March 30, 2010 Ambush poster on Land Day, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Richmond - Millbrae line. Land Day is an annual marker remembering the protests in March, 1976, between Israeli forces and Palestinians, one of the most significant large-scale clashes on land and what Palestinians considered discriminatory Israeli actions. BART police later removed the poster.

BART_israel_us2 sunrise_gathering_b2 Ira_glass2 Berkeley_promotion_b2 berkeley_flag2 fist1 fist2 fist3 gun_control_12 gun_control_22 Mural_SF_2000s berkeley_flag_bridge2
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Alcatraz, Calif. November 2009. Unthanksgiving Day, Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering - Veteran Memorial. Between 1969 and 1971, hundred of native Americans occupied Alcatraz island across from San Francisco. In a climate of massive nationwide protests for civil liberties and rights, the native Americans also symbolically highlighted to incoming ships that the land they were about to enter was Indian land. Police later forcefully removed the protestors off the island. Every year since, native Americans gather on Thanksgiving morning to celebrate their heritage and commemorate the protest. Numerous native Americans now serve in the American military fighting wars elsewhere. The ceremonies are open to the public.

“…Bol, ye thodaa waqt bahot hai
Jism-o-zabaan ki maut se pahale
Bol ki sach zinda hai ab tak
Bol, jo kuchh kahane hai kah le”

“Speak, this little time is plenty
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, for truth is still alive–
Speak, say whatever is to be said.”

<target=”blank”>Faiz Ahmed Faiz, <target=”blank”>Bol ke lab azaad hai tere

The frames here from across the San Francisco Bay are passive conversations around education, law, foreign policy, the media, or more generally, the citizen and the state. In one way, they are orphaned singles, each with their own back stories. But they also appeared to speak to a common thread of dissent.

These are small acts of dissent. Some moments do not even aim to defy. They just don’t square up with a square world. Some are like tiny relics laughing back at the normative. Some are the murmurs of a mass movement. And some run in loops, playing out like different renditions of the same talking points across election cycles. Whatever the form, all acts of dissent leave behind a mark and a spark. The lasting power of dissent lies in the space it carves for reflection.

This is an attempt to connect how the idea of dissent unfolds, sometimes as an inquiry into the possibility of a more just nation. Dissents are experiments. So is this thread on chronicling dissent.

Venkat Srinivasan

Venkat Srinivasan is a writer and researcher based in San Francisco.

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