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View Diary: Occupy Oakland's May Day: We are not the 99%. (153 comments)

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  •  i wonder, if OO did renounce vandalism (6+ / 0-)

    and the black bloc, whether it would stop the black bloc from doing it anyway, or the media coverage from tarring OO with the acts of outsiders.

    might still make sense to try and draw a bright line, at least for the internal dynamics of the group, but i'm not sure that it will do much from a practical standpoint.

    •  Occupy Oakland polices itself well. (7+ / 0-)

      ... when it wants to.

      If we formally denounced these tactics people would step up to the plate and stop it. They are no shrinking violets in OO. As it is, Black Bloc tactics are to be generally overlooked according to our GA.

      "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

      by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 02:02:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have a question mic check (4+ / 0-)

        What is the 'official' viewpoint of the OO GA on black bloc tactics?

        I remember reading about the 'diversity of tactics' argument during the January protests but wasn't sure where that had led.

        Is it even feasible to divest the group of people using these tactics from the overall occupy group?

        Power-Worshipping Fascist

        by campionrules on Wed May 02, 2012 at 02:08:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bloc bloc isn't officially sanctioned or... (4+ / 0-)

          condemned, from what I understand. We've embraced a "diversity of tactics" approach which is where we remain.

          If we condemned these tactics as a group I'm fairly certain that the great majority would adhere and confront others if they didn't.

          "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

          by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 02:27:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As one who once participated in a black bloc (10+ / 0-)

            protest and got clubbed unconscious by a cop as a result, I have to say that solidarity is a two way street. If people want to be a part of a larger movement, in this case OO, they are obligated to practice solidarity when it comes to tactics at joint actions. If they want to pursue tactics not agreed upon by the rest of the folks involved in a joint action, they need to separate themselves from those who have not consented. If that means staging an entirely different action that is what they are obligated to do.

            Such folks have absolutely no right whatever to exploit the large body of people not in agreement with their tactics as human shields. Solidarity has nothing to do with using others as unwilling cannon fodder for the riot cops. Consequently, the large body of the movement owes no solidarity to such people. If they cannot, or will not act in a good  faith spirit of solidarity, they should be shunned and repudiated.

            Diversity of tactics doesn't mean signing a blank check for any and every action someone carries out in the name of a cause. It certainly doesn't oblige one to provide cover for actions one opposes on principle, much less does it require anyone to suffer the violent reaction provoked by others.

            It sounds as though OO is being played for suckers by a faction that sees them only as a means to narrow, factional ends.

             

        •  There has been no consensus on the issue (4+ / 0-)

          in Oakland.

          To give some perspective it is important to note that Oakland has what is possibly the biggest anarchist community in the country that is largely located within 10 to 15 blocks of Oscar Grant Plaza.  There's a huge DIY community part of which is a bunch of underground music venues, some of which are explicitly anarchist some not.  There's no way that OO is going to denounce vandalism, no way at all.  The milieu is far to militant for that and the actions of the police in Oakland, both recently and historically.  There is visceral and vocal hatred of the police that has been brewing for years among people of color and now everyone know someone that has been brutalized by the police, most of which happened before there was any serious vandalism on the part of Occupy Oakland.

          It's important to add that a lot of the people out there advocating for, and probably participating in, vandalism are also working in the community.  People seem to think that they come out of nowhere and do nothing positive when it's  absolutely not true.  Sure, there are some people who do that, but a lot don't.

          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 02:38:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  AoT (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345

            I have a real problem with people using broad actions as a cover for their extra-legal activity. See my comment above.

            •  I understand that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves, tardis10

              And I'm sympathetic to that.  One of the big changes I've seen is that these sorts of things used to take place when there was a breakaway march, or a march that was explicitly anarchist.  It seems like there was some confusion on Mayday in those regards.

              The point was to explain some of the political context in Oakland.

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:38:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Glad to hear it. (0+ / 0-)

                The Bloc I participated in was an autonomous action at the first mini-Bush inaugural. I knew exactly what I was getting into and I have no complaints on that score. I'd add that I wasn't the only one to get beaten, nor the worst off. The police violence was, as far as I could tell, completely indiscriminate.

          •  Broadly, I think (0+ / 0-)

            OO and the occupy movement will move in two directions: locality, things like the Occufarm and creating communities (like Haight-Asbury or the Casbah) that are free from the 1% and the creation of alternative models to the current system, so when the inevitable happens, there will be an alternative model to embrace.

