Occupy Oakland Media Collective Interviewed by East Bay Express

Posted on 08 March 2012 by OO Media Collective

Occupy Oakland Media was recently approached by a reporter from the East Bay Express to answer the questions below. We decided to publish our answers here on our website, so that our answers to these great questions could be seen by our community. We thank John Osborne and everyone at the East Bay Express for their continued interest in Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street, and the Occupy Oakland Media Collective.

1. How many people are involved with the new incarnation of the website? Who is involved?

We are currently developing and negotiating processes for inclusion, consensus, and vetting new members, so our current membership is unclear at the moment. The new OO Media team will likely include several members of the former OO media committee, as well as some new people. We’re hoping to include as many people who do media and want to be involved as possible, especially students, grassroots media activists, and freelancers, as members of the collective. Contributions will remain open to all those involved in social justice and occupy-related work.

2. Given the drama with the General Assembly resolution, how do members with Hella OOMC feel about the current state of Occupy Oakland leadership and about participating within the movement?

Occupy Oakland Media remains committed to supporting Oakland and the Occupy Wall Street movement. As a movement without leaders, we must constantly challenge, question, and critique points of power as they emerge. This is an ongoing process, and critically important in building the movement. As Occupy Wall Street grows as a movement we are sure to face many challenges, including organizational, interpersonal and strategic conflict, as well as government repression. We remain confident that the 99% is and will continue to be capable of managing whatever challenges we face, both internal and external.

3. What is the ultimate goal with the website and how has the mission changed from when it was “officially” a part of Occupy Oakland?

OO Media members, numbering over thirty volunteers at times, have effectively set up a successful system for aggregating written and multimedia content from a diversity of contributors. The website at https://hellaoccupyoakland.org/, along with its social media outlets, has quickly grown into a frequently visited source of information and opinion. Some of the most-viewed articles relate to civil disobedience, Oakland Police Department misconduct in general and especially at Occupy Oakland raids, protester arrests, and actions against the closing of Oakland elementary schools. Timely posts on “Hella Occupy Oakland” (HOO) have provided first-hand accounts of events, which counter OPD and Mayor Quan’s dishonest propaganda, and enable the public to obtain accurate information. HOO has covered most major events of Occupy Oakland.

Our goal will remain the same throughout this transition: to provide access to publishing for the community at large, and to produce true news coverage of actions and happenings at OO, OWS, and in all of Oakland. We plan to continue to provide the service of announcing upcoming actions and happenings for all three. We will continue to encourage contributions of op-ed pieces, where people can share their personal views and stories. Our site is a safe space for dissenting opinions, within the boundaries of respectful ideological exchange laid out in our guidelines. For example, if contributors wish to express their opinion that Occupy Oakland should declare itself non-violent as Occupy Wall Street has, that debate is welcome at HellaOccupyOakland.org.

We will continue on with the relationships we have built with outside media and will assist, whenever possible, in facilitating occupants, and grassroots organizers and activists from different working groups and community organizations to communicate with the press. We strive to facilitate better understanding between Occupy Oakland and the rest of the Oakland community.

We intend to expand our mission to include educational aspects on social change. We will be offering skill-sharing workshops to empower people with the tools they need for publishing.

Very little has changed about the mission of this group.

4. How do the people who authored the “Occupy Awareness” article feel about its publication and the subsequent backlash? Would you publish it again?

It is highly important to clarify that the article was written by only three of some thirty people who have been part of OOM committee, and that it was not a committee sanctioned article. This would be better answered by each of the three media team members who published it.

Almost everyone other than the three who published the article disagree, at a minimum, with the way it was put out. Having said that, the four authors do not regret bringing the issues out publicly, as the problems the article raised are now, as then, enormously important and beyond our ability to address individually or within currently existing processes. These problems with destructive forces within the movement are not particular to Oakland, but have been experienced in occupations as far away as New Zealand, and as close as Los Angeles.

The authors do however regret that they did not foresee the unintended consequences of the article.

It was not the intent of the authors, three of whom are people of color, to act in a manner that might be perceived as anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia. The fact that people perceived it as such came as a surprise to them, and has caused the authors to feel regret for any pain they may have caused members of the Arab and Muslim communities. As people of color who have been victims of the very same systems of racism and oppression, they strive to eliminate any forces attempting to sow seeds of division across communities of color.

There remains a great deal of work to do around developing anti-oppression frameworks, processes for consensus building, vetting new members, working out conflicts, and identifying points of unity and shared commitments which can form the basis of our work supporting Occupy Wall Street. The members of Occupy Oakland Media Collective are working diligently to create these processes, which we hope to share with the larger Occupy Wall Street community.

5. How do you think this current split, along with the resignation of Tim from the Finance Committee and other criticisms of the current GA process, will impact the overall strength of Occupy Oakland? What needs to change with the way Occupy Oakland is currently organized and run?

Fundamentally, we are not just “Occupy Oakland,” we are “Occupy Wall Street.” Our particular local concerns regarding both strategy and process will be understood and negotiated in light of our relationship to the broader concerns of OWS: getting the money out of politics, addressing the foreclosure crisis, and so on, within a horizontal and transparent organizational structure. The split of OO Media from the OO GA is not a “split” at all, but is a change in tactics to accomplish these broader goals. Regarding Tim’s resignation, we are hopeful this does not mean the end of his involvement in, or support of, the Occupy Wall Street movement, but a shift in focus and strategy based on particular conditions in Occupy Oakland at this time.

One can only hope that longstanding internal criticisms of the General Assembly process will be underscored by the resignation of Tim and others, along with community support for our decision to continue providing the services we’ve been providing these past several months. The GA is, like everything in Occupy Wall Street, a work in progress. It is not a perfectly democratic process, nor currently a process of true consensus. As the movement continues to expand, we feel confident that attention paid to improving the process will create a more inclusive and healthier environment for social change.