On a recent Sunday evening, people in Oakland gathered in response to Afghans for Peace callout to express continuing dismay and rage about the decade long occupation and destruction of Afghanistan by U.S. military and mercenary forces. After months of hard won support from the Oakland communities, Occupy Oakland participants arrived to support the demand for an end to the war. A small cadre of people once again inserted themselves into this march with the intent to retaliate for recent SFPD abuse of protesters. They did so by engaging in random property destruction, with no concern for the safety of the anti-war protesters. During the march at least one man, whom some have since claimed was an off-duty police officer, got out of his car threatening violence against the protesters.
In the past few days, a flyer has appeared threatening violence against protesters as well.
As the march meandered along city streets, these few people chose to create a bit of chaos by destroying random property along the route. Besides damaging what some consider ‘valid’ targets, such as bank windows, these people also poked holes in the sidewalls of random car tires and shattered at least one atm of a credit union. They also targeted at least one locally owned business which has been friendly to activists.
While the destruction of property seems a reasonable expression of rage to some, there are very few if any community organizers, including most of those involved with Occupy Oakland, who view these as valid targets of destructive rage.
During this march, police became aware of the destruction and made a choice. That choice was to hang back and allow the destruction to continue. After perusing the comments to quite a few articles posted about this event, the question has arisen as to why police chose to allow the destruction to continue. It was quite obvious, during this march, that there were only a few people destroying property. While this author is not suggesting that people who break windows deserve lengthy jail sentences, it would have been easy for police to isolate and arrest the perpetrators of the destruction. Having pondered the issue for over a week, the only conclusions that can be drawn are two :
One : OPD, in their ongoing, never-ending quest for an ever larger piece of the economic pie that is the City of Oakland’s budget, pretended they did not have the physical numbers available to effect any arrests. This is almost comical, given that OPD has wasted millions of dollars firing explosives and teargas, and otherwise assaulting and abducting peaceful protesters in the past year, many of whom were never charged with any crime, as there was no evidence of a crime having been committed, except by officers. This is an absurd claim they’ll make in light of the truth that they seem to have plenty of officers available to intimidate attendees to city council meetings.
Two : the City of Oakland, run by the deeply dishonest Deanna Santana, took advantage of the situation, allowing the destruction to occur in support of their running commentary that Occupy Oakland is violent. Given that no violence against any persons occurred, this narrative is stale at best. The city continues to demonize a whole movement based on the actions of a very few, and the local corporate press continues to publish only the opinions of police and the city, while refusing to report the truth. The only corporate reporter who did show up replied to a challenge about his habit of reporting only one side of every protest story : the side of the police. His response was proof of government/press collusion delivered on a silver platter : ‘That’s my job, to report what the police tell me.’ He completely admitted having no sense of responsibility to report any other perspective, and even acknowledged that by doing so he would risk his continued access to events and incidents, as police would subsequently block him if he chose to interview actual witnesses and report a balanced view.
The Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street movement is and has been under insidious internal attack since it’s inception. There are those whose sole purpose is at direct odds with the stated goals and tactics of Occupy Oakland. While some besides this vanguard do support use of a diversity of tactics in the quest for social justice and equity, sole ownership of the tactic of alienation of locals belongs to the same crew who appeared on this march to effect random destruction. As an occupant, this author wants to clarify that Occupy Oakland as a whole never has supported random destruction as a tactic. Even while the use of a diversity of tactics has been publicly supported, the concept of allowing for destructive tactics has always been in regards to targeted, not random action. At no time has Occupy Oakland supported acts which deliver fear to local residents.