            I'm not really sure where black bloc tactic fits in Occupy's future.  I tend to find it to be very parasitical on the very system it suggests it fights.

            "A Republic, if you can keep it."

            by Publius2008 on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:26:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The thing is that there are already people who (0+ / 0-)

              have been working on those sort of communities for years, and those are some of the people who have participated in black blocs. As I mentioned, the people in black blocs are not just showing up for them and then running off.  These are communities that have been around for a while and are being built.  I don't know if black bloc tactics fit into Occupy's future, and honestly I don't see it as a big question outside of Oakland and perhaps a couple of cities on the west coast.

              I tend to find it to be very parasitical on the very system it suggests it fights.
              In what way?  I've heard this a number of times before but have never really heard a decent explanation.

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:25:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  from vantage point of this oakland resident (11+ / 0-)

      the die was cast months ago when oo debated denouncing violence / vandalism but did not take the correct stand.

      i have no insight into who exactly these trouble makers are, or who if anyone is putting them up to this shit. but i'm of the mind that whether by design or by default, tactics such as this do nothing but support the appetites of the 1%. all the powers that be need is to demonstrably point to occupy events and violence / destruction being joined at the hip.

      it's heartbreaking. i remain dedicated to the core principles of economic justice that form the foundation of the movement as it began to coalesce last year. but the oakland contingent is just too volatile and counter-productive for me to support.

      ( apologies to the good folks -- especially diarist -- who have tried to hang and/or who will continue to hang with oo in hopes of fighting the good fight. i do not mean to cast dispersions upon your energy and effort. )

      keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

      by homo neurotic on Wed May 02, 2012 at 02:12:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I appreciate your perspective (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, AoT, wu ming, erush1345, homo neurotic

        I had actually not participated since the ridiculousness on the 26th of January. Folks had created shields out of rubber trash cans like we were participating some kind of LARP. The OPD are a bunch of asshole fascists, but we can fight against them and still maintain our dignity.

        What's so tragic about the events of last night is that I think we were all hoping for a re-boot of the movement that could bring in the crowd and the solidarity we had during the Oakland Port Strike on November 2nd. And actually, that was accomplished. There was a huge, diverse crowd of well over 3000. It's too bad they all had to wake up today and see the bullshit they were associated with.

        "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

        by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 02:41:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They brought out those shields because (0+ / 0-)

          they wanted to defend themselves from the police and they did so.  The conversations in Oakland that I took part in often focused on the point that people shouldn't be throwing shit at the cops from behind a line of people who are not there to confront the police.  So some groups brought out shields to put a barrier between them and the police.  I don't know how effective it was, but it came out of a criticism from people, not because they were playing games.

          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:05:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, I understand the reasoning... (2+ / 0-)

            ... but it made us look absurd. It was snatched right out of a Terry Gilliam movie. The "face off" on Oak Street on the 26th was indescribably bizarre. I've participated in these protests, actions, whatever you want to call them, for over a decade and that was not our finest hour.

            Aside from that, the reality is that we're actually there to get arrested and potentially beaten. That's our job. That's what makes us seem sympathetic, determined, nobel and, more importantly, it reveals the other side for who they are. We will not win if we engage in play battle with an overwhelming force with the resources to escalate and beat us down every single time.

            "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

            by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:20:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think anyone really cares if the police (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cynndara

              beat peaceful protesters any more.  There was some initial outrage and then it stopped making the news.  If there had never been a single broken window then maybe that would still be true but the rest of the country doesn't really care what happens in Oakland and most of Oakland already doesn't like the police.  We already have people on our side in terms of why we are protesting, if we worry too much about getting people to agree with how we are protesting then we will definitely fail.

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:28:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Again, I was in agreement until last night (7+ / 0-)

                But then you look at the individual incidents independent of their context how can you honestly say we should gloss over it?

                Breaking a McDonalds window with families inside. A good thing? Helpful to our cause?

                The women getting a bottle smashed on her head. Good? Yes?

                Are these incidents helpful to our cause? I don't see how they could be. On the other hand, injured Iraq War vet Scott Olsen is still in the news and positively representing us by putting the OPD on trial.

                We are better served by being sympathetic rather than antagonistic. People were locking up their shops as we passed through Chinatown. That's our reputation, and it's one that's been earned. It's not just a mainstream media fantasy when it keeps happening at nearly every large event.

