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Occupy Oakland: In a way, it's like CDOs...

affinis's picture

Occupy Oakland, which has never adopted a policy eschewing violence, continues to head in a militant direction. It's begun holding weekly "Fuck the Police" marches. The first, two weeks ago, was relatively tame. Firecrackers were set of in front of the police station and an American flag (apparently taken from the police station) was burned. Last week's Fuck the Police march is described here and here. Bottles and rocks were thrown at the police, a Starbucks window was smashed (wow, how impressive), a small fire was lit in the street, and a media van and police cars were vandalized. Initially, as items were being thrown at them, the police (in riot gear) just remained in formation, then they began blocking off streets, then they began chasing protesters, beat some for no apparent reason, and made six arrests.

The invitation for this week's Fuck the Police march can be found here. The Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee set the following guidelines for the march:
Categories of "allowed" actions: 1. Use of fire/burning stuff, 2. smashing/damaging police cars and media vehicles, 3. destruction of: banks, property of non-local corporations, political offices (including a specific reference to Democratic campaign offices), Chamber of Commerce offices. 4. "defensive actions" including "disarming cops that are beating people" (I'm sure that will end well).
Categories of actions that marchers are asked not to do: 1. damage to personal property of regular people (e.g. people's cars), 2. damage to small local businesses (and because Starbucks has been giving free food and coffee to the OO vigil prior to having its window smashed, it's not to be targeted this time), 3. people are asked to avoid frontal assault on the police (and not initiate bottle throwing, etc. until police strike), 4. people are prohibited from interfering with other people's violent actions that they disagree with - that includes prohibition on yelling for them to stop.

Oh joy.

The Fuck the Police marches are organized by the Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee. The Occupy Oakland GA empowered the Tactical Action Committee to initiate and carry out actions for Occupy Oakland.

There's now some debate about whether Tactical Action Committee-initiated actions should be considered "official" Occupy Oakland actions or autonomous actions. Some have argued, essentially, that it would be legally dumb for the Occupy Oakland GA to vote on the Fuck the Police march - that Fuck the Police should de facto be recognized as Occupy Oakland, while avoiding legal culpability. Of course, the media doesn't care about such fine distinctions (and perhaps they shouldn't - since the Fuck the Police marches clearly have the backing of the large majority of remaining Occupy Oakland participants).

Occupy Oaklanders who provide saner or more moderate voices and who have hung on until now continue to drop out. e.g.
The "Occupy Aggro" culture of Occupy Oakland is driving people away.

And I suspect an echo chamber effect (along with continued police harassment and unwarranted arrests) might be contributing to consolidation of militancy among those who remain.

A couple comments reflecting perceptions of what's going wrong:

The policy of "Diversity of Tactics" and rejection of a nonviolence stance were apparently the choice of initial organizers meeting in Mosswood Park, pre-Occupy Oakland GA. A 90% GA vote would be required to alter this, which hasn't proven possible.

As far as understanding the motives/psychology driving Black Bloc actions - I think Boots Riley, Michael Nenonen (see here and here), and Lambert all provide some useful insight.

One serious problem is that appeals to rage/violence can be contagious (especially among people who have radicalized by police raids). Militant actions can seem heroic/defiant/romantic.

A Fuck the Police march, inspired by Occupy Oakland, has just been announced by anarchists in Seattle (announcements here and here) "We will light torches to symbolize holding [sic] in honor of our dead, killed by the police." (I'm sure the Seattle cops will respond really well to flaming torches). I'm hoping that some of the Seattle call just represents posturing. I've also heard that some in LA are pushing for OccupyLA to allow Diversity of Tactics that includes property damage, specifically citing Occupy Oakland as the inspiration.

