On December 20th, The Oakland City Council did what any self-respecting City Council would do when confronted by a room full of people ready to denounce them. They delayed those denouncements until it would no longer be possible for the local news stations to get sound bites onto the eleven o'clock news.
However one enterprising Oakland citizen and Occupy Oakland participant managed to circumvent procedure -- I'm not sure how -- and was able to address the City Council for six minutes, hours before her compatriots got their say. Her name is Jessica; this is her righteous rant:
Here are a few choice quotes:
"And Mayor Quan, I voted for you, because I thought you would be for the people..."
"I am totally upset about the way it seems that money is speech and power..."
"If the City Council can be resourceful enough to get the money to get the police officers to 'control' the Occupy encampment then we should be resourceful enough to figure out a way to keep our schools open..."
When she rhetorically asks (about 4:30 in) "Who's going to run for City Council next?" ((if we don't educate our children)) the gallery behind her spontaneously erupts into "You! You!"
Given a listen to it all. You just might be looking at a future Mayor of Oakland.
Occupy Oakland organized the shut down the Port of Oakland on December 12th, mobilizing some seven thousand people over the course of a twenty-four hour period (see, e.g., here and here).
Two Oakland City Council members, Libby Shaaf and Ignatio De La Fuente, in panic over the possibility that Occupy Oakland would shut down the port again in the next few weeks, then proposed an emergency resolution. The resolution instructed the Mayor to instruct the Oakland Police to use "all legal means necessary" to stop the Port of Oakland from being shut down again. (Needless to say, this should be regarded as about as risky as giving Dick Cheney the authority to extract information "by all legal means" from detainees -- to the detainees).
Did Occupy Oakland have any plans to shut down the Port again? Of course not. Would it be practical, in light of the holidays, to even think of again organizing such a massive event? Of course not. Does Occupy Oakland, even now, have any plans to shut it down again? Not that I know of or have heard talked about. Did these two Council members think on such questions, or care? Of course not. Basically, Oakland's one percent said 'jump' and they both responded "How high?"
An emergency resolution needs six of eight Council Members to vote to allow it to come up for consideration. Between the time Jessica spoke and the other fifty-eight members of the public were scheduled to have their say, the Council voted 4-4 on bringing the measure up. The motion thus failed, and the resolution was not debated. (This did not stop the people who had been sitting there for hours waiting to testify much to the chagrin of the City Council President, who walked out halfway through the list of speakers.)
Despite being told by numerous people over the course of that late-night testimony that this resolution would simply incite more violence on the part of an already violent Oakland Police Department; despite Fuente being shamed (if that is possible) by being reminded by an old-time labor organizer of how he had in fact marched back in the day in support of those who had shut down the Port of Oakland; despite being reminded by labor advocates of how the Port had been shut down in support of such aims as the end of Apartheid and in protest of the Iraq War, the sponsors of the resolution seem determined to follow through. (For more on this late-night testimony, see Mayor Quan to Scott Olsen: Justican Can Wait.) Fuentes has said that he plans to re-introduce the resolution, presumably as a non-emergency measure.
Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said Wednesday he will reintroduce a resolution aimed at averting another protester-driven port shutdown, one day after his council colleagues chose not to vote on it.
"Like I said last night, we have to be responsible for our actions," he said. "The mayor and the City Council have to be on record on this."
If introduced as a non-emergency measure it would take either five votes to be passed, or four votes with a Mayoral tie-break. As things stand at the moment, there seems little doubt that it will pass in some form, as only two of the City Council, Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel, seemed unalterably opposed to it. But its passage would (correctly) be seen as a declaration of war against Occupy Oakland, and (again correctly) as a slap in the face to organized labor.
How will it all come down? If I knew that I'd be one of the 0.001%...
But there's already talk of May 1st, 2012 -- International Workers' Day -- being a vast mobilization for the Occupy Movement. And if the City insists on making the Port a target by expressly forbidding it's closure... like teenagers being told they can't do something, how could Occupy Oakland resist?
Perhaps the Mayor and the Council should be asking themselves whether, if 5,000 people came out on a cold, December afternoon, just how many might come out on a warm, sunny, spring day? 10,000? 20,000? 30,000? And all of them intent on proclaiming, to the powers that be,
Whose Port? Our Port!"
mostly because of an action the City Council will have taken expressing forbidding this to happen!
Mayor Quan, as is her wont, doesn't seem to have a clue. Consider these amazing revelations during a Quan interview with the San Francisco Chronicle some days ago:
Port officials and those within Quan's administration had pledged to keep the port open on Dec. 12...
Authorities had planned for only about 300 protesters, Quan said...
...attempting to ((prevent a future Port closure)) would require at least 500 police officers, which the city would deploy if the port paid the $1.5 million cost.
"I'm really curious as to why I'm getting all the blame for all of it... we thought 300 cops would be enough.
WTF??? Is math that hard?
If 300 police were thought to be adequate to deal with 300 protesters, then how many protesters would 500 police be adequate for? How many police would be adequate to deal with 20,000 protesters? How many bazillions of dollars would it cost?
Why won't the the Mayor, the Police Chief and Oakland City Council recognize that, as one Councilwoman put it late that evening:
The police are not the answer to a social movement.
Maybe they should all talk to Jessica about it.