After the tear gas clears - Page 3

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

Police say that "while peaceful forms of expression and free speech rights will be facilitated, acts of violence, trespassing, property destruction and overnight lodging will not be tolerated." But 40 people were arrested during an ongoing Occupy Oakland vigil in the first weeks of January for having "illegal property" at OGP in what many saw as clearly a peaceful expression of First Amendment rights.

On KGO radio Jan. 29, Chief Jordan said that he has allowed Occupy Oakland to protest without a permit and would continue to do so, but those early January raids were ostensibly due to permit violations — violations of the terms of a permit that Occupy Oakland did in fact have.

There's no question: The police response to Occupy Oakland over the past few months has caused some people in the movement to get more radical.

Many Occupy Oakland-affiliated medics condemned those who threw objects at police, saying that they provoked a backlash that caused more injuries. Many Oakland residents who might be in line with the socio-economic critique presented by the Occupy movement feel endangered and confused by marches that result in the massive use of police weapons in broad daylight. A lot of people would rather protest in a lot of ways that less resemble urban warfare.

On the other hand, there are also ways that Oakland officials could have prevented the consequences of weapons deployed and 400 arrested Jan. 28. They could, for example, have allowed protesters to occupy the vacant building.

When protesters seized a building Jan. 20 in San Francisco, police first attempted to prevent them. They lined up in front of the targeted building. They deployed pepper spray and struck several protesters with batons. When they were unsuccessful, and protesters entered the building from the back, they opted to block the surrounding streets and wait until the time seemed right to enter the situation and make arrests. Police spokesperson Carlos Manfredi told me that the cops were not going to rush into the situation and were trying to prevent injury and violence.

The Kaiser Convention Center has been vacant for years. The city of Oakland recently made plans to sell it to its Redevelopment Agency, but that plan fell into legal limbo when Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB26, a bill that dissolved all California redevelopment agencies.

At this point, nobody at Oakland City Hall has any plans whatsoever for the big, empty structure.

Why not allow Occupy to use the convention center? It's not downtown, where Mayor Quan says businesses have been adversely affected by Occupy Oakland's presence. It would give the movement a chance to stop focusing on trying to occupy spaces and start focusing on benefiting the community with food, shelter, and community programs that they provided when they had a camp. It would give the building tenants who could be held responsible for maintaining it. It might even help get Occupy Oakland and the Oakland Police Department out of the cycle of violence that they have been spiraling into for months.

Each time arrests occur, each time violence occurs, both sides blame the other. Both sides are correct that they were provoked. Both sides are correct that something that they think is worth defending was violated — for the cops, it's the law. For the protesters, it's the right of the people to assemble.

In fact, many Oakland residents have experienced violence at the hands of the Oakland Police Department for years before Occupy began. There was already a mass movement formed around the murder of Oscar Grant, and thousands of people fed up with police murders of unarmed, often black, suspects.

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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