A Public Response to Councilwoman Kernighan’s Jan. Newsletter

Posted on 13 January 2012 by geekeasy

Dear Councilwoman Kernighnan

I was sad to see the simplistic and pro-cop analysis you put in your January newsletter regarding the events surrounding Occupy Oakland.

Those Occupiers still occupying the area around City Hall are indeed engaged in little more than free speech in their 24-hour protest.  Some occupiers have blankets to keep them warm on cold nights.  Occupiers share food.  And the interfaith peace group had a small shrine, and an umbrella.

Unable to condemn protesters for violence during the second Port Shutdown, the mayor stooped to accusing protesters of “economic violence”. Since then attacks against Occupiers by city officials and the police have gotten more and more petty.  The Chief of Police attacked occupiers for sharing food, and bringing in garbage cans to clean up trash.   Why is Chief Jordan focused on condemning Occupiers for bringing in trash cans, of all things, when 110 people were murdered last year?

In financial terms alone, how much cheaper would it be if the City helped Occupiers keep the plaza clean, instead of sending in an army of riot police every week?

The harassment of protesters by police is fact.  One occupier was cited for having a bike in the plaza.  Has anyone else ever been cited for having a bike in the plaza?  How is that anything other than selective enforcement, and harassment? On December 30, an occupier was cited, and then arrested, for having a yoga mat under her arm.  Things spiraled out of control, as Occupiers complained about this totally unjust arrest.  On January 4, I was arrested by OPD simply because I take pictures.

You say that Occupiers are only arrested for illegal acts.  Watch the video of my arrest, and tell me what illegal act I committed:

You also spoke about harassment of police.  There is truth to that, but ask yourself this — why are some officers, like Officer Douglas, not harassed by Occupiers?

Could it be that those few officers who treat Occupiers with respect, are treated with respect in return?

Finally, on to the Grand Lake Theater.   Their marquee was only half-wrong.  The City did insanely budget $540,000 for one month of security.  You ended up only spending a fraction of that, $30,000 per month, $360,000 per year, on security guards for the Plaza.

But that’s still too much.  You strongly tell us that those security guards will remain in place as long as there is any threat of Occupiers putting up a tent or teepee.  Those security guards are completely unnecessary, and a total waste of money, considering police are also stationed in the plaza 24 hours a day.

More than one hundred city employees are on the verge of being laid off.  If the Council more effectively spent this $360,000, how many of those jobs could you save?   2? 3? 4?

Are you telling your constituents that you would prefer to spend money on totally unnecessary security walking the Plaza, rather than saving the jobs of a few DPW fixing our potholes, or librarians serving our people?

-Adam Katz
Oakland Resident