The founders of Occupy Wall Street were very clear in embracing nonviolence, and the nonviolence stance has been further clarified in policies adopted by the NYCGA (for details, see here). The rejection of nonviolence runs contrary to the core principles of OWS. There's a question as to whether complete autonomy of occupations is appropriate - e.g. a group calling for assassinations could choose to brand itself an Occupy. With AA groups - via the 12 traditions (essentially the organizational guidelines), groups are autonomous, except in matters that affect other groups or AA as a whole. One of Occupy's most important strategic assets is a reputation for nonviolence. Would the Occupy movement be better served by an autonomy policy analogous to that of AA?

The causal mechanisms by which nonviolent campaigns work are reasonably well understood (e.g. see here, here, here, and here). The simultaneous application of violent tactics entirely undercuts these mechanisms - e.g. reducing mass participation, undermining possibility of conversion ("change of heart"), pushing people deeper into pillars of regime support (e.g. security forces) rather than inducing defections, etc.
As Lambert notes:

It would sure be nice if diversity of tactics weren't completely asymmetrical. NV doesn't discredit V but V discredits NV. In a way, it's like CDOs -- put an ounce of sewage in a gallon of milk, and what do you have? A gallon of sewage.

Otpor, the nonviolent movement that overthrew Milosevic, worked out three key principles that allow success in nonviolent revolutions - unity, planning, and nonviolent discipline. All three appear compromised in the events of Occupy Oakland.

One of my motivations for writing up this blog entry was a Twitter conversation with an Occupy Oaklander:

I had composed the following further reply, initially intending to post it via Twitlonger, but didn't get around to doing so. However, I am posting it here, since it makes some pertinant points:

@OaktownPirate On topic of learning from watching the fire - I've seen some OOers arguing online that the BB flaming barricades, smashed windows, etc. has had absolutely no negative effect on support for OO in Oakland. From what I can tell, that's frankly delusional.

But people's core beliefs tend to be intractable to change (as pointed out by W.V.O. Quine in his "Web of Belief" thesis ; people are very motivated to hold onto their fervent beliefs and "Any statement can be held true come what may, if we make drastic enough adjustments elsewhere in the system").

In the event that that OO does implode, the predominant inferred lesson in other Occupies would likely be that it fought valiantly but succumbed to extreme repression by the city. Some might consider the possibility of organizational dysfunction, but wouldn't have enough understanding of what happened to really draw meaningful lessons. I should also mention - a liberal-lefty blog [not Corrente] posted an item expressing some skepticism about reports of physical hostility toward MSM on the part of some OO members. I added a comment, mentioning that such incidents had indeed occurred, that OO hadn't been able to pass a nonviolence policy, and that there was substantial support for black bloc tactics. Another regular commenter on the blog (intelligent and an Occupy supporter) then wrote two long screeds claiming that this couldn't be true and that I must be an undercover paid propaganda agent to claim such a thing.

So, overall, I'm not sure that occupiers elsewhere would, on average, learn pertinant lessons from events at OO. Many would learn of events only very indirectly/minimally. And various biases/filters would color interpretation.

Yet, when I reflect from a less jaundiced perspective, perhaps @OaktownPirate is right - that other Occupies can learn from watching the fire. But learning can only occur if information is transmitted/reaches common awareness.

No votes yet


DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

thanks for your good work. Yes, violence destroys a movement. Anything less flexible than violence would be hard to imagine.

I guess we need to come back to the moral aspect. Certainly violence is impractical. But even if it were, it is immoral. No one has the right to smash someone's property or set fires, even if it were practical. Now, blocking a foreclosure, fine, splendid, but smashing a bank's window? Not acceptable.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

The lack of a leader has been a great strength of the Occupy movement, but if they're all drifting this direction, perhaps they need a central figure to push them the other way.

Or at least someone to start another group that eschews violence. Something's not working properly right now.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

They're not all drifting in this direction (at least not currently). I think it's a syndrome that horizontal groups can be susceptible to and that (under certain circumstances) contagion can occur.

