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#OccupyOakland

UPDATE I'm leaving this sticky because (see chat) I still have brutal RL issues, but it's also feeling to me like we're reaching some sort of inflection point at #OccupyWallStreet and #OccupyOakland, precipitated both by the port closure accomplished by the Occupiers, and the events around the seizure of the Traveler's Aid Society building.**

From the Barcalounger:

The port closure is more damaging to the 1%; we don't care, after all, if some Wal-Mart shelves are empty of Chinese trinkets for a day or two, but to the Powers That Be, stalled shipping containers mean a blip in the free flow of capital. However, the Traveler's Aid imbroglio is more interesting, and in two ways:

First, tactically, Traveler's Aid reinforced the official narrative of "violence," as our famously free press promptly conflated the port closure with the building seizure. Strategically, as it turns out -- predictably, though I didn't predict it -- many of the spaces the Occupiers are occupying are already occupied: They are catchments for the homeless and the very poor (MsExPat caught this very early, though I'm too rushed to find the link).

However, from 30,000 feet, it's clear that the "free market" that is no free market has completely failed in its putative social function of allocating capital; there are empty buildings everywhere, and the banksters are not maintaining them, and are bulldozing them or trying to give them away; the Traveler's Aid Building is one such. Well, how stupid and/or evil is that? When you've got people who really are going to die, if not immediately, then prematurely, because they are without shelter (see under Maslow's Hierarchy, right down there at the base) why not solve the problem by giving them shelter nobody needs?

So, strategically, I see Traveler's Aid as a problem, and an opportunity: The problem: The newcomer Occupier movement -- which is, like it or not, "downwardly mobile"*** -- is trying to occupy the same space as a permanent, though floating population of people whose needs are very immediate, and not about the self-actualization of the GA at all. Worse, the GA, though critically important, is by its nature a process that cannot satisfy immediate needs. The opportunity: Why shouldn't the Occupations who have a good GA process in place (not all do) target some foreclosed or abandoned buildings for "allocation" to those who need shelter? That would (a) create solidarity with the homeless and the poor, (b) reinforce the GA as a parallel sovereign, and (c) remind the country of how badly the 1% is doing at running the country, and the need for people to seek alternative structures.**** Oh, and (d) such a policy would answer the question "What do we do in the winter?"

UPDATE The Guardian report. Footage of the march on the port; big crowd. More on the evening. On the one hand, the Black Bloc. On the other, those who occupied the Oakland building. I love it that the Oakland bulding is called "The Traveler's Aid Society." Irony, anyone? And here is a wrap-up with thoughts on how seasons and semesters may affect the Occupations.

Readers, my RL demands are so brutal I haven't been able to focus on the Oakland General strike or the larger picture of a second Occupation "Center of Excellence" [haw] emerging on the West Coast. Here's Yves; here's the Guardian; here's Gawker; here's some hysteria from our famously free press. I haven't had time to curate twitter. What's going on?

On a quick reading, it looks like the Occupiers succeeded in bringing the port to a halt during the day; but there were more events at night. Again, readers?

NOTE ** One of the talking points is that the Occupiers set fires in the building. But their idea was to live in the building, which was, after all, abandoned, so why a fire? And I'll leave the window-smashing out of it; it's a self-indulgent, Bower Bird-like display. No Scott Olsens, these.

NOTE *** We used to call the downwardly mobile "the middle class."

NOTE **** I know the NYCGA went to the "spokes" model, but I haven't had time to look into it, so I use GA as a shorthand for whatever decision-making structure the Occupations have evolved.

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tomfoolery's picture
Submitted by tomfoolery on

You know that the violence is just beneath the surface in these protests - many of the protesters are truly peaceful, Ghandi and MLK like beings - but most are ordinary people trying to convey an urgent message to the "upper class" that they're not going to get away with this crap anymore, that their control is coming to an end OR ELSE - and here's where the rage and frustration is being kept at bay right now, but it won't take much more for the whole thing to degenerate into social breakdown, rioting and spilled blood.

Things better start changing or there's gonna be hell to pay.

bungalowkitchens's picture
Submitted by bungalowkitchens on

the desire to hit something, or smash something, or destroy something. But I think it's counter-productive. Interesting take on the breaking into a building- property rights are paramount, unless of course you're the banks who have clouded the title of the majority of properties in the U.S.- as homeowners, OUR property rights don't count for shit.

