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.”


Man are you a out of touch fool. Lot's of folks care that people are LGBT or queer. We have a long list of our dead to prove it and a long list of those who have been beaten, threaten, driven out of their homes, and on and on. Don't know who you are guest but please get an education before you show your stupidity in public again. That's a pretty worn out arguement you are using.

Posted by furbird Jr. on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

A long list? Please, provide the long list of queers killed or attacked in the past ten years in the Bay Area where there is evidence that the violence was queer phobic.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

Well, if a nonprofit says so...

Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

We live our lives without compromise and we don't feel endangered because we're queer. In the city you run 1 in 100000 odds of getting fucked with violently for no reason at all. That as they say is life in the big city.

They're not fighting back, they're being seen taking a stand through ritualized resistance which is not the same thing as the rituals have long since been shorn of their effectiveness.

Most queers do not do gender. Don't try to assert that gender is a prerequisite of being queer, because being a radical queer involves what goes on between your ears and legs, not what you wear or how you carry yourself.

What you're experiencing is base looksism, not homophobia. I suggest that you all consult an appropriate therapist to deal with your issues involving victimhood and inferiority. Because this crying of wolf, fetishizing oppression and defining all queers in gender terms does not connect outside of some precincts within the radical activist scene diminishes your credibility to the broader culture.

I'm actually GLAD that we provoke such strong feelings amongst hets. In the spirit of Karen Finley and Patti Smith, we're often black sheep living outside of society. We get to be ourselves and we get to stand up to bashers even if we don't dress like clowns, wear sparkles, bangles and use makeup.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

Hey Marcos the entire queer world is not the bay area. Bomb the bay! If you want a list look it up. Every year we read the names at our trans day of rememberance. Ever been to one? You so far out your are really in. In with the wrong crowd. Pattie Smith and Karen Finley gad man come on. Those two straights are now regulated to the dust bins of history. HA HA get it HISTORY. They are not our stories. Go and become one with the straights as that is what it seems like you want and leave the gender queers alone. Get a life and stop your bull towards them. If you don't like them, see them as irrevelant or whatever you conceive them to be then please butt your ass out. Oh the ghetto ho ho ho the ghetto, the gentrified ghetto of the Bay. Of course in large numbers one is protected. Maybe you had better go out and see the world as it really is. And PS baby no one says anything about non-profits but you are exposing yourself as perhaps an enemy and one who sucks up to the wrong people. In my long stories in the queer movement you are a shame and a disgrace to queerness. You need more than a therapist.

Posted by furbird Jr. on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 6:09 am

Try your feminist vigilante march in Colorado Springs or some such place where it might be needed if you've got the balls to, but I'd imagine that you're too much of chickenshit pussies for that. Yet Another Whiny March in Oakland is not going to do shit for queers or women in the flyover.

You all are calling yourselves vigilantes and marching through the streets as if you expect to come upon random acts of violence by the luck of the draw. Marching through the streets with a shrill message and faux defiance is not vigilantism. This "Occupy Oppression" did not attract a majority of OO and clearly did not mobilize outside the activist scene. Had there been parity between Stonewall and OO, then the initial clashes would have been joined in by the entire community and lasted for days as in 1969.

As you grow more irrelevant, you get shriller and shriller, insisting more vehemently on your ideological purity alienating more and more, lather rinse repeat.

Seeing a heightened level of danger where none exist means that you're hallucinating and thus delusional. I bet that you failed self esteem class and that all of your childhood dates were play dates with chaperones. Did your mom take you to the hospital to treat a skinned knee?

I'm fortunate to have a life, a husband, house, cats, a bike, a job, kitchen and garden. Yeah, we got married last weekend, giving thanks for 23 amazing years, praying for 23 more, does that make us straight? We've traveled extensively throughout the country and world, north and south, east and west. I've lived on all three coasts, never compromising since I came out in 1984. It is you, as Michelle Shocked said "whose lives ran in circles so small/they thought they'd seen it all/and they could not make room for a girl who had seen the ocean."

Being gay is not about playing dress up. It is not about bending gender. Being gay is about rock hard dick, mouths, assholes, tongues and cum first and foremost.

Tens of thousands will be writing in ecstasy in a few hours time with Patti Smith at HSBG. Smith and Finley were calliopes of an emerging artistic and queer generation that actually faced real violence, was oppressed, but instead of whining, articulated a narrative of power, became strong and turned the tide on that oppression so that your generation might live free from that. We succeeded in places where most people, most queers live, yet you still whine. Some always whine even after they are free as queers.

You all probably failed logic class as well, as if they still teach that. Why do the Oppression Olympians insist upon bonding gays and genderites under the rubric of queer just because our opponents hate us for similar reasons, and then insist that no gays get to say anything about that? There are different rationales behind the hatreds and addressing the hatreds requires different approaches.

I don't define myself in terms of my opponents, and it is clear that homophobia and transphobia have different roots. People don't freak about dick on dick or dick on ass sex anymore. Nor do they freak about pussy on pussy or mouth on pussy sex anymore. They do occasionally freak about people who dress up like clowns as they freak about old shriveled trolls compulsively wearing cock rings and posing in commercial districts on every sunny day. Since most all gays don't dress up like clowns, it follows that such hatred is not homophobia, it is an intersection of transphobia or looksism,.

Everyone deserves the right to live free as they want to be, but nobody has the right, especially a tiny minority, to go off and redefine decades of settled theory in order to shoehorn that larger minority into theory favoring the tiny minority of a minority and then insist that nobody say anything about it.

Such binary thinking that one is either a gender queer or one is a straight acting homosexual further marginalizes you into obscurity, an in that marginalized obscurity stews a resentment of being ignored and the response to that involves playing vigilante via another take back the night march.

Of course binary thinking is okay when it comes time to feelings of inferiority experienced by the oversocialized, but binary genders as is prevalent through 99.5% of populations--perish the thought! Everyone is compromised but you and your friends.

I heard that there was a split in the Decolonize Oakland, but she disagreed with herself and was unable to kick herself out, she just left in disgust.


Some of my best friends are hets.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 8:28 am

Seriously - that comment rocked it better than anyone else ever could.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

Fighting back is important, but not via the means these organizers appear to advocate. Groups of people are ineffective in bringing justice to individuals.

Responding to a rape, bashing, or murder with mob force will not serve the victim(s) or the alleged perpetrator. Although the justice system has some serious flaws, in most cases you are innocent until proven guilty; or that is at least the spirit. This has been illustrated already by a few questionable bash backs, carried out by groups of people, mobilized by mounds of gossip. Gangs are pretty well known for going overboard in response to an assault on one of their members.

Its important to form support groups as well as to feel supported by your community, but lets be clear violent mob action will not serve justice.

I am both queer and genderqueer and have been tormented and beat on since elementary school. I am however male bodied, from a rural town, and have been raped (no question) more than once by two women who are both serial rapists. There was nothing consensual or conscious about my experiences, nor was there ANY implication I had ANY interest in them physically. In both cases I was lured into a sense of security and encouraged to drink until I blacked out by sober malicious people. I want to make that clear as ironically I have had the legitimacy of it, and my character, called into question by purported advocates. I do have first hand experience in what we are talking about.

I also do believe in violent response when necessary. However, as I pointed out before, gangs are well known for running wild. Its easy to let things get blown out of proportion, letting too much of your own pent up rage explode, and get carried away.

Id also like to include that I hope some of the organizers of this group have actually been in jail or prison for a violent offense. Realize that is where every participant or member risks ending up. Speaking again from first hand experience, it is not a fun place to end up.

Lastly, thanks guardian for letting me make my comment anonymously.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

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