I think formal leaders would be too incompatible with the fundamental spirit/vision of Occupy. And "leaders" pose their own problems - e.g. research shows that leaderless groups tend to pick their most narcissistic members as leaders. Though I will admit - one critique that I've heard that I think has partial validity, at least in certain Occupy groups, is that there actually are de facto "leaders", but they're being selected in an implicit and non-transparent fashion rather than via an explicit and transparent mechanism.

It might be useful to look at what's worked for other horizontally organized groups that have survived the test of time. Seems to me that one possibility would be to hammer out a small set of inviolable core principles (e.g. one being adherence to nonviolence) that groups have to abide by to be considered members of Occupy (though a mechanism would be needed for doing so - e.g. a body consisting of reps from all the Occupies?). Many horizontally-organized associations (e.g. Quakers, 12 step organizations, etc.) have an international body that loosely unifies all the member groups (such a structure is currently lacking in Occupy). And it's my impression that in many such organizations, normative rules for representatives on top-level governance bodies reduce the potential for power accumulation (e.g. one of the AA traditions states "Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern").

Clonal Antibody's picture
Submitted by Clonal Antibody on

is widely touted as being a non violent movement. Gandhi's efforts were aimed at achieving total non violence, and he succeeded in mobilizing a very large movement that was mostly non violent.

But it should be remembered that there were many on the periphery, who were "revolutionaries" and had vowed to use any and all means to achieve independence from the British. One of the most famous was one of Gandhi's close associates, Subhash Chandra Bose. Bose was busy radicalizing the British Indian Army PoWs in Burma and SE Asia, to form the Indian National Army, and was in close touch with the Japanese. The INA fought alongside the Japanese against the British in Burma.

So one has to judge Gandhi's non violent movement on the wider canvas of what was actually happening in India in the first half of the 20th century.

Clonal Antibody's picture
Submitted by Clonal Antibody on

that Subhash Chandra Bose, who was the elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1938 and 1939 was expelled in 1939 from the INC for his socialist views - and after that, the Congress was reduced to a pro-business group financed by the business houses of Birla and Bajaj.

nasrudin's picture
Submitted by nasrudin on

From the Revolution of Values speech "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" at Riverside Church, NYC, as he was listing the reasons for his "breaking silence":

"...My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

from Oakland to see who's really promoting violence. As far as I know, it wasn't police getting shot in the face.

PS: for anyone who cares, I don't approve of violence or practice it. I also don't feel justified condemning the response of the people to a violent oppressive state, just because it's "violent."

Sure, Fuck the Police marches are kind of confrontational. I guess that's why they named it, you know, FTP. Again, review the history of police violence in Oakland.

Lambert misrepresents occupy Oakland with his hypothetical about organizing a non-violent march and having it ruined by those disruptive violenters. That's precisely what they have addressed in holding that Occupiers should not act against defined acts of force (thereby also defining illegitimate force). Also, Lambert isn't paying much attention to Egypt in December, where people fought pitched battles with military police, rock throwing and torching buildings. Eight died. By Egyptian standards, Oakland IS non-violent. Or, you know, romanticize Tahrir activists as all non-violent.

Maybe you can write a learned screed about why "violence" by Egyptian protesters is so counter-productive.

"Leading reform figure and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei took to Twitter to condemn the (state) violence, writing, 'If the sit-in broke the law, isn't the cruelty and brutality used to break it up a greater violation of all human rights laws?"

It's just hysterical when 'lefties" expend more energy condemning the "violence" of the people, instead of the greater violence of the state.

See the daily mail for great pictures in Egypt of the people's response to violence.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Another crappy argument I see being used is that nonviolence advocates are not condemning state violence, or are doing so minimally. Again, I'll call out intellectual dishonesty. You can't read Lambert's past posts (e.g. "Thuggish, scummy D mayor Jean Quan escalates attacks on OccupyOakland") and say this with a straight face.

