First, some history . . .
In the spring of 1886 workers struck at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago, the factory that made farm equipment including the famous McCormick Reaper. The workers on strike demanded an eight-hour workday, at a time when 60-hour work weeks were common. The company locked out the workers and hired strikebreakers, a common practice at the time.
On May 1, 1886, a large May Day parade was held in Chicago, and two days later, a protest outside the McCormick plant resulted in a person being killed.
What happened three days later is referred to in the annals of American History as the Haymarket Square Riot. encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org tells us more.
The crowd gathered on the evening of May 4 on Des Plaines Street, just north of Randolph, was peaceful, and Mayor Carter H. Harrison, who attended, instructed police not to disturb the meeting. But when one speaker urged the dwindling crowd to “throttle” the law, 176 officers under Inspector John Bonfield marched to the meeting and ordered it to disperse.
Then someone hurled a bomb at the police, killing one officer instantly. Police drew guns, firing wildly. Sixty officers were injured, and eight died; an undetermined number of the crowd were killed or wounded.
The Haymarket bomb seemed to confirm the worst fears of business leaders and others anxious about the growing labor movement and radical influence in it. Mayor Harrison quickly banned meetings and processions. Police made picketing impossible and suppressed the radical press. Chicago newspapers publicized unsubstantiated police theories of anarchist conspiracies, and they published attacks on the foreign-born and calls for revenge, matching the anarchists in inflammatory language. The violence demoralized strikers, and only a few well-organized strikes continued.
Police arrested hundreds of people, but never determined the identity of the bomb thrower. Amidst public clamor for revenge, however, eight anarchists, including prominent speakers and writers, were tried for murder. The partisan Judge Joseph E. Gary conducted the trial, and all 12 jurors acknowledged prejudice against the defendants. Lacking credible evidence that the defendants threw the bomb or organized the bomb throwing, prosecutors focused on their writings and speeches. The jury, instructed to adopt a conspiracy theory without legal precedent, convicted all eight. Seven were sentenced to death. The trial is now considered one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history.
May 4th, 1886 was a sad day in American history.
And thus, we find ourselves here today . . .
In the face of more violence between citizens and police in her city during a public demonstration this weekend Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is demanding that Occupy Wall Street leaders in the national movement denounce OccupyOakland. The Mayor of Oakland stated today . . .
"I plan to call some of the national leadership of Occupy this week to say that the Oakland group is not nonviolent and has not agreed to be nonviolent," Quan tells KCBS. "The national Occupy movement has said they are nonviolent."
Dear Mayor Quan, let me save you the phone call. This is my personal response.
More below the fold . . .
Dear Mayor Quan
First and foremost, I denounce ALL violence.
If a citizen is found to be engaging in violence against another person or their property you have the right to arrest that person and give them a fair trial. You do NOT have the right to use tear gas against a public gathering of American citizens who are exercising their Constitutional right to the Freedom of Assembly.
If you allow police to tear gas American war veterans, I will stand against you.
If you are an elected official of the people of America, and you authorize or condone the police use of tear gas, tazers, firearms, rubber bullets, police brutality or other violent and potentially lethal means against American citizens, I will stand against you.
I consider this freedom to be a non-negotiable.
Frankly, Madame Mayor, your police force is out of control and you are entirely out of your element. You've lost total control of your city and your police, Mayor Quan. It is time for you to resign, with what little grace you have left. The exchange below from earlier today, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, is a good example of how little grace you have remaining.
In an earlier interview before Saturday's protest, Quan told KQED-TV's "This Week in Northern California" that the movement's anger toward herself and Oakland has been unfairly portrayed by national media outlets in part because she is female and Asian.
"You don't see that kind of anger in San Francisco, where Mayor (Ed) Lee handled it in a different way," KQED-TV reporter Scott Shafer told Quan.
"Well you guys used tear gas and batons too," Quan said, referring to San Francisco. "I think it is a different time, I think it is how the media plays it. There is also probably a little misogyny and a little racism, when I looked at what happened in terms of how the national media portrayed it, and how Occupy's internal media portrayed it."
"You think they are tougher on you because you're a woman, and an Asian woman?" Shafer asked.
"I'm pretty disturbed that I had to stop my Facebook for a while and spend a lot of time putting in new filters and cleaning it up and that Occupy doesn't listen to anybody but its own media," Quan said. "They have their version of what happened. It is not a true version."
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/...
Dear Mayor Quan, when you are asked about rampant police violence in your city used against American citizens "Well you guys used tear gas and batons too" is not a viable answer, not unless you want to look like a hapless caricature of a cruel and clueless magistrate out of a Monty Python sketch.
Trust me, Mayor Quan, it is not sexism or racism that causes you to get singled out among the Occupy movement, it is the tear gas and police brutality. It is definitely the tear gas and police brutality, but your page taken out of the "Sarah Palin's Idiot's Guide to Making Yourself the Victim" has been duly noted . . .
And this, dear Mayor, only adds insult to injury.
"What they (OccupyOakland)* are doing against the city economically is not nonviolent either," she (Mayor Quan)* says. "Every Saturday they are doing demonstrations and in my city that is my night of highest police need. They are taking away resources from my city and creating a situation that is making it more difficult for me to keep the city safer."