                "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

                by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:42:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  OO, to what end? What do they want to accomplish? (0+ / 0-)

                  Or is it just a middle finger in you face ego trip?

                  The peaceful marchers in the South working for civil rights garnered more sympathy and shed more light on racism than any riot ever did.

                  Once they cross that line, they lose those  needed to get things done. If they don't want unfair laws stricken and/or new, progressive laws passed, then they are on a fools journey. It becomes a "feel-good," "look at me" effort.

                  What a waste!

                  Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

                  by auapplemac on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:01:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I'm just saying that I'm really skeptical (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cynndara, homo neurotic

                  that we are going to be looked on sympathetically at this point.  I think part of that is that anarchists either don't explain or are ignored when they do explain why they are damaging property, and everyone has been screaming about how it has to be denounced in the name of the movement that the folks who are breaking windows feel no compunction to justify themselves.  Anarchists tried to explain themselves , I tried to explain the point here, and everyone ignored them and pretended like they had nothing to say, yelling about the 99%.  I completely disagree with much of what they do, especially smashing windows during marches when there are a bunch of people who didn't sign on for smashed windows and especially throwing shit when there's a chance it can hurt people.  That also happened in SF at the building occupation and fuck those people.  But that doesn't change the fact that what's happening in Oakland has become a local struggle and in that context, as you know, it's way different than what people talk about here.  

                  I'm not personally bothered by a broken MacDonald's window.  I see the problem with scaring people inside but what how are you going to argue with people when you already have folks denouncing them for snarling traffic? How do you tell the medic that sat there trying to stop a transwoman from bleeding to death while the police stood by that he needs to back off?  The point being that we can talk about what needs to happen, but that doesn't make it happen.  We need to convince actual people of these things, and not anyone on this website.

                  I see this largely as a result of the democratic left's complete failure to engage with the radical left, and it's starting to bite them in the ass.  They've treated the radical left as a pariah and a joke and now that people are more and more disenchanted with the electoral methods they have no where to go but to that radical left, and they sure as hell aren't going to listen to people who tell them that voting is what to do.  The left has been telling people that any sort of confrontational protest is violent for a long time and people are realizing that there needs to be some confrontation, but given the complete lack of discussion around that they're sometimes adopting the most radical stance out there.  This is where this violence is coming from and no one is dealing with it.

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:22:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It's hard not to completely agree with you (6+ / 0-)

                    particularly when you've hit the nail on the head regarding the democratic left's communication problems with the radical left and vice-versa. As well as your explanation of how the outside progressive movement fails to understand the on the ground dynamics in Oakland. However, even the radical left, the kinds of people who will bring their kids to a Port Shutdown, will be turned away by the increasing aggressiveness of Occupy Oakland. It's already happening. Whatever the reasons, when you are engaging in a losing strategy that at times appears more violent than the OPD you might think about cutting it the fuck out.

                    I've heard the debate and I think I've known it well enough to support diversity of tactics up until this point. But when we start hurting people and engaging in senseless acts of vandalism. That's where I draw the line.

                    Did you hear about the alleged anarchists who claimed to be associated with Occupy, allegedly planning to blow up a bridge in Ohio? True or not, the public will see our consistent vandalism in Oakland and they'll be inclined to think the worst of us. Seriously, we need to put a lid on this before it gets out of hand otherwise this movement will sink.

                    "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

                    by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:11:30 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I do agree about getting people to bring (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      cynndara, tardis10, mic check oakland

                      their kids, and I think that's a big problem.  I don't know that it's just the vandalism that's at fault, I think the police violence has had an effect as well, a larger one in my view.  We really need to denounce anyone who would try to blow anything up or attack people.  Throwing shit "at the cops" from the back of a crowd is stupid and dangerous to others and that shit needs to stop.

                      In regards to the bridge thing, I'm rather skeptical of a situation where the cops provided "explosives" and had informers as a part of the group.  There are a great many cases where police informers convince people to do shit they wouldn't otherwise have.  Bombing shit is just fucked.  We need none of that nonsense.  We also need to remind people that if someone is trying to convince you to bomb something they are almost 100% definitely a cop.  This obviously doesn't apply to right-wingers, they can bomb shit all the time and it doesn't do anything to their image.