And actually, this won't be a learned "screed" - but if you've been closely tracking the Egyption revolution through social media (i.e. firsthand reports) - when protesters torch buildings or the level of rock throwing really escalates, popular support seems to decline. During an apogee of this a few weeks ago, I saw folks tweeting that, since the revolution began, they'd never seen so many people coming to Tahrir to argue that the protesting was counterproductive. When the video emerged of the woman in the blue bra being brutally stomped by security forces, then another woman who came to her aid being beaten (the latter was actually the daughter of a general, and appears to have suffered some brain damage), then the mass (nonviolent) women's march happened, popular mood appeared to again shift and the military backed down.

Part of the logic of nonviolent protest is put well by MLK:
"We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you.... But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory."

I think that's why both the pepper-spray cop incident and the "blue bra woman" incident went viral and shifted public support.

Submitted by lambert on

I mean, promoting pr0n is always a selling point!

For the rest of it, the "hysteria" trope is a clear tell. I don't see any hysteria on this thead; nor do you, since if you had, you'd have quoted it. So I'll invest for time in your concern trolling when I've got it.

Oh, and the "you need to" is a classic dominance trope. It plays about as well in your comment as it does when career "progessives" play it. Please don't presume to tell me what my needs are.

Corrupt discourse, corrupt actions.

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on


The pictures are great as in great photographs.

Calling it "pron" is entirely in your head. I don't glorify, condone or promote violence, but I recognize the distinction between the violence of state and corporate oppression, and the response of relatively powerless people. You don't.
There is a long history of "lefties" wielding their largely rhetorical power against people who meet the force of the state with people's force. "oh, those Vietcong" are VIOLENT!" Don't be one. Denounce the tactic, if you will, but support the people.

You also don't bother, after claiming Tahrir is pristinely non-violent, to address the reality.

The "hysteria" trope is a clear tell you aren't listening, it means laughable.

As for as concern trolling, isn't that the whole point of your criticism of OO?

And yeah, maybe you do "need to" watch the videos of police violence at Oakland, 'cause you have a distorted view of who's practicing violence. Maybe you can refute MLK and El-Baradei who are very clear on this matter.

Nit-picking about words and phrases to characterize me as dominant is well, hysterical, and does nothing to further the discussion.

In fact, you don't bother to respond to any facts or statements that diverge from your "dominant trope."

I think that's a clear tell of weak logic.

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

I should add, the claim that OO made, or provoked, the police to use violence against old ladies, wheelchair-bound people or Scott Olsen is a bald-faced lie.

It reeks of blaming the domestic violence victim for provoking the violence of the abuser. But it's a lie either way.

They attacked peaceful people in the middle of the night, trying to flee, shot photographers when they openly asked to be told exactly where they could photograph from, lobbed stun grenades into the group trying to carry Scott Olsen to safety, shoot people in the face for no reason, etc, etc.

I only wish the terms of engagement of the OPD were half as sane as the OO.

And you are wringing your hands over the 'violence" of occupiers?

Yeah, you really need to see the video tapes, cause you're parroting the MSM and serving as apologists for the Oakland PD.

With friends like that...

Maybe you should stop telling OO what they "need" to do.

Other than that Corrente's the best.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

1. The opening is pretty clever - "the claim that" [something no-one here has ever said] "is a bald-faced lie".
Implies that advocates of nonviolence here have claimed "OO made the police use violence" (against the elderly and handicapped) then gets to denounce whomever (by implication Lambert) articulated this (repugnant) strawman position.

2. Munges together all incidents. In most cases (starting with the October 25 raid), OPD initiated the violence. Throwing of bottles and rocks, etc. in last week's FtP provoked the police (e.g. would you want to get hit by a bottle?). "beat some for no apparent reason" (as I wrote in the piece above) means that some of the police reaction consisted of random violence.

3. Assumes that those of us arguing for nonviolence have not "seen the videotapes". I can't even begin to tell you how much livestream and video I've watched from OO.

