To everyone on this email thread,

Before you jump to read my experience below I would like to first say a few things. I ask that you read my full response and if you have something to say about it that you talk to me in person. I did not behave 'out of the norm' for Omni standards. In fact, on most days with less traffic and no regular meetings I am usually the person to answer the doorbell after 5 minutes of annoying ringing yet my behavior was never hostile to any guest of Omni.  There is no reason or rational for racist behavior and that includes ringing a doorbell. I have had the time to read the evolution of email thread which has only made me nauseated. I would also like to point out that racism isn't a card non Europeans pull out to feel better about themselves. In fact, when one makes the decision to call out racism behavior we always have to evaluate the risk we take which more often than not leads society to call us: sensitive, crazy, unwarranted, narcissistic, attention hungry, claiming a false handicap, or ______ (a number of other things). Reading your responses and to see them go from "Is this real? (because this is Omni - a safe space!)" - to - {Insert joke here} has been honestly not surprising given the current state of things in the world. Anger doesn't describe my current feelings about the situation just disappointment and confirmation that some people in this world will never treat black folks with respect. I thought Omni was a safe space for me for a long time but I now realize Omni is just another space in the Bay Area that isn't a real safe people to ask other people to be accountable for their behavior. I asked my friend to try and start a mediation process so I could come back into the space without being treated like a violent male and also give the other person to room to be accountable and grow from this experience. Yet, after seeing the chain of emails I realized that Omni is just a space to give white folks the freedom to wash there hands of any guilt they may have without actually doing the work to remove themselves of behaviors we all are conditioned with growing up here on captive Native American soil. With that said I was looking for some process to be but in place so this does happen again to someone else but I have only seen this going from the original call for mediation to an inside joke. At this point I really don't care what Omni does because if post Occupy toxic men run Omni then that is all it will ever be and as a black person I don't have the energy to teach white people how not to be racist. That's not my job - I don't do that. 

TLDR; a toxic person is rude to someone and instead of coming to there senses about their actions after being given the benefit of the doubt they decide to be even more toxic.

I rang the doorbell a couple times thinking someone would get to get pretty quickly. After a few minutes of waiting I decided to ring it again. I figured either no one could hear me and was in the back so after about 5 minutes or so of waiting I decided to ring the bell continuously instead of in discrete intervals and waiting for a response. Rob opens the door slightly without inviting me to enter (which has never happened in the past - normally people are friendly and inviting into the space). Having see him around the space 3 days week for the past 2 years in passing I said "Hey, my names Deon I see you around the space often I was just coming in to work on stuff." He says in a extremely hostile tone "I've never seen you before I don't know who you are. Who are you?" Weird flex but ok. I say "I'm Deon and I helped start the village (FTP) - do you know Needa B?" He goes "No, I don't know who that is or who you are. Why the fuck are you ringing the doorbell like that." It was obvious that Rob did not trust me from jump because of ______? Also, how are you 'apart' or Omni and don't know Needa B? OK! At that point I explain the obvious - I was trying to get in the space. He continues to speak in a hostile tone and curse saying random things about me not behaving like a normal human and how annoying I was for ringing the doorbell of a couple minutes. Instead or fighting fire with fire like a brute I decided to give him space to be accountable for his behavior and demanded that he speak to me with respect or that he respect my boundaries and stop talking to me. I waited until he finished to explain to him that it is not ok to speak to me in that way because it's extremely rude and unless I disrespected him there is NO reason for him to talk to me in a disrespectful manner - in particular cursing me out. He then says "I didn't curse at you - I don't like that accusation." At this point I realize that he either: A. Has mental health related issues. - or - B. Does not have ability clam down and use communication skills to be accountable for his behavior and start a fresh respectful conversation. I immediately told him "If you cannot be an adult and take responsibility for the way you are coming at me right now then I can't be talking to you. And just so you know this is no way to build friendships in a space like this by talking to people like that. Have a good day, peace."  I walk upstairs to the room where people do yoga and stuff to mind my own business. Right behind me is pissed off 'BBQ Bob' he storms in and yells "What is your name?" He then claims he is responsible for me being in the space and that if I were to hurt someone that falls him! If he didn't remember my name from the last time I told him I'm not telling him while he's profiling me as dangerous to the space. I refused to tell him my name and I told him to stop harassing me. If you are 'white' reading this thinking this behavior isn't racist you are the problem. If you are a man and think there is nothing wrong with following people around profiling them for no reason you are the problem. When a non European person tells you that your behavior is discriminating chances are they aren't waving a magic wand in the air to get rid of you. They are under verbal or physical attack. If this behavior of policing isn't rooted in racism I don't know what is! At this point I realize that he believes I am a threat to the space and he won't stop shouting things like "I need to know who you are and who you are with or you cannot be here. Needa B isn't apart of Omni! If you were a normal human being I wouldn't be doing this!" I am not going to explain why this specific language is rooted in racism. If you do not understand why hire a POC to teach you or do the work to educate yourself. If you are white and think it is ok to follow a black man around referring to them as potentially hostile after reading this you are the problem. At this point I'm using all of my energy not to explode because this is the EXACT behavior that causes black people to be murdered by police. And for the record just because someone participates in Occupy and cleans the closet at Omni does not absolve you of racist behavior. So then I said find lets go find people who know me so you can see I'm not dangerous. So then I walk over to the hacker space where two people who I interact with on occasion were sitting. [I originally began the first cleanup efforts in that space and have spent at least 20 hours of my time organizing that space by myself.]  They attempted to mediate the altercation yet Rob justified profiling me as a person who would do harm members of Omni by relaying this entire incident to me not being fully human because I was a little impatient with a doorbell(??). He also states that Needa B is not a member of the Omni and that she our rents office space and keeps her 'shit' in the basement that she needs to come get. Wait..... what? Needa B may not be a member of Omni but to reduce the work she as done in the City of Oakland fighting for rights on the front-line is past disrespectful. Had I known Omni didn't like or respect Needa I would have stopped going there all together. At some point one of the two who were trying to mediate says "Rob is the number two person at Omni so whatever he says goes." Huh? Omni has a hierarchy in which labor can be a means to gain political power of the space? A space which is advertised as a 'safe' space for all? At this point I have given him multiple chances to communicate with me like an adult and be accountable for his behavior. I realized that not only do I have no support in the space but that if he continues to harass me his hall space at Omni won't prevent me from treating him the way I treat all white men who behave towards me in this manor. He then decides to reference me not being a human - again. So, I said "Oh yeah because I forgot black people aren't human we don't give birth we hatch our kids." I then stormed out in anger and said "if you follow me outside I'm kicking yo ass!" Usually when white men behave like Nazi I don't give them the space for growth I treat them like Antifa treats Nazi. So if you think for a second I was hostile toward this cis-white male you have no idea what self defense is. I have the right to defend myself against any and all attackers no matter who they are and his continuous petty hostile behavior told me that he did not have the tools to communicate with another person and that he does not understand the magnitude of what he was doing which puts me as a human in no other position except to defend myself from any further hostile behavior. If you do not agree with this it is because you have no idea what it means to be black in America. The amount of courage it took to walk away time and time again instead of escalating the situation to the point of dragging this 60 kg [soaking wet] cis-white male outside to teach him about his racism. So before any of you call me hostile I ask you to think about how I could have reacted to this situation from jump street. Instead, I choose to treat this individual like a human and understand where he was coming from. Sad to say I did receive the same common courtesy. Wish you all the best.


