After the tear gas clears - Page 2

What are the lessons from the conflicts of the latest Occupy Oakland action?

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Tear gas and police violence: A line of cops tries to block Occupy protesters Jan. 28.
PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

It's a philosophy but also, in political terms, a tactic.

Many of the people who make up Occupy Oakland get their start as activists organizing against police brutality in a city that has longstanding problems with violent and undisciplined officers.

Police Chief Howard Jordan said in a press release that "It became clear that the objective of this crowd was not to peacefully assemble and march, but to seek opportunity to further criminal acts, confront police, and repeatedly attempt to illegally occupy buildings."

It was certainly clear that the intent of the crowd was to illegally occupy a building. And any honest assessment of Occupy Oakland would have to acknowledge that some members are not wedded to King-style nonviolent civil disobedience. (Neither, by the way, were a lot of the protest movements of the 1960s.) Many protesters wore masks and bandanas to disguise their identities and protect them from tear gas and pepper spray, and the march was led by protesters with makeshift shields, which suggests that they expected to be attacked. You could certainly argue that what those people were doing wasn't confrontation; it was self-defense.

Frankly, it made sense to be prepared: In other Occupy Oakland actions, police have attacked with batons, tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, and smoke bombs. And for quite a few Oakland residents, the police have always been seen as an outside force that can't be trusted.

In fact, violence did break out. Many, including myself, have eyes still stinging from tear gas. I saw several wounds caused by rubber bullets shot at protesters. I spoke individually to at least a dozen people — one of them a pregnant woman — who were struck with police batons.

And protesters did not remain peaceful while this violence was being used against them.

Some picked up tear gas canisters and threw them back towards police; that much I saw. I also saw protesters throw empty plastic bottles at police.

According to the police, they also threw metal pipes, rocks and bricks. According to the protesters, they threw mainly empty plastic bottles and fruit at police. But as protesters often say of the police, "They're the ones who showed up with the guns." If the cops didn't want violence, why unleash such an arsenal of weapons?

People got hurt, protesters and police alike. Several bystanders who had nothing to do with the situation were swept up in the mass arrest.

The city of Oakland, already in dire financial straits, likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars reacting to the protests. Police claim that they were unable to sufficiently respond to violent crimes over the weekend, including five murders, because they were overwhelmed with Occupy troublemakers.

Of course, city officials were the ones who decided to arrest 400 people -- with all the expense that involves.

There are, at this point, no reports of serious injuries to any police officers. However, at least a dozen protesters had welts on their faces or bodies from being beaten by clubs or shot with rubber bullets. One woman was shot in both arms with rubber bullet; one man was shot in the face with rubber bullets while holding a video camera to document the events. Several protesters were shoved to the ground and received wounds on their faces while being arrested. Police raised their rubber-bullet rifles to the faces of protesters throughout the day, threatening attacks. A rubber bullet to the face can cause brain damage and blindness.

 

 

DID IT HAVE TO HAPPEN?

How could this have been prevented?

Comments

If you had bothered to do even an iota of research into what's going on with the Kaiser Convention Center, you would know that 1, it require an enormous investment to become safely usable; and 2, the City is in negotiations with concert promoters to lease the building. But thanks for your uninformed opinion on the best use of the City of Oakland's public property!

Let's extend this principle and let anyone do anything with public property that is currently closed. Some condos, perhaps?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

The Occupy movement discovered something almost by accident. People gathered together and stayed together day and night. They discovered the joy of companionship. They discovered that when people gather together, with an agenda they agree upon, and accept others with differing views, in a safe and non-threatening environment, that they could live together peaceably, satisfying each other’s needs for food, clothing, shelter, and companionship. They found that with everyone contributing something no one had to give everything. They then agree upon their rules of association. They agreed among themselves to be non-violent, drug and alcohol free. They agreed to be an accepting place without judgment for the homeless, and those with homes, the poor, and those with money, the sick in mind and body, the outcast, and those that were acceptable, the prisoner recently set free, and the ones about to enter, those without options, as well as those that had options. The miracle is that not only did they exist together they thrived.