Overall - pretty good at using rhetorical devices. Not so strong at critical thinking or intellectual honesty. Here's a useful starting point.

Submitted by lambert on

Or only some of 'em?

If you want to be schooled in the fine arts of online insult, sophistry, and the stringing together of tropes, we can certainly provide that service.

How do you want to play this?

* * *

"Wringing their hands." Dear Lord. If the Egyptian Occupiers had pissed away the advantages gained by their YT -- using the tactics you recommend -- they would have been really, really stupid. Worse, they would have made all the pain she endured for their sake useless.

I like the "protest to much" trope. With more experience, you'll find, that just stringing together tropes doesn't cut it. Best of luck.

NOTE I do note that you keep returning. I guess that means the points we're making are getting traction. That makes me happy.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

you are.

Afinnis says no one claimed OO, black bloc, whatever, provoked violence that caused OPD to attack old, disabled, etc.

"Well, here's the kind of Black Bloc shit that bugs me.

Get in back of a peaceful crowd, then throw rocks over the crowd at the cops, so the cops charge the front of the crowd, radicalizing them. Well, of course, except for any kids or crips or old people who can't get away in time. Any fool can see that sucks, armchair or no." (Lambert)

Sure looks like it to me.

The 4 am evictions across the country, and especially Oakland, were designed and implemented using overwhelming force against sleeping occupiers, brutally attacking people that posed no threat of any kind.

And Lambert decries anything I write as a "trope" suggesting it's not worth listening or responding to. Then says he'll school me in "online insult, sophistry, and the stringing together of tropes" And then labels me a "violence fan boiz" Way to dodge the issues, arrogant, pompous know-it-all.

I'm not a violence fan, as I've made clear, so STFU.

You responded with insults and disrespect to viable points I made, and others noted are worthy of consideration re: peoples force against state force, citing MLK, etc. Your disrespect doesn't earn you any respect.

Honestly, you guys spend all your time smearing how I argue, rather than backing up your threadbare, phony claims. I wonder why.

I'm fast losing respect for this idiocy. Party line clones.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

One thing I find frustrating in arguing with you is that you're munging things together - there's a sloppiness to your argumentation. E.g.
"Afinnis says no one claimed OO, black bloc, whatever, provoked violence that caused OPD to attack old, disabled, etc."

That's not what I said. To repeat, I stated:
"Implies that advocates of nonviolence here have claimed 'OO made the police use violence' (against the elderly and handicapped) then gets to denounce whomever (by implication Lambert) articulated this (repugnant) strawman position."

As far as I know, no-one "old" was present (or attacked by OPD) at last week's FtP march. One person did have difficulty walking due to a leg injury, and suffered further injury when the police charged.

Furthermore, this is almost always how Black Bloc actions end up going - e.g. as noted by Louis Proyect and many others.
In Genoa, the black bloc ran through a group of nuns engaged in a sit-in which resulted in the police attacking the nuns. In New York City, at a demonstration against WEF, the black bloc ended up running from the police and trampling down women Steelworkers from Toronto, who were then attacked by the police as the black bloc hid behind the Steelworkers.

No-one here claimed that BB "made" the police injure anyone, or that BB were trying to get police to attack elderly and handicapped people (as your initial 4:50 statement would imply - "I should add, the claim that OO made, or provoked, the police to use violence against old ladies, wheelchair-bound people or Scott Olsen is a bald-faced lie.")

Again, exact, logical analysis and careful use of language will provide currency here. Sloppiness in language/logic will not.

As far as the earlier citation of MLK by Nasrudin - it's from the speech where MLK came out and denounced the Vietnam War. He was consistent in calling for nonviolence. He didn't stop calling for nonviolence in U.S. civil rights and labor struggles (including in the north). But to be honest/consistent in doing so, he realized that he couldn't stay silent about what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam.