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On Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 4:30 PM, D. Scott Nanos <scott.nanos@gmail.com> wrote:
Greetings Sudo et al, I'm so sorry but I have to bring to your attention a recent, very unfortunate, inappropriate, and violent encounter a friend of mine, Deon Saunders, had with a guy named "Rob", who I don't think I know personally, although I'm sure he's well known around Omni in general. I don't believe he's a sudo member specifically, but I believe this incident sort of came into Sudo territory when Marc became involved; I also really respect and love what Sudo room provides to the community, and I know that Sudo is a powerful force within the Omni; as such, I'm writing to you all now because I believe this issue definitely needs to be dealt with, and not ignored or brushed aside. 

Basically, Deon is friends with Phat Beets and Food First, and has been frequenting the Omni in order to do work and access the community resources that are available. To my understanding, he often works in the Sudo room space. Although this should not need to be said, I can personally vouch for Deon as an upstanding and generous member of the Oakland community. 

Deon was having trouble accessing the space the other day and rung the Omni doorbell several times, at which point guy named Rob opened the door and started cursing at him and being very aggressive. After Deon was able to enter Omni, Rob then started following him around and harassing him, acting like a cop. Although this is egregious in and of itself, and a terrible counter-representation of the Omni's values, this all came to a head when Rob accused Deon of not being "an actual, normal, human being". Whether or not this was intentional, it evoked longstanding racist attitudes that black folks have been subjected to, suggesting that Deon was less-than, or sub-human. Deon was so offended that he promptly left the Omni and has not been back since. 

Besides this very loaded and hateful comment, this general kind of treatment and attitude, overall, is the EXACT opposite of the way black folks should be treated when interfacing with the Omni. Rob's actions are not okay, at all, and I strongly feel that a serious accountability process should be implemented for this incident. This is not a small matter. I've spoken with Deon, and he has agreed to participate. 

I've also heard that this type of incident has happened before at the Omni, specifically involving Rob. Correct me if I'm wrong, but apparently, the attitude that was expressed to Deon was that Rob is one of the main people that operates (i.e. helps to reproduce and sustain,) the Omni, and as such, people basically go along with what he says and does. If this is in fact the case, then an accountability process is even more imperative. In no way should labor, and by proxy, "power" derived from labor, enable a person to act with racism against members of the Oakland community. I think it's in the best interest of the Omni to address this issue immediately, for Deon, for the Omni, and for the Omni's relationship with the greater community of Oakland. 

I believe Marc was present for part of this incident as well, and although I know, Marc is so busy doing vital work for Sudo and Omni, it might behoove him to also participate in this process, as a witness. 

I am writing this email not because I am trying to "cancel" or ruin anyone, but because I care about Deon, The Omni, Sudo, and the Oakland community at large. This issue seems indicative of larger problems, and if addressed with love and respect and accountability, could seriously benefit all parties listed above, and improve the Omni and it's relationship with Oakland. 

I'm not sure where to take it from here, as I am personally extremely busy with other community-based activities in Oakland right now, but a mediator/facilitator should be sought out, ideally a black person, but at the very least, a non-black poc, and probably someone that isn't personally involved in the day-to-day operations at Omni, sudo etc. If i am able, I could possibly be this mediator, but I hope other options are sought out first, because a.) I'm a non-black, mixed race poc, and b.) I have very little capacity at the moment.

But please keep me in the loop regarding an accountability process for Rob, and I'll do whatever I can to help move this along and reach a fair and just conclusion.

Sorry to bring such difficult news to you all, but I could not stay silent. 

With love and Solidarity,