Every community that had a large occupation with an encampment saw crime decrease. So how did the governing authorities react? With violence. First kidnapping and capturing a few at a time and imprisoning them for days or weeks. And finally by assaulting these peaceful communities with armed troops, called “officers” in riot gear carrying lethal weapons and using them without reserve.

When people responded by going limp and refusing to move they were charged with resisting arrest. When they threw empty water bottles and books they were gassed, shot with bullets, beaten and charged with assaulting police officers. For what. For peaceably assembling and finding a way to make community work! For saying that greed is evil and using money to buy politicians votes on legislation is bad? What evidence more do we need than to look at the Republican presidential primary? A majority of the voters want someone other than the person who won without a majority of the votes. And those currently in power want to crown him the winner. Why, because he has the most money to share with them in their reelection efforts?

Occupiers call that unjust. So they must be removed and imprisoned? Lest the rest of the world find out those reporting the facts are arrested and imprisoned with them or separated so far from the terrorism by authority that they cannot see it and record it. But some having been arrested with them reporting on people being arrested with no injuries, being brought to the jails with bruises and injuries inflicted only after being taken into “custody” by the “authorities.” Who is deceiving who here? For what reason?

Why does our local government find it a necessity to present ordinances to aldermen on the morning of a vote with them seeing it for the first time and not having the time to give the ordinance thought or deliberation? What is our Mayor trying to hide? Who has paid him to propose such things? Making it legal to enter contracts with close personal friends who contribute to election funds that can spend unlimited amounts to encourage unsuspecting voters to cast an AYE vote for him or his favorite aldermen?

Who has promised to contribute money so the Mayor can propose to close schools that provide education for our children, close health clinics that provide our critical medical care, art centers and parks that provide us with recreation and police and fire station that provide our safety? This has been done and more.
Who is paying to have ordinances proposed that restrict our constitution rights to bear arms, to peaceably assemble, to seek redress of our grievances, to speak against such atrocities? Who is paying to silence the voices of those oppressed? Yet we are being forced to pay for the multimillion dollar gifts to corporations with the blood sweat and tears of our hard labor to pay excessive taxes on undervalued homes and property we own.

Occupiers say THIS IS UNJUST! I add my voice to theirs and say I believe in my heart they are right. My question to you is if we can’t speak, publish, assemble, or take a stand with our guns and fight back what can we do? If we don’t protect the freedoms we are losing daily what kind of environment will our children live in? What will be left for them to inherit? When they have taken our jobs and left us with no income? When they have taken our homes through tax sales and foreclosure, where will they live? With no education where and how will our children find employment? If now isn’t the time to take a stand and fight back when is? If this isn’t the place to stand and fight where is? In the words of Patrick Henry “Give me liberty or Give me death.” And I say Give it to me Today!
Keith Smith

Posted by Keith Smith on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 5:47 am

I think the main lesson to be learned from Occupy Wall Street 1.0 is that you can have a protest and exercise your first amendment rights to assembly, freedom of speech, etc. BUT you will be continually harassed by the authorities and their thugs, on the flimsiest of pretexts or no pretext at all, to the point of having your camp ransacked and your gear confiscated - but you can still assemble on the spot where your camp used to be, and you're free to speak about it! - until a reason is found to close down your impudent civil disobedience action completely, in most places, while a few, like San Francisco (out of respect for its bothersome reputation as a bastion of liberal sentiment and protest, which some of the populace isn't willing to let go of - YET) are allowed to stay put only after every possible excuse for routing or destroying them is exhausted, and the camp is so demoralized and its key people so drained it more or less collapses on its own, like a house of cards, which is all some of its former constituents will have to live in now that it's gone.

Or, in a nutshell: you can have your lousy little dog-and-pony show protest, but TWO MONTHS is all you get - don't be thinking you're gonna get another 10-year ARC/AIDS Vigil or anything like that - those days are OVER - and you'd better believe it's gonna be an uphill battle all the way.

xo

TLLT

Posted by Tony Longshanks LeTigre on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

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