The PTB view us like ants- small and beneath their notice. And like ants, if there are only a few of us, they would kill us with their bare hands, without even a thought. I do that to ants all the time, when there are only a few on the kitchen counter. But it's a whole different story when there is a huge swarm of ants- that's horrifying. It's horrifying to us in real life, and it's horrifying to the PTB. We need to be the ants, and we need to swarm them. I think it's starting to happen, especially when I saw the photos of all those people on the ramp leading to the Port of Oakland. Ants don't even have to bite you- the swarming is enough. In the same way, if Occupy gets enough people, violence won't be necessary.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

tonight at Freedom Plaza General Assembly we had someone from Veterans for Peace who said that Wednesday night/Thursday Morning the county police came in and shut down the camp.

Now I read about a riot that followed the general strike.

I have not been online and have not followed the Twitter feed.

The Occupy movement is talking about a national day of action in support of Oakland.

I don't know what to think.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

I'm not from Oakland - have just been following online. The police did not shut down the camp Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
People were herded down the streets back toward the camp. As this was happening, a reporter tweeted that police announced "Campers, return to your tents". Apparently police did enter the north side of the square and arrested a bunch of people - many of whom were doing nothing to provoke arrest - but the police did not penetrate further into the camp.

The events initiating the real violence are summarized pretty well in the Guardian article linked by Lambert and the Christian Science Monitor:
"More than 200 officers, some ferried downtown aboard buses, lined up shoulder to shoulder and donned gas masks, then declared the crowd to be an "unlawful assembly" and fired volleys of tear gas as protesters turned and ran. A few activists paused to pick up canisters and hurl them back at officers as they fled, while others threw rocks. One barricade was set ablaze after the police first advanced. 'This was peaceful until you came!' some protesters shouted at police. Police later charged toward protesters with batons and more tear gas to push them farther into center of the square, where activists have reassembled a make-shift encampment forcibly dismantled by authorities last week."

Basically, OPD initiated a raid after OO participants occupied the foreclosed, vacant Traveler's Aid Society building (see statement Lambert linked above). The occupiers wanted Traveler's Aid Society, which provided assistance to the homeless, to resume services in the building, or to turn the building into a library and open workshop for the Oakland community. Once OPD started the raid, using teargas, it seems that all hell broke loose. That included some throwing of objects at police, setting fire to barricades in the street and trashcans, a lot of vandalism, broken windows, and looting of two stores (an art gallery and a coffeeshop). Based on twitter feeds and reporter's accounts, it seems that OO participants are dismayed at the violence and vandalism committed by a minority of people (and particularly by the "Oakland Liberation Front" - a couple dozen idiots styling themselves after the "Black Bloc" - see Lambert's link above).

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

From DiceyTroop's Twitter feed, there was credible concern expressed in the NYCGA Thursday about a possible Zuccotti eviction attempt in the near future:

DiceyTroop tweets:
Han: "I'm from Community Relations"- been talking to board, elected reps, union allies, reporters, others w/ credible info… #nycga #ows
Han cont'd: "..is that the city has lost its patience and is planning on trying to evict us at some pt in very near future." #nycga #ows

I'm somewhat concerned that the vandalism/violence in Oakland on Wednesday night/Thursday morning might have provided Bloomberg with cover to attempt an eviction. But the immediate, passionate, essentially universal condemnation of the vandalism/violence by OO participants on Thursday (as well as their assistance in cleanup/repair eforts, etc.) seems to have substantially shifted the tone of MSM reports in a more positive direction, relative the articles coming out Thursday morning.

Also, given Isvestia's general role as the propaganda arm of NYC political elites, I'm wondering about the signals (vis-a-vis OWS) inherent in the top article Isvestia is pushing today: "Bleak Portrait of Poverty Is Off the Mark, Experts Say" (narrative = there's no poverty here - claims of widespread poverty are grossly exaggerated - people complaining about poverty are just whiners, living large off all those generous government handouts).

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

of the possibility of an eviction attempt at Zuccotti in the near future - perhaps not everyone is aware of Thursday's front page editorial in Murdoch's New York Post. Though they might have written and planned to publish this Thursday editorial far in advance, I can't help but believe that they were seeking to take advantage of the perceived opportunity available after late-night Oakland events (and the subsequent negative MSM coverage).

