significantly from the baseline norms.

Similarly I don't see where most women are terrorized by the a crisis of violence against women to the extent that a vigilante would be supported.

Basically you all over in Oakland are remind me of the early 80s socal hardcore punks, white dopes on punk, people of relative privilege who are getting pissed off because they have nothing to get pissed off about.

We're going to be living in a heteronormative, binary gender world for some time. Across human cultures that is the norm. I think that your queer theory is misguided and your radical theory has proven over the past 30 years to be not only losing traction with radicals and the "oppressed communities," not to mention the population at large.

This radical activist narcissism is little more than self gratification and cannot supplant ongoing, democratic grassroots organizing that expands way, way afar from the radical activist comfort zone.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

Good points, Marc. However, I suspect that it is something more than narcisism motivating these "activists". When I see people behaving in really dumb and ineffectual ways, I start wondering if these are provocateurs in our midst. Like the black block...we now have "feminist vigilante gangs". Only a cop could come up with a ridiculous concept like that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

"The Left" is one big provocation by authoritarians who view liberation as replacing the old boss with them because they do not trust the people they claim to speak for.

What I'm seeing here is a level of insecurity, of discomfort in one's own queer skin, that is being projected into hatred of hets. This follows from the leftist's hatred of capitalism and the conclusion that everything that capitalism produces is tainted and must be dispensed with.

Instead of defining oneself in opposition to something, to capitalism or hets or every aspect of capitalist/het society, I prefer to define myself in positive terms of my values. Not everything produced by capitalist/het society abrogates my values.

Thus, an affirmative declaration of radical queerness, to put it in Marxist philosophical terms, takes the thesis, the good parts, highlights the antithesis, the bad part, negates that part and tries to create a new synthesis out of it.

No clownish dress code is required to be a radical queer.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 08, 2012 @ 7:10 am

I ain't joking or delusional when I describe harassment, oppression, and violence as central to the queer experience under heteropatriarchy. Your post itself continues one example. (Slap-fighting and scrunchies? Really?) Death to straight society!

Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 9:31 am

You are truly pathetic. I grew up in Texas as a queer in the 70s and 80s. You coddled whiners have no clue what queer oppression is.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

While it may entitle you to moral superiority if we buy into the progress narrative, your experience gives us younger queers no reason to tolerate present circumstances. Stay bitter - I will too - but don't expect me to settle for the status quo just because it's relatively better than what you presumably endured. My desires far exceed anything yet realized in this world.

Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

You never make 100% in politics unless you're Stalin. We're at the peg with opposition to violence against women and approaching it with queers.

It is not a progress narrative. In most places where most people live, the institutions that carried the homophobia virus for replication are in crisis and are losing influence and power. That relates to the triumph of modernism and its replacement with "anything goes" postmodernism and its descendents.

Moving beyond the status quo is a lot like the weather, everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it that actually changes the status quo. It was not the kiss ins that moved queers towards almost universal acceptance in places where 2/3 of Americans live, rather three decades of coming out and integrating into the society at large while maintaining much of our identity.

You know, once in Mexico DF when I was visiting in the 1990s, we took a wrong turn from the Merced market and headed away from the Metro station and towards the place where Burroughs would say that you could smell the junk, the wig and artificial limb shop district. Out of a doorway and into the altiplano pollution filtered sunlight stumbled this woman who I presume was trans and declared to nobody in particular "¡Soy puta y que!" I'm a whore and what's it to you?

Most all queers in the cities are at a place where we can confront the world on our terms without apology or explanation. We are not oppressed in the cities, we are clearly not oppressed in the Bay Area.

If you can't function as a full participant in society in the Bay Area without feeling insecure for your safety, then there is something else going on with you.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

...anything that ever will be realized.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

Enjoy your public tantrum this evening. I doubt that whatever revolution you envisage will be noticed outside of the Lesbian Fight Club circuit. Also, using "ain't" and "y'all" makes you sound like a redneck, which undermines your credibility. At least, that's what the heteropatriarchy told me while we were beating up queers to stay in shape.

Posted by Chromefields on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 9:57 am

is so hilarious I think they should be made into an animated short - with the city's progressive supervisors and Eliana Lopez reading the parts - they can donate the $56.48 in proceeds to the remnants of Occupy.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

Lauren and everyone

From a old fairy who has been bashed more than once thank you for going out and doing the march. You know when I read over some of the comments all I could read is excuses. Hey Marcos I live in a city and that is where the bashing takes place. Just because you think its safe where you are think again. They are in the shadows just waiting to bounce. May goodness how you are paling your gayness right back to homosexual. You know you have heard of paling ones genes well you are doing the same. Too bad but good to see you go and all other homo straights.

At 69 I got to say agian, thanks to all of our young queers who stand up and fight back. There is a very evil society here and nothing is petty, insignificant, in trying to overthrow or set things queer. So what most homosexuals don't see a crisis of violence against queers. No because as I said you have become so straight that you all all just like those that we have opposed for so long and those who have opposed us. You are excusing yourself to them. Too bad.

GO GO GO FORWARD in the spirit of Comptons Cafe, Stonewall or where ever queers have fought back! Forward with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Forward with the fighting spirit to overcome straight society and this dirty rotten system.

Posted by furbird Jr. on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 5:35 am

I live in a city - supposedly queer, friendly, though not in the Bay Area - and some bigot threatened to cut my throat while brandishing a knife just a few months ago. This happened in broad daylight, around noon. Cops here often harass and sometimes brutalize queer and trans folks on the street. They're not going to save us, they're part of the problem.

Even according to official statistics, bashing remains widespread. So-called LGBT people are the most likely of any officially recognized group to experience violent hate crime - and that ignores all the unreported incidents, such I as the one I mentioned above. It's simply false to say we don't face attacks and hatred these days.


Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 8:36 am

self-absorbed prick.

Nobody cares if you're gay or whatever. You're the one making a big deal out of it and trying to ram your sexuality down the throats of everyone else.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 9:27 am

Yes, the homophobic violence in this case - like in so many others - was clearly the queer's (my) fault. If only I'd picked a different outfit that morning I would have avoided any problems! We really bring it on ourselves.

Death to that narrative.

Posted by Summerspeaker on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

And stop projecting your experiences onto those of us here. Albuquerque is not the Bay Area and your experiences are nowhere close to being universal or even close to most of us in this region. Your victimization mentality is around 30 years out of date.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

Perhaps they did go after you because they were fashion vigilantes and you were deemed to be a fashion criminal?

Besides, what do queer clothes look like? Bangles, glitter and lame?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

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