And as far as "Honestly, you guys spend all your time smearing how I argue, rather than backing up your threadbare, phony claims. I wonder why". I've provided plenty of backup (including plenty of concrete info and linky goodness) for my statements in comments and in the original article.

Submitted by lambert on

... because you discredit your cause, with which I disagree, so effectively. So, have at it!

As I said above, I don't have a lot of time to invest in concern trolling, so I may not be able to circle back. I think readers can judge our respective evivdence and reasoning quite well for themselves. Oh, and I'm pleased that you're "fast losing respect." Because it is always about you, isn't it?

UPDATE Low turnout at Oscar Grant Plaza:

Maybe that will cause some display of adaptability. I doubt it.

Oh, and as for the focus on evidence and reasoning: If I'm going to be one of the people you're asking to get beaten up in your violence pr0n flick -- oh, I'm sorry, your efforts at "further radicalization" -- I'd rather the appeal be made with evidence and reasoning. Like, will it work? But maybe that's just me.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Situation is confusing. I see that yesterday TAC sent out some tweets calling for a nonviolent march - which is inconsistent with earlier tweets they sent out, as well as the Facebook invitation. This type of thing seems to have been going on all week. As Black Blocers and nonviolence advocates have been trying to influence them, they've sent out ambiguous (and sometimes conflicting/vacillating) messages.
From yesterday:

Here's a livestream.

Here's another livestream.

Streamer @OaktownPirate is estimating about 100 people. Crowd seems smaller than last week. TAC member is now (prior to start of march) asking marchers to be peaceful.

Update 2
March is ongoing - multiple streams are available. See the following:

Submitted by lambert on

From closing the port to 100 people....

It certainly seems like cripes and his crowd have brought tremendous success to the effort!

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

I wouldn't agree with the "closing the port to 100 people" statement in entirety (as a minor side note - I heard another estimate of ~130 for this week's FtP). This was an FtP march - and many wouldn't agree with that (while others might not have come since pacifists were told to stay away and the initial Facebook invite, tweets earlier in the week, and events of last week all raised the prospect of violence). So I would expect a larger number to still show up for something analogous to the port action. However, I would agree that OO appears to have been hemorrhaging support (both for percentage viewing it favorably in Oakland and for number of participants). The GAs can barely make quorum. So for the next mass action, I'd expect greatly reduced numbers. And actually, that already seems to have manifested when OO acted to support the American Licorice strike this past week (a very worthy action). OOers were asked to show up for the picket lines, to block scabs from driving their cars in (and to block delivery trucks). The strike had been going on for a month, and last Monday was the first day that the union was going to attempt to block scab entry - via mass turnout of OO members (planning for this started a couple weeks ago). However, turnout from OO was low (one estimate stated 30 people from OO, though I suspect this was an underestimate - but definitely seemed to be less than 100 OO folks), so they were entirely unable to block the scabs from driving their cars in (though people did manage to persuade a couple of the delivery trucks to honor the picket line). The next day, the union decided to capitulate, calling off the strike and accepting the employer's terms (i.e. moving them to a junk health insurance plan). Assisting such a strike is exactly what OO is for, and I think it could have worked with mass turnout, but OO wasn't able to turn out the numbers needed. But it was on a weekday and required a BART ride - so doesn't really represent the full current turnout capacity of OO (though even was a really anemic for a well-promoted action; especially given that the first port closure turned out ~50,000).

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

Well, in Lamberts case, probably not, since he's an obfuscating, straw-manning, pompous liar. Still calling me violence pron whatever-the-f**k. What a fool.

However, to affinis I acknowledge your integrity in defending your position and trying to address mine. Great.

Maybe I haven't been clear in what I'm trying to get across. I'll try.

I think that even quoting luminaries such as MLK is not dispositive of the issue, although instructive, since like the bible, it is possible to find support for different views.