* denotes editorializing added by the diarist
To think that OccupyOakland is capable of the kind of economic violence that huge special interests and "trickle down" economics have already gutted our communities with is disingenuous at the least, and at the worst I would accuse you of projection, since it is you who is permitting police brutality to go unchecked and not I. The city of Oakland long ago neglected inner city high poverty areas where violence is most prevalent, it is not like Oakland was well known for their speedy police response times in high violence areas before Occupy Wall Street began last September. Actually, what the bay area police were best known for at that time was police violence, a long, sad and well documented history of police violence, and that still doesn't give you an excuse for tear gas and rubber bullets, even if all of the other Mayors are doing it.
Let me remind you, Mayor Quan, as Mayor-elect of Oakland back in December of 2010 you stated yourself that "Forty percent of Oaklanders don't trust the Oakland Police Department and that will be my job as mayor to rebuild that trust." In covering you that day, the ABC's San Francisco affiliate KGBO-TV noted . . .
The NAACP says while police brutality is not unique to Oakland, the city has had too many officer-involved shootings.
According to OPD, there were 51 police shootings over a five year period and five this year alone. Most of the victims have been African-American, and none of the cases have led to criminal prosecution of the officers involved.
51 police shootings over a five year period and five in this year alone, and that was back in December of 2010. Dear Mayor Quan, if you still believe that it is your job to rebuild the trust between the people of Oakland and the Oakland Police, it is my belief that thus far you have failed miserably.
Dear Mayor Quan, assuredly you can imagine my surprise when I heard that you were calling on Occupy Wall Street leaders nationally to denounce Occupy Oakland, because I was just about to ask the Mayors of America to do the same to you.
Has anyone been fired in the Oakland Police Department, Mayor Quan? Anyone? Is anyone being held accountable in YOUR movement, Mayor Quan, although I wouldn't call the Oakland City Government a movement, but if you are going to make demands of myself and my movement, it is only fair that I make demands of your side. That is how a negotiation works, is it not?
Who is to be held accountable among the Oakland Police? Who is to be held accountable in your own administration, Mayor Quan? When the civil rights movement had the fire-hoses turned on them I doubt if the leaders of that movement ever considered denouncing the men and women who stood up to the fire hoses. Nor will I denounce the men and women of Occupy Oakland.
I will denounce violence. I will state that any individual who engages in violence against a person or their property should be cast out of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
If someone engages in violence, find a way to arrest that person without tear gassing or pepper spraying the rest of us. That is YOUR JOB as a law enforcer or elected official. MY JOB as a citizen is to demand that government and law enforcement aides and protects We The People in a peaceful manner. The moment a police officer uses a firearm on any assembly of American citizens in your city it is you, dear Mayor Quan, who is guilty of not doing your job. Your job is to protect the citizens of Oakland. Your job is NOT to find ways to justify tear gassing the citizens of Oakland.
Since you are not doing your job, Mayor Quan, let me share with you something you may not know. Occupy Oakland is an anti-police brutality protest at this point. People came at first because their communities have been squeezed dry over the last 30 years while their jobs were sent overseas, and that alone was enough of a reason to occupy, but then the Oakland Police Department started tear gassing them and shooting rubber-bullets at them. Every time your police use tear gas on Oakland the people of Oakland are justified in blocking the ports of Oakland and shutting down commerce in the city, and its' not because they are racist or sexist against female Mayor's named Quan, it is because the Oakland Police Department has been tear gassing and shooting rubber-bullets at them and this is the only way the people of Oakland feel they can create enough pressure on the elected officials of Oakland to stop the police brutality.
This is YOUR failure, Mayor Quan, and the failure of the Oakland Police Department; not the failure of the people of Oakland.
Which brings me back to my initial point about the Haymarket Square riot.
On that dubious day in Chicago history no one ever found the bomb thrower, so a public campaign began to demonize the labor movement and random people were denounced for the crimes of one person who could never be found. On that day murder was committed, and I in no way intend to compare that horrible instance to what is happening in Oakland because the last thing I ever want to see is violence in the streets of America, but I will say this, in Oakland, it was not an anarchist who threw a bomb, it was a cop who shot tear gas at a free and constitutionally protected assembly of citizens. I will not denounce the victims of police violence so you can have a political sound byte to cover your ass as you condone police brutality, Mayor Quan.
Rather, here are my personal demands in this negotiation.
It is time for the Mayor of Oakland and the senior leadership of the Oakland Police to resign.
Occupy Wall Street is not a movement with a leader, it is a movement of leaders. OccupyOakland does not have a leader, the city of Oakland does, and the duly elected leaders of the city of Oakland have utterly failed to serve and protect the people whose care is their charge.
No, Mayor Quan, I will not denounce OccupyOakland as a whole for the actions of a few unlawful individuals, but I will denounce the Oakland Mayor's office and the Oakland Police Department for totally bungling the police response to Occupy Oakland every step of the way. The moment the Oakland PD fires tear gas at a crowd they are in the wrong, no matter what the circumstances. I will not condemn the people of Oakland for being tear gassed and beaten at random in their own streets. I will instead condemn the Mayor and Police Leadership of Oakland for allowing the people of Oakland to be tear gassed and beaten at random in their own streets.
But there is one way you can take responsibility for what has happened in the streets of Oakland under your tenure as Mayor, Madame Quan. Resign. Immediately.
Until then, there can be no negotiations, there can be no demand to meet, because just like the OccupyOakland protests it appears the city of Oakland has no leaders either, and therefore, I nor anyone else can meet your demands.
Because the beatings can not be allowed to continue until morale improves.
Peace and love to all,
NOTE: These comments are my own opinions, and do not represent any opinions endorsed by the General Assemblies of Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Oakland. In short, if Mayor Quan or anyone else has a problem with this they can take it up with me.
You can follow me on twitter at @JesseLaGreca