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

The current AP story (linked above), though extremely flawed/biased, is far better than the version AP sent out last night. Very shortly after that version was sent out, I sent AP a long e-mail documenting (in an extremely detailed fashion) inaccuracies in their story (and listing the names of all the contributing AP reporters that my e-mail should be forwarded to). I'd been closely watching the twitter feeds and liveblogging of numerous on-the-ground reporters in Oakland, as well as livefeeds and video that was being posted - and this was flatly irreconcilable with certain statements (and particularly the event chronology) in the AP story. I also quoted from an article in the Christian Science Monitor that was consistent with all the other reports/evidence and that flatly contradicted parts of the AP story. In particular, violence/vandalism Wednesday night by protesters did not occur until police initiated a massive raid on the Traveler's Aid building that Occupy Oakland had occupied (hundreds of cops in riot gear showed up, then they donned gas masks, then they fired tear gas, then they temporarily shut off all the street lights in that area, then chaos erupted (with protesters setting fire to barricades, many panicking and running, a few throwing rocks at police, etc.).

I don't know if my e-mail caused modifications to the article (perhaps it's hubris to think that it made any difference) but the specific language I pointed out (I only addressed a subset of the problems in the article) has all been modified.

As an aside, I should mention that it's likely that one of the AP reporters contributing to the original article was quite right-wing - for example, the original version contained ludicrous language such as "Riley, whose anti-capitalist views are well documented..."

I've actually had some success over the last several years in contacting the press (e.g. with detailed documentation of errors in stories) and having something happen. It requires a lot of "legwork" (i.e. nothing happens if it's just a complaint that's not scrupulously documented and that they can blow off; and it appears important that the communication be written in a relatively detached professional fashion - and with thought given to "framing" so as to obtain the attention of reporters).

And sometimes, even if there's meticulous documentation of error a reporter won't change a story. A perfect example of this is when I contacted a journalist who had written an article in the midst of the Wisconsin protests (the Walker "budget repair" bill protests). The article claimed to refute concerns that a provision in the Walker bill allowing no-bid sale of publicly owned WI powerplants (to whichever party Walker chose) might be intended to enrich the Koch brothers. The article claimed that the Koch brothers had no history of building, buying, operating, or selling powerplants - and the article was widely reproduced and cited in the MSM. I provided the reporter with records that the Koch brothers actually had bought, greatly expanded, operated, and sold a Louisiana powerplant in the last decade. But the reporter refused to correct the story - clearly because the entire claim of the story would then be invalidated (making him like an idiot who failed to meet even the most basic journalistic standards).

But still, I've had some success. Even managed to end the journalism career of a very high-profile reporter (the guy was tightly connected to the CIA and essentially wrote falsified propaganda accounts - somewhat over a year ago I nailed him for very extensive plagiarism and fabrication/falsification of quotes). I'm currently working on exposing a newspaper article (that has been widely propagated) that made invalid claims smearing Occupy Madison (at this point, the core statements in the article appear to be entirely false).

Anyway, I'd like to encourage others to use this tactic - it seems to have at least some efficacy.

bungalowkitchens's picture
Submitted by bungalowkitchens on

although I was not there in person (too many RL demands- and that's making me cranky because I would really like to be down there). I'm getting drowned in emails from the neighborhood listserv (I live a couple miles east of downtown), which could pretty much be summed up in this sentiment from one of them: "Anarchists can go to hell!" So at least among people in my neighborhood, the take is that these people are hurting the cause. I suspect the people vandalizing stuff are the same people who turned the Oscar Grant demonstrations into riots, and regardless of whether they are young testosterone-addled idiots, agent provocateurs, or cops in disguise- or all of the above (since it's not hard to get a testosterone-addled idiot to trash something, and the police save money on undercover cops that way. And yes, I watched the video, and a few of them were women. Women can be idiots too.)-they are definitely a fringe element and I think most people are disgusted with their tactics. I was pleased to see a couple of them being wrestled to the ground by other protestors, and protesters trying to keep them away from the buildings, and yelling things like "You're better than this!". But this sort of thing is going to be an ongoing problem for all of the Occupations.

I was so thrilled to see so many people marching peacefully and shutting down the port (see my earlier comment about ants). Oakland so rarely gets any positive press, and even though we have a lot of bravado about it, being dissed all the time gets old. Not to mention we know how much money it's costing us every time there's another "police riot" or whatever you want to call it.

One of the downtown businesses damaged by the idiots was Oaklandish- a gallery that sells Oakland-centric merchandise. I believe they are a collective. After the general strike on Wednesday, many Oaklanders are making a very specific effort to patronize the local downtown businesses that have been impacted by the occupation. It's the least we can do.

Unfortunately, I see the tone of both the local and national media starting to turn against us, and all because of the violent actions of some.

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