He was clear in saying his responsibility, as a practitioner of non-violence in support of justice, is to denounce the violence of the oppressor before the violence waged by people against oppression. Can we agree on that?

That has been my main point. The left--or certain segments of it--can find itself quickly in bed with the forces of oppression if they're not careful how they respond to the reality. Such as the reality of violence in Egypt where the people are battling the military with rocks, arson and barricades.

Shall we denounce that? Or say it is a counterproductive tactic? Or say it's okay for Egypt, but wrong in Oakland? Or support the struggle while warning they cannot overcome military force? Or turn them into the police? What?

Some years ago in NYC, I...witnessed a tenants movement that occupied a building, barricading the doors with appliances and chains and holding off the police for days with barrages of eggs and bottles, peoples bodies and dogs. Seriously. Sicced their dogs on the police. It got pretty violent on both sides. Whose violence should I denounce?

Or the miners, and the steelworkers against the Pinkertons and the Rockefellers. Who's violence should we denounce?

We don't have to enjoy violence to understand it as a fact of struggle. We do have to figure out what is the just response when it happens, and from whom, against whom, to what end.

And if BB's actions are no different in result than the actions of provocateurs, than bad on them. I'm not here to defend them or anybody in particular.

Personally, I prefer the non-violent force of great masses of people rendering the violence of the state ineffective, through solidarity, overwhelming numbers, non-cooperation and alternative structures of mutual support. But there will likely be more violence before this decaying plutocracy leaves history's stage.

It is not sufficient to pretend all struggle must be non-violent. Only a fool would say that. Sometimes, in fact, it may not even be a choice. Not any choice beyond self-defense and martyrdom.

Submitted by lambert on

Like I said, you discredit your cause. So flame away!

NOTE Hey, I'm not advocating the tactics that caused the FTP march to shit the bed on numbers. That would be you. Why don't you go throw a rock through a Starbucks window? Great pictures!

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

I don't have time to respond right now Cripes, but will do so later Sunday.
Also, wouldn't be bad to tone down the flame level (as far as I can tell, the initial expression of contempt sending dialogue on this trajectory was "What bugs me is armchair activists..."). But I'm entirely happy to discuss substantive points if ad hominems are avoided.

Submitted by lambert on

As I said above, it's all in how to play it. I don't take it personally; I've been doing this since 2003, and if I let ad hominem attacks worry me, I'd have gone mad by now. So I'm doing exactly what I said I would do: Curating cripes because I think he discredits his cause, which I think is a good thing.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

I said I'd respond if further ad hominems were avoided. So next time I come back here, what do I see. Echoes of this. Cripes, I won't engage with you further.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on
People marched around Oakland streets, ending back at Oscar Grant Plaza. Police followed in vans and cars. When the march would stop, police in riot gear would deploy in lines, there would be a transient tense standoff, then the march would take off again. Some people pulled dumpsters or trash into the street (apparently to try to impede the police vehicles following the march). Two people was arrested during one of the standoffs (one for blocking the street with a dumpster and a second for supposedly interfering in the first arrest).

