Running for Congress to challenge corporate corruption

This week, I announced my candidacy to run for Congress, seeking the seat representing California’s 12th congressional district. I’ll have more to share, but in the meantime, check out our campaign on the web, and follow our social media profiles on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Especially under this maniacal president, San Francisco needs a representative in Washington for whom “resistance” is more than just a hashtag. It’s been a way of life for me for two decades, and I know that together, we can do better.

Defending net neutrality

My latest writing for EFF is an exhortation to activism to defend net neutrality, the principle that ensures any user or startup access to the global Internet on the same terms as corporate behemoths. As I write in Net Neutrality Needs You as Much as You Need It:

“With the future of the Internet, its capacity to continue fostering innovation, and freedom of expression online hanging in the balance, EFF encourages Internet users to speak out–both online and in the streets–to defend net neutrality.”

I also had a chance to speak at a pair of rallies for net neutrality, one when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai visited San Francisco in September (at 30:30):

WATCH LIVE as internet rights organizers protest to demand real net neutrality outside FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s San Francisco event.

Posted by CREDO Mobile on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

…and another at a Verizon store on December 7.

Examining police violence in St. Louis before major changes

Earlier this month, I published an article on Truthout examining the continuing resistance to police violence in St. Louis. The article explains the roots of the latest uprising, the cable news blackout that has kept most Americans from learning about it, escalating police responses to continuing protests, and reforms introduced in the city’s Board of Alders that could, if adopted, limit future surveillance by local police. It observes:

Rather than reflect an isolated occurrence, police violence responding to protests (protests that were, of course, sparked in response to police violence) constitute an apparent pattern and practice. On Sunday, September 24, police responding to protests downtown not only arrested more than 120 people en masse, but also meted out seemingly random violence. Police assaulted — and viciously injured — not only dozens of civilians protesting police violence, but also an undercover police officer among them, as well as journalists. Victims of the assault included an active duty Air Force officer who was not participating in the protests but merely lived nearby and was reportedly “kicked in the face, blinded by pepper spray and dragged away.”

Reacting to mounting public alarm, the office of Mayor Lyda Krewson stated, “The allegations are disturbing.” City prosecutor Kim Gardner proposed to local policymakers that her office be given independent authority to investigate and prosecute police misconduct. As Gardner argued, “Both the community and police deserve an objective, fair and transparent investigation, and it is no longer acceptable for police to be essentially investigating themselves.”

Bumping beats in SF at Burning Man Decompression

I spun this funky, jazzy, and tribal house set at the SF Burning Man Decompression on Saturday, October 14, 2017. The setting was surreal: playing a concert-sized sound system at the base of the access ramp leading to the pier gave me the chance to set the tone for every person who arrived at the venue for the first hour after the doors opened!

Calling out corruption from the FBI to Taser Corp.

News outlets covering the FBI and corporate weapons contractors quoted me this month, in stories about the FBI attempting to evade federal privacy law, and about Taser Corp. unleashing new havoc on a criminal “justice” system already pervaded by systemic bias.

On September 21, the Intercept ran a story about a new effort by Taser Corp. to expand evidence available to law enforcement agencies through crowdsourcing.

Spreading love & consciousness at TransFOAMation in Black Rock City

I recorded this live DJ & MC set on a Saturday afternoon at TransFOAMation in Black Rock City (the site of Burning Man) just a few hours before the Man burned in 2017. I had the honor of opening for Steve Raskin from Fort Knox Five for the second year in a row, and was blessed to share microphones with our camp mayor & resident hype man, A.B. This set was unforgettable to me not only because the crowd was among the largest I’ve ever played, but also by virtue of its ecstatic energy, remarkable diversity, and (audible) receptivity to consciousness on the mic.

My rhymes addressed police violence (at 8:00), global resistance to our kleptocratic President and climate justice (48:20), and opportunities to build our own culture (9:55, and again by request at 1:17:05), and inspire & care for each other (1:06:45). I riffed on gratitude & memory (at 15:15), how solidarity relates to peace, love, unity & respect (at 1:29:15), and my own thanks to the crowd (when wrapping up at 1:32:00).

Hyping social justice in Black Rock City

Each August, tens of thousands of freakniks congregate in the Black Rock Desert about 3 hours northeast of Reno, NV for something resembling an annual pilgrimmage. Burning Man is a phenomenal experience, and I was proud to promote social justice through several projects this year. My musical performances raised various political themes (especially my Saturday afternoon set at TransFOAMation, where I spit a new rhyme amidst others addressing issues from police violence to climate change and intersectional solidarity), and I was thrilled for the chance to publish a blog post about a week before the convergence to explain and promote the otherwise disparate actvities of several camps dedicated to racial, immigrant, climate, and gender justice.

Que Viva brought together activists in the movement for black lives, Red Lightning included indigenous elders and activists from Standing Rock, and TransFOAMation (my camp) joined forces with Gender Blender to give thousands of burners an intro to gender expression and the history of trans resistance. In the few days since returning home, I’ve heard several former burners explain that they stepped away from burner communities because their hedonism seemed self-indulgent. To that, I would simply remind anyone that life in general, or any experience–including Burning Man–is entirely what you make it!

Joining a group of sheroes

I’m excited to announce that I’ve accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors of the Center for Media Justice, a prolific organization based in Oakland, CA working to establish democratic media ownership, fundamental communication rights, universal media and technology access, and accurate representation in news and popular culture for everyone.

CMJ’s work spans many of the issues on which I work at EFF, but brings to struggles for digital rights the voices of vulnerable communities and individuals impacted by government or corporate abuses. The Center works not only on challenging the mass surveillance paradigm that has largely defined my career, but also on principles such as net neutrality and media representations of communities of color.

West Coast jurisdictions advance community oversight of police surveillance

My latest writing for EFF examines a series of campaigns up and down the west coast challenging secret, unaccountable mass surveillance by local police. From Seattle to Los Angeles, cities are taking action to impose public control on the acquisition of police surveillance tech, and the entire state of California is in play. 

These measures not only shift the law governing the millions of people living in those jurisdictions, but also represent crucial oversight principles strikingly absent at the federal level. With Congress forced to consider NSA mass surveillance this year by the scheduled expiration of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, these campaigns (alongside others in cities across the country) could not come at a better time.