                      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                      by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:24:07 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  If you care about media image, you're fucked (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      joe wobblie

                      Do you really think the media will EVER be on our side?  EVER?  Before there was "omg vandalism!" to blame, all the camps were festering cesspools of drugs, scabies, and rape, remember?

                      •  It's not about the media image (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mic check oakland, Sean X, Kamakhya

                        it's about how people we actually interact with see us.  How we treat the people we interact with.  There have been some really shitty episodes here in the bay recently, specifically two cases of people throwing shit at cops and hitting protesters.  Not to mention taking part in property destruction at whichever marches people feel like it.  We need to have some respect for people.  The idea that we can just throw people into a situation like that and expect them to be okay with it is nonsense.

                        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                        by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:14:23 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I do remember (0+ / 0-)

                        But why dump lighting fluid on the fire and give them something real to attack? You know if the media makes a half way valid point Occupy will get attacked by both the right and the left. Then where does that leave us? Sunk.

                        "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

                        by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:58:43 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Did you really think for a second that anyone (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sviscusi

                    who's not an anarchist will know be even remotely sympathetic to any anarchist in Oakland? Radical left is treated as a joke because it is. And they just keep proving it.

                    •  In fact I know people who are sympathetic (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      FG, mic check oakland

                      to anarchists and anarchists ideas in Oakland.  Primarily because anarchists do in fact go out and build communities and organize to help people.  Dismiss the radical left but what do you think is going to happen when Obama gets elected again and there is still no significant movement on global warming? Pretending like the Dem party line of "You have to vote for us or else the republicans will ruin the world" only will convince so many people for so long.  People are pissed and neither of the major parties is addressing that and it certainly looks like they won't any time soon.  Do you really think people are just going to sit around unemployed hoping that voting Dem this year is going to fix the problem? Or if not this election then next?

                      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                      by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:18:19 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  I disagree with this point: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Glen The Plumber
                I don't think anyone really cares if the police
                beat peaceful protesters any more.  There was some initial outrage and then it stopped making the news.  If there had never been a single broken window then maybe that would still be true but the rest of the country doesn't really care what happens in Oakland
                I've spoken with friends, family, colleagues, people who sat in my living room to watch Inside Job via moveon.org who have said they are afraid of Occupy b/c of the violence. They support the 99% movement but won't go to a protest. These people want to do something safer and we need these people because there are a lot of them who are either doing nothing, don't know what to do and are turned off by the violence. They are looking for something to do. Supporting Occupy is a no brainer to me, but not to a lot of people out there.

                My husband has been to OO several times now, was at the port shut down and we even took our 7 yr old to OSJ several times. It was the face of children and families that brought a message of safety to individuals who are unsure if they wanted to support the Occupy movement. I don't begin to know what the answer is and this discussion is a really helpful discourse for me. I really believe that if OO does not maintain peaceful protests people will turn away and the Occupy movement will not have the support you, we are trying to achieve.

                Local KGO and KFOG radio trashed OO, it was painful. It's the same story as last Fall, media sound bites and reporting are biased, negative and lacking truth. Meanwhile Tea Party rally coverage is delightful... so for those people who believe that media reports reality (at least most of the time), OO looks pretty scary. This does matter.

                On the bailouts "... We should have thought about how they would treat us before we gave them the money." Now get out there and "Make the world a better place!"~ my 7 year old.

                by remembrance on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:44:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  "determined, noble," and weak (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joe wobblie

              Everyone hates the cops.  Anyone who doesn't, good luck convincing them.  If you want people to join, first they've got to know that they WON'T just get beat up and arrested.  Who the fuck doesn't know the police are violent?  Privileged white motherfuckers in Midwestern suburbs?

              •  There are plenty of people who didn't know (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cynndara, mic check oakland

                before Occupy started.  I saw a lot of people who went in to it with that view, even here on daily kos, who ended up participating in something or seeing something that completely changed that view.  People don't just open their eyes for no reason, they have to have an experience that does that.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:18:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, privilliaged white motherfuckers (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, joe wobblie, WB Reeves, sviscusi

                everywhere don't know it.

                Remember that crack and AIDS only became a real problem when it came to the suburbs. If middle america sees nice, white college kids getting their asses beat with batons long enough things will changes at breathtaking speed.

                "To the People (aka the 99%): Our only demand is an invitation: Join Us!" -- Occupy Oakland Demands 10/13/2011

                by mic check oakland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:52:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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