Thoughts (speculative) on some of the reasons why this march remained peaceful:
Perhaps most importantly - Prior to the march, TAC verbally called on the marchers to remain peaceful (and in yesterdays tweets, TAC was encouraging nonviolence and avoidance of vandalism). Throughout the week, there had been heavy criticism of the bottle and rock throwers the week before. Bella Eiko, who has substantial "moral" influence in OO (everyone likes and respects her, including those in TAC) was arguing the importance of remaining nonviolent (she did so both before and during the march). TAC had held a barbeque attended by many in OO, which might have fostered solidarity (and diminished the odds of foolish individual actions). Also, as the march wound through city streets, it would take off again before standoffs became too tense and sustained (last week, bottle throwing started during the sustained standoff in front of OPD headquarters/detention center). Last week TAC and TAC members were explicitly and heavily pushing that FtP was an anarchist march and that everyone should wear all black clothes (some have argued that the anonymity and deindividuation of Black Bloc garb facilitates violence); that wasn't done this week - and people showed up in clothes of all colors. Also, last week, a nonviolence advocate called for the march to be nonviolent and heavily proselytized for people to bring bubbles (as a marker of creative nonviolence) - but this resulted in an escalating online argument - and might have produced backlash entrenchment among BB militants (increasing determination to carry out BB actions). As someone noted during the tweet war preceding last week's march:
Also, this week, over the last few days, the more militant were loudly pushing for people not to livestream the march (so that people carrying out BB actions wouldn't be caught on video; the argument was that streamers would in essence be traitors, acting as police allies and potentially putting comrades in prison). But a bunch of folks (both peaceniks and transparency advocates) defiantly refused this demand - so there were many more streamers than usual (and some of the streamers were doing so with the explicit agenda of reducing the likelihood of BB actions).

Submitted by lambert on

What an amazing argument, that streamers are traitors.

If Tahrir Square hadn't been livestreamed, what would have been the outcome?!

Going out in a blaze of glory when the tanks opened fire, I suppose. Dear Lord.

NOTE But also credit to TAC for this. Theirs is not an easy position, and its not like there's a three-ring binder that explains how all this works.

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

Lambert is confused. He thinks FTP means Fellate The Police.

Submitted by lambert on

The cowardly, too.

NOTE Hey, thanks for sharing your fellation issues! Your support group is over there.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

A few tweets related to yesterday's march:

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

Just helping you to understand that Oakland OO named their march FTP for a reason.

It's not pick up litter, no cuss words, take orders from the authorities march.

Once you process that, you can begin your recovery.

You're welcome.

Submitted by lambert on

I guess the support group I directed you to must have helped. Good to know!

Now, why don't you go away and hide in the back of the crowd and throw bottles?

NOTE Or you could reboot the whole discussion and engage on the arguments, as affinis offered. Over to you!

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

Repeatedly chanting "I know you are but what am I" from the dunce seat is what I expect from a grade schooler like you.

Considering imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I should feel flattered: considering the source I don't.

Actually affinnis said he'd get back to it later, since I did. Your reading comprehension needs work. Or your compulsive lying.

Submitted by lambert on

Your comment is very important to me. Please do not hesitate to comment again.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

which is good. And it seems to have been done with the rhetoric of an influential voice- which speaks to my earlier argument that Occupy Oakland needs some level of, not political authority, but moral authority. To counter the pushing and the shoving and the shouting of the Black Bloc, voices must be raised in support of peaceful cooperation.

And I'll say my own piece about violence, the same piece I've said before: the violence effected by the 99% cannot practically touch the 1%, so it's not only morally wrong, it's ultimately futile. None of them are in a position to assassinate the masters of the universe, which is the form of violence that might- might- effect satisfactory change. And if the Opposition of this country continues to lack such means and opportunity, then there is no point in violence. All it will do is ruin the property of working people and lead to unneeded martyrs. It steals away public support and it gives the state excuse for overwhelming force in return.

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on


"This march was organized with the purpose of taking a stand against the out of control tactics being used by the city and OPD to attack Occupy Oakland. Hundreds of people were in attendance at the *Fuck the Police* march on Friday night, marching through downtown and circling the jail and police station twice. Riot police were there from the beginning and when they eventually responded to the event it was with brutal, traumatizing force. They started by shooting rubber bullets into the crowd..."

I won't be the one arguing for violence and I'm not doing it here, just saying it bears repeating why this is happening.

And who is promoting violence.


Submitted by lambert on

Your comment is very important to me. Please do not hesitate to comment again.

cripes's picture
Submitted by cripes on

Occupy is a national movement with coordinated repression across cities.
If anything, OPD has been worse than LPD.
Lord, you're dense and phony.

But it's nice to have followers.
And no, I don't want to exchange emails.